Tuesday, April 29, 2008
"But justice without forgiveness is revenge. And forgiveness without justice is appeasement."
"The point of following Jesus isn’t simply so that we can be sure of going to a better place than this after we die. Our future beyond death is enormously important, but the nature of the Christian hope is such that it plays back into the present life. We’re called, here and now, to be instruments of God’s new creation, the world-put-to-rights, which has already been launched in Jesus and of which Jesus’ followers are supposed to be not simply beneficiaries but also agents."
"Two examples here. The first is Desmond Tutu and his work on the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. I have no hesitation in saying that the fact of such a body even existing, let alone doing the work it has done, is the most extraordinary sign of the power of the Christian gospel in the world in my lifetime. We only have to think for a moment of how unthinkable such a thing would have been 25 years ago, or indeed how unthinkable such a thing would still be in Beirut, Belfast or—God help us—Jerusalem to see that something truly remarkable has taken place for which we should thank God in fear and trembling.
The second example is the killing of the Amish school children. The families of the girls who were killed extended forgiveness to the man and comforted the family. Also, these families insisted that some of the money raised by the Mennonites to support them be given to support the family of the shooter, who killed himself. These countercultural examples show how the Christian community can react. "
For some people, church means "going to church on Sunday morning". It means singing, hearing good preaching, maybe catching up with some friends in the hallway, or going out to eat after the service is over. I do all of that. But that's not what church means to me.
Here's a quote from Pastor Rob Bell of the Mars Hill church:
" We say, "This isn't the church, this is a church service. It's just an hour where we have some teaching, some singing and you'll hear about things in the community." If there are 43 "one anothers" in the New Testament—serve one another, carry one another's burden's, confess to one another—you can only do a couple of those in a church service. Until you have a community that you are journeying with, please don't say you are a part of this church. You just come to a gathering. We are very intentional about that. The question is, "Who do you call when your brother ODs on cocaine? If your mom is in the hospital, who comes and sits in the waiting room with you? When you cannot pay your rent, who do you go to and say please help me out?" That's your church. "
I have learned that, as much as our native birds love dandelions, the plant itself is not native to the US. Apparently, early British settlers brought them here to plant as salad greens, and they have naturalized (and how!!). So, enjoy them or dig them up, either is fine with me. Just don't go after them with the poison.
Friday, April 25, 2008
It still looks nice and clean at this point. When I went to take this picture I gave Mr. and Mrs. Mallard quite a fright, and they frantically tried to lead me away from their nest. And, just as my own children did, there must have been someone catching tadpoles down there recently, judging by the orange Little League cap caught in the gravel. When I have walked past this area, I have often seen muskrats, ducks, frogs, Canada Geese, and even herons. It does have many of the hallmarks of a "wetland". I remember when I was a girl, this part of the neighborhood was still open fields, and this particular spot was always a little swamp. Later, the city ditched and drained it to put in the road. They left a little flood plain along the ditch, which is good, because it definitely still gets full to the brim when we have a big rain.Without this ditch my basement would be wet about 2/3 of the year. That's because this is the very spot on the county watershed map that is designated as the headwaters of the Embarass River. From here the water goes down to a man-made retention pond, and then, ultimately wanders in the form of the Embarass over toward the Wabash, then the Ohio, then the Mississippi, then the Gulf of Mexico. And along the way, it gathers a lot of fertilizer and pesticides running off lawns and fields
The Embarass isn't the only river affected by all of us in Champaign-Urbana. At this very point in the county are located the headwaters of both the Kaskaskia watershed and the Vermillion watershed, as well as the Embarass. It sure doesn't look like it, but we are actually high ground here, thanks to the glacier, and all the water runs away downhill from us. All the oil that drips out of our cars, all the trash that blows into the the creeks and ditches, all the lawn care chemicals that are used here in this town, are headed off to the Gulf.
So, you see, I and my immediate neighbors get first crack at polluting the Embarass. And today, I just decided I'm not going to have any part of it. I'll do my best to keep ahead of the dandelions, but if you drive past and see a few little golden twinkles in my lawn, please don't write me off as a slacker. I'm not trying to bring the neighborhood down. Hopefully, our children and grandchildren will benefit from my tolerance of those weeds. Bring them over, and I'll let them pick a bouquet for you!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Anyway, the book I purchased was, as I said, for another challenge for the month of May. Participants are supposed to read a book related to environmental issues. I was looking for "Serve God, Save the Planet" by Matthew Sleeth, but they were out of it and will be ordering it for me. My thinking was that if I bought that book, read it myself, passed it around the family, and then donated it to the church library, it would be a worthwhile purchase. But, since they were out of it I just had to look around.....and buy a different book.
I'm glad I did though. The book I wound up with is "Living Downstream-A Scientist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment" by Sandra Steingraber. Steingraber is a Central Illinoisan and biologist/environmentalist, as well as being a cancer survivor. She writes beautifully about this part of the world and the environmental degradation that has led to clusters of cancer diagnoses, carefully tracing back, back, back to the origins of those carcinogens. Naturally, buying the book caused me to scrap any practical use of my time today and dive right into reading. After several chapters, I can tell you I am completely hooked and would highly recommend this book to anyone.
I do hope to also read Sleeth's book this month. It's been on my "To Read" list for a while. I'll review that one as well when I get to it. If you are interested in getting involved in the reading challenge, look on my blog roll and go to Green Bean's blog. And I promise to learn to hyperlink soon!!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
2 The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
4 He makes winds his messengers, [a]
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
8 they flowed over the mountains,
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
16 The trees of the LORD are well watered,
17 There the birds make their nests;
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
21 The lions roar for their prey
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
23 Then people go out to their work,
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
26 There the ships go to and fro,
28 When you give it to them,
29 When you hide your face,
30 When you send your Spirit,
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
We are by no means a stuffy congregation, as all the interaction in the Java Junction can attest. We have lots of small groups, Bible Studies, and Sunday School classes, that have a great sense of community . Sometimes, however, people don't know about something really neat that is going on in some one's life. In spite of the structure of the Sanctuary service, the worship planning committee wanted to make sure that the congregation had a chance to share in some of that good news by adding a "faith story" to the service a few Sundays a month. These stories are told by ordinary members of the congregation to help us understand and celebrate the fact that God is working in our midst every day. We've heard stories about providential adoptions, involvement with the poor, interfaith interactions, a house remodeled for someone in the church who is wheel-chair bound, and much more. It's very inspiring!
David Swanson, in his review of the book "Jesus For President" says:
"In each of our churches there are astonishing stories that happen every week. People caring for each other, sacrificing for each other, taking risks for the Kingdom. But if your church is like mine, you probably do not talk about these stories very often. Whether we wish to avoid pride or simply don’t have enough time during our services, the result is many untold (yet inspiring) stories. Stories about people who are living as citizens of an alternative Kingdom. And while it may seem a tame response to a radical book, perhaps our first step is to become better storytellers.
The stories we tell shape us. What stories are being told in your church? Are they stories about power and influence that unwittingly celebrate the values of empire? Or, are you sharing the stories of ordinary people living out the extraordinary values of an alternative kingdom? "
So, if Pastor Dick calls you up and asks you to share your story, I hope you won't be shy. And if you hear of someone doing something that should be shared, be sure and let him know. We can all be blessed and uplifted when we hear how God is working today.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
We still haven't bought anything that was not food. However, we have eaten out a little. We also had to buy gas for both cars, which isn't surprising, considering we started off with only a half tank in each car. We made it on that for 18 days!
Friday, April 18, 2008
On the news this morning they said it was centered southeast of us near West Salem, which is a good ways away, and apparently they could even feel it up in Chicago. The Chicago newscaster said it only lasted a few seconds. Maybe that's true up there, but we had a whole long conversation while it was going on, so I think it was at least 30 seconds, with a little break, and then another 10 seconds or so.
It was interesting, but not scary at all. We never felt like we should get up and run outside. The funniest thing to me was that, in my groggy state, I kept asking myself if we should go to the basement! Wrong natural disaster....
Update: We just got bumped around again at 10:15am. The first incident occurred at 4:35am.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The hands-down winner was "Joy In The Morning".
Tied for second place were:
"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"
"Jesus At Your Name"
"It's All About the Cross"
I thought that since we had used "It's All About the Cross" twice this year, we should not use it again. So we will use the other three. I think, in looking at the list, we can work them all very nicely into the service.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Actually, I thought it was very funny. He is so right. Having been called to be my tech support on several occasions (and Grant, I will master hyper-linking soon, I promise!) he knows that it is only my bull-headed determination that has gotten me this far with blogging. Once I start trying to learn something new, I just can't quit until I have it figured out, whether it is something that comes naturally to me or not. It's kind of a curse.
I hadn't touched a computer until about six years ago. PCs came out the year I left the workplace to stay home with babies. We didn't have one in our home for probably another eight years after that, and I didn't need to learn how to use it to wash dishes or wipe noses. Then, when Paul was going to India, I thought I'd like to learn how to use e-mail. That was my initial experience. Since then I've sort of accidentally by-hook-or-crook learned how to do a few other things, but there is still a loooong way to go!
Pastor Randy encouraged the church staff to think about blogging as a way to communicate with church members. So, dutifully, I gave it whirl. I'm not so sure that anyone from church reads my blog, but, whatever, I'm doing it anyway, and I've found out that I really like it. I love it as a form of self-expression. If you want to know what's on my tiny little mind, this is a good place to look. And I really love meeting and communicating with people in the blog world. There are gardeners, bookworms, green activists, and Christian homemakers from all over the US and UK that I have exchanged comments with, and I think that has been the real benefit.
Some of you may wonder at the, um, "eclectic" mix of material that shows up here. Well, here's the deal: I'm a wife and mother, so I write about my family; I'm a church musician, so I write about music and worship; I'm very interested in environmental stewardship, so I write about that; I'm a Master Gardener, and if it ever gets warm, I might write about that. And, first and foremost, I'm a follower of Christ, so I write about that. I am who I am and I write what I write. I'm not here to rant or preach (at least not more that the average blogger!); I just enjoy writing. And I love hearing from all of you. Please drop in and comment! You don't have to agree with me, and you don't have to think I'm cool. I'm 52, and I'm so over that. But it never hurts hear opinions and exchange advice and ideas. That's why I blog.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Our new Celebration Hymnal comes with excellent instrumental arrangements for all kinds of instruments. We have the violin and trumpet books that go along with the hymnal, and we will gradually acquire the ones we need for other instruments to join in. I know of one excellent flute player, for instance, who only needs to overcome her shyness about performing to prompt me to order the flute book!
One thing we have just loved to think about in planning has been the idea of using various instruments to create an appropriate atmosphere during the worship time. For instance, on a "big " hymn, like "Crown Him With Many Crowns", we might use all four instruments for an exciting time of praise. Then, around the prayer time, we might use only piano and violin to sing a quieter, more reflective hymn. I have heard many positive comments from the congregation about the variety they experience this way, and the way it helps them to worship as they sing.
Though Robin graduates this spring and will move on, there is another young trumpeter coming along who I think will be very useful to us. I know of a cellist or two, a flute player, and a couple of clarinetists. Many are a little reluctant to play publicly, but I hope they will eventually feel called into service. I don't believe in arm-twisting people; I think they should have the chance to think about whether this is what God wants them to do. They will become part of the larger worship team we have on the platform: organ, piano, wind instruments, and four part choir. Once they get a taste of the joy that comes with serving this way, I think shyness will subside. It's fun, and it glorifies God!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
$3.86-primer and spray paint for Mike's frame for the art show
That's it. We could have done better on food, but we ordered pizza one night, and Mike also attended a good-bye party for some workmates at Jupiter's. I have no remorse about either of those; I think they just count as food.
So far, we still haven't had to buy gas. We had good biking weather at the beginning of the week, so the car stayed home from Sunday noon until Wednesday night. Then the weather got stormy and I drove, though Mike took the bus on those days.
We've had slight little temptations here and there, but nothing too troubling. Mike saw some sale items at the hardware store he said he might have picked up were it not for the challenge. I just didn't go into any stores except the grocery store. The pizza is sort of a fun tradition on Saturday night, and then there are leftovers from it for Sunday lunch.
P.S.-For those of you who have no idea why I'm posting this on my blog about worship, I've agreed to participate in a "challenge" with some other bloggers. We're challenging ourselves to try not to buy anything non-essential for a whole month. I wanted to do this (and Mike is doing it too) so that I can remind myself of what is essential and what is not. And the cool thing is, we're saving a ton of money!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
"Yes, we're Americans. We multitask all day long. Efficiency is one of our top cultural values. I, too, am pragmatic. I'd like to use Sunday morning to worship God, to get a few pointers on how to improve my relationship with Jesus, and to reconnect with community. But every Sunday, the first words I hear are, "Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." And I'm reminded that we gather weekly not to hear a practical talk on how to better live out our faith or to provide a venue to tell our friends about Jesus. We gather to corporately worship God, to celebrate the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, and to remember that our lives are not about us."
Why do you come into the Sanctuary on Sunday morning?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
When I worked inside the building I made friends with a wonderful woman named Debbie, who was the school custodian. She was one of the most hard-working people I ever knew, and she loved the kids, instead of resenting the continual messes they made. Last fall Debbie lost her battle with breast cancer. She was a strong Christian, and I know I'll see her again, but all of us wish she didn't have to go so young. The children decided to do a fund-raiser for cancer research in her honor.
I'm not exactly sure how the idea of an incentive developed, but to encourage the students to raise $2,000, my son and one of the fifth grade teachers agreed to shave their heads in an assembly if the goal was met. I kind of had the impression, in talking to Grant, that he didn't think that amount would be raised-a bit of denial, if that's the case. I don't know why this head shaving thing was such a motivator for the students, but I heard about this for several weeks at my crossing, as children showed me their little baggies full of coins, or told me they were giving their birthday money towards the cause, because they so wanted to see those teachers get their heads shaved!
Well, they more than made it! Yesterday was the big day. So, here's the big reveal:
Grant, you're a trooper! Thanks for taking one for the home team! Debbie would have loved cleaning up your hair.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Now, some joined the challenge because they want to get out of debt. They will want to pay down those debts with the money they are saving. More power to them! I've certainly been there and done that!
Some are trying to find ways to give up part of the family income so that a parent can stay home with little ones. I've been there, too.
Some may want to make some expensive changes like solar panels on the house. Some are very invested in supporting environmental initiatives, and they have a list of organizations to which they would like to direct more funds. I'll admit I haven't done that yet, but I understand where they are coming from.
Here's another suggestion:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:22
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Here's the run-down:
$37.80 for groceries
$26.74 for non-food items:
batteries for my bike-light: $4.25
paper lawn bags: $5.50
download of tax program: $16.99
All were necessities. And, obviously, we continue to use our basic utilities as usual.
Where I think we were really pleased was in the area of transportation. Three different days last week, the car didn't leave the garage. Of course, this requires some cooperation from the weather, but we are going to see how long that 1/2 tank of gas we started the challenge with will last.
Okay, enough with the boring bean-counting. Let's go have a fun day!
P.S.-I'm not sure what all the hate towards Target is about. I like Target! It's not their fault if you spend too much when you go in there!
Monday, April 7, 2008
One thing we try to make sure we include each week is the concept of God's transcendence and His immanence.
Transcendence refers to the fact that God is far greater than His Creation. He is, and always will be, unchanging, infinite, independent, and Lord over all. A Bible passage that might exemplify this:
"The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is
like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to
look on the heavens and the earth.?" Ps. 113:4-6
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earthWe start the service trying to capture this aspect of God, by singing hymns like "All Creatures of Our God and King", "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name", or something similar.
and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human
hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and
breath and everything else." Acts 17:24-25
But if we left it at that we would be neglecting the fact that as high as God is above us, He loves us and cares for us personally, and we can know Him. This would be the concept of His immanence.
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child
she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved
you on the palm of my hands." Is. 49:15-16
"You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba!
Father!'" Romans 8:15
At this point, usually in preparation for a time of prayer, we sing things like "What a Friend We Have In Jesus", "I Need Thee Every Hour", or "As the Deer".
It is this understanding of His immanence that allows us to pray to Him with faith that He hears us. It is the understanding of His transcendence that allows us to know that He can do what He says He will do. If one element were missing, we would be unable to worship Him completely on Sunday morning.
Next time you attend worship, look for both of these elements in the service and let them deepen you knowledge of God.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
We've always had a ton'o'bags under our sink. In fact, last year's kitchen remodel drove me to find a more sensible way to keep them rounded up, and I bought this handy thingy for the cabinet door, which has been really helpful. Before, they were sort of loose under there, and I'm pretty sure they were breeding like rabbits. How in the world could we be accumulating so many? We reused them to line the bathroom wastebaskets, clean out the kitty-litter box, and Mike used them to carry his lunch to work. We even used them to cover our bike-seats on rainy days! Believe me, we are recyclers extraordinaire, and we thought we were really being good with them. But there were still waaay too many to deal with.
Sometime last year, I became aware that there is a movement to change people's habits with regard to plastic grocery bags. They have been nicknamed "urban tumbleweed" for a very good reason, since they somehow escape to blow about, snagging in trees and bushes, clogging storm sewers, drifting into farm fields (from which they must be cleaned or they clog the farm machinery), and, in coastal areas, winding up in the water, where sea animals mistake them for yummy jelly-fish and ingest them. My daughter just returned from a trip to Annapolis, where she heard they are banning them to keep the litter out of the Chesapeake Bay. Cities in California are doing the same. And, in my own walks around the neighborhood, it's rare to go a block or two without seeing one hung up in some one's landscaping. The worst thing about them is that they have a life expectancy of almost infinite length, especially if they are in a land fill. They never go away.
So, back last summer, I decided to do my bit and try to get away from using them. I first started refusing a bag when I bought just one or two small, manageable items. That was easy; why hadn't I thought of that before? Then I scrounged around the house and came up with a few reusable cloth bags of various ages and sizes. I tossed them in the back seat of the car, so I would have them handy when I went to the store.
It took awhile to develop the habit thoroughly. I would get to the checkout line and realize I had left them in the car. Or, I would be in the other car that I rarely drive, and they weren't with me at all. Eventually, persistence paid off and I now am very consistent about using the cloth bags for groceries and even other stops like the drugstore or Target. The clerks tell me they are seeing them more and more, and they really don't bat an eye when I use them. And now, all our local grocery stores, along with Walmart, are offering reusable cloth bags for $.99. Even my dad has gotten them, and was showing them to my sister on Easter. It's a trend!
This was really a very easy change to make. Yes, a very slight amount of thinking ahead is necessary, but come on, we all need to put a new wrinkle in our brains from time to time. When you think about how nice it would be to get rid of the "urban tumbleweed", and save up to 11 million barrels of oil a year (if everyone in the US gave them up), it doesn't seem like it's too much to ask of ourselves, does it?
I'm glad I live where there are four distinct seasons. I think it breeds a real appreciation for the signs of spring! Seeing these little crocus, with their vivid splash of royal purple against the dead detritus of the late winter flower bed makes me think of the refrain to a Chris Rice song:
O praise Him, all His mighty works!
There is no language where you can't be heard!
Your song goes out through all the earth-
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I went into this challenge a little cavalierly, and I really wasn't sure if Mike would come along for the ride. However, Mike, after some initial hesitation because of the need to buy some art supplies, has actually had one of the more interesting things happen. He mentioned to some workmates that I was doing this, and why he was supportive yet reluctant, and someone apparently asked him what exactly he needed. He mentioned that, in preparing to display some of his paintings at a showing in a restaurant downtown, he was framing one, and needed some black spray paint to finish the frame he was making. He had a tiny bit left in a can here, but he knew it wouldn't be enough to complete the job. His workmate suggested that she had some she would be glad to give him, and that if anything else came up he should just send out an all-office e-mail and see what turned up. So, one day into the challenge he was feeling much better about it-in fact, he was almost gloating!
As for me, my thinking had been that it would be somewhat like other fasts I have done, in the sense that it would help me see where my areas of temptation lay, and teach me discipline in resisting those temptations. Always a healthy thing, I think. And I was fine until last night when I was riding my bike home from choir practice and my bike-light batteries gave up the ghost about half-way home. Well, shoot. Now I had to decide: new batteries so I can ride even at night? wait until the month is up, since I don't ride at night very often? I just hate paying such high prices for gas, so I decided to buy the batteries.
That's fine, but that means going into a store, where all the temptations await! Gardening magazines and snack food were the things I had to avert my eyes from as I walked through the aisles. I didn't look, but I sure heard them calling to me! So there you go; now you know some of my main downfalls. But I was a good girl, and got out of there with only what was on my list-a few food items and the batteries.
The other place I notice I'm somewhat tempted is the sale flyers for home-improvement places that come in the newspaper. I started to give them a glance, then realized I needed to just get them out the garage for recycling. Many pats on the back for that, Joyce!! You're so disciplined!!
So, I spent $4.99 on a non-food item, and it's only day three. But it's instructive, very instructive.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Wish me luck! I'll keep you updated on how we do.