Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spy Wednesday

 Giotto Di Bondone - "Jesus Betrayal" Scenes from the Life of Christ

I know we are lucky to get people to come to church for any of the Triduum services, much less pay any attention to the earlier part of Holy Week.  

Wednesday in Holy Week was known as "Spy Wednesday"  remembering how Judas conspired with the religious authorities to betray Jesus. 

In some places, children drag effigies of Judas around and pound him with sticks.  

Pastor William O Avery, Professor at Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg takes a different tact and suggests we are more like Judas than we care to admit - Below is a link to the whole sermon but I quote the part where he offers up Judas as mirror:

Surprisingly, I think Judas represents us good faithful churched people. We want to follow Jesus just as Judas wanted to. We think we are following Jesus, when we are actually following our image of Jesus. We think our community is living as a foretaste of the Reign of God, when really our community more closely reflects the values of the society around us. Individually and communally, we do, in fact, betray Jesus often. Yet, we can’t accept this. We’re baffled when someone points out that we’re imprisoned by the ways of the world rather than the ways of God. We, like Judas, may even feel betrayed by the good news of Jesus, especially when it doesn’t take away illnesses and suffering in ourselves or our loved ones. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us will realize that we’re a great deal like Judas.

Now, notice how the Johannine Jesus responds to Judas. Jesus takes a morsel of bread and dips it in a dish (of wine? Who knows?), and hands it to Judas. Is this a foretaste of the heavenly banquet feast, and is Jesus suggesting that Judas will be at that banquet feast also? Moreover, Judas’ betrayal is not the only one in this chapter. The chapter will end with Jesus predicting that Peter will betray him three times.

I’m suggesting that giving the dipped morsel of bread to Judas is the gospel for him and us. It’s the good news that God loves us not on the basis of our lives, but on the basis of God’s love for us. For the gospel of John, everything occurs on a cosmic scale. It was Satan, we read, who entered into Judas. We have a cosmic battle between good and evil. God is fully at work here, in the clash between good and evil, loving us, as God loved Judas and Peter, apart from their ability to respond. Remember John 3:17: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” In these verses, Jesus shows the gospel to Judas and to us.

You can read the whole sermon here   Judas & the Beloved Disciple

(update - the link above appears to be dead)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Defense of Kate Gosselin - sort of

There are a lot of things I don't like about "reality shows".  Although I confess to being
attracted to some of them like some can't take their eyes away from accident scenes.  There is something riveting about the horror.  I blame it on Original Sin.  One of the things I don't like is the way we think watching these shows gives us the right to judge the people in them.  We decide who is good and who is bad.  Who is right and who is wrong.  Who deserves to stay and who should go.  It's kind of why I was so delighted when Jake the Bachelor picked the bad girl Vienna.  Although I think whole idea of the bachelor is so immoral and so horrible I feel like I need to take a bath after watching it.  Or maybe even visit the same clinic I hope all the girls involved in that show visit.  

But I digress.  This is about Kate.   I've watched her a couple of times on that show with all the cute kids and yea, I thought she was a bitch.  But you know, no more so than many--too many women are these days with their husbands.  A lot of women treat their husbands like shit.  Considering mine is dead and if I had the chance I would so appreciate him and all he did for me, that really pisses me off.  

So Kate is the bitch America loves to hate.  I saw her last night on Dancing with the Stars be a bitch to her dance partner.  Well actually she calmly asked him to explain things to her in a way she could understand and he threw a hissy fit "I TEACH TEACHERS TO TEACH - Don't tell me how to teach" and marches out  like a three year old.

  But remember, Kate is the bitch!  A whole week of practice and that's what they show just before she has to go out and dance.  And she looked like she was going to cry while she was dancing.  She was stiff and nervous but she was damn better dancer than I am.  The judges said it was nerves.  I think she was hurt by them showing that clip.  You don't think other celebrities had bitchy moments during a week to learn a dance?  But you see Kate is the Bitch so we only get to see her being a bitch.  She figured it out when she said in a shaky voice "that was 50 seconds out of a wonderful week"

Now you can say she asked for this, nobody forced her to be on this show.  She's been seduced by the money and fame of reality TV.  So what?  We are all seduced by things that are not good for us, it doesn't mean we don't deserve a little compassion like I felt for Kate when it seemed like she finally realized what was going on.  She's on Dancing with the Stars because America needs a bitch.  She's the designated bitch.

Hey Kate!  Chin up.  There are worse things to be than the Bitch.  I used to have a sweatshirt that said:

I'm not a Bitch.  I'm THE Bitch.  And that's MS. Bitch to YOU!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church, 1824

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Hauge. 

I have always served congregations more or less influenced by his movement.  Right now definitely more.  Sometimes it seems like everything that is wrong with midwestern American Lutheranism is laid on him.  Legalism, Pietism, anti-clericalism, congregationalism, individualism, judgmentalism, small-mindednessism...all those isms ALL HIS FAULT!

Then I started learning more about him and this guy's had kind of a bum rap.  

And a lot of that which passes today for "Haugeism"  I believe would make his hair stand on end.  I got people in my congregation who argue against any change or innovation claiming proudly "This is a HAUGIAN CHURCH!"  who don't have any idea what he was about.  

Hans Nielson Hauge was born April 3, 1771 on  a farm in Norway.    He never had much of a formal education but from a very young age he was drawn to God.  As a young man he had an intense religious experience in which he felt very close to God and experienced great peace about the love of God and salvation.  

Hauge felt called to share this experience so that others could know this love and peace.

The thing is, from what I can make of how Norway got to be Lutheran --it seems like the the Danish King just said "Okay now we are Lutheran" but there no grassroots movement or reform or renewal  - everything that was corrupt and stale about the Roman Catholic Church stayed the way it was only now everyone called themselves Lutheran.  

There was a lot of corruption among the clergy and church hierarchy at the time. It was against the law for lay people to preach and Hauge was persecuted, arrested and served time in prison for daring to preach.  This explains that left-over anti-clericalism and suspicion of educated people.  

Back then there was good reason to suspect church authority.  And maybe there is now but I highly doubt Hauge meant there to be the lack of respect for education and church authority that passes for Haugeism today.

Hauge just wanted people to experience the love of Jesus.  

 He didn't want them to be afraid of hell.  He felt the church had become stale and dry and non-responsive to the needs of the people to hear and experience the Gospel in their lives.  

Modern day Haugeism has seemed to hang on to the reaction against what was wrong with the church at the time but lost the heart of Hauge's message - that Jesus loves you!

I think it's very possible if Hauge came back today he'd be persecuted by the very people who bandy his name about.

Monday Morning Skating Video

To help me get back to blogging I'm reinstuting my Monday morning/afternoon Skating video- Today's selection is the "Red Hat" -  a  group number choreographed by Christopher Dean for the 1996-97 Stars on Ice Tour.  I saw this live.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980 Quotes

“A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth - beware! - is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call.”

We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways. 
“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

"When I fed the poor they called me a saint. When I asked why there were so many poor they called me a communist." 

"Do you want to know if your Christianity is genuine? Here is
the touchstone: Whom do you get along with? Who are those who
criticize you? who are those who do not accept you? Who are those who
flatter you?"

If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, may my death be for the freedom of my people ... A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish.

"If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people."

"May this Body immolated and this Blood sacrificed for Mankind nourish us also, that we may give our body and our blood over to suffering and pain, like Christ -- not for Self, but to give harvests of peace and justice to our People." 
(As he prepared to consecrate the Eucharist - just before he was shot to death)

 "May God have mercy on the assassins." (Last words.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mary of Egypt

The Eastern Orthodox church commemorates Mary of Egypt on the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Mary's story has always fascinated me.  She was a teen-aged runaway.  She ran away from her home in Alexandria at the age of 12 in the 7th century.   Now the story is that she simply ran away because she was wanton and wanted to live a life of promiscuous sex.  Yea right.  That's what every happy and loved 12 year old girl wants.  Her words are that she was driven "by an insatiable desire and an irrepressible passionI just don't believe it.  A runaway little girl who turns to promiscuous sex to survive and find love sounds to me like she was abused at home.  I think she should be the patron saint of runaway teens. 

So she meets up with a group of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and joins them with the goal of seeing how many pilgrims she can seduce.   Yea I'll show God.   Then she tries to enter the church of the Holy Sepulchre and is mysteriously blocked from entering.   She believes this is due to her impurity (does this story not SCREAM sexually abused child to you?) and seeks forgiveness from an Icon of the Theotokos outside the church.  After this she is allowed to enter the church.  She receives absolution and Holy Communion and retreats into the desert where supposedly she lived the rest of her life on three loaves of bread.  But the story gets even more interesting.

There's this monk Zosimas who entered the monastery as a young man.  He's led a very religious life but still feels like he is missing something so he goes into the desert and encounters Mary.  She recognizes him to be a holy man and calls him by name, begging his forgiveness.  She asks him to bring her communion and tells him her life story.   While she feels unworthy to be in the presence of one whom she perceives to be a holy man, he is overwhelmed by how she has turned her life around and perceives her to be the holy woman because of how her life testifies to the grace of God.  There's a scene I find almost comedic where she begs him to bless her but he says "No you should bless me!"  They are arguing over who is holier.  

I believe there is another story in Mary, not the wanton sinner but  the broken child who finally found wholeness and healing in the desert with her God and the holy man who recognized what she could not - that her life testified to an amazing love and grace of God that he in his more sheltered existence had missed until he encountered her.

In thee, O Mother, was exactly preserved what was according to the divine image. for thou didst take the cross and follow Christ, and by thy life, didst teach us to ignore the flesh, since it is transitory, but to care for the soul as an immortal thing. Therefore, thy spirit, St. Mary, rejoices with the Angels.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

John Wesley, 1791; Charles Wesley, 1788; Renewers of the Church

Wow.  I've been blogging for more than a year.  This is what I wrote last year about the Wesley brothers.  It's still good.

Actually when you read the lay preacher's allegory of Christ fishing for oysters ---it's not that much different than what Origin and some of the early western church fathers did with scripture.

On my trip to and back from Omaha I listened to some lectures from the Teaching Company.    I LOVE these lectures.  Right now I'm on the History of Christian Theology taught by Phillip Cary - he's one of my favorite.  He's got an excellent series on Augustine.  One of the lectures was on Christian reading that explained the difference between Typology and Allegory in Christian interpretation, which was always a little confusing to me and this was very helpful.

So I know that Luther did away with allegory and brought back the literal meaning of scripture which was a good thing.  To a point.  But you know you have to give those guys credit for trying to make ancient stories about a desert God and a desert people relevant to Greeks and Romans.  And it makes me feel kind of good to know that Augustine was a little perturbed by verses about dashing babies heads against rocks that he found a less literal way to make that helpful.  Which just goes to show you that Augustine and other church fathers were NO fundamentalists!

oh and BTW, if you decide to buy some lectures from the Teaching Company - NEVER pay full price!  At one time or the other during the year they all go on sale.  If a series you like is not on sale, just wait - it will be after a while.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pastor Joelle's Weekend Off

Okay so people want me to blog.  I'm gonna blog about my weekend off.

I went to a skating competition in Omaha, Nebraska - Winterfest.  This was the very first competition my daughter and I ever skated at back in 2002.  I was terrified and did terrible.  She finished in second place and was hooked on competing every since.  We went every year after that.   I stayed in the same hotel we stayed in.  I got through hotwire, just like  eight years ago.  Holiday Inn, 48 bucks a night.  Only now they have a water park.  But you aren't allowed to swim before a skating competition anyway.  I'm not sure but most coaches have that rule. My coach wasn't able to come but I still follow the rules.

Funny what you remember.  I remember walking through the parking lot at 5:30 am to get to Sarah's 6 am practice.  This time my practice wasn't until 7 am.    I had a good practice.  

One of the things I like about this competition is that there are usually a lot of adult skaters and there were quite a few this year but nobody at my level.  I was the only one in my two events.  But it's a good warm up for the big adult competition I'm going to in Indianapolis in two weeks. 

So I had a good practice and a good warm up and then my nerves got the best of me and did not do my freestyle as well as I would have liked.  I actually left out two jumps- half flips which are very easy jumps for me to do.   I don't know - what can I say?  I get nervous when I skate in front people and judges.

Then a couple of hours later I did an event I've never done before and will be doing in Indianapolis as well - Improv.  You get a  minute to warm up with no music, then you hear your music for the first get to hear it twice on the ice, then you get off and  you get to hear the music one more time off the ice. Then you do a program that you make up yourself with no help.   I had NO idea what to expect.  I practiced to slow pretty music, country music, fast music and dramatic music.  I was hoping for slow, pretty.  What I got was "Dancing  Cheek to Cheek"  which is kind of fast tempo but it was perfect for me.   Had a great warm up - people were clapping for me in the warm up!  Then I tried a bunny hop and went down and went down hard on my knee.  Ouch.  My knee is still black and blue and sore.  Fortunately it was toward the end of the warm up.

I felt pretty good about what I did - I did not jump, still being shaky from the fall, but I did dance moves and hammed it up with arm movements and facial expressions.   I felt really good.  Lots of people said they thought it was great.  Should have left it at that.

But no I had this bright idea since I was the only one skating to ask if I could get a judges critique after words.  Now I meant that I wanted a critique about the IMPROV and musical interpretation.   This is what I got--  I need to work on my carriage, bending my knees more, too many two foot turns - I need to turn on one foot.  And she didn't like my dress.  If I hadn't been so devastated by the criticism I would have asked "um, did you have some suggestions about the improvisation - choreography--musical interpretation?"  But I just "Thank you"   

I should have never asked for the critique.  I should have gone home feeling good about how the people in the audience liked the performance...instead the last thing I heard was how I'm still pretty much a crappy skater.  But I did learn something.  No more judges critiques.   Because I know I need to work on carriage and soft knees and yes I do know the ideal is to turn on one foot, not two.  You get nervous and you do the best you can.  I do think I will have to add some jumps next time.

Sunday I went to a ELCA church in Omaha that has right on their masthead "Progressive Christian thinking"  - can you imagine -being PROUD of being a progressive Christian and advertising it???  I had to go to that church.

So any of you ever heard of Kennon Callahan's Twelve Keys for and Effective Church?  Of all the church growth stuff that was so popular in the 90s I was pretty impressed by his stuff and I did his Twelve Keys thing in two different churches.  Well where I am going with all this is that his point is that there are some attributes of a church that will not get you any points if you have them, but they will hurt you if you DON'T have them.  Like PARKING.  Nobody says "Oh that church has plenty of parking spots I'm going back"  but if there is no parking, that's gonna hurt you.  Yea.  This church needs to read that about parking.  I could not find a place to park.  Perhaps they should save some parking spaces for visitors.  That used to be the thing to do when everyone was gung ho on church growth.   

But I was motivated.  And I thought..."wow - they must have a lot of people if there is no place to park!"  So I drove around the block a couple of times and finally parked down the street on the street and hoped it was okay and I didn't get towed.  And remember I have a bum knee by this time!

The church sanctuary must be very large and the parking lot very small because it looked pretty sparse.  And I know the worship is for the members and I guess everybody has to get up and point out the announcements that are already written in the bulletin cuz nobody reads the bulletin, except visitors who are BORED TO DEATH with your ten minutes of announcements.

But it was  very nice service, good message from the preacher.  They have communion every week so I was fed.  And I snuck in and went out, shook the pastor's hand, complimented her on her message and left and nobody ever even asked my name.  Which is okay with me but you would have thought someone might have been a little curious. 

When I used to take my kids to churches on vacation, people would be on us like white on rice.  You want those families you know.  When I go as a single women, they don't seem to be so interested.  Or it could be that it was the 90s when we visited a lot of churches as a family on vacation and the 90s it was all church grow-hospitality all the time.  I am kind of glad we've gotten over the church growth marketing craze, but you there were some very simple lessons in hospitality that we learned back then that I think we should still be practicing.  Like introducing yourself to visitors.  And making sure there is somewhere for people to park.

But it's back to the grindstone tomorrow.  I'm doing a sermon series on the Seven Deadly Temptations (which is what they were before a pope declared them sins) for Lent.  Maybe I'll post them.  

Oh and no pictures from my competition because I HATE the way I look in all my dresses and have two weeks to figure out how to solve that dilemma.