Monday, October 26, 2009

LSU Tailgating

This weekend I had the chance to experience LSU tailgating and Death Valley! I’ve already received grief from Mizzou friends who say I’m jumping on a band wagon, not being loyal to Mizzou – but I will ALWAYS support MY Tigers. If – wait - when Mizzou and LSU play (Mizzou will make it one of these days!) I will ALWAYS support my Missouri Tigers over ANYONE else. But it’s not necessarily about loyalty, rather, respect, when it comes to witnessing one of these games and tailgating. Above and beyond though, I will always be loyal to MY Tigers! (I’ve also always received grief about supporting kansas when they’re not playing Mizzou, but as my dad reminds me, his kansas education helped get me to my Missouri education – so I have to respect a little.)

I’m just a huge college sports fan in general. While I love my Tigers and will always cheer them on, there’s a certain amount of respect that must be paid to “legends.” Like, the respect owed to the experience of sitting in Rupp Arena, or the respect owed to an experience at Allen Field house (NOTHING beats a Tiger win in Allen Fieldhouse though ;) ). One sports writer included a Saturday tailgating on the LSU campus as one of the most sublime fan experiences in American team sports. (In case you’re wondering, he included these other three: an afternoon game in the middle of summer at Wrigley Field, a crisp fall Saturday morning at Notre Dame, and a cold winter night inside Allen Fieldhouse.)

LSU Tigers don’t call it Death Valley for nothing. The Tiger Stadium seats 92,000+ fans and averages over 90,000 fans per game. During the 1988 LSU-Auburn game, the noise from the stadium was detected by a seismograph on campus, measuring ground movement for 20 MINUTES. And that was when they could only house 79,000 fans!

LSU has an actual Bengal tiger, Mike the Tiger – who has his own $2million+ habitat on campus where he resides when he’s not traveling with the team. His habitat would qualify for a version of MTV’s cribs. He, along with the cheerleaders, the band, the team and Les Miles also pass through all the tailgaters on their way to the stadium, witnessing the 120,000 people there to cheer them on (and oh yeah, party).

About 120,000 fans tailgate at each game, with over two-thirds of the fans tailgating for at least five or more hours before every game. Many even start the tailgate 24 hours in advance. LSU Tiger fans DO have an advantage that most of their games are at night (longer opportunity to tailgate) and it’s nicer weather farther into the season than say anywhere North of here. (See my pictures from the Missouri/Nebraska game).

I’m pretty sure the words “dry campus” do not exist in Southern Louisiana, I’m not sure how I even managed to type them without my computer exploding. While this gives LSU a tremendous advantage to the tailgating experience, LSU tailgating is not ALL about drinking – it’s ALL ABOUT THE FOOD! The ability to enjoy a drink “opening” certainly contributes to the experience in that tailgaters can enjoy a range of beverages, walking around the open fields, assigned parking lots, grass nestled between trees, roads and buildings right on campus where everyone gathers for the legendary tailgates. This is of course, only after you’ve filled your plate.

A friend told me I had to eat a brat while I was there, and that if I didn’t I was “doing it wrong”. I beg to differ friend. If you’re not eating boudin, jambalaya, pastalaya, crawfish etouffee, boiled shrimp, gumbo, kebabs, (plus burgers, brats and hot dogs) and those weird dirty rice fried things – THEN you’re doing it wrong. Their food is only trumped by their hospitality. I witnessed several occasions in my ONE experience this weekend in which people were giving opposing fans grief, shouting “Tiger Bait!” only to be followed by, “Come on over, have somethin’ to eat and drink! Come watch the game on our TV!”

I was giving my brother grief about his wanting a television at the Mizzou tailgate – but I ate my words this weekend. I can’t remember seeing this many Dish receivers in my ENTIRE life, not to mention the many chords, generators, projectors, 52” flat-screens and cables that pepper the tailgating grounds all around. A majority of people watch the game from their tailgates and never have any intention of going into the game. Some of them have spent hundreds of dollars on their season parking pass and probably can’t afford tickets! :)

Bottom line – I’m STILL GUTTED I can’t support my own Tigers, and tailgate in good ol’ CoMo on a regular basis. I would offer my first born if I could have a regular supply of Tiger Paw. :) But I’m also lucky to be able to experience ALL of these sports “greats”: MIZZOU in general (have I told anyone we began the tradition of homecoming?), Allen Fieldhouse, Rupp Arena and now LSU Football. What’s next on my sports legend agenda?!!?
Inside the game - watching the Golden Band from Tiger Land!
PLEASE tell me our seats aren't at the very top! Have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights?

Two Mizzou Kappas tailgating at LSU!

I can barely give Sally a bath without her squirming - NO WAY I could ever do something like this ;)

Just a SMALL glimpse at the insanity that is LSU tailgating!

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009 Pastor's Letter

You may notice that each week that I offer the Words of Institution at the table, I use a little different language than Rev. Michael. I often use similar language when offering the Words over the bread, but when offering the Words over the cup, I often say something along these lines: “This cup is a symbol of the new covenant that God is establishing with you.”

I do this because of a lecture from I remember from seminary that has stuck with me ever since. A covenant has to have three things in order to be a “covenant.” It must have, 1) two parties, 2) a set of promises, and 3) a sign (that is, some sign so that you know you are party to the covenant). It is because of this understanding that I prefer those words of institution which include “sign” or “symbol.” It is not the actual cup that is the covenant, it is not the blood that was shed that is the actual covenant. The covenant that God made with all of humanity through Jesus Christ is represented in Christ’s life given for us, and in the cup we share each week. We lift up the cup and partake of the bread each week to remind ourselves that we are part of this covenant, that we are participants in the promises in Jesus Christ. We also do this during worship, in order to honor God, to affirm our commitment to those promises; to the promises that were made to us, and the promises we have made with God.

Our worship on October 18 was full of promises and covenants. We each made covenants with the church, by pledging our time, our energy, our silver and gold, by pledging ourselves to the church. We together made a covenant with God when we consecrated these gifts, pledging to continually set aside a part of our lives, our time, our silver and gold, our energy for God’s purposes and use. We made a covenant with one another that we will maintain these pledges for the good of the church, for if one of us does not uphold our pledge, then our church as a whole suffers. And we made a covenant together, as I was affirmed as your associate minister. We participated in this covenant together, that I will not only minister TO you, but also WITH you here at First Christian Church.

Now we’ve covered the first and the third portions of a “covenant,” both the parties and the symbols or signs of a covenant. But what about the promises made?

You may have heard the saying, “Promises were made to be broken,” but we often hear this saying without understanding where it came from. This saying has made it into our modern vernacular because of a tale from the well-known author, Aesop, from one of Aesop’s fables. The tale of “The Nurse and the Wolf,” goes like this,

“Be quiet now,” said an old Nurse to a child sitting on her lap. “If you make that noise again I will throw you to the Wolf.”

Now it chanced that a Wolf was passing close under the window as this was said. So he crouched down by the side of the house and waited. “I am in good luck today,” thought he. “It is sure to cry soon, and a dantier morsel I haven’t had for many a long day.” So he waited, and he waited, and he waited, till at last the child began to cry, and the Wolf came forward before the window, and looked up to the Nurse, wagging his tail. But all the Nurse did was to shut down the window and call for help, and the dogs of the house came rushing out. “Ah,” said the Wolf as he galloped away, “Enemies promises were made to be broken.”

Promises held in covenant were NOT made to be broken. Lucky for us, we do not ONLY learn about promises from Aesop’s fables. The promises we learn from and follow, are those made by God. God promises to forgive sins, to bless us, to be with us always, to give us meaningful work to do in God’s kingdom and much more. The only thing we need to do to receive these promises are to believe in them.

As we lift up and celebrate the many promises made at worship on October 18, let us model and follow the example of the promise we have received in Jesus Christ. We shall believe in these promises, receive these promises, and live into these promises with one another.

In Hope… Laura

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Random Musings...

I haven't written a blog in a while... so here goes...

Part of the reason I haven't written a blog for a while is I haven't felt particularly passionate about one thing long enough to devote my time and energy to blog about it. My life has felt rather disjointed lately - so it's hard to find the commitment. But I know writing is very cathartic and liberating for me - so I know I should do it more often...

I find myself starting blogs, because I have a quick moment - but I save them as a draft and never finish. Something else steals my attention to the point that I can't focus on the original blog. I think part of it is that I had 6 months off of this crazy schedule I call my life.

I went from having two part time jobs and going to school full time - to one full-time job and school, to one full-time job, to NOTHING. And nothing for six months was good and bad. In those six months I slept! I've never felt so rested in all my life! I lost 15 pounds just by getting enough sleep and not eating at odd hours of the day. I had time to walk the pup, time for myself and I got addicted to a couple TV shows I can't give up now.

I'm SOO happy I moved to BR, LA - seriously I am. I know some people will jump to conclusions that I'm second guessing that decision - but I'm not. I know this is the place that God wanted me, the place that was right for me, right now. I feel like this church is a great place and a congregation in which we can work TOGETHER. Don't get me wrong, I know I am doing this for a profession - but its nice to know the congregation wants to be a part of the family of faith, not just an observer of such a community.

But the newness has worn off, I'm back into an old schedule, and I'm back to multiple jobs. It's like I forgot how to work and live with multiple jobs - so I'm not doing very well at it. I feel like I can't give my all to the church, and that makes me very sad. I want to give all of me to this job - I love it, and when that time comes that I can give ALL of myself, because they can support me in that - then I will. But in the mean time, I know that I will give all I can.

I want to succeed here, I want to be a part of something greater - that I know is possible in this congregation - but its just figuring out how that will work, figuring out if there is a long haul in waiting - or if something exciting will happen soon - if I will be able to give all of myself in the very near future. I trust that it will all work out the way it should, but its the anxiety of waiting in the unknown that wears me down.

I do miss my friends - but I'm making new ones here. It hasn't been instantaneous - but I didn't expect it to be. But I am finding a place here. I'm finding that I fit.

But I still miss Brooke.

I'll admit it - I've shared this with others, it's no secret - when Michael and I split I really found a "new" best friend in Brooke. Not that Brooke and I weren't friends before that, but she was there for me (as were MANY others) - but Brooke provided something for me that was healing and provided wholeness.

And then we lost her.

So now I don't know where I stand. I KNOW I have friends, I know I'm not alone - but it's just not comfortable when old wounds are torn open because of new experiences. These new experiences aren't necessarily bad - but they require stretching and growth, flexibility and extension - all of which can put stress on old wounds.

I'm doing well - I really am.

It's time to sit back, take a deep breath, and re-assess. I came out of the starting gate at a full sprint - and I kept going at that full sprint - and it wore me out.

I'm thrilled to start this new pursuit - I think it will be good.

I'm happy with the new pursuit.

But I need to get my head on straight again - it's been a little jolted.

Straighten up - work hard - enjoy life - live, laugh, and love - a lot!