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Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 02:13

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Learning to spin deer hair is the next skill on my fly-tying list.    There is something about even this stage that makes me happy just to look at it.

The next stage is shaping the head with a  razor blade.  It's fun letting loose one's inner sculptor.   

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There's still plenty of room for improvement, but it ends up looking something like this.

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It does make a bit of a mess.

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Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 00:36

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When my personal world gets particularly chaotic, I used to do puzzles.  To be able to bring order to even a small piece of the universe was somehow calming.   These days I tie flies.  Learning how to tie wool-headed articulated streamers has been most enjoyable.  This guy is in need of a hair cut.

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Clipping away, it starts to take shape.

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Now all that is left is to fish these in hopes that somebody like this will find them tasty.


Back Yard Drama

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 14:52


Despite the snow, the foxes are out and about.   Unfortunately, this one seems to have sustained a wound on his right front leg.


This one looks a little healthier.


At the suet feeder, things we're heating up.  A squirrel wanted up the tree. The pileated woodpecker wanted its space. 


The cat, uninterested in anything except having her belly rubbed, lolled.


Snow Ad Infinitum

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 13:22


With school canceled for the week, one might have thought my wife would sleep in.  She decided, however, that the sunrise was worth getting up for.  Just in case you missed it, here's another pic.  Perhaps the prettiest sunrise I've seen in a long time.


In other news, the snow is starting to melt.


That's good because the snowdrifts on the roof looked like high mountains, their peaks glistening in the sun.


The hummers are long gone, so it would probably also make sense to take down the feeders.




Feathers and Light

Father Rob's Blog - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 00:45


I think all the snow and ice reflected the colors of the sunrise and made it even more spectacular than usual.

The birds arriving for their morning breakfast picked up the light as well.   Take a few thousand pictures,  and perhaps one gets a good one every now and again.  This morning I got lucky--I  think I did.


It always seems strange to me that a bird with so much red on its head is called a red-bellied woodpecker, but it is.


As it looked down for a sunflower seed, its feathers caught the rising sun just right, and its head was set ablaze.  Seeing things like those, one cannot help but feel he is lucky to be alive.


Birds in a Blizzard

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 00:05


In between what hours of shoveling yesterday, I took a few pics of birds.  There were the usual blue jays, the crest on their head often flattened by the wind.

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I take too many pictures of them, I suppose, but it always seems like there is a reason to take another one.

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A wren came too.  Love the colors, the intricacy of the feather patterns.

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And there were cardinals, like this guy with icy eyebrows and an icy beard. 

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Cedar Waxwing didn't come to the deck, but ate fruit from the trees.  Unfortunately, they too far away for a good picture, but you can still get a sense of how pretty they are.

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Meanwhile, Linda relaxed by the fire with a good book and a hot cup of tea.

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Planning for a Blizzard

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 13:15

Dear Friends,

It’s Friday morning, 6AM. Like every Friday morning, the Friday Flash is sent.

But unlike every other Friday, a snow storm of epic proportions is predicted to begin today. Already words like “historic,” “colossal,” and “monster” are being used to describe it. Will it live up to its hype? We’ll soon find out.

At this point, we think it prudent to cancel the Saturday night service and reschedule the Annual Meeting to February 7. Oh, and did I mention we’ve also scheduled the 2016 CHILI COOK-OFF on that day as well? You will know doubt want to put that on your calendar right now.

But back to this weekend. At 5PM on Saturday, a decision regarding Sunday services will be posted to our website and Facebook page. If we can hold services (or even just a single service at 11AM) without compromising people’s safety, we will do so. But in that case, we will also stream the service for those who do not in any way feel comfortable venturing forth.

In my experience, challenging circumstances bring out the best in churches. That has certainly always been the case at St. Matt, and you can be sure we’ll be out in the community, helping where help is needed. Your staff has developed an extensive list of people who live alone or who otherwise may need a hand, and we’ll be calling them on Saturday night. Based on what we learn from those calls, teams will be going forth as soon as possible to dig people out who would otherwise be stranded. If you can think of any one in particular you’d like us to call, please email Miriam at

Please do remember those who live alone. Events like this can be isolating, and hence very scary.

For those fortunate enough to have loved ones around, make the most of what will no doubt be a chance to create memories that will perhaps never be forgotten. Some of my best memories, both from childhood and from my own family, were shaped in snowstorms. Don’t fight the opportunity to slow down and simply enjoy being together.

May God keep all of you safe and warm, Rob+

Loving Our Enemies

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 12:22

The world saw him as a marching protest leader, but Martin Luther King, Jr., was first and foremost a preacher. “In the quiet recesses of my heart,” he once remarked, “I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher.” Here's a few quotes from his sermon "Loving Your Enemies," preached Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on November 17, 1957.

In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing [your]self.

The second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy...

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it ... The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.

The  final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies”  is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals... if they succumb to the temptation of using violence  (in our age it would be shame, a particular form of violence--Rob) in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that.

All this is why Dr. King says that following Jesus  "is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies."   Clearly, Dr. King was not a timid man.

Prayers for Today

Father Rob's Blog - Sun, 01/17/2016 - 18:54

Leader: To the God whose love is with us all, we pray.
People: Help us to find the spiritual life we long for but do not always have.

Leader: We pray for those who are mean, and for those who drink all the time
People: Help them, and all of us, to be heroes, beating the demons that plague us, and choosing our better ourselves.

Leader: We pray for the church, recognizing our failure to capture people’s interest and imagination
People: Create in us such a robust life that the natural response is to dance with great joy, freely and without reserve

Leader: We pray for our world, a planet that you made so very good in all its great diversity
People: May we find the grace and courage not only to turn and face the strange, but to love those who are different from us.

Leader: We pray for all those who feel they have been put where things are hollow.
People: Deliver us all from living in such a way for twenty years that we die for fifty more.

Leader: We pray for all those who are under pressure, who feel the pressure “pushing down on me”, especially those on our prayer list.
People: We pray that tomorrow would take them higher, higher into the comfort and healing of Love.

Leader: We pray for our leaders, that they would be wise in dealing with the fame their position brings them
People: Deliver from being seduced by their status, and doing things with short term benefits that carry higher long term costs.

All: Though “love” is an old fashioned word, may it dare us anew to change our way of caring that we might care more deeply than we ever have people. As those who follow in the way of Jesus we pray, Amen.

And We Want to Believe

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 01/14/2016 - 02:09

One of the thing that unites humans at their best—whether religious or not—is that we are all committed to recognizing and affirming truth wherever we find it. That is why a truly reasonable atheist is willing to learn from a Christian. They recognize that while we may get a great many things wrong, at least occasionally we get some things right, and at least some of those things are pretty darn important.

But it is also why (in my opinion) a truly christian Christian is willing to learn from people who believe very differently than we do, or who may not “believe” at all. To my mind, there is no better example of this than Jesus. He saw truth in nature, agriculture, the events of the day, the economy, even in the practices of the nation of Rome (upon hearing a high-level Roman soldier describe the concept of authority, Jesus exclaims, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel. the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.”) I think one of the things that drew people to Jesus was the he was a master at seeing God’s truth all around him.

And that is why, though it may puzzle some, we are incorporating the music of David Bowie into our 9:30 service this Sunday morning. It is not gimmick or glitz or an attempt to entertain. It is, quite frankly, that we believe that he has some important things to say—things that, whether intended or not, can help us be better Christians.  And certainly help us be better human beings.

Winter Garden

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 01/06/2016 - 18:54

Frost garden

It grew overnight.  Frankly, in a world filled with things I do not understand, I do not know how.

Crystal tree

The crystal trees were exquisite.


Sadly, it was not long before it began to melt.


Light and Life (December 27, 2015)

Sermons - Sun, 12/27/2015 - 23:11


Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 12:32


Who knows how the awareness of God’s love first hits people? ... Some moment happens in your life that makes you say Yes right up to the roots of your hair, that makes it worth having been born just to have it happen. Laughing with somebody till the tears run down your cheeks. Waking up to the first snow. Being in bed with somebody you love.

Whether you thank God for such a moment or thank your lucky stars, it is a moment that is trying to open up your whole life. If you try to turn your back on such a moment and hurry along to Business as Usual, it may lose you the whole ball game. If you throw your arms around such a moment and hug it like crazy, it may save your soul. --Frederick Buechner

Everyone Worships

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 12/23/2015 - 00:15

David Foster Wallace was described in the secular press as "the most brilliant American writer of his generation." Read the following and you'll understand why.

"...Here's something that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual type thing to worship is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things - if they are where you tap real meaning in life - then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.

On one level, we all know this stuff already. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power - you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart - you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self...

But the kind of life that is most precious involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.

The Most Important Part of Christmas

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 12/21/2015 - 13:35


If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tried.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Electronics will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.But giving the gift of love will endure.

--First Corinthians 13, Christmas Version

Deepening Our Connections

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 14:03

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In the month of December, evening meetings bring a very special bonus: I get to see all the Christmas lights on the drive home! It always reminds of when my parents would bundle everybody up, pile us into the family station wagon, and then drive us up and down the neighborhood streets looking at all the pretty lights. Every year I’d look forward to that particular night almost as much as Christmas morning. It was the repetition of that ritual that both drove it deep into my memory and built anticipation of going out and doing it again.

Those memories are all the more interesting to me as I think of how our culture increasingly distrusts ritual, and is less and less inclined to invest the energy needed to maintain it. That’s too bad, I think. Ritual involves repetition, and repetition builds profound connections like nothing else can. Those connections bind us to one another (think family dinner), a valued past (think beloved childhood stories) and to some of our truest and deepest sources of joy (think favorite songs that we've heard a bazillion times but which we still love to hear again). All of this is part of why I so love the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

The repetition and rituals of our worship go back thousands and thousands of years. In so doing, they connect us to a God who is more than the just the product of our current culture, the latest consumer trend. They connect us to the people we love but see no longer who thought these rituals so important that they bequeathed them to us. In doing what they did, I feel the span of the years drop away and our spirits drawing close. And they connect to us to our larger human family, people in every race and culture across the whole wide world, giving us hope that there may yet be peace on earth.