"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

27 June 2012

Funeral for a Friend

Actually, that was the title of a song we played one year in, of all places, high school marching band.  I don’t remember many of the songs we played, but that title stood out.  At fifteen (wow, the age my own eldest child is now) the idea of a funeral for a friend seemed surreal.  It made me think of people my own age dying, and that seemed both possile and impossible at once.  It conjured images of funerals with empty caskets, because who on earth would be in there at fifteen.

Of course, now I’ve gone to a few funerals for friends, but always older friends.  One person who was a college classmate died, but she was far away and I never considered her a close friend when we were in school.

All this is the roundabout way of saying, a friend from middle school and high school died tonight.  We were the same age… six of us who moved together from middle school through graduation (with the exception of one who joined us in high school), we thought ourselves inseparable.  One of them wrote in my senior yearbook “they say college friends are the best friends you’ll ever have, but I can’t think of any better than you all are.” 

The person who wrote that didn’t keep in touch in college, but in recent years she’s returned to my closest circle of friends.

Another friend disappeared halfway through college and only comes back when she wants money, which I don’t give her and she disappears again.

I was a bridesmaid for another one of them, but lost touch within a year after her wedding and haven’t heard from her since.  Its been seventeen years and I do miss her.

Another lost touch for years but we re-found one another on Facebook.  I’m glad we did, we have a lot in common.

And she re-introduced me (also on Facebook) to the sixth, with whom I’d lost touch.  We talked on the phone some after that, but not face to face.  Still, I’m thankful, without the little gift of modern communications, I’d have never known what became of her and I’d have never heard that she passed away tonight.

We used to talk about “deep thoughts” that gaggle of six girls… Carliea wanted to live until the End Times and see Christ return.  The rest of us thought that sounded a bit intense for our tastes.  Now we’re still here and she’s gone.  Carliea’s church taught that the soul “sleeps” until the end times.  Clearly not consistent with orthodox Christianity but not a matter of salvation either.  Now she’s awake and alive indeed with Christ.

It still seems surreal, a funeral for a friend.  I don’t know if that feeling goes away as we get older.  But I don’t know that she’s the one I’d have picked to be the first of the six to go.  

Ah well.  Rest in peace… “Walter.”

08 June 2012

Day 2: Activities, Speeches, and Games. Oh my!

Today was a splendiferous day. (So surprised that the spell-check didn’t pick up on that.) That pretty much is the best possible word to describe it. No other word counts.

Mom and I kicked it off with the old-school early dilemma; almost missing breakfast. We got up rather late, and it took a little while to get out the door. As we finally did, I turned to Mom and told her, “See, everyone; Tara and Isaac shall have no bread, for they slumber still,” in my most sarcastic but serious-sounding voice. But it was almost true, as we got in the last line open for breakfast. Good thing we didn’t get there later!

After that, the youth and I went off to do some activities, and sing some songs. After the latter, I slipped out to listen to the Baroness Cox give an extremely moving speech about the Southern Sudanese, which I described in Dystopia Here. (see below) After this, my mom and I stayed in the exact same spot for a short noonday prayer, and then went to have lunch.

Soon afterwards the youth and I spent some time hanging out together in one of the conference rooms. I got a small workout in that time.

After evening prayer, we went down to the dining hall for a very nice salmon dinner. It wasn’t nearly as nice as Mom makes it-she makes it fall apart to the touch and makes it so flavor-full it tasted more like candy flavored fish- but it was food, and I ate.

I must wrap this up, for I have another session to go to, as well as some time to hang out with youth at the bonfire!

~~Isaac, Guest Writer.

Dystopia Here

They smile still. Even though the people hate them and want them all dead, they all smile still. Even though there have been invasions with shoot-to-kill policies in mind, they all smile still. Even when everything they ever had has been taken away from them, they smile still. While obtaining medication and aid is physically impossible for them to do, they smile still.

Why do they smile still, and who are they? For starters, they are the people of South Sudan. These people are mostly Christians who have experienced all of the things listed before and much more than that. Those people are people who don’t have anything in their recent past to smile about. They have been discriminated against by the people in the Sudan who follow Islamic beliefs, making it impossible to get aid to South Sudan.  This is still  happening to them today.  They have nothing in their past or present to smile about.

So why do they smile?

The reason they smile is not because of their past. It is about their future. The people of South Sudan smile, because they have the hope that things will be made right soon. They have people to lead them in the worship of Jesus and refresh that hope, and people like the Baroness Caroline Cox who will make their current plight known to the people who can do something about it. But in order for what is happening for them to end, we have to do something about it.

So what can we do? For one, we can pray for the South Sudanese people. We can pray to God that what is happening to them will end, and that the South Sudanese people can live in peace. A second thing to do is that we can help. We can go down to the South Sudanese people and help them build homes, worship, and basically give them the aid they need, but is extremely difficult to get.

If we do these two things to help them, the people of South Sudan will most certainly have something now to smile about. Let us help our brothers and sisters in Christ.

~Guest blogger Isaac in response to a talk by Baroness Caroline Cox  For more information about how to get aid to the Sudanese visit Anglican Relief and Development Fund.

07 June 2012

News from Ridgecrest

I have to say, I never went to an Episcopal General Convention.  But I’m told that its profoundly not like this.

The majority of our time here together is intended for program, not legislation.  And indeed, we heard a great talk this morning by Ed Stetzer about engaging people in meaningful ministry.  I’m all about the things he said, I dare say the whole assembly of the faithful here would agree, that if you are a Christian you have gifts, and the duty of the leadership (lay and ordained) is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. 

The mood here is very much like a family reunion.  Greeting friends we haven’t seen in years, making new friends, and engaging in exchanges of resources, the better side of what the world calls “networking.”  I get to run around visiting with and encouraging friends and talking about the diaconate, so I’m in my personal little hog-heaven.   I’ll be presenting an ‘interest group’ on Saturday, and am looking forward to it.

Legislation happens tonight but having already read the documents at hand, don’t expect any earth-shattering headlines. 

The only real news happened a few minutes ago, at the close of the opening Eucharist, when the Primate of Rwanda released to us a number of bishops, priests, and deacons, formerly of the Anglican Mission in the Americas.  He noted to them that they have moved simply from one room to the next of the same house, at which words (and in honor of receiving these dear faithful friends) the congregation responded with a standing ovation.

I am hoping my son will report again on the Youth Assembly now that things are fully underway.   The teens/young adults have joined us for many events, but there’s a lot of youthful fun to be had too, and some great talks,  I was encouraged to see that the teen schedule included positive and healthy talks about sexuality and homosexuality.  For those on the outside who think we are some sort of anti-sex anti-gay church, as well as for our youth who are growing up into maturity in all areas of their lives, it is so important to see healthy sexuality taught openly in our Church.  They’ll also be teaching about social justice, and politics, and also retelling the Gospel consistently for these young leaders.  They should have a lot to take home.  I’m glad to see material directed especially for them without separating them from the comings and goings of bishops and other leaders.  As I said to my son, the purpose of this event is in part to get them addicted to leadership.

Anyway, that’s all the news that’s fit to print!  Needless to say, I’m feeling really positive about our church and the direction in which it is going! Thanks be to God.

06 June 2012

First Day at Assembly

After arriving at Asheville from a long day of flying, we finally got a ride up to Provincial Assembly. The place was really cool; we had our own room to stay in, a bunch of old friends and tons more new ones, Mom and I knew we were going to have a blast.

I personally am really looking forward to what Provincial Assembly will offer tomorrow. All sorts of craziness awaits us starting early tomorrow morning, and I can barely wait to see what it will be.

~~Guest Blogger Isaac

04 June 2012

Taking This Show on the Road

Yep, that’s right, I’m putting the “Free Range” to business this week as I’ll be travelling to Provincial Assembly in Ridgecrest NC.   I’m sure I’ll blog a little, maybe even snap a few pictures.  My teen will be joining the youth assembly, so if we’re nice to him maybe he’ll blog a little from that event.  And if you’re going to be on site, stop in on Saturday’s deacon breakout group… its not just for deacons but anyone who is interested, and I’m leading the group, so if you want an easy chance to poke your head in and say hello, there it is!  I’d offer to sign autographs, but no one would care.