Saturday, April 07, 2012

Peter's Contrition

In the last verse of Mark 14, after Peter denies Jesus, after the rooster crows, Peter remembered that Jesus had said this would happen.  "And when he thought about it, he wept."

You know what?  I don't think that night was the only time he thought about it and wept.  Even after Jesus forgave him, even after Jesus reminded him of his call to be an apostle, even after Pentecost, I bet there were still occasions when Peter "thought about it" and wept with shame and grief. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday Decorum?

As a kid, I remember going to Tenebrae service in the evening of Good Friday.  We were supposed to leave in silence.  At my home congregation, we didn't have the practice of leaving in silence on Thursday night, nor gathering in silence on Saturday evening (because there wasn't a vigil on Saturday night).  I don't even remember anything particularly somber about gathering on Friday.  But leaving?  Yeah.  Quiet.  Serious.  No hand-shaking and chatting.  Just leave the building and go home. 

I know that some people say that's just a tradition that's about feeling and mood, and it's not important.  My brain can acknowledge that.  But my tradition isn't exactly okay with it. 

My parents had some friends; Roy worked with Dad; they were members of the same congregation; and we often went out for pizza with them on Friday nights.  One year, Roy and Carolyn came to church on Good Friday.  That wasn't normal for them.  They were Sunday attendees, and rarely come for midweek services.  After church, they approached my folks in the parking lot.  They suggested we go out to a nearby restaurant for a milkshake. 

We did.  Bright lights.  Treats.  Cheery waitress.

That was weird. 

The Candles at Vigil

Vigil.  The wee hours of the morning.  Alone in a quiet church.  Praying.  Candles in the torch stands around the pews, flickering.  Every now and then, the peripheral vision catches movement.  Is someone here?  How did I not hear the door open?  Oh, no, it's just the movement of those tiny, lively flames.

But it reminds me.  This holy night, in this holy place, angels and saints, apostles and prophets and martyrs, pray and praise. This holy night, in other holy places (where it is already daylight), the Church throughout the whole world prays and sings of her dear Lord's passion.

Not alone here after all.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Self-Righteousness versus Self-Loathing

I love the quote posted by Pastor Esget today:  

The satanic powers don’t care if your illusion is one of personal grandiosity or of self-loathing, as long as you see your current circumstance, rather than the gospel, as the eternal statement of who you are.

(The whole quote is on his blog, with the citation.  But I'm posting this sentence here, lest he should change his blog address and I lose this quote in cyberspace.)

Real Music

Usually, when someone's making music, you notice the music.  But if a real person is making music with a real instrument, which vibrates a real string or a real reed (as opposed to the sounds made by electronic music), there's something else to hear -- the sound of the person using the instrument.

When a person is playing guitar, there's the sound of the fingers on the strings, sliding from one fret to the next.  When a person is playing organ, someone nearby can hear the ever-so-soft sound of the feet hitting the pedals.  When a person is singing, between lines there's that sound of air being sucked into the lungs.

I used to think those were bad-but-necessary sounds.  Now with all the electronic ways of making music, I'm happy to notice those subtle indicators of real music.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Nursery Rhyme Game -- "Throw It Out the Window"

Have you sung the "Throw It Out the Window" song?  Something came up at work once when we were between customers on a slow day, and I demonstrated the nursery rhyme song that we would use to kill time when we were on a long car ride.  A couple of my co-workers thought it was a crack-up!

Basically you start with a nursery rhyme.  The tune is on you-tube, starting around the 2-minute mark.  You sing three lines of the nursery rhyme and then flip to
threw it out the window, 
the window, the second-story window.
If you can't make it rhyme,
or sing it on time,
throw it out the window.

For example:
Old King Cole was a merry old soul,
and a merry old soul was he.
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl,
and he threw them out the window.  (Refrain)

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
and threw it out the window.  (Refrain)

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
they threw them out the window, the window, ... (refrain)

Haul out as many nursery rhymes as you can remember.
And have fun!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

If My Kingdom Were of This World

Jesus told Pilate that if His kingdom were an earthly kingdom, His servants would fight.

Hmmm.  Peter fought.  In the garden.  With a sword.  So apparently Peter didn't know what the kingdom of God was.  (Isn't it nice to know that our cluelessness is nothing new for God to put up with?)

Judicial Activism

The Supreme Court heard arguments about ObamaCare.  In response, the president said recently,
And I'd just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.
He thinks it would be "legislating from the bench" for the court to overturn his health care plan.

There's this document called the Constitution.  It sets the rules for how the government is supposed to work.  It's real simple: when the Congress makes an unconstitutional law, the court is supposed to say "No no -- not permissible."  That's not activism.  That is what the court is there to do.

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
Striking down an unconstitutional law is judicial activism.

He thinks we'll buy that line.
What scares is ... we might.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Is That Kid Paying Attention?

Philip was one of those kids who would've been kicked out of school unless we put him on Ritalin.  He was bright.  He had an awesome memory.  He could problem-solve like nobody's business.  But he wiggled.  He touched everything.  He bounced.  He had to move.  If you're homeschooling, it's no big deal.  "Hey, Philip, go run across the field out back, and run back."  Some large-motor use, some exercise, some calories spent, and he was ready to play with Matchbox cars while I read some more history to him.

His father knew this.  And yet, even his father came home one night from confirmation class, frustrated as all get out that Philip couldn't sit still during class.  (Now, I realize that some people think that it's far more important for kids to learn to sit still, behave properly, and not be a nuisance to others.  But I am a bad person, and at home I cared more about whether he was absorbing the books we were reading and whether he was learning to think critically.)

Back when Philip was about 9, Gary would try to drum up discussion at the dinner table on Sunday about the sermon.  What did the kids hear?  What was the story?  What did Jesus do for us?  One Sunday, Gary directed his first question to Philip: "So, what was the sermon about today?"  The quick and innocent answer was, "I don't know; I was being good today." 

Gary looked at me quizzically.  What was this all about?!

I knew!  I was surprised Gary didn't.  It took SO much effort for Philip to sit still, to stand still, to not wiggle wiggle wiggle his way through church, not poke his sisters, not turn around and check out where everybody was sitting, etc etc, that he couldn't listen and be good.  It was one or the other. 

Is that good?  Probably not.  Do lots of people disapprove?  Probably so.  But that was the reality of his childhood. 

So, now Katie has said things to Alia's Sunday School teachers, expressing appreciation for their efforts.  The teachers don't seem to think Alia pays attention.  She is the youngest one in class.  She sometimes walks around during the lesson.  To all outward appearances (especially if the observer expects calm, compliant, classroom behavior) Alia couldn't possibly be getting anything out of class.  Her outward behavior is not consistent with what most teachers expect from a child who is paying attention.  But what she says at home to her mommy shows that she's absorbing the stories fabulously.

Yesterday the children processed with palms while they sang "Sing Hosanna to the Son of David."  Alia didn't exactly stop right where she was supposed to in the line-up.  Alia sang sometimes and didn't sometimes.  I'm sure many people would've thought she was clueless.  But just before the kids sang, "Wave your palms and sing your praises; blessed is the king who comes," Alia began waving her palm branch vigorously. 

She knew where they were in the song.
She knew what the song was saying.
And boy, she was ready to wave her palm!

(Guess what?  She's paying attention.)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Pilate Marveled

When Jesus didn't defend himself or answer questions, Pilate marveled.  Late on that Friday afternoon, when the centurion came and reported that Jesus had already died, Pilate marveled at that too (Mark 15)

In the Passover psalm (118), we pray about the Father's acceptance of the Savior's sacrifice: "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes." 

But it is not just we who marvel.  Pilate marveled.  All through the gospel accounts, people marveled at what Jesus said and did.  Believers and unbelievers.

It's kinda sorta like the praise song in Philippians 2, where every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  Even those who do not believe will finally come to the last day when Christ will be vindicated and they will have to confess the truth.  And the whole world will marvel at the redemption that we find so marvelous in these holy days.

All Those Political Phone Calls

Insanity!  Several robo-calls a day from one of the candidates for the presidential nomination.  The answering machine keeps filling up with messages.  We keep interrupting our chores and our school-reading to jump up to answer the phone, only to discover that it's a Republican-paid computer again.

I'm going to have a hard stomaching voting for anybody on the ballot.  My inclination at this point is either
1) to not vote, or
2) to vote for the guy endorsed by the one man I actually want to vote for.

Conundrum: The guy who's making all the phone calls is the guy endorsed by the man I want for my president.  So do I vote for the pesky phone caller?  Do I want to reward that sort of obnoxious behavior?