"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)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks (The Day After)

Well, holiday travel plans were a bust here, thanks to a snowstorm that actually didn't amount to much.  It was slated to whoosh its way right up our travel path and by the time we were sure it would be safe to leave on a nine hour drive, it was too late to be worth the effort.

So here we are.

With plans to attempt the family visit after spring thaw. 
Thankfully, my family is flexible about plans and nobody's feelings were hurt.  My mom has mellowed about such things over the years. 

I had started a "thirty things I'm thankful for" blog post, but you can be thankful I decided it was sappy and stupid and nobody wanted to read it.  A few worthy excerpts, though:

1.  The reason I'm writing this list at all, really.  I'm thankful that Woodwick Candle Company makes their candles out of a wax that is easily removed (with heavy shampoo and a comb) from an eight year old's hair.   And (with dish soap) from my living room rug. 

2.  Correspondingly, I am thankful that on a frigid cold day like today, I have a house.  Many don't.  And considering point one, it seems a good idea to be thankful to have a house and that my kid wasn't hurt.
.....
5.  I'm thankful for a friend who  needs to borrow my car tonight because it shows my kids what community and family are supposed to look like when we live so far from our own family.

6.  I am thankful that having been in Korea in the last 12 months excludes me from giving blood at the blood drive going on at my middle child's school.  For the next six months I can look sophisticated and global traveler-ish rather than looking like a chicken when the needles come around.  *squak!*

7.  I am thankful for the neighbor kid who started the job of plowing out my driveway, unrequested, and then disappeared before finishing or knocking on my door with puppydog eyes and hopes of payment.

.....

10.  I'm thankful for all the local friends who have offered to share their Thanksgiving with us if we are snowed in here.  Again, showing my kids what community looks like.  We have some awesome friends here... and I mean that word, awesome.

11.  I am thankful for the season which makes it possible to replace milk with egg nog in my favorite baking recipes.  Seriously, egg nog rocks.  Not as a drink (yuck) but as an ingredient.

12.  I'm thankful for coffee.  Always. 

13. My children and godchildren.

...

16. I'm thankful for sherry to put in the whipped cream for the pumpkin pie.  And for the fact that the bottle is way bigger than the recipe requires.

17.  I'm thankful for the clergy of this diocese.  Every one of them is amazing.  Especially the ones that read my blog!

18.  I'm thankful for fuzzy slippers.  Mmmmm.... seriously, right up there with coffee.

...

22.  I'm thankful for humor.  And funny stuff.  And optimism.  And thankfulness.

And this was where, thankfully, I stopped.  If you're writing about being thankful for thankfulness, you're the writing equivalent of "drunk, go home." 

So here I am, the day after.  The turkey lies shredded in my refrigerator.  The mashed potatoes have been polished off by my potato-loving-littlest kid.  Homework projects sadistically assigned by teachers to be done "over the break" (clearly someone's English teacher needs to study her vocabulary, as she has missed the meaning of the word "break") is well underway.  The snow has frozen over into a sled-o-rama in the front yard. 

And I, as is my custom, am nowhere near a mall.  I almost never set foot in malls anyway (maybe thrice in the past decade), but during "shopping season"... no way, no how.  I cannot imagine the mindset of the merchandise hungry extroverts who insist on storming the malls the day after Thanksgiving.  You couldn't pay me enough.

So here I am, nestled all snug in my house,
While visions of insanity cause me to grouse,

My children all studious, learning and fun,
are down in the basement making a spud gun.

And physics projects and book reports make me guffaw,
I'll stay inside a hermit, until the spring thaw.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Well, well, well.... what do we make of this???

Does the Pope read my blog?
Not likely.
But I'm intrigued to no end by his words in the latest news from the Vatican:

Entitled:  Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the bishops, clergy, consecrated persons.... (etc.) ... on the proclamation of the Gospel in today's world.

In it, I found this gem:
 The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself "the door": baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.51 These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

Emphasis mine.

So, um, let me get this straight....
This pope went on record with the press to say that he cares about somehow including non-Christians into the fold of the Kingdom.
And then he went on record as an evangelist in this encyclical.
Someone who wants all people to have access to the throne of Grace through Christ.
Contrary to the notions of the press, these two ideas are not incompatible but one explains the other.  Fine.
But there is a gap in the logic.  What is his plan for including fellow Christians who are not of the flock of Rome in this great pilgrimage toward the throne of Grace?  If Rome and its agents are not arbiters of grace, do they abandon the claim to a right to excommunicate fellow Christians over doctrine which varies from their own much less than the variations in their own community currently owns?  In other words, will they open their communion to other confessing Christians who may wear a different label? 

Recently, in my parish, a lay Eucharistic minister refused communion to a Roman Catholic because it became known that this parishioner was receiving the Sacrament in our Anglican church on the weeks the LEM was not available.  Is the Pope now saying that the LEM (who I love and think is an awesome and dedicated sister in Christ, even if she doesn't always think likewise of me) was not right to refuse the Sacrament to her? 

We welcome the Roman sisters and brothers at our table, is the Pope willing likewise to welcome us?

Or do we fall through the cracks between evangelized and welcomed?

I don't mean this to be snarky.  In fact, I am deeply encouraged by the Pope's words.  But I want to ask, what about us?  What about the Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and others who walk so closely with Rome but do not swear fealty?  What about those deeply mutual pastoral relationships between church leaders who recognize one another as fellow heirs of the Kingdom but cannot receive Communion together?  What about those who have not only claimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ but preserved the Apostolic Tradition of the church with integrity, say the same creeds, pray the same ancient prayers, sing the same hymns, believe the same Scriptures and church Fathers and saints of old, but cannot share the same loaf and the same cup.  Where are we, between the unreached and the fully embraced?

No, the pope doesn't likely read my blog.  But if he did, I would tell him this....
Reverend father in God, my brother, every day we thwart the prayer of our Lord that his flock may be one as he and the father are one is a day that, lest we repent, we will answer for in the Kingdom of God.  Every day we are divided we undermine our witness to the world at large.  Every day we set our own offices, needs, and egos above the truth and glorification of Jesus Christ, we sin and cause others to sin.  I do not know how to reconcile all of our differences, I do not know where to draw the line.  But I do know this, it starts with those of us who have historically held the most in common.  Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Roman Catholic.  I truly believe that you understand this to be true, as I do.

Call me, your holiness.  We can talk.
     

     

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh seriously, Thanksgiving already????

They say time flies when you're having fun.
They also say it speeds up as you get older. 
Best I can figure, I'm having an absolute ball aging. 

I can't believe its almost Thanksgiving again.  I can't believe how unprepared I am for the annual onslaught of marketing propaganda, how unready I am for the annual pilgrimage to my hometown for family gatherings, how completely not-braced-for-impact I am with regard to "holly jolly Santa"  music blaring on every street corner.

Secular Christmas is anti-Gospel.  Be good, get stuff. 

Never-mind laying up "stuff" in heaven where it doesn't become next year's garage sale fodder, landfill, and clutter.

Never-mind our lack of merit for the true good stuff, which is given freely through Jesus.

Never-mind that Christmas is about Jesus emptying himself of all that is good, in order to die, and calling us to do the same.

Never-mind all that.  Holly jolly.  Ho ho ho.

I'm also unprepared for the annual accusation that I'm a  "Grinch."

I'm not.  I love Christmas.  I actually love giving well thought-out gifts that mean something to the recipient and hopefully kick back a little to the world at large, craftsmen and growers and those in need.  Receiving sometimes depresses me, but I do like little gifts that say "hi, I thought of you.  I know you like interesting real fiber socks and good green coffee." 

But mostly I love Christmas for quiet (which is admittedly hard to come by on Christmas Day, but the next eleven days have thankfully been abandoned by the secular marketing machine), candle light, a glass of sherry by the glow of the goofy tree, a leisurely day with the kids after Christmas Mass.

But mostly this year, I feel unprepared.  I think I'll not hurry though.  I'll try not to fluster and worry like the world at large.  Advent waiting is unrushed, the Christ child is slow in arrival, the Messiah delays his return that more should be saved (not spent!).   And sure, I'll buy a few gifts, but let's not overdo it.  And maybe I'll go to a party, but who cares if I don't?  And maybe I'll even give up something for Advent, because Lent is over-abused in that regard.  But I won't hurry.... perhaps, giving up hurrying is just what I'll do. 

And maybe, just maybe, it won't fly so fast after all.