"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, January 31, 2014

On Community

Yesterday, at a clergy gathering, I ended up seated next to a good friend who has very different tastes in music than I have. At Eucharist, we sang a hymn which is firmly on my top ten list of widely used hymns that I hate.

I mean really hate.

I grew up with this one, its an oldie, but not a goodie.

And I know I shouldn't hate such things, but and I guess hate is too strong a word, but it makes me think "yuck" every time I hear it. I find it narcissistic and pedantic and overall utterly lame.

And apparently my friend loves it.

So there we sat. Sharing a service book because she came late and didn't get one. And she began to sing. And some folks stood up, and she sort of started to, but I didn't and so she stayed where the booklet was. I would have gladly handed the booklet to her, but she wasn't forward enough to take it.

She sang, as in full throttle, hands in the air, head tossed back, eyes closed, loving Jesus for all she's worth, singing.

I waited for it to end. The music itself, her singing was fine.

And then it happened.

I looked over at her and couldn't help but smile.

And then I looked again and almost had a little fun.

And at the next verse it seemed appropriate to join the standing, for her sake, not mine.

And I looked over again and she was having a blast, so I guess so was I.

And that is what worship in community looks like. It's about sharing the things we love (and keeping our unlove quiet enough to be shared with) so that you don't have to love every song, you can just enjoy it vicariously with the person next to you. And I had fun. And so did she. And worship happened. And community happened.

And next time that song comes up, I'll still hate it. But for yesterday, it was fun.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what song it was.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Every Christian Should Read....

Tears of My Soul.

I just finished reading this book.  Literally, I could not put it down.  It is hard to believe that it has been twenty years since this biography was published.

Now when I say biography and "Every Christian should read..." don't roll your eyes at me.  This is not the standard schmaltzy Christian biography where Jesus loves me this I know and maybe I was a little naughty but he used me to reach the godless masses because cuddle cuddle love love.  No, this is the unlikeliest of stories, the unlikeliest of people. 

This is the biography of the North Korean terrorist who bombed a South Korean jetliner in hopes of creating chaos around the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul.  This was a woman trained to kill or be killed, for the sake of the Dear Leader who she openly admits was revered as a god.  This was a woman who took 115 lives, attempted to take her own, and found herself under a death sentence in South Korea.

This is the biography of a woman unexpectedly pardoned, granted freedom and a new life, and saw Jesus as the ultimate guarantor of real pardon, freedom and new life.

And knows what we mean when we say that while we were still sinners, while we were still entrenched in our terrorist ways, God loved us.  God sought us out in the darkest corners.  God saved us. 

And knows what it means to repent anew every day, turn around and follow him. 

What she does not know, is what happened to her family in the North.  She is a walking testimony to the God who snatches us up into his family, regardless of where we start out. 

Tears of My Soul.  Go read it. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On Being 40.

Last year, my motto became "Embrace the 40."  Too many people freak out about turning 40, when really its just a day older than 39.  We age one day at a time, whether we like it, notice it, try to hide from it, or not. 

So I embraced the 40.  I rounded my age up for the most of the year, if only in my head.  Calling myself 40 before I really was disarmed the label. 

And having visited Korea last year, I was, briefly (by Korean reckoning) 41.  Why should 40 be a big deal this year if only last year I was 41?  (Koreans reckon age starting at 1 and adding a year for each Korean new year you've lived through, so technically I turned two (Korean) when I was just a few days (American) old. So there!)

And so I woke up on the morning of my rather bland birthday feeling boringly the same as I'd felt the night before.  Significantly older than fifteen, not much older than thirtysomething.  Fine.  I'd rather not be fifteen again anyway.  I can drive a car now and have visited a handful of foreign countries and can enjoy an occasional glass of wine and have these neat kids in my life.  Much better than fifteen when I was the kid.  Also fine.

And I went to bed that night feeling the same but with one blessed change.  I no longer had to worry about someone doing something mortifyingly embarrassing to my introverted self in attempt to "celebrate" my supposed milestone birthday.  I find the birthday song embarrassing, God knows I'd curl up and die if someone took out one of those idiotic billboards.  Now I no longer have to look forward to what idiocy my fortieth birthday may bring.  Bullet dodged.  Very fine.

So I'm now 40.  No I won't tell you when that happened.  I still have a bullet to dodge at fifty and I'll keep my cards close while I can.  I have a few grey hairs, well more like white, but I prefer to call them sliver.  My skin gets drier in the winter.  I can't eat just anything like I used to (although remarkably I'm not interested in eating some of the things I used to... a whole pizza? Yuck.  Cake? no thanks, I don't care for that much any more.  Soda?  Kind of tickles my throat now that I don't drink it regularly any more.)  But to those of you who haven't tried it yet, 40 isn't so bad.

Embrace it. 

And if all else fails, go to Korea when you're 39.  Worked for me.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

I've not exactly been all that stunning at getting the blogging on the past few months but I did want to take a moment and wish y'all a happy and wondrous new year. 

Our new years almost always start with a party at our house, which this year I did NOT feel like hosting.  But I had enough friends who asked if we were having the party that I decided I couldn't resist.  I'm so glad!  We spent the day surrounded by close friends, just the few who had asked us if we were partying this year, in a very comfortable lunchtime end of break celebration.

And today the boys are back at school/homeschool.  It would seem an odd jump into drudgery if we hadn't enjoyed our break to the last moment yesterday.  So thanks, friends.

And you, gentle reader, I hope you are surrounded by friends also.  Spend the year in good company and remember those who cannot. 

Happy New Year.