Sunday, January 13, 2019

Touching thoughts

An acquaintance put this on Facebook. So much of it applies to me.

Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgment.
Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.
Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.
Church is hard for the sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.
But, here is the beauty of church—
Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.
Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson in faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church—
The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.
I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.
Church is a body, a family, a place to love God and love others through our struggles!
~Author unknown

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Tidying up, Joy, and Mass Hysteria

Apparently a woman named Marie Kondo is getting her few minutes of fame because she's telling us on Netflix to throw away things that don't give you joy.

Nonsense.  I put a higher value on joy than utility.  A better standard is whether you can use something more than someone else who might need it, or if you are holding on to something that is not useful.  Her definition of joy is not a Biblical one.

I like this article:

All my books give me joy, despite having not read half of them yet. As the writer points out, when we go into a person's house, we look at their bookshelf, not their sock drawer.

Our gullibility is sort of discouraging, isn't it?

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Winter Light on a MId-winter day

I watched Winter Light by Ingmar Bergman today.  It's New Year's Day.

Fabulous film. I noticed that it was beat for beat like the first half of First Reformed--almost every plot point. The second half of First Reformed goes off in a weird direction; Paul Schrader should have stuck with the mimicking of the original, but it did make for a stunning viewing experience, if disturbing and surreal.

It's not, of course, like film-making today. The hyperactivity of today's movies, everything short--the scenes, the cuts, the lines--is it a cause or an effect? Either way, this one is a thinking person's movie, especially since you're reading subtitles.

It's not that the viewer empathizes directly with anyone; the pastor is too absorbed in his own misery; the lover is too self-effacing; the fisherman doesn't seem to have a reason to commit suicide when he has a family to take care of. But that's the point. These people feel these things legitimately even though there is no easily defined reason for it. It's very human, humane, and yet theological.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

For the New Year: Poem from The Valley of Vision

As I cross the threshold of this day
I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to thy care;
Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me.
Incline my heart to thy ways;
Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay;
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise;
Let those around see me living by thy Spirit,
Trampling the world underfoot,
Unconformed to lying vanities,
Transformed by a renewed mind,
Clad in the entire armour of God,
Shining as a never-dimmed light,
Showing holiness in all my doings,
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands.
May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In neeedful transactions let my affection be in heaven,
And my love soar upwards in flames of fires,
My gaze fixed on unseen things,
My eyes open to the emptiness, fragility,
Mockery of earth and its vanities.
May I view all things in the mirror of eternity,
Waiting for the coming of my Lord,
Listening for the last trumpet call,
Hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to thy wisdom,
And to the gain of mutual good,
Forbid that I should not be profited or
made profitable.
May I speak each word as if my last word,
And walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan
Prayers and Devotions

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Theology 101

When God said His name was "I AM," He put a period, not a blank for us to fill in more words from our own imaginations and devices.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Reflections on Mary

I’ve seen more tweets and such this year about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Evangelicals are criticized for not emphasizing Mary enough, although I don’t know why we should emphasize a Bible character in the first place. But I suppose that since we create Bible character studies on every personage in the Bible except Mary, they make a good point.

We know as much about Mary’s life and biography as we do most characters: her lineage, birthplace, husband, other children, some of her experiences as a mother, her activities during Jesus ministry and death, and how John was given custody of her at Jesus’ death (interesting since his brothers should have taken care of her). We know she was part of the early church. So we don’t have a dearth of information about her. Since I don’t think much of character studies as a Bible study tool, I don’t have much use for a character study of Mary, but that is a personal matter; if we study Esther, Abraham, or Joshua, we should study Mary.

So why don’t we? Two reasons: fear of Catholicism (yes, fear) and fear of women getting above their place.

The first seems silly at this point in history. It’s highly unlikely anyone in an evangelical church is going to start venerating and praying to Mary. The second is the real fear, as much as I hate to admit it.

Mary’s role in the Scripture is far more than keeping herself a virgin and having her uterus occupied for nine months. If that is how she is seen, she is done a disservice, as are all women who are seen as biological incubators. She didn’t just birth the Savior, she mothered Him, and all of us who have raised a child know the mothering is far more difficult than the birthing (not to diminish what’s involved in those nine months!) And she underwent shame because of it, a shame we can’t imagine. Jesus opponents say “We were not born of fornication,” and that is not a random comment.  They are calling Jesus an unholy name.

I know hundreds of intelligent women whom I know are seen by men as bodies for occupation, as vessels for keeping the race going, as females who should remember what their real purpose is and to not venture out of that space. I have felt that. I wonder if the early church looked at Mary and saw her as the mother and mentor of the Savior, and for who she really was.

Touching thoughts

An acquaintance put this on Facebook. So much of it applies to me. Church is hard. Church is hard for the person walking through the door...