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Showing posts from November, 2014

Church New Year's Eve Resolutions

Tomorrow will be the first day of a new church year- the first Sunday in Advent.

I usually think of Christ the King Sunday as the "eve", but technically... here I sit on a Saturday night at the true eve of the church year.

Yes, yes, the calendar is arbitrary, etc, etc. Nevertheless, here we are.

In Judaism, the Days of Awe- Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days in between- mark a new year, a time of atonement, and a sense of focused worship both as a course corrective for one's relationship with the Creator and as preparation for the living of another year.

In Christianity, we often experience the course corrective during Lent. Once upon a time, Advent was a companion season to Lent- a shorter time of reflection, penitence, and metanoia before a festival (Christmas).

The season of waiting has lost some of that flavor, but it doesn't have to. We can still take these few weeks- four Sundays and a handful of weekdays- and reorient ourselves in our relationship with Go…

Building on a Prayer

Our God in heaven, Holy parent of all black, brown, olive, tan, and peach children,
Holy is your name. It is for praise and glory, not to be used lightly.
Your kingdom come, We dare to ask for the day of justice
Your will be done, We dare to ask to be used for your purposes
On earth as in heaven, May it be so, Lord.
Give us this day our daily bread, And stop our hands from taking more than our share
Forgive us our sins, For they are legion
As we forgive those who sin against us, For they are legion
Lead us not into temptation, For we are prone to anger, to frustration, to laziness, to despair,
But deliver us from evil, From the forces that oppose you- wherever they exist
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory- You alone are God. Everything is yours.
Amen.
Amen.




Excerpted from a post (by me) at RevGalBlogPals

Thankful

No words necessary. 







Book Review: Mission at Nuremberg

This review was first posted on 11/24/14 at RevGalBlogPals.org.

In the next six months, you will need to buy a present for someone. This person may be easy to buy for or kind of tricky. He or she might be religious, but persnickety about religiously themed books or movies. She might be a World War II buff, but who already seems to have/know everything. He might be a voracious reader of generalized military history, yet shies away from specific biographies. The person you know may have loved Unbroken (Hillenbrand) and wants to read something similar, but despairs of finding such a book.
Good news, friend! I have the book for this person, this situation, your (advanced) church book group, and maybe for you. Mission inNuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend is just waiting for you to buy one or two copies, read, and distribute. Frankly, I’m a voracious reader, consuming quickly and without discrimination. I dove into this book and then I slowed, p…

The Grief that Remains

I cried today at the thoughts of the Brown family, of what "justice" looks like for some people, of the division between people I like and people I love and people I respect. 
In the brokenness, I have drawn into myself. I spent most of my evening, talking very little. Reflecting. Listening. 
Amos is very clear when he says that the trappings of worship offend God, when they are devoid of a regular life of justice and righteousness. 
I wrote this prayer:
Lord, we have pulled out the Advent wreath, the Christmas tree, the poinsettias. We dusted off the hymns, unsung for a year, and unearthed the words of your prophets. Yet, in your eyes, these efforts are for nothing without the regular, persistent, deep pursuit of justice for all people. Our efforts are hollow without consistent work toward peace, reconciliation, and participation in your mission for creation. In our hearts, we do long to be your people, to carry out your mission, to be lights in the darkness- proof that no dark…

Dear Mrs. Till-Mobley

Dear Mamie Till- Mobley-

First, I apologize for using your first name. You don't know me and it's not right for me to presume.

I cannot stop thinking of you tonight. We have just heard, late at night, that Office Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, MO police will not be charged with any crimes in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Wilson is white. Brown was black.

You wouldn't have been surprised by the rhetoric that has poured forth since Brown's murder on August 9th. We've heard about his misdeeds, his alleged activities, his tendencies, his size, his demeanor, his habits, and all other manner of detail meant to reveal that his life was just another brown life, only significant by what it proved in death- that it didn't count for much to the whites around him.

Mrs. Till-Mobley, tonight, people are arguing that a failure to indict by a grand jury means that there wasn't enough evidence to prove a crime, that the officer didn't do anything wron…

Prophets and Kings

Today for Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday, I made a slide show of art of the life and ministry of Moses and the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The gospel writers used wrote in ways to make similarities between Jesus and Moses obvious, because a connection to the prophet of freedom lead people to understand what they might expect from Jesus.

Of course, he turned out to be so much more than they expected. Jesus is more than a prophet and even more than a king.

Here are some rough notes.

Moses Jesus

Pharaoh orders destruction of all Hebrew baby boys. Moses’s mother saves him by floating him down the river in a basket. (Exodus 1-2)
Herod the Great hears tell of a new king, born in Bethlehem. He orders the slaughter of all the babies in the vicinity. (Matthew 2) Moses is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, “taken into Egypt”. (Exodus 2) Joseph has a dream in which an angel warns him of the slaughter of the innocents. He is instructed to take Mary and Jesus …

Through Time and Space

Earlier this week, there was a blog prompt that involved writing to someone in 1864 and trying to explain modern life to them.

I thought of that today.

I received text messages this morning from a friend on the East Coast. (cell phones, Seward's Folly Alaska!)

This friend had met up with my sister, who had baked her a pie- in an electric oven. (electricity)

The friend drove my sister to work, so the latter skipped her morning Metro ride. (cars, subways)

I drove to work and checked emails. (cars, computer, internet)

I listened in via teleconference to a meeting in Seattle. (telephones)

I chose not to fly down for a 6 hour meeting. (planes)

I received a message concerned about a person who is not known to me, but- it turns out- knows some of my friends. (Internet, Facebook)

I made connections for a support network for this person via her/my friends. (Internet, Facebook messaging, text messages, telephone, voicemails)

I talked to a friend on the East Coast. (cell phone)

I went in a g…

Litany for Jeremiah 1:4-10

I was doing other writing around Jeremiah 1:4-10 today and I wrote this litany to accompany it.

I can't stop thinking about what the words are and their implications. It's actually unsettling.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

1:4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 "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." 6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." 7 But the Lord said 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. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord." 9 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. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build…

Simple Truth

Matthew 25: 31- 46  
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clo…

This Week in Reading

I am planning to finish these 3 books in the next 5-6 days. I will comment on all of them in one way or another!

Reading for a potential church book study:

From Barnes and Noble:
The gripping story of the American army chaplain sent to save the souls of the Nazis incarcerated at Nuremberg Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke was fifty years old when he enlisted as an army chaplain during World War II. As two of his three sons faced danger and death on the battlefield, Gerecke tended to the battered bodies and souls of wounded and dying GIs outside London. But at the close of the European theater, with Hitler defeated and scores of American troops returning home to resume their lives, Gerecke received his most challenging assignment: he was sent to Nuremberg to minister to the twenty-one imprisoned Nazi leaders awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. A crucial yet largely untold coda to the horrors of World War II, Mission at Nuremberg unearths groundbreaking new research and compelling fi…

Just Like Me

One of the prompts for today was to name skills you see in other bloggers that you wish you had. Forme, that felt like an exercise in frustration. I write like me. When I've tried to write like other people, it sounds weird.

Something where I have wanted to look like other people, though, is hands. 

I'd love to have longer fingers and better shaped nails. I go through rounds of getting my nails done, as pictured, to make my hands look nice. When I don't keep them done, I tend to nibble at them and they look dreadful.
I covet nice hands. Consequently, I don't hanker after other bloggers' skills, but I do envy their hands.

Mantra

Today was filled with a lot of intense prayer and conversation. I knew it would be ahead of time, so I tried to a lot plenty of time during the past week to quiet and meditation. 
HOWEVER...
My older child got sick and stayed home from school for two days, which meant I stayed with him. I fell behind in everything- including reaching a sense of peace and stability. 
What to do? 
Last night, I decided I would do a guided meditation no matter what time it had to happen. This lead to me sitting in the bathroom with headphones on at 10:30, listening to a soft voice talking me through awareness of the moment. 
This morning, I breathed my mantra. It is always a version of "grace in... [something] out". Since we were having a healing service with a time for individual prayer, I prayer for "Grace in, anxiety out. God in, self out." Over and over. 
When my hands rested on people's heads and shoulders, it was, as always, a powerful and disconcerting sensation. 
Being op…

Who Can Say?

Our adult education class at church is studying Amos. I like it because it feels like sneaking a peek a Jesus' preaching notes.

Of course, there are some very uncomfortable moments. Amos comes down hard on those who are focused on the details of religiosity, but ignore the true work of relationship with and response to God. The prophet cries out against those who use others as means to an end, particularly when the end is a lush life, a sexual adventure, a perversion of justice, or simply a picnic with the spoils of oppression.

Donald E. Gowan says we must be careful about how we apply Amos's words in a modern context:


“Have we the right (or the wisdom and insight) to make a direct application of Amos’s message to any contemporary nation or culture? With injustice still rampant, there is a strong temptation for us to do that, but that should be done with caution… We cannot make direct applications of the prophetic message in order to predict our future, but we can and should us…

Litany for Healing

LITANY FOR HEALING                                                  Inspired by Jeremiah 17:14
Lord, the brokenness of the world is known to you. No pain, suffering, grief, or regret is hidden from your eyes. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; Save us, and we shall be saved.
Our prayers are not merely for physical well-being, But also for consolation, renewal, and hope. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; Save us, and we shall be saved.
We lift up our sisters and brothers, our enemies, strangers in our midst. We pray for the nations of the earth and the whole of your creation. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; Save us, and we shall be saved.
We offer to you a sacrifice of open hearts and minds, Prepared to be found by you in unexpected ways and places. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; Save us, and we shall be saved.
We do not dare to pray out of a sense of our own worth, But our cries come from the depth of the body of Christ. Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; Save us, an…

The Space Inside

Admission

Here's the truth: I take 20 mg of Lexapro every day. I set a timer so I won't forget it. If I do forget it, I won't necessarily be able to tell that day, but I can tell the next morning.

Lexapro is most often prescribed for anxiety and/or depression. If you ask me why I take, I will say,
"To keep me from being homicidal or suicidal and so far it's working."

I don't often say anything about taking this medication. It is not that I'm ashamed, but there is often such a stigma about mental health and mental well-being in our culture that people who need some chemical help via prescription are judged harshly.

I received the prescription in conjunction with about a year of counseling. Lexapro is a medicine that MUST be tapered off, but I am continuing to take it now because I think it is genuinely helping me.

I feel well-connected with myself on this medicine- with what I like to do, what is true about who I am, and- most importantly- able to feel accompan…

Those Who Save Us

It's Veteran's Day. Or Veterans' Day. Or Remembrance Day, for some.

My husband is a veteran. So's my brother. My grandfathers were and my great-uncles.




There was an article in Wired last month about content moderation in social media feeds. Adrian Chen, the author, wrote about teams of Filipino men and women who are hired by companies who contract with Facebook, Twitter, or other internet works to monitor what is posted. They are paid to sit and delete pictures of genitalia, graphic violence, abuse, animal cruelty, threatening images, and anything thing that interrupts the flow of happy babies, food pics, and Buzzfeed quizzes.

Chen writes:


While a large amount of content moderation takes place overseas, much is still done in the US, often by young college graduates like Swearingen was. Many companies employ a two-tiered moderation system, where the most basic moderation is outsourced abroad while more complex screening, which requires greater cultural familiarity, is do…

Competition and Sanctification

I am starting a relationship with a new spiritual director (SD). I'm very excited.

In our first conversation, I mentioned some of the areas in which I think I need to work. Her direction is inspired by the Holy Spirit and rooted in the Enneagram. I mentioned my Enneagram type to her in this first chat and then discussed some of the things on which I want to reflect and dig deeper spiritually.

Important facts:

1. My Enneagram type is very competitive (3). That sense of competition can have an inward or outward focus.

2. I don't like to do things that I think I should OR that I enjoy if I am not as good at them as I think I should be.


So, I was talking to SD about my struggle with spiritual disciplines. She immediately commented, "It seems like you're very competitive- especially with yourself."

I replied, "Yes. If you ask me, though, I will tell you that I'm not competitive. I'm especially less competitive than you!"

We laughed, but I've refle…