Saturday, June 21, 2014

ICAD Week 2

Here are my cards from week 2 of the ICAD (Index Card a Day) challenge.

The top three cards were done at work -- two using a freebie Spirograph from Rubio's that they apparently gave away back in the day (they were in my co-worker's desk which she was cleaning up, so I got one) with the red pencil that goes with. It was easier to use than the actual spirograph that I have.

The bottom two were done at home. One journaling how I'm feeling about the challenge (the martini is kind of relevant) and the other putting together snippets of stuff that were littering my desk.

That's the good news. The bad news is I haven't done any cards this week. But I can always start again today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

This week's Blogging the Lectionary

I've almost finished writing this week's blogging the lectionary (pretty much), but I'm not posting it. I might a little later on, after I've had time to process the news I got this week. (Mum, we're okay.)

One thing is for sure, I'm glad I am blogging the lectionary. It sure is helping.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Advice on Knowing God (take 2)

I wrote the beginning of the following earlier this week, but today during Chris' sermon, I realized it was really a half-finished thought, and worse, may have left one with the impression that I had all the answers and I "get" God.

I don't.

This is what I wrote last week:
I was going to write of my knowing of the Trinity from childhood until now, a sort of spiritual autobiography from my view of a God who protected yet Who I foremost saw as judge, a Jesus who was a human prophet, a Holy Spirit that was a bit too woo-woo for me -- to this wonderful threefold Divine blessing in my life. 
Instead, I shall write advice as how to achieve a deeper knowing:
Be challenged.
Talk it out with one you love.
Question, seek answers.
Pray, even when you don't see the point.
Be open to possibilities.
Be vulnerable with God.
Uncover how your story and God's intertwine.
Be still.
And not necessarily in that order.
And I should have added: "Repeat. Often."

In the gospel of Matthew today, 28:16-20, the end of the gospel, Chris focused on the following: "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."

So let me tell you about the "wonderful threefold Divine blessing".

I believe that God's presence is always with me, on trust when I don't feel it, even when I want to. And it frustrates me that when I make the time to be quiet and sit with God that it really feels like I am by myself.

I believe Jesus died for me in some way, but I don't believe it was a penal substitutionary atonement that is rampant in the language of the liturgical church, and I haven't found a "replacement" theory for that yet but I am starting to wonder if the death is far less important than the resurrection. (This is why I'm reading N.T. Wright.)

I hear the Holy Spirit in the rousing hymn or praise song, down to the tingles at the back of my neck and along my arms, but I don't always hear her whisper. And I am least able to articulate who the Holy Spirit is and what it does, but I know it when I see it. I think.

(By the way, the class where I was going to write the icon for the Holy Trinity/Angels at Mamre has been canceled.)

So where am I going with this? I expect that just as my understanding of my faith and of my God has changed  dramatically since I was little, I continue to expect it to change, and hopefully grow and deepen, even with the understanding that God is ultimately beyond complete comprehension.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Trinity in Five Easy Pieces

#1: When Good Ideas Die

Blogging the lectionary is getting serious. I purchased "Feasting on the Word" from Westminster Knox Press and edited by David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor.

Three essays on every reading every week, plus feast days. It's pretty awesome reading but this week had the effect of me thinking that anything I wrote would feel like I'd copied rather than inspiring something soooo....

#2: Advice to a Deeper Knowing of God

I was going to write of my knowing of the Trinity from childhood until now, a sort of spiritual autobiography from my view of a God who protected yet Who I foremost saw as judge, a Jesus who was a human prophet, a Holy Spirit that was a bit too woo-woo for me -- to this wonderful threefold Divine blessing in my life.

Instead, I shall write advice as how to achieve a deeper knowing:

Be challenged.
Talk it out with one you love.
Question, seek answers.
Pray, even when you don't see the point.
Be open to possibilities.
Be vulnerable with God.
Uncover how your story and God's intertwine.
Be still.
And not necessarily in that order.

#3: That "blessed" Athanasian Creed

I think what is known as the Athanasian creed says it all about what the Trinity is. Repeatedly.  The whole creed could be summed up by one line of it.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
Any more is banging your head against the wall. This creed drives me nuts with its belaboring a description of God who is ultimately beyond our comprehension even as we yearn to be in relationship.

My learning this week is that Athanasius didn't write the creed. It is not clear who did.

#4: Fixing the Nicene Creed

Y'all know that the name of Holy Spirit is in the feminine, right? Ruach in Hebrew?  No?

Last week, I started using "she" instead of "he" when reciting the Nicene Creed in church. 
With the Father and the Son she is worshiped and glorified. She has spoken through the Prophets.
It's okay. I'm pretty sure the choir microphones are off for that part.

#5: Writing the Trinity

I think I might have something more meaningful to share on the Trinity after I've written the icon in August. Specifically, this one by Rublev, also known as "Angels at Mamre", the three strangers who visited Abraham:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Experiencing Sabbath in a New Way

Last Friday, I attended my first Erev Shabbat service since starting work at the synagogue.

Well, it technically was my third, but I'd missed most of the service where I volunteered for registration for the Shabbabeque last summer, and the second service was the Learner's Shabbat, which was a great primer for attending a service but not quite the same.

Don't know why it took me so long, but there it is.

I loved it.

I had trouble keeping up with some of the Hebrew but that's simply a matter of practice.

But I found myself entering a Sabbath state of mind.

We finish work at the synagogue at 4:00 p.m. -- plenty of time ahead of the earliest service starting but not quite enough to get home and come back again and a little too long to have dinner nearby. Which I guess is why it's taken me so long to get to an evening service.

I used the gap between work and the service starting to go sit somewhere quiet. It was a small greenspace that was artificially constructed, but the water and flowers made it a peaceful place to be. I completed my first lectio divina in ages. I sketched. I listened to part of a sermon.

It was peaceful and I could feel myself starting to unwind.

The purpose of the Friday evening service is to welcome in Shabbat and it was done with joyful song. Then there were psalms, prayers, readings, mostly in Hebrew but not all ... and ended in song, with arms about each other (which reminded me a lot of my church's tradition of holding hands during the Lord's Prayer), swaying and singing the word "Shalom" a lot.

Googling it, I found a translation of the words: "May the One who makes peace in high places, make peace for us and for all Israel, and let us say, amen."

And that's how I left, with a sense of blissful peace, which made a remarkable change from earlier in the week when I fretted and fumed about some Catholic doctrine -- it gave me a sense of perspective that I hadn't had before.

The whole experience left me wanting more of it because for the first time I'd found space in my week to be present, to rest and to breathe, instead of rushing off home or to the next thing. I'm considering making it a once a month practice.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

God's Love Stories: worthy reading

Without further ado, here's some thought-provoking reading:

What thought-provoking reading have you found lately online?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We Cannot Hide From Love

Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
John 20:19-23

Several ideas have floated through my brain while figuring out what to write for this post for Blogging the Lectionary and Pentecost Sunday.

I got two thirds of the way done with a West Side Story parody called "Sophia" all the while knowing that, clever lines and all, this was just a distraction.

Then I kept singing "God You Make All Things New", the song we've sung the past couple of Easter Vigils:
God you make all things new
Wash us
Renew us
Breathe your Spirit into us
Which often ends up as a help into writing but I think this time made a change from singing show tunes.

As my focus has been the gospel of John, why drop it now just because the Acts passage is so much flashier? But what could I say? Starters for Sunday from the Church of Scotland came in handy. (Although I can't find the file I read there earlier in the week.)

The opening of the Gospel has the disciples hiding: they know the tomb is empty but they are afraid that they'll be crucified next.

In the Western world today, we are safe from such persecution: our faith is not a death sentence like it is in other countries. 

So how can we, with our first world problems, really understand how the disciples feel?

When I'm afraid and start worrying about something, it is hard for me to let it go. I could imagine the worst possible thing that could happen, something ridiculously impossible, and I'll start feeling like it could really happen. The fear is real and crippling.

It's hard to find a way out. (I am getting better at this, thank goodness.) My husband says it's because my brain isn't producing glutamate (or something) fast enough. 

I can relate to the disciples: living under an oppressive Roman regime, it's difficult to change your mindset when you're stuck in that place for so long.

Then Jesus appears in the locked room and fear is defeated. When Jesus works like that in my life, I feel a kind of peace and contentment fill me.
"Peace be with you." (John 20:19)
Even in hiding, either physically or mentally, we cannot hide from love. 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12 NIV)

We cannot hide from the love that heals and transforms.

(I finished "Sophia." Debating on whether to share it, however.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer reading list (well, maybe)

Happy Shavuot!

Rachel Held Evans recently posted a list of summer reading, which was a bit like last year's actually -- but given that I have books on my to-read list including a couple that I bought based on her list last year, I shouldn't be surprised.

Oh, and yes, Rachel, I was one of those people who had that competitive streak to read the most: especially when it was the MS Read-a-thon. (Am I remembering that right?)

Anyway, these I haven't read (except the first which I've almost finished reading), so these are not recommendations, just what's on my list to read this summer.

2 works of fiction (of course, I have a whole other pile for that!) and the rest non-fiction...
  • Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox (so far a good read!)
  • Watermark by Joseph Brodsky
  • The First Paul by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan
  • The Regency Detective by David Lassman and Terence James (am hoping this is fiction!)
  • Found by Micha Boyett
  • The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing
  • 8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind by Ed Bacon (who is rector at a church in Pasadena, I think)
  • The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez (one of RHE's recommendations from last year)
  • Everyday Holiness: The Path of Mussar by Ala Morinis
  • and the very next book I'm going to read once I'm done with the biography on Rosalind Franklin, The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright, which I bought because I read his Simply Jesus (written as Tom Wright, that's how you know it's written for a layperson) because I think he skimmed on this -- also a fair chance that he hadn't written this volume when he wrote that.
I also have some fiction in another stack: Elizabeth Bear (fantasy author who is so amazing I buy her stuff in hardback) and Scott Lynch's newest Locke Lamora (fantasy, also bought in hardback) and others of that ilk.

What are you reading?

(Apologies for not linking to books, while I did buy practically all of these at Amazon, you may have your own favorite spot to buy them and if you go to a theological independent bookstore, I'd love to hear about it.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

ICAD - Days 1 and 2

I have other posts planned, but am taking a break from pondering this week's Blogging the Lectionary post (and you'll be relieved to know that I've moved on from the parody of West Side Story's "Maria") to share that I am taking part in ICAD -- using an Index Card A Day in some creative manner for the next two months. These first two are experimenting with embossing folders (without using a fancy machine) and a new ink pad that has multiple colors on it.

Not successful but the goal is to do something every day and it doesn't have to be a priceless work of art at the end either.

Learn more about ICAD at daisy yellow.