Friday, December 10, 2010

Despised and Afflicted

From Good Friday's Old Testament reading --
He is despised and rejected by men,
a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Try reading that once with an emphasis on the pronouns. HE is despised, and WE hid OUR faces from HIM. Surely HE has borne OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows. Yet WE esteemed HIM stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

That's pretty warped. He took our punishment, and we hated Him for it. We deserved an eternal thumping, didn't get it, and looked down the one who endured it for us.

But now look at Psalm 22, which we hear late on Maundy Thursday, during the stripping of the altar:
He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
nor has He hidden His face from Him;
but when He cried to Him, He heard.

Jesus was afflicted so that we might be spared. We despised Him for it, but the Father did not. "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." It pleased the Father that His Son rescued us. Jesus did not despise what He had to do. The Father did not hide His face from the ugliness of what our sin did to Jesus, but heard His prayer and raised Him up. The Father did not hide His face from the ugliness of what our sin did to Jesus, but mankind did.

Still, even with that kind of response from sinners, still He died that we might be His own.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Frontline Plus

We seldom deal with fleas here. When the cats run across a flea or two, they usually take care of it themselves and don't become infested. On occasion, I have to apply Frontline Plus. That usually only happens once or twice a year; I don't keep up with dosing them every 4-6 weeks.

Last time I needed the drugs, I ordered online instead of buying it from the local vet or pet-supply store. I'm not doing that again. I don't know what's different, but the fleas seem to be merely suppressed, and they make a return shortly before the 4-week mark. It may be cheaper per bottle to buy from Pet Meds, but it has turned out to be more expensive because I need a lot more bottles.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

We sing it every Advent. It's from Psalm 24:
Lift up your heads, o you gates,
and be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of Glory shall come in.

What gates?
Gates of heaven?
Gates of Jerusalem?
The doors of our hearts?
The pastors?
And where are these "heads"? On us or on the gates?
Even though I hear this often in hymns and sermons, I still don't know what it's about.

And then in Didache recently, we were discussing the Second Coming. In Mark 13, as He speaks of both the crucifixion and His coming at the Last Day, Jesus says, "When you see all these things happening, know that it is near -- at the doors!"

Doors, eh?

And then He tells them to watch: "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch." You have to lift up your head to watch for something.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Causes of the Civil War

Slavery versus abolition?
Nationalism versus states' rights?
You hear both sides.

Tonight as Andrew and I were listening to a presentation on the Civil War, I think I finally figured out something. Both issues brought on Southern secession.

Basically, the states that seceded between Lincoln's election and inauguration were the southern Southern states that wanted to protect the institution of slavery and even expand it by importing more slaves and making slaves cheaper to buy so that everybody could have one. But the northern Southern states were waffling; they were still in the USA when Lincoln became president. Virginia and the other border states bailed on the USA and joined the CSA after Fort Sumter. For them, nationalism could not overcome the thought of the federal government trampling states' rights.

This makes sense to me. That would be why you hear primary-source material which sounds, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as if the war were most certainly fought over the issue of slavery and because some Americans thought dark-skinned people weren't really people but property. And yet other primary-source material just as clearly and surely makes the case that the war was not about slavery but about political power. The viewpoint would depend on which part of the South we're talking about, and when they left the Union, and why.

Not Bored!!!!

So Maggie comments on how there aren't that many days until Christmas, but still Christmas seems So Far Away because, y'know, she doesn't really have anything to do ...

... and ...

... uh ...

"No! I didn't mean that! I'm not bored! I have things to do! Yes! I do! It's just that it seems so far to Christmas, but .... uh .... REALLY! I AM NOT BORED!"

Around here, "I'm bored" is met with plenty of suggestions. There's a bathroom to clean, dishes to wash, and a myriad of other chores. The look on Maggie's face as she realized, mid-sentence, what she was saying to her mom ... priceless!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Homeschooling: An Intellectually Stimulating Job

On Saturday I was chatting with a woman at Gary's company Christmas party. She had just started her job about five weeks earlier and had been very nervous, just as I am about my new job. She said that, the week before she started, she kept thinking of all the things that might go wrong. But after she started, she found the job to be so intellectually stimulating. She promised me I'd find the same thing after being at home with kids for so many years.

A job? Intellectually stimulating?

My job for the last couple of decades has been exceptionally varied. I have managed my own time and priorities. I have taught children with various strengths, weaknesses, skills, motivations, and learning styles. Just recently, I have played with exponents and graphed quadratic functions, read literature set during World War I, studied different economic systems, explored the causes and results of the Mexican-American War, and read about statistical analysis and how it can be abused and twisted for propaganda's sake. Over the years I have studied more about the Civil War and whales and mountains and Shakespeare than I ever dreamed anyone could know. I have repaired large and small appliances. I have delved into the intricacies of my daughter's birth defects, cardiovascular system, speech therapy, and learning disabilities. I took on gardening and canning. I have become a superb cook and bread-baker, and I know an awful lot about nutrition and a little about herbology and alternative medical care. If I'm not the Queen of Frugal, I am at least a contender for the crown, and that takes creativity and hard work. I stayed up on politics, testified at hearings at the state capitol on various pieces of legislation, and led homeschooling workshops for hundreds of parents. I have edited theology books and articles by Scaer, Korby, Bender, and Fabrizius.

And somebody thinks, in comparison to this (this just-a-housewife job), being a bank teller will be intellectually stimulating?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Seeing All Those Families

Gary's business celebrated yesterday with their annual Christmas party. I was struck again and again by how many employees said, "It's SO NICE to see all the families here, to see all the kids!" The owner, too, commented to us as well as to the whole assembly about how great it was to see all the spouses and the kids. Such a happy day!

And it is nice to see how the bosses and co-workers enjoy seeing each other's families. It is super that the company includes kids in the Christmas party and the annual zoo outing. I like it that they do this.

And yet, there's this little voice in me that says it's sad that families are separated so much of the time. It's sad that mommies and daddies are away from their children for their workday. It's sad that families are not working together in their cottage industry and the garden and the kitchen and the workshop, maintaining a home and business together.

Yes, it is a great blessing to have a job with an income, and a great blessing to be in a family-friendly work environment. But wouldn't it be lovely if families were together so that a "family-friendly work environment" seemed oxymoronic to most of us?