Friday, March 30, 2012

Gymnast...

who is 86 years old!



Bravo!

Feast Day of Climacus


John Climacus (ca. 579-649), Orthodox monk and spiritual writer. There has been very little information preserved about his origin. Tradition tells us that he was born in around the year 570, and was the son of Sts. Xenophon and Maria, who are commemorated on January 26/February 28. St. John came to the monastery on Mt. Sinai at age sixteen. Abba Martyrius became his spiritual father and mentor. After four years of living on Mt. Sinai, John was tonsured a monk. One of the fathers present at his tonsure foretold that John would become a great luminary of Christ's Church. St. John labored in asceticism for nineteen years in obedience to his spiritual father. After the death of Abba Martyrius, St. John chose the life of reclusion, departing to a desert place called Thola, where he lived forty years in silence, fasting, prayer, and repentant tears. It is not by chance that St. John speaks so much of repentant tears in The Ladder. "As fire burns and destroys dead wood, so do pure tears cleanse all impurity, both inwardly and outwardly." His prayer was strong and effective—this can be seen in the following example of the great ascetic's life.

St. John had a disciple, Monk Moses. One day St. John sent his disciple to spread soil on the garden beds. As he was fulfilling his obedience, Monk Moses became weary from the fierce summer heat and reclined under the shade of a large cliff. St. John was in his cell at that moment, resting a bit after his labor of prayer. Suddenly a man of venerable countenance appeared and woke the ascetic, reproofing him: "John, why are you resting peacefully here while Moses is in danger?" St. John immediately arose and began praying for his disciple. When Moses returned that evening, the saint asked him if anything had happened to him that day. The monk answered, "No, but I was in serious danger. A large rock broke off from a cliff under which I had fallen asleep at midday and nearly crushed me. Fortunately I was having a dream in which you were calling me, and I jumped up and ran; at that moment a huge rock fell with a crash upon that very place where I was…"

During St. John's abbacy, another St. John, abbot of Raithu Monastery asked him to write the famous Ladder—instructions for the ascent to spiritual perfection. Knowing of the saint's wisdom and spiritual gifts, the abbot of Raithu asked on behalf of all the monks of his monastery for "true instruction for those who seek unwaveringly, and a kind of steadfast ladder that will take those who desire it to the Heavenly gates…" St. John, who had a humble opinion of himself, first balked at the task but then set about writing the treatise out of obedience to the request of the Raithu monks. He thus called the work,  The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

From then on he has been known as John of the Ladder, Climacus in Latin.

The Ladder was written by a monk for monks. John believed, however, that every Christian needed a personal encounter with God. In the book, he sought to evoke in the reader an experience similar to his own. Using the image of Jacob's ladder, John proceeded in thirty steps to guide the initiate into a process of sanctification and divine union. ... The Orthodox Church so reveres the work that it is read in the monasteries and refectories every year during Lent.
John, a mystic of light rather than divine darkness, avoids apophatic language and does not intend that his "steps" be taken literally or dogmatically. His view of spiritual formation is dynamic and progressive: The goal of perfection is not arrival but a process of moving from glory to glory whose summit is Love.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

LOTR

Rare is the book that you can pick up time after time and find something new in the story. But Lord of the Rings (LOTR) certainly qualifies in this regard. Although it can technically be broken down into (3) books, my copy has them all between the covers.

The written word, in the form of books and stories, are my forever friends. Through a series of events, I was introduced to LOTR in high school and since have often spent time in Middle Earth. Although I do believe my son may have lingered more often and longer, he has no more love of them than I do.

Throughout different times in my life, Tolkien's words and characters have spoken truth to me:
  • Through Sam I see a purity of spirit not often seen in our world and through him I have learned the value of sacrifice and loyalty. He is a beautiful example of how to face grim times with a smile on my face.
  • Through Frodo, I have witnessed the break down of an innocent and loving heart. He is influenced by evil that is beyond his control and from which he cannot walk away. He sacrifices his joy of life in order to serve the greater good.
  • Through Aragorn, I learned that assuming responsibility is required of grown-ups. That one's word is one's bond and that retreat from obligation is dishonorable.
  • Through Theoden, I learned that dying on a battlefield fighting evil is preferable to merely wasting away in old age.
  • In Eowyn I found a kindred spirit. I sometimes share her frustration at being limited because of being female and whole heartedly agree with her fear of being held behind the bars in a cage (whether real or imagined) "until use and old age accept them, and all chance of great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire"
LOTR is an epic tale of a world that you could almost convince yourself actually exists. This, of course, is due to Tolkiens wit and intellect along with his pen. At times I have believed that he may have seen a glimpse of that world beyond the great gray rain-curtain of this one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inhumanity

Earlier today, as I was preparing for our Youth Bible Study tomorrow night, I was reading Chapter 5 in Adam Hamilton's "24 Hours that Changed the World". He says:

"I have been to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC on several occasions. I have taken each of my daughters there to see the photos, the video footage, and the exhibits documenting the atrocities that occurred under Hitler's "final solution". The museum is a testament to the gross inhumanity of the Nazis; but it is also a witness to the complicity of millions of ordinary people in Europe who refused to resist this evil, including many leaders of the church. Even the United States, ultimately playing a key role in the defeat of Hitler, refused to receive larger numbers of Jewish immigrants from Europe at a time when the Nazis were implementing the "final solution". The Holocaust is an indictment not only upon the Nazis, but upon the entire human race.


My daughters and I walked in silence after our visits, deeply moved, disturbed, and convicted by what we had seen. That is the aim of the Holocaust Museum: to affect visitors so deeply that they leave committed to the proposition that this should never happen again."

 I was unable to stop thinking about the words I had read...was I supposed to post the words that were haunting me? Was I supposed to elaborate upon them? It was while these questions were making me uneasy that I saw this quote by Maya Angelou:

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."

I knew then that I was supposed to post Rev. Hamilton's words...and Ms. Angelou's words...but after reading them, you need none of my own. Just chew on these for a while.
It is Jewish tradition to leave a pebble on the headstone whenever you visit a grave. It is an act of remembrance...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jesus God

Due to military obligations, Grandson came to live with us when he was 2 years old. Our children had moved out a few years before and we had grown comfortable in our daily life. Hubby has health issues and is unable to work...although he is a great help to me at home, it was still not a fulfilling life for him. Once grandson moved in to his mother's old room, our schedule went out the window. We now operated on his schedule...and it has been a blessing. Suddenly, hubby had a purpose...every day...all day. He had a reason to rise in the morning, a reason to keep alert and as mobile as possible. He had someone to challenge his intellect by asking WHY about everything.

His impact on my life was a little more subtle. After all, I had raised two children already, worked with children and Youth at church forever...I knew what to expect...yea, right! He hasn't challenged me physically but spiritually. Looking again at the world through the eyes of a child brought me joy. I had forgotten how sweet life could be...

Early on, we started to pray together each night before bed. I would say part of the prayer, lift up all our family members and then I prompted him to say the Amen. But instead of just Amen...he would add "Night, night Jesus God" (he's eight now and we still follow the same routine). Not Jesus and God, Jesus God.

My first impulse as he got older was to correct him...it should be Jesus and God, shouldn't it? I prayed for the right words to say to help him understand they were 2. Time passed and the more that I asked for the words to explain it to him, the more I felt I was being taught. Grandson has been blessed with understanding and compassionate Sunday School teachers who have taught him about God the Father and Jesus the Son. But they've also shown that they're one and the same.

As we ride home from church on Sunday's we talk about his class, who sat next to who, what they ate, what they learned and he teaches me. With absolute faith and trust he knows that Jesus God loves, protects, teaches and cares for him. He knows that the members of the congregation love him and want him to grow up in God's wisdom and love. And there are no doubts in his mind that this is what Jesus God wants for him.

I recently realized that I was in the wrong trying to split Jesus God into two. You may say that it's bad parenting and bad theology on my part. Maybe it is, I don't know. All I can do is pray for guidance and right now that guidance is telling me that I desperately need to learn to love and trust Jesus God fully and absolutely, like grandson does.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Illumination!

Courtesy of "The Atlantic"



The history of bookmaking hasn't been without its challenges, but never was its craft as painstaking as during the era of illuminated manuscripts. Joining the ranks of history's most appalling and amusing complaints, like this or young Isaac Newton's self-professed sins, is an absolute treat for lovers of marginalia such as myself—a collection of complaints monks scribbled in the pages of illuminated manuscripts. 

Prayer Path

The Youth are hosting "The Prayer Path" a Christ-centered Labyrinth experience along with a few additional prayer stations today and tomorrow. Lifting up prayers that those who attend do so with an open heart and open ears. That they will hear the voice of God during their walk.

This is an online version of the Path:

http://www.yfc.co.uk/labyrinth/online.html

We will be located in Fellowship Hall.
Saturday, 3/24, from 1pm to 5pm
Sunday, 3/25, from 2pm to 6pm

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Are you an Activist?

Watch and see...


Now I'll ask again, Are you an Activist?

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I've always loved this prayer but must admit that for years I thought it was only the part shown in a different color:. While that part of the prayer is beautiful and powerful, taken as a whole, one could tell that St. Patrick was just a man. With hurts, pain, desires and sin.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lor
d.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A funny...

No time to post today so I thought I'd just share a funny...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Friends

Society does go overboard in assigning human attributes to animals. Most of God's creatures do not understand the concept of friendship but I do believe He gave them an instinct to help one another...

First day of Spring!

Although the weather in my part of the world has screamed springtime for a while now, today it is official! Bradford Pears, daffodils and Red Bud trees are all in bloom. Soon we'll see our beloved Dogwood's in full color! In honor of the season...Vivaldi's "La Primavera" (Spring)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Words

I recently posted about the death of Robert Sherman and what many of his songs meant to me. Once upon a time, my grandmother challenged me to learn to spell "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"...it took a little while, but I did it!

An now to find out it's not the longest word in the dictionary!



I've been mulling over a post about words, guess I need to get busy on it again!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Laetare Sunday

Because the midpoint of Lent is the Thursday of the third week of Lent, in the Eastern Orthodox church, Laetare Sunday has traditionally been viewed as a day of celebration, on which the austerity of Lent is briefly lessened. The purple vestments and altar cloths of Lent are set aside, and rose ones are used instead. Flowers, which are normally forbidden during Lent, may be placed on the altar. Traditionally, the organ was never played during Lent, except on Laetare Sunday.

Because we are halfway through the Lenten season, it's a good time to take stock of what you're doing. Did you make a commitment to give something up? How is that going for you? Perhaps you added a Study at church, or agreed to read certain books or texts, again, are you keeping up with this promise? If not, now is a good time to start again...or change directions and take another path.

Whatever your Lenten discipline, we can all use more prayer in our life. The two shown below are easy to memorize and add. The first, by St. Ephrem, can be said morning and night...to focus our thoughts and our lives. The second "The Jesus Prayer" can be used at anytime (or all the time) during the day to "center" us. Personally, I pray the Jesus prayer with prayer beads I made myself. In times of stress, strain or feeling down, I can hold the prayer beads in my hand to remind me the Christ is there for me. They have been a part of so many prayers, worship services, acts of discipline and I have an immediate reaction to the feel of them in my hand.


O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust of power and idle chatter. Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience and love. O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and to not judge my brother, for You are blessed now and ever and forever. Amen

The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

If you have a few moments each day that you can spend away from the world, reading the Scriptures are a wonderful discipline to add. I would suggest beginning with the Psalms (Psalms 113 - 118) are an excellent place to start. Add more when you're ready or maybe pick up a book of Daily Scripture Readings...or look on-line.

Whatever choice you make concerning Spiritual Disciplines, the key is following through, daily. And when the Easter sunrise dawns, chances are you'll continue what you've started.


St. Paddy's Day part 2

Ok, I know St. Patrick's day was yesterday but I just couldn't resist adding this today:


You've got to admit...it is funny!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

The Chicago River dyed green for the Day!


From Busted Halo
It’s March. The air is getting slightly less frigid, the wind is blowing, the snow is (God willing) starting to melt. This can only mean one thing: it’s time to start rocking the green and drinking the beer. In other words, it’s time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Whether you’re Irish and Catholic or anything else imaginable, March 17 is a day of revelry and fun, where everyone takes part in the traditional celebratory green beer and expects kisses simply for being “Irish” (even when they’re not). All this revelry is understandable in celebration of such a wonderful saint, but the question has to be asked: Why do we celebrate a man of God with excessive drinking, songs, and the color green? It might not seem likely, but these modern traditions do actually make perfect sense, if you know the Irish.

....

So there you have it, the cultural and spiritual history of our common St. Patrick’s Day revelries. Are there ways to make the holiday “holier”? Yes. Are they as much fun as the whiskey and the green hair? Probably not, but that’s OK. God likes to “meet us where we are” on our road to Him, and if that road happens to pass through a bar or two on our way to heaven, I’m sure God understands. Have a happy St. Paddy’s Day, and try not to go overboard on the green beer. I’ve heard it leaves you with one helluva bad hangover.

If you'd like to read everything in between...go to the post linked above!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Feast Day of...



St. Patrick
British-born Patrick was captured by Irish pirates when he was sixteen and taken to Ireland as a slave. During this difficult time of his life when he was forced to herd livestock in the mountains, the youth drew strength from his Christian faith. When he was able to escape six years later he somehow found his way home to England. The young Patrick, much-changed by his years as a captive, decided to study for the priesthood.

In a series of dreams, Patrick heard Irish voices imploring him to return to Ireland. For the next thirty years he wandered around Ireland. In his ministry as an Irish bishop Patrick established a large network of churches and monasteries, trained Irish clergy, and baptized countless people as Christians.

Did he really drive all snakes from Ireland? Or explain the concept of the Trinity with a shamrock? We'll never be able to separate truth from legend, but the evidence of what he actually accomplished is in the centuries of a strong Irish Catholic Church that endures today. He died around 461.
from MethodX

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ballad of Barbara Allen

This song was first printed in 1750 but was mentioned in Samuel Pepy's diary as early as 1666. It was an old and familiar song even in Samuel's day. No one knows if the author was Scottish or Irish or English...but they do know that it was written somewhere on those islands.

My mother loved the Ballad of Barbara Allen...so much that we had it played at her funeral. The musicians did a beautiful job, but she loved this version by Jerry Reed the best...



         Ballad of Barbara Allen
In Scarlet Town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling
Made every youth cry 'Well-a-day'
and her name was Barbara Allen

'Twas in the merry month of May
When the green buds they were swelling
Sweet William on his death-bed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen

He sent his servant to the town
To the place where she was dwelling
Said, Master, bid you to his side
If your name be Barbara Allen

Slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly she went nigh him
And when she drew the curtain back
Said, Young man, I think you're dying

Oh yes I'm sick, I'm very very sick
And I will be no better
Until I have the love of one
The love of Barbara Allen

Father, Father, go dig my grave
Dig it deep, deep and narrow
Sweet William died for me today
I'll die for him tomorrow

They buried her in the old churchyard
Sweet William's grave was nigh her
And from his heart there grew a rose
And from her heart grew a briar

They grew and grew up the churchyard wall
Till they couldn't grow no higher
Then grew as one, to part no more,
The red, red rose and the briar.

Do you love your youth worker?

 I recently became aware of the "We love our youth worker" covenant while reading an article at "The Youthworker Movement".  I am a paid part-time youth worker with three great adult helpers. I enjoy the full support of the Pastor and am regularly told by members of the congregation how much they appreciate my work with the young people. In conversation with some of my Youth worker colleagues, I realize this is the exception, not the norm. So I thought, why not post this information? While part of their focus is on churches who are looking to fill the position, they are also supportive of those already "hard at work" to meet the needs of the youth in their care.


The Covenant started as an idea in the UK in 2007 through conversations with youth workers about the experience of working in a church. All felt passionate about working with young people and committed to serving the churches that were paying them, but their experiences of being supported were mixed. Often it was simply because churches weren’t aware of some of the pressures and issues the youth workers faced.

Talking and praying together, the idea of a Covenant was formed along with a set of promises that would both challenge and inspire churches to think about better practices. In 2009, Youthwork, a collaboration of organizations committed to working together to resource and inspire Christian youth work in the UK, and Amaze, the first professional body for Christian youth and children’s workers in the UK, officially launched the Covenant and accreditation process. Since that time, the response to the Covenant has been overwhelming and has been adopted across multiple denominations and parachurch organizations in the UK.

In the summer of 2010, conversations were begun by Youth Ministry leaders in New England to bring the Covenant to the US. After a year of introducing the idea of the Covenant to youth workers around the country, as well as some crucial planning and development, We Love Our Youth Worker US was launched in the summer of 2011 with the plan to open an accreditation process in early 2012.
The Accreditation process is already in effect in the US!


Just to give you a feel for what is involved:

The National Covenant for church youth workers is a set of seven promises churches and Christian organizations make about the practices and principles they will use when employing a youth worker.

  • We will pray and spiritually support
  • We believe that our youth worker needs spiritual support in his or her work with young people. We promise to pray for our youth worker and make sure his or her spiritual life is getting the support it needs.
  • We will give space for retreat and reflection
    We believe that taking time to think and pray is just as essential for our youth worker as organizing events and meeting young people.
    We promise to encourage our youth worker to use part of his or her schedule to give space for retreat, reflection and personal development.
  • We will provide ongoing training and development
    We believe that learning the skills of youth work is an ongoing process and that it’s important to continually invest in professional development.
    We promise to set aside time and money to provide training and development for our youth worker.
  • We will give at least one full day of rest per week
    We believe that taking regular time off helps maintain our youth worker’s passion and energy for his or her work with young people.
    We promise to require our youth worker to take at least one day away from his or her role each week and at least two weeks per year to do something different.
  • We will share responsibility
    We believe that having a youth worker does not release the rest of the church from our responsibilities towards young people.
    We promise to encourage everyone to play a part in volunteering, praying for or supporting young people.
  • We will strive to be an excellent employer
    We believe that it’s important to have clear structures and procedures for recruiting and employing a youth worker, and to provide supportive management structures.
    We promise to follow good practice guidelines in the way we employ our youth worker.
  • We will celebrate and appreciate
    We believe it’s vital to acknowledge what our youth worker is doing and the commitment they have made to work with young people in our church.
    We promise to make sure our youth worker knows they are appreciated and we will celebrate his or her achievements.
As a Covenant is an agreement between two parties, there is a response we challenge youth workers to have towards their churches as they seek to reach more youth and their families with the Gospel.

  • We will pray for our church, its leaders and members and our community
    We promise to lean on God for the work we have been charged to do and that we will lift up those sharing in that responsibility.
  • We will make our own spiritual growth a priority
    We promise to spend time reading God’s Word, take time for retreat and reflection and find ways to keep our faith fresh and growing.
  • We will commit to continued learning and growth
    We promise to have a teachable spirit and seek out ways to grow professionally.
  • We will take at least one day off each week and vacation time
    We promise to take time for rest and Sabbath as we invest in a family, spiritual and social life outside of the youth ministry.
  • We will ask for help and share the youth ministry with others
    We promise to communicate what is happening, what we are doing and where others can get involved in the life of students
  • We will strive to be excellent employees
    We promise to manage our time effectively, work hard and operate within the context of the leaders overseeing our ministry.
  • We will celebrate our church’s investment in youth minis
If you're part of a congregation that cherishes their youth, why not check it out? Your youth workers will thank you! By the way, they encourage people to blog, etc. about their site...

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    The Ides of March

    The Ides of March (see link for info on "ides") is a day we all know as March 15. But in the year 44 BC, it became the day that changed history. A group of conspirators (supposedly about 62 in all), led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, stabbed Julius Caesar to death (23 times in fact). Brutus and Cassius had incited the members of the conspiracy by playing upon their fears that Julius had plans to be not just Caesar but King of Rome! 



    According to Plutarch (a Greek historian), a soothsayer had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed not later than the Ides of March and on his way to the Theatre of Pompey where he would be assassinated. According to Plutarch's writings, Caesar met the soothsayer and joked, "The Ides of March are come". By that phrase he was saying that the prophecy had not been fulfilled.  At that point, the soothsayer replied,  "Aye, Caesar; but not gone", meaning there was still time left in the day. It is believed that Caesar thought the prophecy was supposed to occur by the time March 15th arrived. Not realizing that  the 15th was to be included.

    From that day forward, citizens no longer needed to write specifically about the assassination, all they had to say was "the ides of March" and people knew what was being talked about.The phrase "Beware the ides of March" comes from the Shakespeare play "Julius Caesar" when the soothsayer tries to warn Caesar of impending doom. Although it has taken on much the same superstition as Friday the 13th, the Ides of March isn't something to be feared, it's just another day on the calendar.

    Honesty



    Being with a friend in great pain is not easy.  It makes us uncomfortable.  We do not know what to do or what to say, and we worry about how to respond to what we hear.  Our temptation is to say things that come more out of our own fear than out of our care for the person in pain.  Sometimes we say things like "Well, you're  doing a lot better than yesterday," or "You will soon be your old self again," or "I'm sure you will get over this."  But often we know that what we're saying is not true, and our friends know it too.

    We do not have to play games with each other.  We can simply say:  "I am your friend, I am happy to be with you."   We can say that in words or with touch or with loving silence.  Sometimes it is good to say:  "You don't have to talk.  Just close your eyes.  I am here with you, thinking of you, praying for you, loving you."
                                                                                  Henri Nouwen

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Britannica

    I guess we should have known...what with internet constantly at our fingertips, children becoming technology savvy at younger and younger ages, wikipedia to name a few. It has been announced that Encyclopaedia Britannica is closing down after 244 years.


    “It’s a rite of passage in this new era,” Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., a company based in Chicago, said in an interview. “Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it. But we have a better tool now. The Web site is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.”   NY Times

    I can remember, as a child, if you went into someone's home and they had a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, they would be displayed in the front room. It was a worthy investment and showed everyone that you had arrived. Alas, I had a set of encyclopedia's but they were "World Book". Although they helped me with every report I had to do, and my eager little brain was thrilled when they arrived, they didn't have the prestige of Britannica. In those days, encyclopedia's opened up the world. But, their demise marks that a new age has arrived.

    A little off subject but...how many of you learned to spell encyclopedia with Jiminy Cricket?

    Celebrate Pi Day!

    Pi, Greek letter (π), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th. Pi = 3.1415926535…

    Personally, I am NOT a math enthusiast but I do recognize that we need it. Fortunately for me, I live in the age of the computer and calculator, otherwise I'd be lost! I suppose it's because it's viewed as hard that the majority of students will say that math is their least favorite subject. It can be difficult, but with hard work and determination, it can be mastered. Or at least that's what I keep telling my grandson!

    Now, how many can tell me why March 14 was chosen as "Celebrate Pi Day"?

    It can be fun too! There are books that make the concepts easier to understand...one such book is:

    Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)

    Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)
    By Cindy Neuschwander, Wayne Geehan

    When Sir Cumference drinks a potion which turns him into a dragon, his son Radius searches for the magic number known as pi which will restore him to his former shape.





    Assisted by his knight, Sir Cumference, and using ideas offered by his wife and son, King Arthur finds the perfect shape for his table.

    Now how does one go about celebrating today? One of the best is by eating pie! And, of course, discussing the relevance of "pi".Some places also hold contest to recite "pi" (there are over a million numbers and counting!).

    The town of Princeton, NJ hosts numerous events in a combined celebration of Pi Day and Albert Einstein's birthday, which is also March 14. Einstein lived in Princeton for over twenty years while working at the Institute for Advanced Study. If you travel to Princeton, you can also enter the annual Einstein look-alike contest.

    I think I'll start my celebration with Lemon Meringue or maybe Blueberry...decisions, decisions!
    Thanks to Stephanie for bringing this important event to my attention!

     

     


    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Adult Children

    The NY Times has an article about adult children returning home to live. While I have (1) 28 year old and (1) 30 year old, neither have been home for any significant period of time since graduating college or being "medically retired" from the Navy. They've had struggles, to say the least, but neither wants to admit they can't make it on their own. I think the foundation for their determination is understanding that we are always here for them if they need us (as are most parents). 


    The article talks about discussing rules, and over-all, I think they're good points to make understood:

    He laid out four major overarching points that parents and children needed to discuss before the young adult moved back in:
    1. What is your role in the house? Nonpaying guest or member of the family? What chores are you going to          do? Grocery shopping? Cooking?
    2. What are you going to do to earn money in the short term if you can’t get a job in your desired career?            Flip hamburgers? Walk dogs?
    3. What are you doing to pursue your desired career goals? Vocational training? Internships? Career 
         counseling?
    4. When are you going to leave? It’s good to set a time limit — three months, six months, a year, Mr. Gallo      said.  It can always be renegotiated.

    The idea, is “to provide a temporary security blanket with some structure.

    I remember a time when it was not unusual for more than one generation of adults to live in the same household. While this could cause friction at times, over all my experience has been a positive one. There are things that all generations can learn from one another...Things that cannot be taught in a book or in a class.

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Journey...

    If this video speaks to you...plan to spend a few moments each day this week with Tony.



    From: The 40 day Journey

    Persecution


    Iraq’s dwindling Christians, driven from their homes by attacks and intimidation, are beginning to abandon the havens they had found in the country’s north, discouraged by unemployment and a creeping fear that the violence they had fled was catching up to them.

    Their quiet exodus to Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the United States is the latest chapter of a seemingly inexorable decline that many religious leaders say tolls the twilight of Christianity in a land where city skylines have long been marked by both minarets and church steeples. Recent assessments say that Iraq’s Christian population has now fallen by more than half since the 2003 American invasion, and with the military’s departure, some Christians say they lost a protector of last resort.

    Their flight is felt in places like the wind-scoured village of Tenna, which has sheltered dozens of Christian migrants over the past nine years. The families fleeing Baghdad’s death squads and bombings found safety here beneath the hulking mountains, but little else besides poverty, boredom and cold. Villagers estimate that half of the 50 or so Christian homes are now empty, their families abroad.

    From the NY Times

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Lent...

    The purpose of Lent is not only expiation (the act of atonement), to satisfy the Divine justice, but above all a preparation to rejoice in His love. And this preparation consists of receiving the gift of His mercy--a gift which we receive insofar as we open our hearts to it, casting out what cannot remain in the same room with mercy.

    First of all, one of the things we must cast out is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance to our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable (unyielding) judge, we would not confidently await His mercy or approach Him trustfully in prayer. Our peace and our joy in Lent are a guarantee of grace.
                                                                            Thomas Merton

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Words and music by...

    I don't know how I missed it but this past Monday, Robert Sherman, author of many of my favorite childhood songs passed away. It would take far too long to write how each song impacted a shy, young girl but suffice it to say that their words and music wrapped me in a blanket of love and allowed me to live in world I could only dream of...I do hope he knows how much joy he brought to so many...

    His son, Jeff, wrote the following:

    Hello to family and friends,
    I have very sad news to convey.
    My Dad, Robert B. Sherman, passed away tonight in London. He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. He loved life and his dear heart finally slowed to a stop when he could fight no more.
    I will write more about this incredible man I love and admire so much when I am better rested and composed. He deserves that.
    In the meantime, please say a prayer for him. As he said, he wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded. His love and his prayers, his philosophy and his poetry will live on forever. Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world.
    I love you, Dad.
    Safe travels.
     
    In honor of his passing, a song which still touches my heart today...




    If you have a moment, click on the link above, you'll be amazed how many songs you know...

    Gratefulness

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    A Fable...


    It was the coldest winter ever. So cold, that many animals died because of it. The porcupines, grasping the situation, decided to group together. This way all were covered and protected. Almost immediately they began to realize that even though they needed the heat from their companions, their quills wounded those closest to them. After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and then began to die; alone and frozen.

    The porcupines soon realized that they needed to make a choice, either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. During the course of the winter, they learned to appreciate that the heat generated in the group was much more important than the little wounds they inflicted. They learned that each needed the other.

    MORAL of the story:
    The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people (for there are none), but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and learns to admire their good qualities.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Clearing the path, to God

    There's an old saying that tells us "the longest journey we ever undertake is between the head and the heart". The path to our hearts, is always cluttered and sometimes totally obscured. Like the seeds from the parable, weeds spring up way too easily and take over, if we do nothing to stop them. If we do not seek the truth and goodness that is God. The Apostle Paul reminds us..."what our head says we want, our actions contradict; what our hearts long for, our head refuses to attend to". We are blessed in the fact that God knows all about weeds and is a loving and tender gardener. It is His desire to clear the pathway. 

    It is the very nature of man to seek love and knowledge so, therefore, it is the very nature of man to seek God. Knowledge without love cannot act and love without knowledge cannot know what is really good. Knowledge seeks the truth while God is ultimate truth. Love seeks good while God is infinite good. He is both truth and goodness.

    His heart is waiting for ours to stop running, stop trying so hard, to stop focusing on externals. To just let go. When your days are filled with noise and the juggling of tasks and demands, when you face the daily decisions and stresses, when you face times of sorrow and despair remember He is in your head and in your heart.

    Pretzels


    Who knew that pretzels came into being because of the Lenten Fasting Laws in Catholic Church!

     If you take a moment to look at the typical twist pretzel, you can see that it is a model of the common prayer position from the early 600s of folding your arms over each other on your chest and putting your hands on your shoulders.
    Pretzels were developed as an option to satisfy abstinence and fasting laws of the time. Eggs, fat, and milk were forbidden during Lent. So, the remaining ingredients that one could use included water, flour, and salt. A young monk baked the first pretzel — making a Lenten bread of water, flour, and salt, forming the dough into the prayer position of the day, and baking it as soft bread. These first pretzels would have been much like the soft pretzels we have today.
    Greg Dues, in his book Catholic Customs and Traditions, explains more of the pretzel history:
    “These little breads were shaped in the form of arms crossed in prayer and were called bracellae (Latin, ‘little arms’). Among the Germans the word became ‘bretzel’. These pretzels were a common Lenten food throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, and became an all year round snack, in its original shape only in the last (19th) century.”
    The suggestion of arms crossed in the form of prayer may have led to pretzels being given as a reward to young children when they could recite their prayers. Pretiola means little reward, which could also be a derivative of the term pretzel. The three holes in a pretzel are also said to represent the Holy Trinity.

    Read the rest of the story at Busted Halo

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Purim

    Today, at sundown, begins the Jewish festival of Purim. Watch the video to see how Purim originated:



    Esther, a Jewish maiden, became queen of Persia in order to save the Jewish people from annihilation. 

    When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer. "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And  who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:12-14)

    Two phrases are striking..."if you don't do this, help will come from another" (God will see it done by Esther's hand or another) and "who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (it is no accident that we are born when we are, we are here...for such a time as this.)

    Esther is short but interesting book in the Old Testament. Take a few minutes to read it!

    Feast Day of Perpetua and Felicity

    No saints were more honored in the early church than Perpetua and Felicity .
    They were martyred in Carthage in about the year A.D. 203, together with three others. 

    The five martyrs were catechumens (young Christians being instructed prior to baptism) when they were arrested during the persecution of Emperor Septimus Severus, but they were baptized before they were led away to prison. Perpetua was a young married woman from a noble family and with an infant son, while Felicity was a slave and eight months pregnant. 

    Perpetua’s mother and two brothers were Christian, but her father was pagan. When she was arrested, her father tried to get her to deny that she was a Christian in order to save her from execution, but Perpetua refused to deny her Lord. By law, a pregnant woman could not be executed, but Felicity soon gave birth in prison, and she was happy that she could suffer death for Christ with the others. 

    Three days later, the women and others were led into amphitheatre (modern day picture above) and severely scourged. Then they were tossed about by an exceptionally wild cow, gored, and thrown to the ground. Perpetua encouraged the others and astounded the crowd. Finally, they were put to the sword. Perpetua guided the gladiators sword with her own hand.





    An historical account in Perpetua's own hand...

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Words...

    I felt compelled to show this, given that my previous post was about "words".


    Speaking the language

    A recent MTV study shows that this generation, while having access to more technical tools than any other, still wants to be seen as funny and smart. And one of the ways you show these traits is by using the correct language. Although you may wonder how some of them came to mean what they do to our young people, over all they're a group of positive words. You can read the article here, but I mainly wanted to give you a sample of the lingo:

    "Random":  Quirky, what no one else has imagined
    "Generic":  Way too obvious to be interesting
    "Drama":  Overreacting
    "Just Sayin'": A way to show you disagree or disapprove
    "Epic fail": a failure so bad it's funny

    I'd like to note that they still use the word "cool" and it still means the same thing.  But, in addition to cool, they may also use "awesome, amazing, fantastic, epic or crazy". That's fine...just as long as they hang on to "cool"! It's one of my favorites!

    A result that some may find surprising is that the words voted "most favorite" are ones like "wonderful, smile, happy and beautiful". And they mean the same thing they always have! Looks like, despite some dire predictions, we have a funny, smart, happy generation coming up...and I, for one, am way glad!

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Dangerous Weather

    I posted a time or two last week about the turbulent weather we were experiencing. We, in my little corner of the world, came out with little to no damage. We thank God for this...but realize that it is NOT because we are any better or holier than others. The most severe weather did not hit where we are...

    Our hearts and prayers go out for those who have felt what it is like to have everything taken away in the blink of an eye.


     St. Joseph's in Belleville, IL was built in 1894. Just after 5am on February 29, 2012, a tornado tore through the area, leaving devestation in it's wake:


    Yes, this is the same church.

    While the church itself is destroyed, the Italian marble altar was spared.


    It is currently being dismantled to keep it from being exposed to the elements. More information here...


    UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is already working to help. Check their website for information or to make donations...

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Spiritual Disciplines

    If you're still be looking to add a discipline to your Lent...it's not too late.  I ran across "40 Days of Yes" yesterday. It is user friendly (they've even linked the Bible Verses), not very time consuming, and from what I've read, thought provoking.

    If you're just looking for something to do in the next few minutes, how about an online labyrinth? At Gratefulness.org website you can "walk" one or be "carried"! There's another labyrinth that is described as an "interactive spiritual experience" at Labyrinth.org.uk . Any one of them is worth a few minutes of your time.



    Last, but not least, you can visit the Irish Jesuits at Sacred Space.org for a different type of online experience. You can follow a directed prayer by clicking on "Begin the Prayer. They have a documented Lenten Retreat or you can follow the Way of the Cross or even observe their Lenten Calendar. Do any one or all...however you feel led.

    Each of these experiences will offer you the opportunity to relax, unwind and be intentional in your spiritual discipline. Enjoy!

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    Are you a Trader?

    Right after I finished with this mornings post about United Methodists being Missional, I ran across this video from Rethinking Youth Ministry about teaching our young people to be missional. Since I found it quite interesting and since I also believe that coincidences are exceptionally rare, I wanted to share it with you...

    What does it mean to be missional? Ask 3 youth ministers and you'll get five different answers. For me, being missional means centering yourself, your ministry, your faith, your life in the mission of God. This video seems to be right in line with that understanding. What do you think? Would this video's message resonate with your youth?

    Are you a Missional Methodist?



    In recent months there has been a great deal of conversation throughout the United Methodist Church about the future of our church. Spurred by concerns over continuing church decline, and the Call to Action project of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, people throughout the church have been talking over meals and via Facebook about their hopes and dreams, and their fears and concerns about where the UMC is headed. For the Council of Bishops, this conversation has evolved into the Vital Congregations initiative — an effort to translate the learnings from the Call to Action study into measurable, quantitative practices upon which to hold church leaders accountable. These measures are a step in helping our church address the adaptive challenges that we face.

    In parallel with that conversation, a group of clergy and laypersons have been thinking intentionally about the underlying mission of the church. Spurred by conversation throughout various Christian groups around the “missional church,” this group believed that it was important to identify common values as United Methodists which provide meaning and purpose to the practices of vitality. It was in the longing for a statement of vision and values that the Missional Manifesto for the People Called United Methodists was born.

    The Manifesto begins:
     A Missional Manifesto for the People Called United Methodist

    We the people called United Methodist, confessing that we are a people in need of God’s transforming grace, lift up the following vision as a means for guiding our practice and mission.
    For more than 250 years, God has been sending people from the Wesleyan tradition into the world for the express purpose of “spreading scriptural holiness across the lands.” This vision is not limited to a a single context, but flows freely across all borders and throughout the world, and is found in announcing the Good News of God’s reign in the whole of creation.  In response to this good news, we work to help form one another in the ways of Jesus Christ, making disciples, so that God’s kingdom may be revealed “on earth as it is in heaven,” and the world therefore transformed.

    As heirs to this tradition, we have been blessed with the radical love and grace of God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–which empowers us to likewise be a blessing to the world. This is both a joyful opportunity and a sober responsibility. It is our call, as Wesleyan Christians, both to proclaim and embody the kingdom of God marked by love, reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, and hospitality for all people and in all times and places.
    It is through practice of the means of grace that we are gradually formed by the Holy Spirit into the vessels that embody this distinct kingdom of God. And it is through mutual accountability, rooted in love and grace, that we hold one another accountable to living lives that strive to exemplify holiness of heart and life.
    Therefore it is with humility and sound resolve that we declare the following to be sign and symbol of our calling as Wesleyan Christians:
    Read the rest of the document here and consider adding your signature.

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Just for Fun!

    It's Friday night and in case you need a little fun...

    See how many of these landmarks you can guess correctly. The only hitch is the photo's were taken from the air!

    http://guessthespot.com/index.php?cat_id=3

    I was listed as "World Wise" but I was a long way from being perfect!

    Dr. Seuss

    Because his was a mind that always resided outside the box...he was a favorite from the very first book I read. Thank you for brightening our world!

    Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!


    You might be a doorknob!
    Or three baked potatoes!
    You might be a bag full of
    hard green tomatoes."
    "Or worse than all that…Why,
    you might be a WASN’T!
    A Wasn’t has no fun at all.
    No, he doesn’t.
    A Wasn’t just isn’t.
    He just isn’t present.
    But you…You ARE YOU!
    And, now isn’t that pleasant!"
    .
    From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!

    Stormy Weather...

    After being on the edge of severe thunderstorms (with loss of life in the next county) on Wednesday, we were really hoping for a respite. Guess it's not meant to be today...

                                      (map courtesy of www.weather.com)

    We expect this type of weather in Mid-April and May but this year, it's started in February! Of course, the buttercups and Bradford Pears are blooming too. I guess it's springtime...not! Over the last 25 years, we've had some of our worst snow storms in March. Looks like we need to be ready for a roller coaster ride!

    This is a good time to listen to a littel Billie Holiday!

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Young People

    Just read a most interesting article about Young people and the church. Or to be more exact, "How to Rid your Church of Young People". Written tongue in cheek from the perspective of a young person, the author is a senior at Indiana University...and he has a valid question...do we really want Young People in our church?

    I realized that perhaps these Christians were quietly trying to rid themselves of young people and simply did not know how to finish the job. Young people are, after all, opinionated and hormonal, and they tend to use copious amounts of technology. It is understandable why any person with an interest in routine and purity would want to exclude this obnoxious demographic. So, in a spirit of Christian solidarity, I decided to help these churches expel young people once and for all.

    Take a moment and read it all...and please don't be offended if you recognize someone you know!