Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Here is the next question from Desmond’s interview. This took me a while to think how to put into words something that is very heartfelt. So here is question #3.
In one of your previous comments on this blog, you mentioned having once belonged to a Christian community. Could you tell us more about that?
My Christian Community began in college with a campus Christian fellowship. It was a fabulous time of delving into the Bible and being challenged to live out the gospel with each other and our community. The things I learned as a child were being built upon with the intensity of being 20 and in college. We tested what was said in the Bible and were thrilled when we saw they were true.
Many of us started attending a new little church that was excited about God and had a strong belief that fellowship is like the communities in Acts chapter 2. We didn’t sell everything we had and share the money, but if we had something someone else needed, we gladly lent or even gave it to them. Did someone need to move? 20 people would show up on moving day, with half a dozen coming before to help clean so you can get your deposit back. Did someone need prayer? We would pray for hours if needed. Worship was intense. Trust built up to where you could share with several people your struggles and pain without judgment – but also know these people would help you seek God’s discernment. I went away for several years to work with a Christian organization, and when it was time to come back I purposely returned to this community.
Now there are as many explanations about why this church broke up as there are people involved. I am going to share my perspective and welcome comments from other members or friends of members to share their ideas.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent many years overseas attending churches where I barely spoke the language. Worship was awesome – God knowing the depth if the words I sung even more than I did. However the sermons were tough for me to follow. So, once I got lost, which was pretty quickly, I tuned out and meditated on the scripture passage. Even when I had translators, I was always analyzing what was said because I know things often got mixed up in translation. Once I came back to America, I kind of did the same thing even though the sermon was in English. More often than not I would tune out what the sermon said or take what the pastor said and analyze it until it made sense to me. Hence I didn’t really catch on to when the pastor started preaching things that were not really bad, but not Biblical.
Also, with as much desire as everyone had to love everyone for Christ, we were not growing as a church. Everyone was therefore doing everything, so if someone needed a break or sabbatical, there was no one to step up to the plate and you saw the ministry you put your heart and sweat into falter or die. There was a lot of guilt not to take a break. If any kind of long-term need came up we were too stretched to properly take on the challenge.
I would add to this issues I have with many churches. One is the lack of young men, especially single men in church and the causes behind that. Another is how single women are a kind of second class citizens who have to “be protected” like young children – regardless of their age or spiritual maturity.
Eventually the people in the top tier of leadership reached beyond their limit and either moved away of left for another church. There were deep wounds all around, and within a year the church denigrated. Most went to one of two churches in town, while a few “took a break” from church all together.
The remnant that chose the church I now attend has stayed together. When I get together with these people, even if it has been weeks or months, it is easy to get to heart issues because we have an old trust. There are several women, and by proxy their husbands, who keep in contact almost daily via group email. These emails share painful struggles and outrageous joys. One person shares how her kids often see her belt out in an operatic falsetto, “Lord, help me Jesus!”
These people, grounded in God, community and trust, help keep me sane when Jesus seems far away.
Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
A while back there was a blogger I loved reading because he usually challenged me to think. Since then he has closed his blog (miss you Desmond) but he still gives intriguing comments on blogs, so he is not totally gone. He began a process of getting to know readers by asking them questions, and here are the ones he asked me.
Desmond Jones said...
Just Me - Hi! Haven't seen you around in awhile
OK, let's see if I can come up with five questions worth your while to answer. . .
1) I'll start with the obvious one, since you went to all the trouble of laying it out there for me: What is a 'liturgical Pentecostal'? I'd be interested to hear about your religious/spiritual background more generally, and how it affects your life today.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in the church. My Dear Sweet Mother took us to the Lutheran Church where God met me at a very young age. Though I didn't really know it at the time, the repetition of the liturgy and scripture teachings grounded me deeply in God's word, and this formed the foundations that would provide me many answers throughout my life. When I went to college my main form of rebellion was to seek out something different in a fellowship. The one thing I felt was missing in the liturgical services was a passion in prayer and worship. It was here that I felt the power of the Holy Spirit and God's ability to answer prayers. Now I seek out churches that have a respect for the grounding of liturgy as well as a passion for seeing the Holy Spirit at work.
2) How did you meet Your Sweet, and how did the two of you decide to marry? (I don't know that I've ever said so, but most days, as I kiss Molly goodbye on my way to work in the morning, I say, "Farewell, my Sweet"; so we've got that in common, too ;) )
Now I work with high school kids and I love telling them that I met my husband when he was my student. They start hooting and hollering because they are thinking that he was a 17 or 18 year old. In truth he was 28 and I was 31.
When I went overseas, I specifically picked a mission organization where we taught in the public schools. So for four years I taught English as a second language and when I came back to America I got a job teaching English to internationals getting ready for college or grad school. It was great having in the same classroom Arabs, Japanese, Koreans and Brazilians. My Sweet was one of those students. While he attended my school, I never thought about him in that way – I have always put married men and students in that “don’t even think about going there” category. But after he graduated, he asked me to a party, and things went on from there. We dated for several years because I wanted to be more certain we could deal with issues of differences in culture and languages. Also, at the time My Sweet was spiritually seeking, but was not a Christian. I know that a person’s spiritual beliefs affect how they live their life and I had told My Sweet from the very beginning that I would not consider marrying him if he did not make his own commitment to Jesus. On New Years Eve he decided that Jesus was the one he wanted to be following, and a few months later we were married.
I want to take a bit more time to answer the other questions, so stay tunes.
As a final note I just want to say, “Thank you Bob Barker for bringing lightness and joy.”
Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!
Thursday, June 07, 2007
OK it is officially here – the dreaded swimsuit season. Actually, I am not really intimidated by the idea of being at the beach or pool in a cute tank top suit. I get intimidated when I am trying on the cute suit in front of a dressing room mirror. I will blame it ALL on the horrid lighting – it’s television, it adds 10 pounds. Well, more like it adds 20 pounds. Really, the lighting adds 40 bounds. OK, let’s round up and say it adds an even 50 pounds.
My Sweet and I are getting into the exercise mode. Not so much because of the swimsuit thing, but more because in October My Sweet is going to become a brother-in-law (which for a long time My Sweet, in his adorable second language, thought Americans were saying brother-in-love. I like this idea since love is the reason marriages stay together.) So this fall I will be going to the land of skinny people (the Hard Rock Café juniors shirt I got for my sister-in-love was way to big for her!!!). I am also going to meet some of My Sweet’s more judgmental family members. Therefore My Sweet and I are trying to slim down before then.
So what are we doing to take off the pounds? Jogging five miles a day? Joining a gym and actually going? Eating only celery and leaving the Ben and Jerry’s to get freezer burn? No fricking way! We are doing Dance-Dance-Revolution! I am proud to say that I have graduated from the baby steps to the way beginner level (and I have dismantled the machines ability to boo me.). Is it bad for me to say that I secretly hope that My Sweet will mess up a couple of times so I have a slight hope of outscoring him (so far it hasn’t happened, dang it all!).
Here is a video of me doing a little DDR. Aren't I cute?!?
OK, here is the real video of me and MY Sweet. I am the one in white. OK go.
Here is another exercise video that teaches English, cultural norms as well as giving you a good workout.
Hey, speaking of skinny judgmental people, what in the world has happened to the judicial system that allows Paris to go home for “medical” reasons? They have doctors in jail!
Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!