Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Away from Home again

Being away from home has been the story of my life for the last 11 months. I looked ahead to the next 8 months and counted so many possible and definite trips away that I got tired thinking about it. I'm a homebody, for sure.

I suppose I should put on the thankful face and be glad for the freedom to do this. I know I'm glad that I'm not juggling trips to help out with my elderly relative in another state, where I am now, with kids still at home.

Things to be grateful for:
The resourses to take this trip, ie. an extra car and money for gas.
The time to be able to go fairly frequently.
My health, that allows me to drive this far.
Good weather for driving, which has been the case on every trip so far.
A comfortable place to stay for free.
Other relatives that are loving and supportive, who are here, right up the block!

And above all else: This relative who has been such an important, loving part of my life! She is doing pretty well. She loves the Lord. She taught me much about service and faith.

Thanks, blog, I needed to focus on these things! Turn this list into a prayer of thanks to God!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Week of Downs, with Some “Ups” at the End

I came home from a 5 day retreat to the news of the Virginia Tech situation and saturation coverage on TV. I just couldn’t find the words to blog about that sort of tragedy. On Wednesday, the TV news was full of pictures of the shooter’s videos. On one show, they had a split screen, with the shooter on the right and the “expert” giving his opinion that it was quite wrong to show these videos over and over. And while he was talking, there the images were, over and over. And the anchor said something mild in agreement. And the images kept playing. I felt anger, besides the sadness.

I feel great respect for the family members stood up to the news organizations and told them that these images were a second assault.

And we are also inundated with rehashes of Columbine and other school shootings. I didn’t hear any mention of the shootings at Red Lake (seven dead), which made me wonder if the networks had forgotten this since it was so far out of the way. Or did they not remember because the victims weren’t white?

On Friday, my daughter called to tell us that the mother of a friend of hers had died. There are unresolved questions regarding the circumstances of this death. I am friends with the woman’s mother; my children are friends with the woman’s children. The children’s father died a few years ago. Imagine being 22 and losing both parents already.

Saturday, DH and I went to hear the National Lutheran Choir. The choral music was heavenly. DH said that he listened and read the words of the music in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy. He said that the first set, which was liturgical, was appropriate for his thoughts. For example:

Through the darkness and fear

I have come to see clear,

that the shadows of death

could never conquer the day. (Sade Rissanen)

On the other hand, he said that the second half, with some sing-alongs of some old Christian hymns seemed trite under the circumstance.

I just used the music as an escape from thoughts about my friend’s daughter.

Sunday we had confirmation at church, with music by Bill Maxwell and Friends, which plays a sort of country/blue grass flavor of music. That was great.

I was particularly touched by the sermon. The pastor spoke about/to each confirmand’s strengths and heart, telling us all that confirmation is not a graduation but a commissioning.

I know that some of the older people have criticized the confirmation programs in recent years for not being rigorous enough. And I know that the pastors have struggled with the number of students they get who are forced to attend confirmation class even though the parents haven’t brought these kids to Sunday School or church, nor do they attend themselves. But I marvel, yes, I’m envious, at the sense of faith, spirituality, and sense of service that the pastors, youth leaders, and other confirmation teachers have endeavored to instill and often, managed to instill, in these young people. I can’t remember anyone from my home church ever taking a personal interest in me or the other kids in our church. And the confirmation classes never never touched on any life application of the lessons. We never even opened the Bible.

To sum up my thoughts after this past week: Don’t pass up any chances to be a Christian mentor to young people around you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Will There Now be (more) Prejudice?

I was talking on the phone this morning to a loved one who is from South Korea. I asked him if he had heard about the shooting in Virginia. He said yes and clicked on CNN on the 'net. Oh, he said. The shooter is from South Korea. Now that will make it bad for the rest of us.

Whenever there is labeling, there is a sense of WE/THEY. And the WE are, somehow, "above" the THEY.

That is why, as disgusting as the words were that came out of Imus' mouth, his chortling after using the words was even more disturbing to me. I don't follow Imus. I fail to understand how that sort of thing can ever be labeled (an attempt at) humor, except, perhaps, in a junior high locker room.

My husband has always made it clear to those in our family that so-called humor that is down-putting to another person is never acceptable in our home. Yes we slip up, but that is the ideal.

The media asked, regarding the Imus situation, why it took so long for people to respond. I think it is because sensitive people don't usually listen to that sort of thing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rap music critics

A news article detailing some of the previous protests against the language in rap music.

And another article.

How have you and your friends reacted to the lyrics of rap music in years past? Have you supported it with your $$?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Same Story Told from Different Points of View, Just Like the Gospels

Several years ago, we visited the Mille Lacs Indian Museum. Without a doubt, it is the most memorable and educational museum I had ever been to. The main exhibit was a life size diorama of the four seasons, the four "technologies" used by the Ojibwe Indians traditionally. Each season had a specific type of house, food, clothing, means of transportation, and means of catching, hunting, or harvesting food.

While I'm sure the people had a hard life, given the harsh winter weather we can have in Minnesota, they also had devised many "technologies" to cope with their needs.

Three of my family members toured with a male Indian guide, the other two with a female guide. When we discussed what we had seen, heard and learned following the tours, we discovered that we learned different "stories" about the lives of the traditional people. The man told much about the hunting and the building of the homes and the canoes. The woman Indian guide stressed the food, clothing and children's needs.

Just as the four Gospels all tell the true story of the life of Jesus, each emphasises slightly different aspects of His life. Different details, different facts, differing facts, but all true.

Blue fonts used in memory of water.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pardon of a Drug Offense, What do you think?

Jim Marshall pardoned on cocaine conviction

If people "pay their debt to society" and lead a clean life, it seems to me that they "should" have their good name restored, at least officially. We all know that, unofficially, this type of thing always hangs over a person's head.

I can't help but wonder if a more annonymous person would have had the resources, monetary or social, to get a pardon.

I don't know about Jim Marshall's religious life. But I do know that Jesus always offers us a pardon, even without the good works.

Friday, April 06, 2007

"Technology" Update

I've decided that my definition of "Technology" is the means and tools we use to accomplish a task. I’ve been a bit busier with my “lack of technology” at the house. Looks like we won’t have running water until, perhaps, late May. Ditto, for a really usable sewer system. I’ve been meeting many people in the same boat [can you be in the same boat when there is no water?] at the laundromat. I’ve been showering at the school when I go for my pool exercise class. However, some kind of pool pump there broke, so the pool is closed, so I’m not currently getting much of a real shower. A Sun Shower device just isn’t the same.

Someone said, well, it’s like camping. No, not really. Better bed, but the same scenery all the time. And with all the wind we’ve had this winter, I’m glad I’m not camping.

Lenten Music brings reflection and remembrance

I've not been posting much lately, for reasons I'll explain in another post, but I have been reading other blogs. I’ve been especially drawn to those with Lenten reflections. The Psalmist has been posting a daily Lenten hymn. Many of these are old favorites; some are completely unfamiliar. Some of the Lenten hymns capture the concept of our sin and guilt, but Christ’s payment for that, more deeply and meaningfully than anything else I’ve seen.

These hymns have brought back memories of the Wednesday evening Lenten services at the church where I was raised, in Milwaukee. We always attended. It is just what we did. Several years, the pastor showed a film series about Holy Week or about the life of Christ. These images have stuck in my mind and, fortunately, are very powerful when I hear the passion story read from the Bible. And we always attended Good Friday services, which is also what I did today. That service was a poorly attended service bringing together 6 churches and their pastors in our town. Somehow the parents don’t instill this attitude of “this is what we do because of what Christ did for us.”

I’ve attended the Wednesday evening Lenten services here as I usually have. We have a soup supper first, choir practice after church. It is a good evening of fellowship and reflection, and fairly well attended. I preached at one of the services. Last night we had a Maundy Thursday service, including communion and Tenebrae. That was poorly attended, no young people, and only about 3 children. It certainly is true that many people go from the high of the Passion Sunday to the high of Easter without the depths of the agony of Jesus on the cross. I guess it is the same old story: just think of the crowds on Palm Sunday. The theology of Glory, without the theology of the Cross.

The service last evening was so beautiful, so meaningful, IMHO. Is it right to prescribe beauty to the remembrance of the Last Supper? During the Tenebrae, the Bell Choir played two pieces, “Two Meditations on the Cross” and “On Eagle’s Wings,” the choir sang four pieces, “Always Remember,” O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (not the usual one), “Lamb of God,” and “Glory be to Jesus.” And our pianist and violinist played a duet of the theme music from Schindler’s List.

Easter and the resurrection await. Easter morning we’ll be up early for early choir practice, singing at two services, and serving communion at the late (9:30 am) service. I’m glad I don’t have this schedule with the added responsibilities of the pastor.

Don't ask, don't tell -- in the church

When I read this article, I couldn't help but wonder how/why pastors don't address other sins/issues of their parishiners.

Commentary: What would Jesus really do?

CNN contributor Roland Martin says a holy war is going on among Christians. Interesting commentary.

Your take on this?