Friday, December 29, 2006

Progress, going back, and discovering a new community crossroads

This week I had my second and third sessions of cardiac rehab at AVH. I thought they went well. Today they started increasing the exercises I do, and I think the work does help me feel stronger.

The week has been a heavy one. Most pastors will admit that the holiday season is especially busy. This year two families had deaths right before Christmas, and the funerals were scheduled for the week after Christmas. What a tough time to lose a loved one.

The funeral meals this week have been a continuation of the peril I have faced through this season from many gifts of food and candy. The staff of the rehab program asked me to check my fasting blood sugar each day, and I have been shocked by the high levels through the holiday. I've also checked my blood sugar after the workout, and have been very pleased to notice how exercise helps in bringing it down.

stained glass from Munhall House in the historical display at West Penn Hospital, PittsburghThursday I visited a parishioner at the West Penn Hospital. She was in a room on the same 'step-down' unit where I spent my last day in that hospital. Although I had been a patient in that hospital just seven weeks ago, no one mistook me for a patient yesterday.

Today after my session of rehab I had lunch in the hospital cafeteria and ran into a couple of people who had been at the Candlelight Christmas Eve Service. They each wanted to make a point of letting me know how much they appreciated the service.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Eve in Tarentum

Frank Lynn and Lee Lynn playing at Central Presbyterian Church, Tarentum, December 24, 2006The Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at the Central Presbyterian Church of Tarentum had a number of pieces of special music.

Elder Frank Lynn and Lee Lynn played medleys of Christmas music on drums and saxophone as the prelude and postlude. I heard a large number of approving comments by people who told me that a certain member of the church who had died a number of years ago would never have tolerated this music. The folks who were there liked it. I was one who appreciated it a lot.

Jessica Mriso sang a solo of "Gabriel's Greeting."

The Westminister Choir sang "Still, Still, Still" and "Christmas Gloria".

As promised, the service ended in plenty of time for the next Steelers' game.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some blog articles I don't have the energy to develop

I've been making a lot of choices lately, being more selective about what I do in order to conserve my limited energy. My blogging has been a lower priority, but I keep noticing things that I tell myself I ought to blog about. I will probably not get around to developing any of these ideas more fully in the near future, so here they are, short, sweet, and undeveloped.

1. I started Cardiac Rehab. Yay! Friday I had my first class, and was introduced to the pieces of equipment I will use. It was a good experience of pretty steady monitored activity over an hour on three different pieces of exercise equipment, with warm-ups and cool-downs in between, all the time connected to a heart monitor via a transmitter. The staff gave me some literature to take home. One piece was a set of guidelines for cold weather exercise. The other was piece on survival tips for healthy holiday eating. This will be a very helpful program for me.

five playing cards2. They'll know we are Christians by ... our cards. One of the silliest comments made at the last meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery was in a nomination speech, when we were told that we should elect a candidate because he was a "card-carrying conservative."

Do some conservatives really need cards to prove their bona fides? And who issues those cards, after all?

3. Giant Candles. Through the season of Advent we have had giant candles on the wall of the fellowship hall. They have added a lot to the Advent observances in that space.


4. Laurels and Lances. Laurels to the Valley News Dispatch for its editorial "Shame, Tarentum" following up on a story in the Friday paper, "Council OKs hiring private eye." Spending $5,000 of the taxpayers' money to gather a pile of circumstantial evidence in order to make an uncertain case to a judge does not seem prudent. At least Councilman Tim Rapp tried to set a financial cap on the boondoggle.

Lances to the VND for perpetuating the impression that the hiring of a private investigator was the only significant decision to come out of the Monday meeting. I was not able to go to to that meeting, but I have reason to believe that the Council did actually do some things that were genuine borough business with implications for the coming year. Such as adopting a budget, for example.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Heart humor

T-shirt design of Metropolitan Cardiac AuthorityThis year I am the brunt of a number of 'heart' jokes in my family.

My little sister sent me a T-shirt with artwork for the Metropolitan Cardiac Authority. The design is a picture of a heart resembling the schema of a mass transit system. The shirt was from Threadless and is available here.

She also made a point of reminding me of the demotivating poster about Sacrifice.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Getting closer to starting cardiac rehab

Last week began with great expectations for starting cardiac rehabilitation at the Alle-Kiski Medical Center. I even went for the interview for the program The interview was a very positive experience. The nurse in the program helped me to appreciate the fact that it had been just a bit more than a month after my myocardial infarction, and that I am only at the beginning of the recovery process.

I was expecting to start the actual work of cardiac rehab on Friday. Then I learned that I needed to see my cardiologist before I could start and I was not scheduled to see him until today.

Today I saw my cardiologist, who did clear me for starting cardiac rehab. I'll start this Friday, and will go three days a week. The doctor also prescribed a change in the beta blocker I have been taking; the new beta blocker should help with my feelings of tiredness and lack of energy.

Oh, on the way to my appointment I even spotted Maxwell on Freeport Road near the Tarentum/Brackenridge line. Unfortunately, I was driving and did not stop to take a picture as proof.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Advent gets busy

My best efforts to manage my energy keep hitting their limits.

Because I knew that last week was going to be a heavy week I arranged for a guest preacher for Sunday. Rebecca Cartus, a candidate for ministry under care of Pittsburgh Presbytery, came to Central and preached a great sermon on "Lighting Up the World."

That evening we had our Children's Christmas Program with a Tureen Dinner. The program included skits the children had done for Grand Central Station this fall, songs the children had learned, and then re-enactments of scenes from the nativity story. At the end of the program everyone sang Christmas songs until Santa Claus appeared and had a talk with each of the children.

By the end of the evening I was exhausted. This week I am to start Cardiac Rehab. I hope that helps me do a better job of planning what I can and should do.

Here are some of the pictures from the Christmas Program.

The Annunciation

The angel appears to Joseph in a dream

An earthly king in fine robes

Shepherds come to see the newborn king

Magi bring gifts

Santa Claus arrives

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pittsburgh Presbytery meeting at Elfinwild

Stained glass window at rear of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never ends"Pittsburgh Presbytery held a long meeting at the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church on Thursday, December 7, 2006. There were 146 ministers and 132 elders representing 75 churches present. We dealt with a lot of very important relational issues, very important at a time when there are many issues on which we differ.

One of the most important and difficult things we did came at the end of the meeting when Pastor Jim Mead read to us the suicide letter that Rev. Brent Dugan had left for the presbytery. (Another report of the reading of this letter can be found here.) Our brother in Christ had wanted us to hear this explanation of his death and the events that led up to it, and it was important for us to spend time together hearing what he wrote to us. Pastor Jim Mead commented on pastoral isolation, saying that studies have shown that most male pastors have either no close friends or only one (aside from a spouse).

Stained glass window at the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, "That it was from the hand of God"We spent time together discussing issues of property, and how we would handle them if a church wished to leave the PCUSA. This was another time of "speaking out of silence" after we had shared our thoughts with one or two strangers.

We elected elder David Green as our moderator and elder Kears Pollock as our senior vice moderator. Both elections had been contested by candidates nominated from the floor. Neither of the alternate candidates had participated in the nomination process by the nominating committee, and they explained that they had not even considered running while that process was underway, but felt called to offer themselves recently so that they could be voices of unity and reconciliation when or if a congregation wants to leave the PCUSA.

Stained glass window at Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, "And a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain."We elected the Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz as the Associate Pastor to Presbytery for Medium-sized churches. He will leave his position as pastor at the Hampton Presbyterian Church to serve on the Presbytery staff.

We approved the call of the John McMillan Presbyterian Church for Louise Rogers as associate pastor; Rogers is a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church and will be ordained for this position. Brian Wallace will be ordained to serve as a temporary supply at the Hampton Presbyterian Church.

We voted to receive four inquirers as candidates: Betty Angelini (member of Hampton Presbyterian Church and executive director of Crestfield Camp and Conference Center), William Branning (member of First Presbyterian Church), James W. Kirk (a member of the Presbyterian Church of Plum Creek), and Jeffrey Eddings, a member of Friendship Community Presbyterian Church).

We adopted the 2007 budget, and set the presbytery portion of the per capita apportionment at $13.80, for a total per capita of $21.59.

We handled a couple items of judicial business. The stated clerk read the decision of the Presbytery's Permanent Judicial Commission in the case of PCUSA v. the Rev. Janet L. Edwards, Accused. That case was dismissed at trial because the charges were not timely filed. The Moderator read a letter from the Prosecuting Committee explaining how this occurred. It was felt necessary to read this explanation because of groundless speculation that the outcome had been arranged.

Stained glass window at Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."The stated clerk informed the presbytery that a remedial complaint had been filed with the Synod of the Trinity against the presbytery's action at its last meeting to adopt a policy on ordination standards. The synod's permanent judicial commission has granted a stay of enforcement of that policy until the case has been heard. The presbytery's moderator has appointed a committee of counsel to defend the presbytery in this case.

Before the meeting there had been a luncheon gathering of pastors and commissioners from small membership churches. At this luncheon we were informed that the presbytery's Administrative Commission for Transformation wanted to encourage partnerships between small membership churches and other congregations. There was a recognition that small membership churches are often in communities of need, where they are doing kingdom work without necessarily having the resources available to do all that is needed. The presbytery gave a gift to the attendees that included a copy of The Present Future by Reggie McNeal.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Time to hang up the golf clubs

photo of golf clubs hanging on a parking sign in Lower Burrell, PA on a snowy dayIt is December 7 and time for Pennsylvanians to hang up their golf clubs for the winter, but I don't recommend doing it outside.

The snow was flying today, and as I made my way to the parking lot I came across this unusual sight: a bag of golf clubs hanging on a tenant parking sign.

Maybe someone hung them there for convenience and then forgot they had done so. Maybe someone found the clubs left on the ground and hung them on the sign to make them more visible to the owner. Who knows?

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