Friday, February 27, 2004

GRR.

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHh.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

unless....

unless, of course, there isn't enough snow for that.
or unless it starts raining not long after you wake up, and it's cold nasty rain.
or unless the snow is only sticking on the prickly grass.
or unless you were dressed for going to class, chapel, and church, and not for playing in the snow, and by the time you could change it was all gone.

all of which would, in my mind, imply that there isn't enough snow to cancel school.

but I didn't have to go to class this morning, so that's good, I guess......

make a snowman

when life gives you cold wet snow, make a snowman.

oh the weather outside is frightful...

so it snowed here last night. In Atlanta. about an inch of accumulated snow on the ground. Today public schools, daycares, offices, universities are all closed. The seminary is operating on a "two hour delay". Life has shut down. All over an inch of snow.

Kind of ridiculous, this whole snow thing. I mean really, people, it's a little wet slush--just get over it and get here! Out of control. People in the south obviously have no snow experience, which is really funny, so they're all freaked out, can't drive, don't know how to operate in everyday life, can't walk, don't have clothes for this weather, and can't figure out how to scrape snow off the top (not just the windows) of cars. oy!

It's also kind of funny...and good, actually, because I didn't do all the reading for class today and was planning on finishing during breakfast--then I didn't have to!! :-)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

why are you oppressing me?

the computer is forever oppressing me, not posting, etc...maybe it will work now. please?

from Presbyterians Today, 2002, "Beneath the Celtic Cross of Jesus"

For centuries Celtic Christianity was the "road not taken" by the established church. Because it affirmed the goodness of creation and emphasized equality among all believers, the Celtic road was marked with the misleading warning "heretical," and few Christians chanced traveling it. However, noting how it addresses many contemporary concerns, Christians today are walking the Celtic path and finding in their journey a rich spiritual experience.

A brief meandering into Celtic Christianity begins beneath its most recognizable symbol, the ancient high stone crosses that mark Scottish and Irish countrysides. These crosses unite the two touchstones of Celtic theology, creation and salvation. The circle represents God the creator. Pre-Christian Celts worshiped the sun, which they believed to be the source of life. Early Celtic missionaries used these circles as a symbol for the Christian God, the "Creator of heaven and earth." The cross of course is Christ's cross, the symbol of salvation. Chiseled into the crosses are Biblical scenes of God's redemptive acts throughout history.




On the following pages are descriptions of seven characteristics of Celtic theology or spirituality and suggested practices for enriching each week of the Lenten season.

All creation is alive with the presence of God

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Celtic Christianity is its affinity with nature. The Celts enthusiastically affirmed the psalmist's declaration, "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims [God's] handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). The Celts believed that all creation is alive with God's presence. Because God's Spirit dwells in all living things, everything is inherently good; therefore all creation is to be treated sacramentally.

A consequence of believing all creation is alive with God's presence was that everything could be a window to God. Celts found nature an "icon." They could "see into" it and see God. Every moment, every location could become a time and place for encountering God.

Celtic Christianity and Lent

There's a great article on the Celtic church and Lent in Presbyterians Today from 2002. I've put a link to the left there. In addition, Each week (or most of a week) I'll be posting the suggested practice at the top of the page, and will put in a regular post the info that informs that practice. watch for this.

in the meantime, have a good ash wednesday...

peace

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Shrove Tuesday

well well well...it's pancake day! After (and while) putting together the Lenten devotional for the young adults, we had a pancake party. Good times had by all! Patrick made some excellent pancakes--we had blueberry, strawberry, chocolate chip, and plain. Fab. We also had good times and funnyness. :-)

Now, I've just realized, I have come home from church and it feels early because I normally don't leave church before 9 or 9.30 on Tuesday nights. This is super exciting! I left at about 8:50!

Sometime soon, apparently, i have to break out the clarinet again and see how it is, because I've been BEGGED to play during Lent. We'll see how that goes.

well....i need to do some homework with this free time I've somehow managed to get from somewhere. and I'm going crazy--I swear I thought I saw a bug moving on top of the computer screen across the table from me, but there's nothing there. weird!

right...it is time.
I have David Lamotte songs stuck in my head.
Scenes from the Passion are still swirling.
It's time for me to go....

The Passion

I saw the Passion last night (the Mel Gibson movie that is creating such a stir) at a special screening for some church people.

What did I think? I know you're all dying to know. (bad choice of words, really...)

well: cinematographically, it was well done. The story line was relatively accurate, with occasional embellishments for the sake of cinema/art. There were places when the inaccuracies or embellishments were, well, glaring...but only a few. It was bloody--some of the violence (perhaps a large amount) was potentially unnecessary. There's no need to watch every one of 75 lashes while Jesus is being beaten. BUT: the film did a very good job portraying the horror of crucifixion. Did it make it seem like Jesus' crucifixion was out of the ordinary, when that clearly would not have been the case (we know the Romans crucified thousands)? maybe a little...for example the two bandits crucified with Jesus were not beaten at all, while jesus was literally a bloody pulp by the time they put him on the cross. No wonder the man died in just a few hours. Did the film make the Jews out to be "Christ-killers"? Not any more than the Bible does. The Romans looked worse, actually--they were laughing while beating jesus and the crowds. At least the high priests looked disturbed at the beating scenes. Were the languages a hundred percent accurate? probably not--there were times when the jews were speaking latin and the romans aramaic, and times when they would switch mid-conversation. (probably no one who hasn't studied one or both languages would notice.) women? there were beautiful scenes of Jesus' mother, and of Mary Magdalen...and there were GREAT flashbacks to other gospel scenes. There was good perspective taking--the perspective of the disciples, of the women, of Jesus.

All in all, a good film. hard to watch. hard to recover from. hard to talk about. don't go if you have a weak stomach. don't go if blood makes you pass out. don't go if you want to continue to live in a happy land where crucifixion isn't a form of torture. don't go if you can't comprehend that in order for there to be Christianity at all there had to be the death of Jesus.

but, don't not go because you don't think you can take the challenge of leaving your safe little happy-clappy faith world. And don't not go because you don't like subtitles. To both of those objections i say: get over it. And: don't talk about the film being anti-semitic, too violent, bad, unfaithful to the biblical narrative, dumb, or too Roman-Catholic-preoccupied-with-suffering, UNLESS YOU GO TO SEE IT. Please don't talk about it in an uninformed manner. that's irritating.

so, the final verdict: go see it if you have time. If you want to be an informed person and be able to carry on a conversation with pretty much anyone for the next several weeks, see it. if you are willing to have some challenges, maybe a nightmare, and to have a new perspective on something protestantism has tended to gloss over, go. take some kleenex. get water, not coke. and be ready for an important and relatively fast moving two hours (exactly).

ta.

Monday, February 23, 2004

the letters are off...

the first wave of letters to potential supervisors has been sent. just four. i hope one of them wants me! :-)

keep figuring out ways for me to pay for this experience. think hard. thanks!

must..do..laundry....otherwise no clothes to wear tomorrow! LOL.

la-di-da

i swear i'm going to bed now.

really.

Sunday, Sunday

I know that this post will show up as Monday, but to me it's still Sunday because I haven't gone to bed and woken up again yet. Even though it's 1.30am and I should have done so by now. except the woken up part. anyway...

a good day in church, a great young adult meeting, and an afternoon watching Keeping the Faith. ah, Ben Stiller. :-) Good times with JC, too...and with Ollie, who still has a cone on her head but will probably get it off on Wednesday. Very exciting!

What else is going on?
the sky is pretty....
my room is messy....
i still need money for scotland....
i haven't heard about the trip to Turkey yet, but I prolly won't be going....
i need to turn in my student loan forms....
it's a busy week of catching up on homework ahead....
someday I will exercise again, and that will be good....
i still don't have cable tv. or any tv....
the world appears to still exist, despite attempts by our president to make that stop....

that's all, i think. the end.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

David Lamotte concert

I saw David Lamotte on Thursday night. He's so excellent. I love him. I got some new CD's, actually, because I like him so much.
My friend Jason also likes him very much, so it was a good evening. :-)

In other news, just to catch up:
1. Ollie is home. She has been spayed. She still has a cone on her head, for a few more days (until probably Tuesday) to keep her from pulling on her stitches. She is doing well and is substantially calmer than she was before. However, she can't see anything because she has a cone on her head. This may impact her calmness. it would mine.

2. My car is broken again. Something with fuel injectors (bad) and a leaking transmission (also bad). I am in a rental car from Enterprise until it is working again. Hopefully not more than a week!

3. Driving a Neon is very different from driving an Explorer. I feel like I am driving a go-kart.

4. The youth mission trip is on its way to reality--fundraising has begun in earnest. As has my going crazy. yippee!

5. I am very very poor, because the cat is very very expensive. As is renting a car.

6. The trip to Chicago was fab, in my opinion, because I got to see all my friends and fave places and restaurants. Including the Chicago Diner! woohoo! Noell didn't think her interview went well, though, because the woman was obnoxious, uninformed, and hung up on one issue that is nowhere noted in the literature of the school. oy.

7. I am very behind on homework and must go do some very soon.

8. I can't seem to get my act together when it comes to getting photos from youth group developed.

9. Lent begins on Wednesday the 25th. Go to church, people! I want to see everyone walking around with ashes, ok?

10. I don't actually have a 10...but this list needed to be ten. so it is.

It looks like I am going to Scotland...

at least I hope so! I have a long list of potential churches. All I have to do is:
1. send brilliantly written letter (via email) to the short list, asking for more info and asking to be taken on as an 'assistant minister' for september-august.
2. deal with school issues (for being gone, etc) and housing for the summer.
3. raise $12,000 before I go, including money for travel and living. I'm praying HARD that the church I go to serve will be able to provide housing. Really hard.

So...to the end of #3, I have set up a paypal account. If you would like to help me realize my dream of living in Scotland for a year, serving the church, meeting people and forming relationships across cultural boundaries, and learning about church life and myself, please use the "make a donation" button there on the left.

Want more info? email me!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

on the road again...

going to chicago. back saturday. may manage to actually blog. tried to blog last weekend...was thwarted by computer/blogger three times. gave up. if this doesn't work, you'll never read it. but anyway. i'm going on a road trip with two friends. and now i must go to bed because noell is making us leave at 6am. bleah.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Call Stories #4, 5 and 6

Call Stories # 4, 5, and 6
(Isaiah 6.1-8, Luke 5.1-11)
Jeremiah 1.4-10
CNCP
February 8 2004

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the LORD sayd to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’:
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,
Says the LORD.”
Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
To pluck up and to pull down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”

In the Presbyterian Church USA, when someone expresses an interest in going to seminary, or in perhaps becoming a minister of the Word and Sacrament, they are sent to, not surprisingly, a committee. This committee is called the “Committee on Preparation for Ministry” (often called the “CPM”) and their job is to make sure that people who enter the ministry are properly prepared. A part of their job is also to make sure that candidates for the ministry are truly called by God to this task in the church, and, of course, to keep out crazy people.
Now, the first thing that happens when you walk into this room full of ministers and elders from churches across the presbytery is that they ask you to tell your call story. Can you imagine what would happen if someone walked in and said, “well, I had a vision, and an angel burned my mouth with a hot coal, and I said, ‘yes, of course I’ll go!’”. Or if someone said, “God put her words in my mouth and said I was supposed to go wherever she sent and speak whatever I was told.” Or if someone said, “well, I was out fishing one day, and Jesus came and almost sank my boat, so I decided he must be for real and when he said “come on now, let’s go.” I left behind my business, the raw fish in the boat, my dirty nets, and my family and just walked on down the beach.” The committee would probably not make any attempt to hide their shock and general displeasure that a church session had allowed this person to come to presbytery rather than suggesting a good mental health professional.
No, the CPM would much rather hear stories like mine, where the candidate says, “I grew up in an unchurched family, I read the Bible in high school, and the Spirit really spoke to me through the scripture, so I started going to church. God was really moving in that congregation so I decided to join, and I was baptized there at age 18. I still feel that God is at work in me and I want to try to do what God tells me to do, because I’m just not happy fighting the Holy Spirit all the time!” Or maybe like the person who went to meet the CPM for the first time the same day I did. He grew up in the church, knows all the good old hymns, the members of his congregation love him, and he feels pulled to new church development projects in Hispanic neighborhoods. Even I could practically hear Jesus when the man talked.
But sometimes call stories just aren’t like that. In Isaiah’s case, it was painful—he must have had at least third degree burns from that coal. In Jeremiah’s case he didn’t want to go, and throughout his whole life he was persecuted, beaten, and often unhappy because no one liked him, but God had put God’s words in Jeremiah’s mouth so Jeremiah just couldn’t keep silent. In fact, later in the book he wrote that when he tried to keep quiet, the Word was like a fire in his bones and he just couldn’t keep it inside. These prophets were literally on fire for God. God called and they followed, even to places they didn’t understand or want to go.
I feel like I can resonate with the “going to places one doesn’t understand” call. I spent January in Jamaica. Last May, when I found out I was going there, I was excited. I had heard some things about Jamaica—sun, sand, surf, nice crafts for low prices, lots of swimming…the commercials for the Sandals resort look great! And Air Jamaica advertises champagne service between Atlanta and Montego Bay—how exciting! So last summer and fall, I had lots of comments about how nice it must be to be taking a month off from school, work, and cold weather to go on vacation.
But, during the months of November and December my group got to know some of the details of our trip from the professor—and from some people who had been on the trip in the past (often a much more telling story). We learned that we would be in Kingston for most of the three weeks. We learned that Jamaica is what is now known as a “Developing Nation”—which used to be called “3rd world.” We learned that crime is a huge problem, that drug smuggling and drug usage are the most common crimes, and that the murder rate in Kingston is 2-3 times that of Atlanta. That made my mom feel better. We learned that the history of the country was rooted in death—the Spanish brought death to the natives, the British brought slavery so brutal that slaves died so quickly they never had families like they did in the US, and there was a constant flow of African slaves into the country until emancipation—which came in the 1830’s, well before it did in the US. We learned that the economy, formerly held up by sugarcane, is now mainly based on tourism in the north, and on bauxite (the base for aluminum) in the mountains. The southern half of the island, particularly the southeastern corner where Kingston is located, has very little in the way of jobs. We learned that we would be staying at the United Theological College of the West Indies, in cottages which would have four bedrooms and a bathroom, and that we would eat meals at the University cafeteria. We learned that chicken and fish were the most popular foods—bad news for a vegetarian!
And so we began to try to explain that we weren’t going on a vacation, that we were going to stay in a third-world city, a city that contains half the island’s population. And then, suddenly, the holidays were over, the first week of January had arrived, and it was time to go! We went to the airport very early in the morning. And now, I can say in retrospect that Air Jamaica is NOT my favorite airline. We finally arrived in Kingston (though just barely, some of us thought) and were met by sounds, smells, and a lack of air conditioning despite the 90 degree weather. We got to the seminary and were greeted by a professor, who explained our schedule to us. In the mornings we would have lectures on different sectors of Jamaican life: the arts, health care, families, crime and the prison system, the economy, Rastafarianism, etc. In the afternoons we would pile onto our bus and visit places like hospitals, prisons, missions, children’s homes, schools, churches, even a bauxite plant. In the evenings we would have group reflection and worship. “Where is our free time?” we wondered. Did we have any chances to go to the pool, to take naps, to walk around? Well, UTC is very near one of Kingston’s many ghetto neighborhoods, so we were not to walk around. The rest of our question was answered by, basically, a “no.” So, having heard the schedule, we went to our cottages. They literally were four bedrooms and an attached bathroom. It wasn’t long before we learned that the cottages do not have hot water. Dinnertime came and we learned that curried goat is also a common food in Jamaica. And I ate the first of many servings of “rice and peas”—white rice with a few red beans cooked in.
Now, this may sound like a place not many people would want to go. My mosquito net was the first thing to come out of the suitcase. The lizard that lived in our fourth bedroom was kept under close watch. Our key was in the door at all times, because we were to lock ourselves in, to lock ourselves out, to basically keep the door locked 24 hours a day. It was hot, and the windows are the slatted type that open so bugs can come in, but hot air doesn’t seem to go far. All in all, our first night was quite the interesting experience!
But soon we were off and running, meeting people, going places, visiting churches, playing with children, and seeing God at work even in that place of great poverty. The majority of the people in Kingston live in neighborhoods lined with corrugated aluminum shacks…but always in view of the area called “Beverly Hills”—up on the hill, with large, ostentatious houses (even by our standards). Kingston is dirty and crowded, goats roam freely around the roads, garbage piles burn on the street, and there are so many interesting smells that I can’t describe them to you. Suffice it to say that “interesting” is a euphemism carefully chosen.
We met some amazing people: like Dave Spence, the pastor of the North Street United Church, in the inner city area of Old Kingston. He is the only pastor, there are several hundred members, and the congregation runs a daycare, a school, skills classes for women in the community, a computer room, a health clinic, a program where nurses and psychologists visit teenagers at home to talk to them about healthy lifestyle choices, a bakery…the list goes on and on. I got tired just listening to the man talk! He was so clearly called to that place, in that time—his amazing energy, his commitment to the people of the community, his willingness to listen when people want to share their needs, and his vision for what God’s community ought to be like were absolutely awe-inspiring. He was an Isaiah—he was touched, and when God called he said, “Here I am, send me!!” You can practically see him, like an eager child, hand raised so high that he’s almost standing up, going “ooh, ooh, mememememe!!!!” We met some children at the Mustard Seed Community who had been abandoned because they were handicapped—children with cerebral palsy, elephantitis, scoliosis so severe that their ribcages were literally twisted. These children had bright eyes, though, when they could open them, and they loved to be touched. They were beautiful children. We met children at schools, who wanted to touch our white skin and my curly hair, who wanted to know if I wore contact lenses, who begged us to come visit their classroom so they could show off the good work they’d done. And we met the people who run these places—the priest in charge of the Mustard Seed community was practically Mother Teresa for some of us. The teachers who have over 40 2nd graders in their class. People who do fantastic work with limited resources. People who love all God’s children. People who come to work every day even though there was a gunfight in the neighborhood yesterday and a teacher was shot last year at this time. People who really felt that they did not need to be afraid, because God was with them, and they were chosen and appointed to do this work for God’s people.
Something amazing began to happen while we were in Kingston. The fear and anxiety that I, at least, and I know others of our group, had felt about going to this country where we would be so obviously white and so obviously wealthy began to disappear. It was as if God said to us “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” After all, here we were, in a place we didn’t know…because God had called us and said “you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.” We went and we saw, and we listened, and we spoke, and we made friends. Soon we could all see that we were sent to this place…and many of us didn’t want to come back. Not just because it was warm there, and we kept hearing about the freezing weather here, not just because we had new friends, or the opportunity to go to the beach in only 4 hours….but because the church in Jamaica is vibrant, there is work to be done, and we wanted to be a part of that work, that amazing new thing God is doing.
But we had to come back. Because God is doing amazing new things right here in our own churches. God doesn’t just call people to exotic locations. God doesn’t just call people who are especially smart, especially wealthy, or especially educated. God calls the ordinary people. Jeremiah was a young adult when he had his experience—one who didn’t want the responsibility, not unlike many of us 20- and 30-somethings today. Simon Peter, James, and John, were ordinary fishermen. Isaiah was an average Israelite. Dave Spence is a regular person. The 2nd grade teacher at Calabar primary school, with 40 kids in her class, is an ordinary person. The people who come before CPMs around the country are students, workers, unemployed persons, parents, grandparents, daughters... they haven’t necessarily had a grand vision of God in the heavenly court surrounded by angels. If they have they won’t tell the committee. No…God calls ordinary people in ordinary ways, to do extraordinary work.
God doesn’t only call individuals, but indeed calls whole congregations, the whole church. The Presbyterian Book of Order lays out several things the church is called to do: to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, to fight injustice, to feed the hungry, to minister to those in need. And then it says a most amazing thing: The church is called to do this “even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ.”
And so we are the ones who are called. We are the ones who share the gospel with a hungry world. We are the ones who point beyond ourselves to the One who calls us. God tells us not to be afraid—for God is with us as we go to all to whom we are sent, as we speak all we are commanded, as we leave everything and follow.

Monday, February 02, 2004

slacker. or busy. not sure which.

I know I am a slacker. I'm sorry. I'm also quite busy. I think. At least I feel busy. School started again today. Church is humming along. basically, I need a nap, but my brain is racing and i don't really have time. oh, and it's bedtime anyway. hmm....perhaps bedtime is a good thing. I have to write a sermon this week, after all!

I hope everyone is behaving themselves, and not being too TOO desperate to hear from me. I'm going to try to write something every night, but don't get too excited yet, people. I believe I've said this before and have yet to follow through. But this is a new year, a new semester, a new...umm...well, a new something. Anyway....
be good.
:-)