Friday, December 29, 2006

Unschooling Article

The Chicago Sun-Times recently ran an article on unschooling that is just great! I found it amusing that one of the parents used the term "factoids" like I do. What I thought was weird was the one unschooling dad who said, "We don't know that children are innately curious." Good grief, what children has he been observing? Granted, children's curiosity can be thwarted and squashed, but they are innately curious.

Hail, Highly Favored Lady

Driving to church on Sunday afternoon, I was looking for something on the radio. When I hit the pre-set button for NPR, the first carol that came on was "Gabriel's Message" (LSB 356), not exactly what I expected from NPR, but very welcome! It fit well with Sunday morning's Gospel.

Gabriel called Mary "highly favored one" and said she was blessed among women. When Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, she too called Mary "blessed among women."

What does it mean to be "highly favored"? Some of my friends almost make it sound like there was something special about Mary, something different, that caused God to choose her to be the Mother of Our Lord. Or if not that, maybe God made her into something special, something different, so that she could be His mother.

But what if Mary really was "just like us"? What if she really was just as much a sinner as I am? Like Pastor says, "favored" is grace-language. Isn't is possible that the title "highly favored one" is due not to what she was in her own person (with or without God's help) but rather due to what He declared her to be and because of the copious amounts of grace He was going to be showering upon her over the next 30+ years?

But if "highly favored" isn't about Mary's self, then you have to start wondering where the favor is. Surely it's not something as self-centered as being "famous" and that we all know about her. Instead, there were the realities of life she had to face when her family suspected that she been behaving sleezily, and then when she was on the run as a refugee, and then when she was tagged as the mother of a rabble-rouser -- that's not the kind of "favor" from God that most of us covet.

Gabriel calls her highly favored. Elizabeth calls her blessed. And Simeon says that a sword will pierce her soul. Personally, I suspect I'd tell God that I didn't want that kind of favor or blessing. Who needs pain and suffering? Who wants to be the outcast? Who wants to have her soul pierced?

And yet, maybe that's where the favor is found.

Maybe she is "highly favored" because she was appointed for a very difficult life, a life full of suffering, and that she would have a soul pierced in a way that she'd never choose for herself. When we suffer, we're driven to depend upon Jesus in a way that we never would otherwise. When our soul is pierced, He binds us up.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12)

Maybe the "high favor" and the "blessedness" of Mary is the great measure of grace she received, commensurate with the sufferings she endured in being the mommy of Jesus. As much as we all hate suffering, would we actually choose to trade the comfort of the Absolution for something "easy"? Jesus said of a different Mary, "She loved much, for she was forgiven much." Maybe that's also related to the anfechtung that His mom would endure. Maybe the "high favor" was that the Blessed Virgin just needed to receive more of the Gospel, more of God's love, more of His support, more of His forgiveness, to continue living out the life she was called to as the Mother of Our Lord.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Alpha and the Omega

My husband has spent the last year listening to the Bible read aloud on CD. He mostly listens while he's driving. He's near the end. So last night, on our way to church for the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist, he asked if we could listen to Revelation for his first time through that CD. That made a very interesting juxtaposition of readings. The first reading at church was from Revelation 1. The epistle was 1 John 1, and the Gospel was John 21. Oodles of John last night!

After spending the last year going through Leviticus on Thursday mornings, it surprised me how much of Leviticus (the priestly garments, the tabernacle furnishings and sacrifices) showed up in Revelation that I'd never noticed before.

It's also interesting to think of what it was that John was seeing and then trying to describe with words that just weren't adequate for the task. If one cannot describe the indescribable, just what does the indescribable look like??

Listening to the whole book read in one big swoop, I also noticed how often Jesus refers to Himself as the "Alpha and Omega." I had always thought of that simply as the "first and the last," the "beginning and the end." Maybe it was because of last night's sermon, and the emphasis on the Word, the testimony, the witness, the preaching... but whatever it was, it made me realize that Jesus' being the Alpha and the Omega has to do not just with starts and finishes, but also with the alphabet. If He is "A to Z," that means all words, all sentences, all writing, all speech, all words, proceed from Him. (Of course, that doesn't contradict the reality that we can pervert words and use them against His will. But without Him, there could be no words.)

"This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

Picking Up

Sometimes it gets to the point that the kids just can't pick up when the mother tells them to. They go to the bedroom. They make an attempt. But nothing really gets accomplished. Not quite understanding why this is, the mother then sits on the bed, giving instructions, micro-managing the kid's way through the picking-up chore.

Ah. Then the mother discovers why "picking up" has not resulted in a "picked-up room" for the last month or so.

Why is it that we must keep candy wrappers under the bed or in the sock drawer instead of putting them in the garbage can? If a person were to actually go to the trouble to PICK UP the candy wrapper and "put it away" in a sock drawer, mightn't it just have been easier to drop it in the waste can that's right there?

Why is it that receipts for the last several candy bars are being stowed away in the jewelry box? Now, stowing chocolate itself in the jewelry box... that I can understand: it's valuable stuff. But the receipts?

Why is it that a person can helpfully be making orange juice for the family, and manage to leave the lid of the frozen-concentrate jar on the counter rather than dropping it in the garbage can, when the garbage can is easier to access than was the place the lid got left?

Why is it that doll clothes were "put away" by being moved from the middle of the dresser-top to a corner of the dresser-top, when the doll-clothes bucket was right there handy?

Why is it that when you tell a child to "put away" the ponytail bands, they get shoved into the right drawer, but the child does not take the extra half a second to put them in the right spot in that drawer?

This is not rocket science.
This is not stuff that hasn't already been explained repeatedly.

There must be some magnetic frequency running through our house, pushing Stuff away from its proper storage location.

Well, back to the micro-managing....

Christmas Reflections

It's fun to have a big group of people singing Happy Birthday to a little girl in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas afternoon.

I don't recall any previous Christmas with so much Nerf weaponry and light sabres. PEACE on earth??

We bought altogether too many DVDs with TV series and movies. The comedies should help us laugh our way through the dismal days of February when the sun refuses to shine.

When I went to town today, there wasn't a single Christmas tree out on the curb for garbage pick-up. Either people are keeping their trees up past the 25th, or nobody has real trees anymore. I'm hoping that the lack of curbside trees at least somewhat indicates people may be continuing the celebration on into Christmastide.

Karaoke is harder than it looks. I thought I knew those country pop songs. But when I have to sing lead without the printed music in front of me, I flop. (At least I'm embarrassing myself in the privacy of my own home!) I wonder where I can get TLH or LSB hymns for karaoke? ;-)

I hear tell that some people get stressed out by a house full of company. Boy, I think it's a blast! It may not be quiet, but it's fun! Or maybe it's just that the people who descend upon our house are such joys to be with!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Sermon

You may wish to read Pastor Petersen's Christmas Eve sermon which expresses appreciation for the secularization of the holiday.

My "Eve" Pet Peeve

According to Genesis 1, the day begins at sundown, goes through the night, through the daylight hours, and ends at sunset. That's why the Jewish sabbath begins at Friday sunset. That's why we begin celebrating Easter at the Vigil on Saturday after sundown. That's why Christmas Eve is the evening of the 24th.

But we get all out of kilter because we know October 31st as Halloween. The evening of the 31st is the eve of All Hallows Day (also known as All Saints Day, November 1). And so the misconception has spread. We talk about "Christmas Eve Day" and "New Years Eve Day."

But the one that really struck me as funny was the sign at the Evangelical Free Church in town today. "New Years Eve Service -- 10 a.m." Ten in the morning. What part of evening do they not understand?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Veiled in Flesh

I love having distribution hymns during communion.

This evening, just as the pastor was holding up the host before my eyes, preparing to place it into my mouth, the congregation was singing, "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see." Think of that: he's holding God in his hand, about to put God into my mouth, and I can see it with my eyeballs. "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see."

And then, as we're singing "Hail the incarnate deity," the deacon is pouring the enfleshed deity from the chalice into my mouth.

How come God so often sees fit to bless me with that kind of timing at the communion rail? It is just so cool!