Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

season after epiphany (week 0)

The daily lectionary readings last Thursday morning were:
Daniel 2:1-19
and
Ephesians 4:17-5:1

Joan read the Daniel and I read the Ephesians.  As I began the Ephesians reading, I was struck by how it connected to the Daniel reading (well done, lectionary crafters!) -- the nonbelievers do not have understanding, but those who follow God do.

FCS-Ian said that the Ephesians reading reminded him that it's a process, rather than just a single moment at baptism or whatever.  I said yeah, as I read it I was reminded of themes in my sermon, because these are the daily lectionaries leading up to that Sunday :)

I said that I forget sometimes what hard things we are called to do.  I said, "I'm not sure I want to commit to that."  (I thought of lashon hara.)

Joan(?) said, "Lots of people don't commit to that."  Which was really not what I was going for.  (I felt like what she was getting at was, "Lots of people call themselves Christians and don't even try to live into being the good people that Jesus commands us to be," whereas I was trying to talk about us and not about Them -- because it's so easy to be judgmental of Other People and so easy to let ourselves off the hook.)

I forget what I said in response, but Joan said, "I think we can't do that.  And that's why we feel guilty all the time."

I thought of the fact that I do the Call to Confession at Rest and Bread every week and how I've been thinking that I would like to make more explicit that in acknowledging and turning back to God, we let go of the sins we are confessing, we let go of the guilt.

What I said was, "I know that we can't perfect it in this life, but it's what we're called to do."
22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26"In your anger do not sin"[Psalm 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28You who have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with your own hands, that you may have something to share with those in need.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Those are some strong demands (and I also love the closing line of this lectionary passage -- esp. 'cause, leading up to Baptism of Jesus Sunday).

+

We talked afterwards about the fact that I was going to be preaching, and I said I was mostly excited about preaching -- that I don't like standing up in front of people, though I'll sit down and argue with the person who's standing up.

Joan said that when she was at Lesley, there was a big emphasis on cooperative learning sort of stuff and that she insisted that teachers have power (as do students) and they need to step into that and own it, because if you don't acknowledge it then it gets corrupted.  I immediately made the analogy to privilege -- that acknowledging your privilege is the first step.
I also agreed that I think it'll be a good experience for me to stand up in front of people like that.

***

Later, I was catching up on Magpie Girl posts and read "Epiphany: Fairies, Snowballs of Honor, and Finding Your Star."
It is silent and still as “snow, on snow, on snow”  comes down. Cate and I are bundled up to our noses against the cold, but happy in the oasis that is the walled garden near our urban home.

“Can we visit the Fairy Tree?,” asks Cate.

“Of course!” I reply.

“Oh good, I want to give the Fairies the Snowball of Honor.” says Cate.

When we get to the tree, Cate leaves her snowball in a hollow as an offering.

“Hey Cate,” I say, “tomorrow is Epiphany and we get to find the name of the star we will follow for the year. Want to ask the Fairies what the name of your star will be?” She nods. She closes her eyes and holds out her hand it it’s puffy pink glove. I say, “Imagine that the Fairies are carrying a word to you. They are swirling around you like the snow flakes. And now, they are putting the word in your hand.”  I touch her open palm with one finger. “Open you eyes! ”

The second her eyes open, the word is on her tongue.
I was reminded of the Dreamboard idea.

Other posts: "*8Things: To Stop Doing in 2010" (more for the idea of the title than for MG's list itself) and "Fear — How to Break Up with the Bastard" (after the "{dear fear}" post on another blog).

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Emily K.'s facebook statuses are usually Bible verses or other Christian "inspirational" messages, which don't always map onto my theology.  But last Wednesday's was: "Moses answered the terrified people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today...The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:13)

***

Thursday night was CAUMC small group.  It was me and Sean and Seth.

Sean had two readings -- one from Intimacy: Pursuing Love and one from Hospitality: Risking Welcome.

They were really really good readings, and in the interest of ever getting this post up I'm not going to attempt to retype blocks of text.  But the Intimacy one talked about church as "a place where friends met regularly to tell their stories, share their joys, and bear one another's burdens" (p. 32) and the Hospitality one talked about L'Arche and about how this guy single-handedly prepared a big meal and later realized that by refusing to accept help from anyone, he was signaling that "The quality of the meal---a reflection of my culinary skills---was more important to me than the experience of community" (p. 22).

I borrowed the books from Sean and read them on Saturday.  The one other really powerful story from the Intimacy book was about this congregation which contains a lot of recovering/struggling addicts (who lift up their personal prayer concerns very openly and honestly) and members of a wealthy well-to-do mission partner church were visiting and during prayer time one of the visitors said, "I want to ask this church to pray for me.  I've never said this out loud in any church; but I just can't stop drinking, and it's about to ruin my marriage and my family.  I need your help."  I about cried reading that.  Have I mentioned how bad I am at asking for prayers for myself?  (I told Ian that near the end of Friday's session, the therapist said that one of the things that struck her most was my strong desire that other people think I'm "fine," and in his reply he commented that, "I think we both know you like being seen as uber-competent and in control," which is TRUFAC.)

The L'Arche story in the Hospitality book continued:
Can we set aside our own need to prove ourselves useful and generous in order to listen carefully, to welcome the offering, to appreciate and honor the gifts of other communities, especially the gifts of those we have come to serve?  Can we receive their hospitality?

Can we?  It's an important question, because receiving hospitality is what God does.  In the incarnation, God in Christ entered a particular home, a particular neighborhood, a particular time and place in history.  Jesus went (and still goes) in search of welcome, stepping into people's homes, asking to dine with them, calling ordinary and marginalized people down from treetops so he could join them in their homes for supper.  Being fed at our table, sleeping in our guest room, receiving a cup of tea in our chipped cup, being invited into our lives to listen as well as to speak--all these are sacred acts of Jesus Christ.

For us to become Christ-like is to enter into the holy act of receiving hospitality from the world.  From strangers.  [...]  Even from our enemies.  Receiving hospitality is a sacred risk and a godly adventure.

As you take the risk of hospitality, remember that God is with you.  God. who took this same risk, is with you.  [...]  As you accept hospitality  in unexpected places, God is there.  And God calls us to be there, too.

(pp. 25-26)
Writing this up, I'm reminded of a bit from Loving Jesus by Mark Allan Powell (which full writeup I still need to make):
I ask my seminary students how many of them are prepared to devote their lives to serving the Lord.  Every hand goes up.  Then I read them Mark 10:45  where Jesus says, "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve."  Jesus says he doesn't want you to serve him, I declare.  He says that he wants to serve you.  I'm messing with their minds, of course.  There are plenty of Bible verses that do exhort us to serve the Lord (for example, Matthew 4:10 and 6:24), but seminarians are often more keen on serving than on being served.  So are pastors.  So are many of us.  Peter would have gladly washed the feet of Jesus, but he didn't want to let Jesus wash his feet (John 13:6-8).

-pp. 177-8
The Hospitality book invokes those who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust, the Underground Railroad, and those aiding "illegal" Mexican immigrants in the USA.

And from my notes on Loving Jesus:

"I offer the following proposition: The mission of the church is to love Jesus Christ; everything else is just strategy" (p. 178).

"Jesus doesn't just want his sheep to be fed; he wants his sheep to be fed by someone who loves him" (p. 178, re: the John 21:15-17 story of "Simon Peter, do you love me? ... Feed my sheep.").

"A more biblical model may describe the external mission of the church as being to love God (through worship) and to love neighbor (through service)" (p. 179).
Tags: church: caumc: ya group, church: caumc: ya group: misc, church: somerville: ucc: morning prayer, people: church: ian, people: h: ian, religion: christianity, self: therapy, son of a preacher man
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