Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A fix, too

For my post about the Chapel Observation...

The Soli Deo Gloria setting was written BY Marty Haugen FOR Weston Noble for, like, the 50th anniversary of his leading the choir or something. My bad. We used that order of service again today, and I have to admit, I was laughing a little about the built in song when we got there. Maybe that's because I told some friends of my thoughts about it. Knowing that my musings may have been running through their heads at the same time they were running through my head is amusing to me.

However, I do have to say, the more I think about it, the less I like the particular song I'm thinking about. The verse us women folk sing basically says that we need protection and we need to be pure and spotless because we're women. And then, the men come in and sing all pretty much about male-power. Not overtly like that, and I thought perhaps I was being overly sensitive, but before I even said my thoughts regarding that, someone else brought it up. And I heard a couple more people talk about it today, too. So, I'm not alone in these, "This stuff is sexist!" thinking...

But, the rest of the service is quite lovely. It is one of my favorites, aside from that one song in there. And when there are people who are good at chanting/singing, it is made even better. So, with that, I'm out. It's Tuesday, and so a couple of us get together for Law & Order SVU and conversation, and perhaps some adult beverages. I think I finished my Systematic Theology paper today, but I still need to do a bunch of writing for the annotated bibliography that goes with it. I'm going to do some of that before I head down the hall. You all have a delightful evening.

Something that has been on my mind...

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a "valued leader" for God's mission in the Church and in the world. I think that all people are valued and valuable, so what exactly does it mean for us who are in seminary to be working toward becoming a valued leader? Valued by whom? And how are we going to quantify or qualify the amount of value we have?

Some of the people I think are extremely valuable are people that others might think are completely expendable, or troublesome.

Society likes to tell us that we are defined by what we do. When we meet someone for the first time, often one of the first questions asked is, "What do you do?" But more importantly, aside from simply saying that you are a student or an airline attendant, or a pastor, or a sanitation engineer, or whatever, I think this question is getting more at the question, "What do you find valuable?" Or it could even be asking, "Who do you find valuable?" For example, what would the difference in thought be if you were to meet someone who said they were a CEO at a Fortune 500 company and someone who works with the Peace Corps or Doctors without Borders or whatever? I'm not saying that all CEOs are heartless jerks, but to me, different "personalities" are conjured when I think of these two occupations.

Anyway, what I'm meaning to say is, "How can we be valued leaders if we do not value each and every single person who comes into our lives; even if 'only' on the periphery?" If I see a classmate or seminary mate who is obviously extremely upset about something that is a big "hot button" issue, do I sit back and play the political game by not identifying with or comforting my schoolmate, or do I reach out with compassion and grace? And if I do play it political style, what does that say about me? Especially if no one else is reaching out either. What is that saying TO the person who is upset? "You don't count because you are at the root of this problem!" is what I think it says. And that's unfortunate. Really, it's more than unfortunate; it's sad and it's disgraceful because Jesus Christ did not come targeting any specific group (except for sinners, which is all of us, friends).

How can we be valued leaders if we're not cultivating the ACTUAL practice of grace and compassion? If we're trying to "play the game" to the extent that we are not ministering to people, but we're ministering at our own discretion and for our own gain?

Maybe I'm being naive, but I'm just thinking that when I start letting people tell me who I can and cannot minister to, I'm becoming irrelevant. I reckon that I'm going to continue to pray for those who are marginalized, and pray that my own inadequacies and shortcomings might be brought to my attention so that I might work on addressing them. Peace out for now, y'all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chapel Observation

Well, here at Seminary, we have chapel every weekday. To keep things lively, students are assigned to help out every week, under a faculty member. Also, each day generally has a typical order of service matched with it, and the people who plan worship pretty much do "Filler work," meaning they choose hymns and whether or not we chant or speak the psalm and what not.

On Tuesdays, we do the "Soli Deo Gloria" order of service, which is really quite lovely. I think that it was written by Weston Noble, the man who used to conduct the choir at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. I'm not sure though, so don't quote me.

I've noticed something about this order of service that I think is amusing, though. The assembly sings a song that is built into the service, and in this song, there are 5 verses. Everyone sings the first two, women sing the third, men sing the fourth, and everyone comes back in to sing the fifth. This amuses me because when it is the women folk's turn to sing, it reminds me of that scene in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," when the girl's school is introduced and they come in all fluttery like and say, "AHH" in their incredibly high-pitched voices. Then, the guys do their verse, and it's almost like when the boy's school comes in, pounding their sticks on the ground and marching.

I don't know; maybe you have to be there...

I'm not sure if I like the actual word break up of the song though, but that'll be a post for another day. I'm not feeling the greatest again, and even missed class today. I think I'm going to have a can of peaches and go lie down for a while. Peace out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A couple quick notes on my life...

Last Friday was Howard's birthday! He turned two years old. I didn't call them on the actual day because I slept pretty much that whole day. I was siiiiick.... Ah well.

Sis called me today to ask how I was doing and stuff, and we had a bit of a conversation. Near the end of my conversations with my sisters, I always ask, "Is there anything else that we should talk about?" And Sis said, "No, not really." And then I said, "Has Ma's nursing home called lately or anything?" Well, Sis told me that the nursing home DID call. It seems Mom's arms got scratched up the other day. Some woman and mom had a throw down! The way it sounds, they try to keep this lady and my mom separated because they are just like oil and water, but they had an "interaction" the other day and Ma got scratched up. I don't know if she fought back, or if she was her usual meek and mild self. Who knows? My mom has never been a violent person, but I think she could bust some old lady up if she had to... Not that I condone violence, because I don't.

I guess I shouldn't tell you that I busted out laughing. It's not funny; but really... Old ladies fighting? Can't you just see it? Tell me that doesn't look ridiculous in your mind's eye! I dare you!

In other news, a seminary friend of mine ran THE BOSTON MARATHON today! He came in 4997th out of over 25,000 runners. I'm so proud of him! He completed the race in around 3 1/2 hours. I'm actually watching the race on t.v. now, trying to get a glimpse of him. I don't think it's gonna happen, though. Ah well.

And lastly, I'm working, working, working on my Systematic Theology paper. This is the "big" class we juniors (first years) have, and it has most of us pretty intimidated. I'm meeting with the professor tomorrow to talk about it. He told me he liked, "The daring approach I took on my paper." I just want to make sure that this "daring approach" can get me a passing grade!

And with that, I think I'm going to go now. The weather is beautiful, so I want to get to a satisfactory point with my paper so I can maybe go outside. Peace out, and enjoy the weather!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Get Well Wishes and Prayers

One of my good, good friends here at Seminary has fallen ill. Even though most of my readers are Seminary pals, some of them aren't, and so I'm going to ask you all to keep my friend in your prayers. May the peace and comfort of God hold her and her family at this time, and bring her to wholeness. Get better, friend.


I was browsing around the Internet this afternoon, when I went to the website for the town in which my church is located. It's kind of a news outlet, but they also have birthdays, benefit information, pictures, and all kinds of stuff on there. Today, I was amazed to see news of an earthquake that was felt in my hometown and the surrounding areas! It originated in downstate Illinois, but was felt for miles and miles away. I'm kinda jealous I wasn't home to feel it, but I HAVE felt an earthquake before. A few years ago, when I was in Junior College, I was lying in bed one early, early, morning, right in the space between sleep and wakefulness when my bed started shaking. At first I thought that someone had hit my house with their car (don't laugh; it's happened before!). Then I thought maybe I was possessed like Regan on THE EXORCIST. But, I was too tired to get up and do anything about it. So, I went to sleep. The next morning, I was talking on MSN to one of my friends and he told me it was an earthquake!

So, today, around 4:37 or so, Illinois had another earthquake. Hopefully my home town doesn't get swallowed into middle earth sometime in the near future... If you're interested in looking at Illinois Geological Information, check out: earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/?region=Illinois

Happy Friday, all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Title Has Struck Me Yet.

Well, first thing is first! One of my dear, dear friends is having a birthday today! She is twenty-three years old. Happy Birthday, Friend! You rock!

This post is pretty much just going to involve me rambling, so no big changes on that front. Haha.

The presentation at church went well. I got to the church early so Pastor and I could make sure the stuff was all going to be compatible and what not. I set out a bunch of my informational flyers and stuff on a table while Pastor was putting up the screen and getting his laptop started. Then, I put my CD in the computer and it loaded up and was working fine. We wheeled the projector and laptop out of the way, took down the screen, and Pastor got ready to lead worship. He told me that he was sorry he wouldn't be able to view the presentation, but Other Church still needed him to lead worship.

After worship, Pastor said that he would be at the back to greet those who couldn't stay for the presentation. I was afraid I was going to be presenting to a very small group, and so when I turned around to go get something out of the fellowship hall that I'd forgotten, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large remnant of the congregation there. I'd say there were at least fifty people who stayed, and our average worship attendance is around 120 or so. And fifty is not a firm guess at all. I just know that A LOT of people stayed.

Pastor got the screen put back up and then he left. I thanked the people for staying and then showed them my presentation. They laughed where they were supposed to laugh, and I didn't hear any sighs like, "Hurry up already! We didn't know it was going to take this long!" When I had clicked the last slide and gave my closing comments, I stood up and the congregation clapped. I asked if there were any questions, and people actually raised their hands to ask me questions. There was a pew full of little kids who had been sitting right behind me, and they asked me some really good questions. And really, the kids were the majority of the question askers; not just the ones behind me, but the ones throughout the congregation. I fielded questions from the adults, too, but I was impressed at the quality of questions these kids were asking, and how well they had been paying attention, considering the presentation lasted about 45 minutes or so.

When I thought people were done asking questions, I said, "There is a lunch being served in the fellowship hall that you are welcome to stay for. Let us have a word of prayer." Then I gave a short grace, and they went out to eat. I was doing a few things before going out, and some more adults came up and asked me other questions. One man thought that all Palestinians are out to kill other people, but I explained that the majority of them want peace, and extreme right wing anything is bad. He said, "Wow. That's not the picture we get, is it?" And I said, "No, it isn't."

When I got out to the fellowship hall, I got a plate of food that some church folk had cooked up and supplied, and sat down by one of my cousins who had come from Peoria, Illinois to see me and my show. We also sat by a bunch of church folk, and they asked me more questions. I felt smrt. :) ha. It was a good time though. I'm so grateful that that congregation is so willing to support me in various ways; including showing interest in what I'm doing. I'm blessed.

Anyway, this post was more focused than I thought it would be, and it has taken a bit longer to write than I thought. It's all good though. But now, it is time to haul myself down to Audit's so we can do SGW. It's breakfast for dinner tonight, and I'ma walk because it is absolutely beautiful today. Peace out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What's happening.

So, I came "home" this weekend because I am giving a presentation of my trip to I/P tomorrow at church. We are having worship, set-up time for the power point, the presentation, and a light lunch afterwards. Pastor is not going to be able to make it to the presentation because of the "other" church, but I told him I would show him sometime, or at least leave the cd and my notes so he could see. I'm excited to do the presentation and share with my peeps what I did in January, but I wasn't in the mood to come home this weekend. Ah well. I'm here, so there is no use whining about it.

Hmm. This past Friday was April 11; the day that my mom's friend, Dick, died last year. I don't know why I remember that sort of thing; I just do. I didn't get all weepy or anything, but I did remember with fondness the times I got to spend with him. I also hope that his daughters are dealing with the "anniversary" okay. They say that the first year is always the toughest, and I agree. It's okay to grieve and to not be "fine" all the time, even as others think you should buck up and get over it already. That's not the way human emotions work. I think it's a sliding scale sort of thing. Sometimes memories or situations or something comes up and brings that hurt up almost like new. I know I always get a little crabby around the "anniversary" of my dad's death, and so I empathize with Dick's daughters. I maintain that grief is a strange thing like that...Sometimes even "happy" things can make a person feel the grief anew. I have thought a lot about what could happen in my future, and I did even more so in my past, because I didn't want this or that situation to catch me offguard with grief. That being said, I invite you to pray for those who maybe feel like our culture is telling them to "get over it" already, or telling them that they don't have a right to grive; that they might be surrounded by unexpected grace and love.

Anyway, in other news, one of my cousins and her parents said they are coming to this presentation tomorrow, so I'm happy to see them. I love them and don't get to see them that often. I hope I am not kept too long though, because I also want to go see Grandma, and maybe Mom if time allows. My plan last time to get her to sing didn't work because we were in the hallway and not in her room, so I have a new plan this time to get her to sing. Not in a manipulative way, really, but in a, "I want you to 'feel normal' for a time, and your singing voice is still beautiful and might aid in that" way. I don't know.

But, I need to go because I hope to get some sleep tonight. I'm going extra early to the church in the morning so I can set up a table of stuff from J-term, too. Have a good Sunday.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Something I've been thinking about...

This semester, I am in a class called, "Pastoral Care with Adolescents." I also am finishing up a module tomorrow that also deals with faith in youth, children, and families. For the latter class, I had to read a book and write a paper about it. I chose the book, "Hurt" by Chap Clark. It was interesting, to say the least. The book deals with the issue of abandonment being the underlying cause for a lot of the things teenagers are having to face in today's modern world. Teenagers today are under a lot of stress, and it seems to be systemic from the family and other adults who are off doing their own things instead of being parents and mentors. I'm not saying all adults are hands off when it comes to the lives of teens, but it is a reality for many people.

Reading that book made me think about how teens don't have people to talk to whom they can trust to not just "tell them what to do" or to put all sorts of pressure on them. And that got me to thinking about how when youth approach us, it would do us all well to treat them with respect and love. Only with respect and love and grace are we showing Christ's love to them. We don't show the love of God in Christ when we beat them over their heads with our Bibles, or doctrine, or theology, but when we accept them, warts and all.

And then THAT got me to thinking about this time when I was in high school (the real point of this blog post). I was maybe a junior or so, when a young lady in the class below me came up to me one day. She was one of the girls who was not "popular" in the traditional sense of the word. She wore baggy clothes and didn't have "nice" hair or expensive jewelry, or this or that. She had a reputation for being a stoner/drinker/party person. She swore a lot, she fought a lot, and she skipped school a lot. But, we had P.E. together, and because I tried to be one of those people who would talk to anyone (The MAN isnt' going to tell me who I! can be friends with!), I guess we were on friendly enough terms. I guess I should also include the fact that there were maybe 350 people, tops, at my high school. Everyone knew everyone else, and everyone was always up in everybody else's kool-aid, but it was a pretty decent place to be. I also should include that, while I believed in the Triune God, I was not one of those students who was trying to be a "soul-winner" or whatever. That sort of thing is not my style. Instead, I just tried to live my faith, in the ways a 16-17 year old, mainline Protestant denomination, Christ follower can.

Anyway, back to the young lady. We shall call her "Jessica." She came up to me one day and said something along the lines of, "You believe in God, right?" To which I replied something like, "Yes, I do."

She said, "Well, this is going to sound weird, but I've never heard about who Jesus is. Who is he? What does he do? I've honestly never really been told about him."

And the class was over, so we were walking toward the hallway out of the gym and I told her a little bit about who Jesus is. That Jesus loves us; loves ALL people. That he gave his life so that we could be forgiven." And she said something like, "But what do you have to do to be loved like that?"

And I think I replied something like, "You don't have to do anything. Jesus loves all people." And then, we had to go to our different classes. And thinking back on it, I just think about how it could have seemed that I was dismissing her questions because I wouldn't STOP WALKING to class while she was talking to me. And I didn't ever follow up with her. And I don't think Jessica got the answers she was looking for that day, or that she ever changed.

But the sheer fact that she CAME to me to ask is something I am humbled about now that I have 7 or 8 years between me now and the me then. I wish that I could have been more patient, or more persistent (not in a crazy way, but in a, "I'd like to give you more time to discuss this if you'd like" way). I wish that my witness to Christ could have been more faithful in actions, instead of in just words. I wish that I would have just been more mature, and more cognizant that "rule following" and getting to class on time is not that big of a deal when someone wants to know what Jesus is like.

I'm thinking, "She saw me as someone she could talk to honestly and openly about faith." Holy Cow. Wow. It is my fervent prayer that I am still someone who teenagers can relate to, but I don't have much interaction with them (other than my old friends from Restaurant that I have on MySpace). And I am reminded to pray for Jessica, and hope and pray that she is still curious about this Jesus guy, and who he is. And pray that someone will be more gracious than I was, in order that the radical and life-changing love of Christ might be made evident to her.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

An observation and a wish!

First off, today is the birthday for a dear, dear friend! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I hope you have an awesome day!

Secondly, I was eating my Cocoa Puffs this morning, and I was thinking, "Why don't they put toys in cereal boxes anymore?" When I was a kid, every sugary box of cereal you bought had some weak little toy in there that was exciting as all get out to find. You remember the days: You stuck your grimy little hands down into the sugary goodness to fish around for the toy... That is, until your mom or dad came in and said, "Stop that! Wait til you get to the bottom!" And whoever found the toy at the bottom got to keep it. Fortunately, my sisters and I were not bad at sharing.

Nowadays, you either have to SEND AWAY with 8 BILLION box tops and $2.95 for the toy, or they don't even offer that. Weak. I think they should totally go back to putting the stinking toy in the bottom of the box. Sometimes we would ASK for a certain kind of cereal for the toy. Tell me that's not great marketing. Tsk tsk, General Mills, Kellogs, and Post. You need to take us back to the 80s. It'll be fun.

And so, that's what I have to say about that.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Refresher

Well, I figured that I would post about the abbreviations I use for those who may not know for sure. I'm going to try to be exhaustive here, but if I leave some out, let me know and I will add it.

Sis-My Older Sister
BiL-Brother in Law (Sis' husband)
YS-My Younger Sister
YSB-Younger Sister's Boyfriend
Howard-My 2nd oldest nephew; Sis & BiL's oldest child
Sunscreen-My youngest nephew; Sis & BiL's youngest child.
OB-Oldest Brother
Ma-My Mother
YOB-Younger Older Brother

I think that's it; at least for the common abbreviations...Any questions, just let me know and I will try my best to answer.