Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another (long overdue) Guest Blogger

This Meditation was given by my mom, Joyce Carlson, at St. James, Newport Beach on Good Friday. I asked her, of course, if I could post it, and then both of us forgot. So here, finally, it is, in Easter Season, but none too late. Enjoy!

“Woman, behold thy son.
Behold thy mother.”

Meditation 3
The Word of Remembrance John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear Woman, here is your son.” And to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27.
~ ~ ~
Bob and I are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. We have worked for more than 20 years as part of a translation team for the Supyire people of southeastern Mali, with the goal of sharing God’s Word with them in their own language. When you live among people like the Supyire, trying to understand what they are saying, and thinking, and doing, you discover that the only way to get at their assumptions about the way the world is put together is to listen carefully for a long time, and observe, and record and analyze data, and think about it. And if you do this long enough, it becomes almost second nature to run nearly everything that happens through the particular grid of their thought. So I would like to take a look at this passage from the point of view of the Supyire people.

One thing we have learned about the Supyire is that genealogies are important. Who is your father? Who is your mother? What village did your mother come from and who is her father? Who are your older brothers and sisters and younger siblings?

Like the Jews of Jesus’ day, the Supyire are patrilineal. They look to their fathers for their clan affiliation, their family name, their inheritance, and their place in society. This goes for women too. A woman does not change her name, even after marriage. When she marries, she leaves her father’s village, and joins her husband in the village of his father, and brothers, and ancestors. But she will never give up her own patrilinage. Her children, when they are born, will take the name of their father and become part of his clan. But this woman, though she lives, and dies, and is buried in her husband’s village, she will always belong to the place where her own father comes from.

This creates an interesting situation for Supyire children in the villages where their mothers have come from.

In a mother’s home village, her children are given the name – the status – of narafoo a word which means to lean away, just as the branch of a tree leans away from the trunk. A narafoo is a “leaning away person”. A narafoo is someone with a foot in both worlds. One foot in his father’s world where he gets his identity. Another foot in the world of his mother, where he has an important role to play when there is trouble. The narafoo is a person who can solve problems for his mother’s people. He has the right say what he likes, even if it is insulting. He is free to take what he likes for his own use without asking. And when something goes seriously wrong between one person and another in the family of his mother, the narafoo is called to bring about reconciliation. He has the right to bring the warring parties together and perform the rituals that no one in his mother’s family would dare to do, and to make sacrifices for his mother’s people when all else fails. He is, in other words, a mediator. (Let me point out that in Supyire society, everyone is a narafoo to someone, because everyone has a mother. But the Supyire are choosy about who to call when there is trouble. You don’t call on just anyone from the village where you’ve sent a girl to be married. You call someone who has a proven character of worthiness. Someone that you know can be trusted not to steal, or lie, or spread false rumors. Someone with wisdom and skill and discernment.)

Why is this, that a mother’s son can repair what is broken in a mother’s home village, which he cannot do in his own village? The Supyire have a proverb which says, “No matter how old you are in the village of your father, you will always be a child – a grandchild actually – in the village of your mother.” This is the child who, with almost cosmic indifference to the consequences, can get away with anything. The fact is, if a son is cursed by his own father, the curse will take effect. But no curse from anyone on his mother’s side will be of lasting effect. So this son – this child – who can get away with anything in his mother’s village, will be able to do what the children of the household cannot.

“Woman, behold your son,” Jesus said to his mother.

I think Mary could very easily have thought, for a moment, that he was speaking of himself. She had, after all, been beholding him – looking in his direction – for over thirty years. And with good reason. Looking out for him when he was a child, and then looking to him when he grew to be a man. How could she not look to Jesus first – who is called the Son of Man, but beyond and above that, the Son of his Father in Heaven.

When Jesus spoke his final words from the Cross, he too was speaking to people who were part of a patrilineal society. At the time, the Jews (like the Supyire) looked back to their fathers for their place in society, for their inheritance, and for their names. Mary was most likely the daughter of Heli, who was the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, and so on, all the way back to King David. John was the son of Zebedee in Galilee. This much we know. But even further back, they (as we), traced their ancestry to Adam – a patrilineage in trouble. A family estranged from the God who created all things.

The fact is, Mary’s family (which includes us), is a mess. Every time we open the newspaper, or check the news online, or go to work, or come home from work, or sit down next to our nearest and dearest, something is going wrong. There is no part of this world that has not been spoiled – desperately spoiled – by our disobedience to the one who made us. How can we not weep with despair and frustration at our continual loss of Paradise?

Last October, while waiting in New York for the arrival of a new granddaughter, I occasionally drove my 5-year-old granddaughter Emma to and from kindergarten. One day after school, Emma settled into her car-seat, opened up the remains of her lunch and bit comfortably into an apple. Then she launched into a speech.
“Nonni,” she said. (I’m Nonni). “Nonni, I need you to pay attention.”
“We’re all gonna’ die. An’ we really, really don’t wanna die, but we hafta die, because … because … because our mommies and our daddies are all sinners.” Then she laughed and said, “I’m jus’ being a speacher.”
And I laughed too, but I thought, “How right you are, dearest Emma.” “We don’t want to die, but we have to die, because (not just our mommies and our daddies, but we) are all sinners.”
We, like Mary and John, are from the village of Adam. We are sons and daughters of Adam, with sin born and bred into us. All of us are broken.

But then we turn to look at Jesus. This son of God, from a different patrilineage altogether, who can come to us in the world – into the towns and villages and cities of Adam’s descendents, to bring salvation from sin, healing from brokenness, and joy out of sorrow. “Look to me … turn to me … and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other,” wrote the prophet Isaiah, hearing the word of the Lord. (Isa. 45: 22)

Jesus is the son of his Father in Heaven, from whom all his authority and power comes, with a name that is above every name. He is without sin, because his Father is sinless. He has a different name and different inheritance. But I think it is interesting that his own Father did lay a curse upon him. The curse of our sin. And Jesus did not evade the punishment. This was his danger, because a curse from father to son takes effect.

But now we can be restored, because he has his other foot in our world. He can come into the broken places in our lives, and heal us, and repair what has been ruined. He is in the line of David through his mother, but he is not like us the sons and daughters of Adam. So from a Supyire point of view, Jesus is the perfect narafoo (the perfect mediator) for us.

From the Cross, he spoke to his mother:

“Woman, behold thy son.”

And in so say, he turns his mother’s face to the beloved disciple whom he could trust to take care of her, and who stands now before her like a son.

“Behold your mother,” Jesus said to his disciple.

I take it as a way to show me, myself, how we all stand in relation to the lost world around us. We who take Jesus as our Saviour – he who was our brother in the world of the flesh – now takes us as his brothers and sisters in the world of the Spirit. We are adopted into God’s family, and our patrilineage changes. So we stand in the place where we too can begin to show the way to the Father. We will never be perfect mediators like Jesus. But we can learn from him, and take up our own crosses, and follow where he leads.

In this giving of mother to son and son to mother, for care and protection, Jesus brought John into a new relationship not only to Mary, but to the whole world of Mary’s people. And it recalls for me that other moment when Jesus, after his resurrection, said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
You be one of the ones to take care of those who are lost, and abandoned, and broken. Don’t let even one of these little ones that I love fall to the ground.
Thus, John and all the disciples (and we who now follow in their footsteps), are brought into God’s family. We are brought out of death and woe, and the despair of Adam’s sin, and into the righteousness of God. We are adopted as sons and daughters of the Father, and brothers and sisters with Jesus. And in his strength, we reach forth our hands in love to those who do not yet know him.

Jesus is the perfect mediator – the perfect narafoo with a foot in both worlds, who from the cross, in suffering and death, has the strength to save and restore the whole world. All is known to him who loves us. And he brings us into a new relationship with God who is now our loving Father.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Guest Blogger!!!

My dear friend, Carrie, left a thoroughly mouthwatering message on my answering machine three days ago describing what she planned to make for dinner and asking if I had time for a movie, which I did not. However, the recipe bears a capacious audience. Here is Carrie.

I have been inspired by the "from a Monastery Kitchen" cookbook series. Indeed, Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila Latourette has made me believe that I too can make simple yet alluring dishes with a vague French influence. Merci, Brother Victor-Antoine. To this end, I attempted:

Crepes with Tomatoes, Herbs, and Goat Cheese Filling
What is not to like about this dish? I started to make it before rushing out to a movie, and then discovered that the crepe batter should chill. But, to make the batter, I used:
4 eggs (I had weirdly oversized eggs. I am sure Brother Victor-Antoine never had such engineered eggs. No, he undoubtedly pulls them fresh from the hen's nest. I used three instead of four)
2 Tbsp. veggie oil
1 ¼ C. flour (half white, half wheat – I'll felt healthier already)
3 C. milk
½ C. water
Butter, or oil, as needed

I made the crepes the next day with the help of a friend who did not laugh outwardly at my tragic first attempts at lovely golden crepes. I think that a) Brother Victor-Antoine did not use skim milk for his batter because he gets the milk directly from the cow and b) I needed to pour them a little thicker in the pan. By the end, we were flipping them with grace and vigor, and the last four crepes were lovely. Oh, and I used real butter, which felt decadent.

I filled them with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, fresh black olives (not those gross canned ones of my youth), minced garlic, crumbled goat cheese (so tasty!), chopped basil leaves (from the one basil plant I have managed not to kill), salt, and pepper. I could have added rosemary and thyme, but as they are $2 each per bunch at Wegman's, I am waiting to grow them myself. I mashed everything up with a fork and tasted it to make sure the herb mix was working.

I generously buttered a shallow white casserole dish which looked very French, and set my four beautiful crepes in, next to two or three ugly crepes. I forgot to cover them with aluminum foil because I stopped reading the recipe, but after 15-20 minutes in a 300 degree over, they were just fine.

I would say it was a good attempt, and I am willing to try it again. I think Brother Victor-Antoine would say that the process itself was important and meaningful and I should joyfully try again. I think I shall.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good Shepherd in the News

Matt was interviewed by our local 24 hour news channel. There's a written article but if you scroll down you can see the video.

For those of you who are not addicted to Stand Firm, but interested in how the church is doing, as well as the history/documentation of how we got to this place, Matt will be posting weekly. I'll probably try to do a round up every so often, but I'm not really that organized, so who knows.

And a shout out to you Lovely but, hmm, what's the word, obsessed? liberals who have gone to the trouble and care to put together a whole blog about us. Wow. Where do you find the time? And really, the toys for the kids, so cute. Thanks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blank, because the house is clean and I'm trying to think through homeschooling

Sorry for the dearth in posting. I've been trying to keep the house clean due to tons of company last week and this week, which, sadly, kills the creativity. Tonight I just need to go to sleep and get rid of a low lying headache-lying there ready to rise up and strike me down.

Also, I've been reading lots and lots about curriculum and managing school with toddlers in tow, and 'circle time' and all that. Actually, in the midst of all this research, I very much welcome any and all experience any and all of you have who have any wish to share.

I'm intending to 'go classical'. Last night I actually just dreamt the word TRIVIUM. That's how much I've been reading.

Honestly, I'm wildly excited. As I think about it, that's partly why I haven't been blogging, because that's all I've been thinking about. Matt gets a set look about his jaw when I ask if he has a minute, knowing that I intend to describe in detail what I plan to do with the cupboards in the living room, and exactly what kind of bookshelf I want to buy, and why I think formal math instruction should be delayed. And if his eyes ever so lovingly glaze over, I can't imagine what will happen to all of you (well, I can imagine, you'll go read some other blog, and that would be terrible.)

So, I will leave this for tonight, and go dream about this bookshelf. Goodnight.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

links for a saturday evening

I'm binging on homeschooling blogs and Matt is watching a Japanese movie, so, as you can imagine, I really have nothing to blog about.

But I offer up this great blog that I recently discovered. So funny.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Evening is at Hand

I'm about the crash into bed, but, here, at the close of the day, I ask your prayers for our beloved neighbors and friends. Their young teenage daughter ended up in the hospital (while they were all on vacation) with toxic shock. She cut herself on the beach and very quickly had a high high fever and swelling. She just today was released from Intensive Care and they hope and hope that they will be able to come home this weekend. Such a scary time they've had. I know they covet your prayers. Thanks.


Posted on the board of the Unitarian church yesterday

'A Child's Primer to an Ambiguous Faith'

Glad to see they're educating their children. Unfortunately, these poor children are going to have a lifetime ahead of them overcoming this 'ambiguity' or rather 'untruth'.

On that note, A is considering the crazy idea of Jesus 'living in his heart'.
'Why did the Israelites not want Jesus in their hearts?' he asked me today.
'They didn't know about Jesus, although they were waiting for him.' I said.
'Oh. Well. I need a bath.'
'Yes you do.'

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jumbled Quiet Supper

Waiting up for Matt to get home from a long trip yesterday, I jumbled the following together in a saute pan and ate it with a vat of egg noodles

green onion, garlic, 1 carrot, 1 piece celery, green pepper, Brussels sprouts, sour cream, sherry, mozzarella (I know, weird), and 3 mushrooms.

It was odd, but delicious.
Now I have to clean the house, roast a chicken, and bake a pie for company tonight, so who knows what my blogging future will be.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Little Kindling, my gift to you

I'm touched and heartened that all your lovely liberals are reading this blog. And I'm sorry I haven't responded but I've been having a very restful and needed Sabbath from the Internet over the weekend.

I have three points to make in response to all the comments, and then you can carry on arguing and considering whether I am merely an idiot, or possibly a nasty person or awfully wonderful.

Also, no more anonymous comments on this subject (Matt, you can just keep signing your name. The rest of you, if you comment anonymously without adding a name, I'll take the trouble to learn how to delete you). On all other subjects (like food) feel free to continue anonymously.

Points I wish to Make and Stick By
(even at the potential risk of snarkyness)
1. Calvanism as it really is (and not how all of you are making it out to be) is Not Bad. Its a perfectly reasonable and rational theological picture of God and Humanity. 'Total Depravity' does not mean that the image of God is completely obscured and marred. God created human beings and called them good. The depravity comes in our orientation away from God and towards ourselves, resulting from the fall, so much so that each faculty is marred. Every faculty is wounded by sin, but the total person still bears the image of God. Total doesn't mean 'utter' it means 'comprehensive'. I believe very strongly that if we human beings are honest with ourselves, we will find that we are not totally or comprehensively good. Furthermore, this lack of goodness (just for kicks, call it depravity, haha) is not overcomeable by ourselves. We cannot fix our sickened faculties on our own. Indeed, we cannot even desire to be good without the gracious intervention of God into our lives giving us the desire to seek him and desire to be good in a true sense (but I'll still hang out and be friends with you Arminians). So, obviously, my outrageous challange to your Pelagian Presiding Bishop is to honestly and sincerely look into my blog and tell me with a straight face that you're good, all your faculties, all the time, without the MDGoals to help you out.
2. I would then further challenge you Lovely Liberal Revisionists to say what you have faith In. It's all very well to say, blithely and happily, 'I have faith in God and Jesus makes me happy', or something, but what do you mean by Jesus? Because I would seriously venture that we don't agree even remotely on who Jesus, or God, is or what he has done and why.
3. I'm not ignorant of that of which I write. I am daily offering pastoral care and discipleship to people who have looked honestly inside of themselves and found that they don't have enough, they are not good, they are very far gone in sin. And without the supernatural intervention of God into their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit to apply the work of Jesus Christ in the forgiveness of their sins, the cleansing from all unrighteousness and the ongoing work of sanctification, they would be in the pit of hell, now, even before having to die literally. And just telling them to 'have faith' or 'be healed' or 'work or a greener earth' without preaching the Gospel, that is the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, would be cruel, a waste of their time, and dishonest.

So, heh, I stick by my original questions and I'm still waiting for a calm, charitable answer. (Big shout out to Matt for defending me so gallantly and brilliantly all weekend. Thank you.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Okay Okay

You commenters are perfectly right. There's no cause to be snarky and polemical about the faith and beliefs of others, on whatever side of whatever debate. I ought not to blog first thing in the morning while my tea gets cold.

However, I wasn't really trying to be snarky. I'm honestly curious. I'm experiencing a chasmic divide in world view. I don't understand what makes the leadres of TEC get up and go every day. I'm not talking about the average wonderful people in TEC who really believe and who didn't ask for this mess. I'm talking about the people who not only asked for the mess but went out and created it. If the human person is supposed to be basically good, what do you do when there's not enough good in the human person?

This question is largely prompted by various pastoral care/evangelism I'm being called upon to ladel out. The two go hand in hand.

Alright, I'll stop blogging. I'm too tired to articulate this question properly. If you can grope your way towards understanding what I'm trying to ask, by all means, answer away.

Answer Me This

I don't really have time to blog, but I'm undergoing some sort of logical disconnect that's irritating me as I grope towards morning awakeness and sanity.

The Gospel of the Church of Self Affirmation just doesn't make sense to me. At some point, if you're an average priest or church leader or social activist in a church like TEC, do you reach the bottom of yourself and find that there's nothing there? That there's not enough? And when you get there, what do you do? More work?

Because one of the best things about being a Christian is the extending gracious transformative nature of the Gospel. You look inside yourself, honestly find that you fall short, that you have a dark rotten mess for a heart and guts, throw yourself on the mercy of God, find that he forgives you, covers you with his righteousness and gives you the Holy Spirit. So that the next time you look down into your heart, you might still see the dark rotten mess, but you also see the power of God making it better. So when you come to a point of not having Enough, of not being able to Save yourself, God gives you the measure that you need and you actually get to rest, not do more work.

But since this isn't available to so many clergy in TEC, having to be good on their own power, in themselves, what takes them that extra distance?

For the Grandparents

G cut that wretched tooth on Monday, or Tuesday (already can't remember). AND she slept through the night last night, completely (10pm to 6:30pm Amazing).

And, I think we have a clincher on the homeschooling thing.
E came down after going to bed last night crying because 'she wants more time with us, at home'. She stayed up with me until 10 talking about all kinds of things. I've heard that kids are interesting to talk to, for long periods of time, but this is the first moment any of them (well, just her) have been old enough. We talked mostly about boarding school-the awful food, the missing of parents, the being allowed to cook food in the dorm when you get old enough, and how great it is that 1 she doesn't have to go and 2 so far from that, she can learn at home. We talked about how we might structure the day, and create a school space and everything. A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

God just lets us do what we want

Me (groping for caffeine and sanity): We're all going to church, what are you going to wear?
E: I'll ask Jesus what he thinks I should wear.
Me: That's very nice....
E (after praying): Jesus wants me to wear a fancy dress and fancy shoes and he doesn't want me to wear tights.
Me: Are you sure you were praying to Jesus?
E: Yes, he doesn't want me to wear tights.
Me: I have been under the impression that Jesus knows everything, including the weather. I would have thought that he would know that its very cold outside and that therefore he would want you to wear tights.
E: No, Jesus doesn't want me to wear tights.
Me: So you're blaming God, then?
E: Hmm. Mmm.

E didn't wear tights and it was very cold and I had to go all the way home and get her some along with a big fluffy pink coat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So Many Things

I may not have blogged But, my house is clean, my children are all tucked away in bed, and I'm laboriously writing Thank You Notes (if I owe you one, maybe its coming).

Yesterday, A turned Four! and I produced This fabulous cake for him.

And today, the Rector, Warden's and Vestry of Church of the Good Shepherd were served notice that we are being sued (is that even how you say it? This has never happened to me before). Here is the Press Release.
E giggled delightedly at the news, 'Sued, that's silly.'
Me: I guess.
E: Are they going to squash the house?
Me: I don't think so. (Embarked and a long and complicated explanation of what it means to be sued and what a judge is and what a lawyer is using the possibility of A breaking a toy but not telling and Matt having to figure out who is telling the truth and R and G being the Lawyers.)
E (very confused): Let's read the Bible to find out what happens.
Me: Ok. Let's have tea and cake. What do you want to read?
E: Lets' read about the law.
Me: The 10 commandments? or Jesus?
E: The 10 commandments.
A: I wouldn't break a doll. But R will break something.
Me: Probably.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Sermon for this Morning

I managed to block out the raging sound of children eating pancakes for 15 minutes Friday morning, just long enough to read 2 Chronicles 20. I’ve been quietly ploughing my way through the Old Testament on my own time. I highly recommend the Daily Bible Readings but if you’re like me, sometimes smaller bits take you farther. So I’m in the middle of Chronicles while all the rest of you read Leviticus. Turn with me there, to verse 12, chapter 20. Here is the end of the Prayer of Jehoshaphat and what takes place after he prays.

“’O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’ Meanwhile, all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel…And he said, ‘Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” says Jesus. Commandments are given for a reason. The reason you tell someone not to be afraid is because they are afraid, or do not be anxious, because they are anxious. It is not unusual for us people here on earth with our limited vision, understanding and capabilities to be stressed, anxious, worried, afraid of the things that lie before us. I know many of you are facing personal difficulties and that the future is troubling, some of you for health, some for people you love, some for addictions that are increasingly hard to bread, some for work. And I know also that many of you are concerned about our future as a church in this building. I share this anxiety. As I walk daily around the rectory, as I drive to this beloved building and mess and wreck my way through the office every week, I very often allow myself to fret and worry about what will happen next.

Don’t do that, says Jesus. Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for the day are its own worries. In other words, you can’t do anything about what will happen tomorrow, you can only do the work that is given to you today. (We often, helpfully, shorten this for ourselves by saying ‘one day at a time’.)

But part of believing and trusting in Jesus, I think, is taking a real course of action, and I was very comforted by the course of action laid out in 2 Chronicles 20. Observe carefully the order of things.

In the beginning of the chapter, Jehoshaphat hears that several armies are coming against him. If you read back further you find that he has been rebuked for going to war with the wicked King of Israel. The prophet, Jehu, tells Jehoshaphat that he is headed for trouble because he allowed himself to be involved and attached to a very wicked person. A few chapters earlier, you can read of King Asa (Jehoshaphat’s father) who, when similarly rebuked, dug his heals in and rejected God completely. It’s very easy, when shown to be wrong, to choose stubbornness and hardness and refuse God’s correction. But Jehoshaphat has learned the lesson of his own father and here, he doesn’t turn away from God. When finding that many armies are arrayed against him, he prays a long prayer in the midst of all the people. And the prayer ends in a place we all, eventually, find ourselves. He says to God ‘We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’ (vs. 12).

This is the first step in dealing with the anxieties, troubles and worries the future inevitably holds. When you don’t know what to do next, tell God where you are and admit that you don’t know what to do next. Don’t jump to a solution yourself. Your solution, obviously, will have to be made with less than adequate knowledge. You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, so when you try to fix tomorrow, you won’t be able to. If you could fix it, you wouldn’t be anxious. So, don’t. Instead, tell God that you don’t know what to do. Are you having to make a difficult decision at work and don’t know which direction would be best? Tell God. Are you trying to help someone you love through a difficult space and don’t know what to do for them? Tell God. Are you trying to make good Godly decisions for your children but don’t know what will really be best for them? Tell God. Are you facing choices about treatments and don’t know what the outcomes or side effects will be? Tell God. And we, as a church, when we try to determine the best course of action in our current crisis and we don’t know what to do, what ought we to do? That’s right, Tell God.

Observe, then, what’s going on while Jehoshaphat is telling God he doesn’t know what to do. (vs. 13) “Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives and their children.” While we cry out to God and tell him we don’t know what to do, we come stand before him. I think this means, at its most basic point, that we don’t hide anything from God in our crying out. We don’t reserve back some measure of a solution for ourselves. We come stand honestly and forthrightly before him, and we bring everyone we can with us. For me that means brining my full and anxious arms of little ones into God’s presence. When they ask me questions about the future, I have to be honest that I don’t know and then direct them to seek God themselves. Men, if your wives are anxious, come into the presence of God with them (that means pray and come to church and sit with them and then talk about the sermon and worship together afterwards). If you have little ones, pray with them, bring them into the presence of God. If you have friends and relatives and people who need to be in God’s presence, bring them here. If they won’t come, go be with them and pray for them where they are. Don’t hold back or shield the people in your life neither from the presence of God (because that would be selfish) nor from the future (because that would be fearful). When the people were in the presence of God all together, from the littlest to the greatest, God told them what to do.

And that was (vs. 17) “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem, Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” When you go into the battle, when you face whatever it is you’re facing, you will not be doing the fighting. Because you have cried out to God and not held anything back from him, he will do the fighting for you. You have only to a. Stand Firm, b. Hold your position, c. see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf and d. do not be afraid the Lord is with you.

What do all of these things mean?

To Stand Firm means to not second guess yourself and God and everyone around you every step of the way. It means believing that God is bigger than you are and that therefore he can handle it. Standing Firm means never denying Jesus, never trusting in yourself over him, never making peace with the evil of the world.

Holding your position is very much the same. Don’t go wandering off in your mind or in life looking for a better solution. God is your solution. Hold the line. Don’t back off. Just stay where you are, your feet planted, your heart fixed, your hope sure.

Seeing the salvation of God on your behalf requires that you keep your eyes open. God is working all around you. Don’t shut your eyes from weariness and miss the amazing work that God is doing around you. Not only is God big enough to help you, he is close enough for you to see this help when it comes.

And do not be afraid. Just don’t do it.

After hearing from God that he is going to intervene to help you (even though he probably isn’t going to tell you what he is going to do, read the text) the fourth step, then, is to worship God and praise him. Having heard a word from the Lord, which you can do by reading the bible, the people fall on their faces in worship, and the priests stand and praise God.

Worship can happen in three easy ways. The second your eyes open in the morning, thank God for the first breath you draw. Second, seek his face in prayer and in scripture as the day goes on. With each breath, in and out, ask God to fill you, direct you, love you and forgive you. And third, go to church. As an act of obedience, go worship God in church. Worship in church is an action of your whole body—standing, kneeling, singing, listening, connecting, praying, drinking coffee, receiving the body and blood of Jesus—and when you go to church and put yourself into the posture and place of worship, your mind, will and heart will follow. God will meet you and speak to you. He has already accomplished your salvation, he will meet you and speak to you when you worship him.

The order of things is so important. While the people worshiped, while Jehoshaphat, their leader, brought them into the presence of God, God delivered them. Vs. 22

And when they had begun to sing and praise, the Lord set and ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another…When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord.”

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know what plans God has laid down. But we do know something very very important. God will provide for us, for you. He will deliver you from evil, from the array of enemies round about you. He will prepare a place for you, for us, a place filled with rooms and enough. And he will lead you to that place. He says so, ‘I am the Way.’ He is the place we are going, ‘I am the Life’ he says. He is our hope, the rock upon which we Stand Firm, the Truth. He is the destination and the way of getting there. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Our Lord Jesus has everything in hand. We only have only to open our eyes and see the salvation he is working on our behalf. Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Evening Ifs

A little something in preparation for Sunday worship.

the praise of man elates me and his
blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding
without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love,
to be served more than to serve,
than I now nothing of Calvary love.
-Amy Carmichael
If, pg. 60

Friday, April 11, 2008

I had something interesting to say but I'm not saying it yet

I had a whole article written for here and the church weekly update but it accidentally turned into a sermon, so I'm not going to post it until Sunday morning because then some of you might be tempted not to bother coming to church (heh).

In the meantime you might pray for R. We've all had the throwing up bug this week (again) and I thought that R had already had it. In any case, he's either having it for the first time, or having it again, or having something new. I'm shooting ginger ail down his throat with a baby medicine dropper (well, Matt is, because he's horribly strong for a baby), in between throwing up and requesting God fervently that he not dehydrate or we will end up at the doctor. Poor baby.

And you can pray for me because this ridiculously young baby has finally cut that tooth. Ouch! for everyone.


E: I was planning to go with them.
Me: What?
E: I was planning to go on the airplane.
Me: Is that why you are crying?
E: Yeah.
Me: You were going to go on the airplane in your pjs without any luggage or a ticket?
E: Yeah.
Me: You think they would let you on the airplane without a ticket?
E (sarcastically): A ticket. I was just planning to go on the airplane.

So we both, E and I, request many prayers for the safe travel of my mom and dad back to Africa today. They have a long long trip before them. And we have a long day of being sad and missing them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Iron Shepherd Recipes

And Finally, here's what I cooked (in detail).

Avocado Vinaigrette/Citron (or some other Fancy Name. Did I mention the secret ingredient was Lemon?)
halved avocados, various fancy greens (spinach, baby lettuce etc.) dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. The avocado is filled with a dressing of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, fresh dill, fresh thyme, and a touch of white wine (in other words, what I usually spread over salmon to grill or bake/as my mother has always instructed me to do)

Lamb, Courgette, New Baby Potatoes a la Citron (or something)
I began by sweating onions and garlic in a beautiful cast iron skillet. When they were all cooked down and fine I dumped them in a bowl and seared the lamb chops (let me just say that it was an awfully special treat to cook lamb, we usually do once a year, a lamb leg for Easter), and then put the onion back on top, poured liberally white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh thyme, I think that's it. I covered the skillet with tinfoil and put it in the oven along with my tartlette crusts. I honestly can't remember how long I left it in, but long enough for it to still be lightly pink but not overdone (I think). When I pulled it out of the oven I removed the chops and added feta, liberal amounts of cream, a touch of sherry and more salt and pepper. And then I strained it and finally, because the texture and taste just needed something, I added an inch of Caprices des Dieux (cheese). The courgettes I sauteed with zest, salt, pepper and olive oil. The potatoes were boiled, buttered, zested and lemon juiced. And then I poured gravy on everything.

Fussy Lemon Curd Tartlettes
I did this, of course, First, as soon as the time started. The pie crust is standard Joy of Cooking (2 1/2 cups flour, 1 t salt, 2 sticks butter, very little cold water, worked entirely by hand). I pressed the dough into individual pie plates (little, cute) and forked them liberally, having nothing to weight them down, and baked them for a while (again, no idea) until they were done. The lemon curd was egg, butter, sugar, lemon juice. I honestly can't remember the proportions. I whisked desperately but it Did Set Up, thank the Lord. I let it all cool and assembled it toward the end of the hour. I got, I think, kind of carried away with all the pretty fruit-thinly sliced strawberry, grape, and banana.

More Important Pictures

Obviously, I got sidetracked from my third post about Iron Shepherd.

I wanted very much to include this pictures of these very fancy and wonderful aprons (thanks Carrie!) made on the spot.

And this picture of the screen whereupon everyone was able to watch the proceedings live (still waiting for someone to let me watch it).

And this picture of me having finished cooking.

And here are the judges doing there important job.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Nearly Victorious

Here Matt is plating his Chicken Picata, his main course. Next to it you can see his starter, Brussel Sprouts worthy of heaven. I'm hoping he will guest post his recipes when he gets a moment.

Here he is with his helper, Douglas, a fine cook in his own right, and one who (so importantly) loves eating.

And here is Matt's winning dessert, full, as I understand, of cream.


Of course, of course I meant to immediately come home and blog, but instead we put all the children to bed and immediately collapsed into bed so as to be able to hit the ground running on Sunday morning. I have, really, three observations about the whole occasion. 1.It never occurred to me that we might pull it off (thus the stress leading up in all the previous days) and 2.I assumed all the time that Matt would win. and 3. It was loads of fun. That one hour of concentrated cooking without anything else going on was So Fun. So here are the first lot of pictures.

Here I am, trying to arrange the contents of our whole kitchen on the counter.

Here I am with my wonderful and talented helper, Sabina, who showed up at the last minute and turned out to be Very Fast.

Here I am putting together plates of Lamb, Courgette (zucchini), and new baby potatoes. Recipes in another post.

Here is my desert (lemon curd tarlettes) and my starting salad of avocado vinaigrette.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Iron Shepherd!

Just reminding you again.
Matt and I face off in the Church Kitchen.

Ingredient Revealed at 4pm
Cooking Begins at 5pm
Judging Begins at 6pm

Bring a Dish to Pass! and Pray that I Win!

Friday, April 04, 2008

On Being Anglican Or Why I’m Thinking Seriously about Home schooling Again Or Why This Blog is Called ‘Undercurrent of Hostility’

It’s that time of year: Time to figure out what on earth to do this year with the kiddos to educate them and bring a swift end to their barbaric and ignorant ways.

E, all this year, has been in a wonderful and nice Baptist school in a small class with an excellent teacher (you like all my superlatives? Too tired to leave them out). But, well, it’s a super long bus ride for her every day. And she’s gaining that assured Baptist feel to her. In other words, she’s getting all the great Baptist theology with none of the sensibility. And yesterday she came home over tired and weepy from missing us (and, to be frank, she’s anxious about us loosing the house and the church. Being an obsessive little creature, even though we don’t really talk about it and its not playing a role in our daily lives, she’s chewing on this possibility like a dog with a bone).

Meanwhile, for A, we’ve been considering a very wonderful Catholic school with a lovely preschool teacher and a nice bright room and lots of structure. There he would get none of the theology we like and all of the sensibility.

So we’re applying everywhere and praying hard and doing every kind of research. And I’ve been thinking quietly to myself about Why I’m Anglican, that small sub-slice of Christianity.

Because truly and honestly, I couldn’t possibly be Catholic, or Baptist. For all the beauty of the Catholic Church and all the things it Does Right, I think it is fundamentally and inescapably wrong on the Matter of Salvation and the Work of Jesus. The cry of the Reformation is in my bones. On the other hand, the bare plain assured approach to the Word and “Sacraments” (the approach being that there are none) in the Baptist Church leaves me hallow and hungry.

In boarding school, rotten rebel that I was, I refused to carry my Bible to church, even though it was required, and instead carried my prayer book (which looked sort of like a Bible, though suspect) and read the 39 articles during the sermon. And when I had to write, in Bible Class, an essay on what comprises a church, I was seriously marked down for naming my church after a saint, instead of after the Bible or First Street, or whatever. Meanwhile my mom and dad would visit every few months and fuel the fire of my small hostility, bolstering my resolve in Being Anglican against all odds. It was the sweetest and most satisfying rebellion I could have undertaken.

But then I came back to America and discovered a church hollowed out and empty. All kinds of sensibility, love for the hymns, all the identity of being “Anglican”, but there was nothing no substance, no theology, no Bible, no belief.

So I have found myself, without meaning to, in opposition to various Institutions—my boarding school, the Episcopal Church—ok so only two. But I am now, more than ever, in deep opposition to the idea of my children not knowing Jesus. And I don’t want to send them to any place that will make it difficult for them to know God, a place that will put up stumbling blocks to their salvation. So I’m circling back to the idea of keeping them home and teaching them Latin.

But for today we continue to watch and pray and rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Baby Arrived

Join us in thanking God for the safe arrival of baby girl Kennedy Layne Veale, born at 7:58 this morning, 6lbs 9 0z (Emma's exact weight), 19 3/4 inches long and, says her grandmother after one look, a very pretty mouth. Mother and Baby are healthy and pictures (hopefully) are forthcoming. Thanks for praying.

New Baby Coming! New Baby Coming!

If you have a passing moment, this morning, to pray for Matt's sister (my sister in law) who is delivering her third child this morning. This baby has two very cool big brothers who are in for the shock of their lives (we expect this new baby to be a girl). Updates forthcoming. Pray for a safe deliver, a healthy baby and happiness for everyone.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Need Cheaper Baking Yeast

I've seriously got to sort organizing this office and catching the calendar up and returning phone calls, BUT, I'm wondering if any of you out there in Internet Land know of a good cheap source of Fermipan Yeast. I'm sick of Flieschmans, its cost, its coming only in small quantities, its big fat granules. Anyone? Anyone? Come quickly to my aid. I'll be here sorting through bits of annoying paper refreshing every few minutes to see if anyone has commented.