Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Day of Prayer and Fasting

If you're in the Binghamton area, please come join us today from 10 to 4 for prayer and fasting. You can find all the details here and here. And, if you can't make it, please remember us in prayer today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

But I don't want to be too tired

I shouldn't really be blogging. Matt's wonderful and devoted parents arrive the day after tomorrow, so I should be cleaning, and there's a deal on turkey at Wegmans, so I should be in the shower and shoving us all in the car to go over there and avail myself, and its Friday so we should be doing school, and its nearly the weekend so I should be doing the bulletin....So blogging is the obvious choice.

We're trying to wean Romulus (see some previous post or other) off the bottle. Its ridiculous that our two year old and one year old are both wandering around with bottles hanging out of their mouths. Two days ago the two year old announced that he was 'Not A BABY!' so I replaced his bottle with a sippy cup and have been regretting it ever since. This morning he pried the pillow off my head and waved a bottle in my face, nodding his head and winking roguishly.

'No' I said.
'No,' I said, 'you can have milk in a sippy cup. You're a big boy'
'I not big boy, I not baby. No siccup. BOTTTLLLEEEEEE!'
'No,' I said.
This his brother, whom from henceforth I will call Alouiscious ('But I don't want to be called Alouiscious,' he said, crying. 'You'll be fine,' I said, 'you'll enjoy it') began to weep because his father left for Bible Study this morning without saying good bye to him.
'Will I ever say bye?'
'You say bye all the time.'
'Yes, but will I eeevvvveeeeer say bye?'

So I went to the doctor yesterday complaining of extreme fatigue.
He fairly laughed at me.
'Pray more' he said, 'and God will give you humility.'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

there it went

If you missed it, maybe they'll play it again this evening or have it in the archives. Here is the Family Life Network Website in case you'd like to check it out.

Good Shepherd in the News

Matt was interviewed and I think it will be broadcast soon here.

Monday, November 17, 2008


'You know why I think there should be ten children in The Family?' said E (let's give her a name, shall we? Even though most all of you know her name. Let's call her Elfine, as from Cold Comfort Farm) just now.
'No, why?'
'Because it would be a lot faster to clean up if there were ten children' she said.

I guess, but it would be a lot of work to have, as in give birth to, ten whole children. Elfine has been obsessing about The Family-how many of us are in it, what we're going to do next, the rules under which we all operate.

I've been obsessing about everything else, most particularly the future. This, combined with the absence of a reasonable computer, has inhibited my blogging abilities, or rather, completely hobbled them.

Much as I know I ought not be anxious about anything because my Heavenly Father cares for me so that I lack nothing etc. etc. bla bla bla, it is a trial and struggle to live every day as if that were true. I achieve it by moments, fleeting smattering moments interrupted by long periods of anxious worry.

The fact of the matter is, I don't want to put all of this in cyber space-'THIS' being the subject that concerns us day by day.
Are bishops good or bad?
Does God like bishops?
Will we Win? or will the bishop Win? (accompanied by pictures of sword wheeling bishops in front of castles with dragons and churches and black clouds)
If the bishop wins, what will happen next?

I could relate all of the questions, and their possible answers, and all the conversations and pictures drawn...but...I don't want to.

As we struggle along day by day in school, dining room table scattered with books and timeline cards and paper and crayons, and tea, honey, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal cookies, toast, bananas (what is it with the FOOD that has be consumed while studying-one vast tea break lasting from the end of breakfast to the beginning of supper), crumbs, blocks, knights and princess scattered far and wide over the floor, R (let's give him a name too, shall we? How about Romulus. These, of course, are subject to change as my whimsy takes me.) lying full length on the dining room table as we try to work, marker in hand, waiting to write and read and speak.
'What's that?' he points to my book
'A Book'
'What's that?' he points to my hair.
'What's that?' He holds up a cookie.
'A Cookie.'
And so the long day wears on.
And the laundry piles up and the snot rolls out of all their noses and we wait and wonder what will happen next.

In the meantime, we'll probably go out into the snow and wind to buy milk, eggs, butter and juice. And later I will get to that tag (sorry I'm being to slow). And after that I will start making Christmas presents. And this evening I will start trying to butter Matt up into letter us go with him to this

(h/t Matt, Anglican TV, the whole world who woke up and got there before me)
And then I want to get to that question from long ago, about what we do for prayer in school. I've been trying to get my wretched machine to spit out the nice little cards I worked up to help us with this. I intend to post them and talk about our very nice Morning Payer routine. But right now I'm going to go look for a sweater because the snow has come upon me Too Early.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Morning

So I'm trying to take a day off. Its been a few weeks since I've actually taken our day off and not worked. But that means, unsurprisingly, that I'm trying to shut my eyes to the deep and abiding layer of dog hair that is coating every surface and the layer of toys over that and the sprinkling of cinnamon roll crumbs over that. As I sit here I can hear some small suitcase being drug downstairs. Perhaps someone is preparing to move out. If we don't pack everyone up and get out of this house for the afternoon, I'm going to start cleaning and that will ruin everything.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Another Week Ran Swiftly By

I can't keep up.

Part of my current troubles include a computer that is so slow, it might as well sit down and give up. Every now and then I open it with the ridiculous idea that I'll get some pictures uploaded, or check my email, or do the bulletin, or just even open Firefox, only to enter into hysterical despair as it veerryy slooooowly considers to itself whatever it is considering. Then, children screaming around me, I slam it down mid application and go on to the next thing. If you're wondering what machine I'm on now, its Matt's and only because he is cooking dinner and not sitting here in my way.

Also, my wearisome children expect to learn more than my little slips of paper and various curriculum guides tell me they require. They want to 'do school' all the time, skipping play time, skipping rest time (well, I Will Not skip rest time), and of course skipping clean up time. I don't say this to brag, I say this as a mournful complaint because I'm having to work harder to keep up with them.

And then, as we all know, there was the election, upon which we spent time, emotional energy and much conversation-discussing the candidates, whether they are 'good' or 'bad', whether or not they will do 'good' or 'bad' things, why we elect a president instead of making ourselves king, what an honor it is to vote etc. etc. etc. etc.

And then Thursday, E came out in spots which I immediately, and mistakenly, assumed were chicken pox. They were all over her, little tiny red spots, and they itched, so she had a baking soda bath and that seemed to cure it.

And then today, just as our best hour of school was taking off, I had to stop everything and take the babies to their well baby appointments and shots. What a joy. What a great way to spend two hours. Anyway, they're totally healthy. And no, G's legs are not too bowed, they are supposed to look like that at this age. Matt, are you reading this? She's fine.

I've written whole posts in my head, in the absence of the computer, about the end of western civilization, the failure of the church, the demoralization of the republican party, the unhelpfulness of evangelicals who didn't support McCain because they don't think women should dwell in the public sphere (I was going to link someone here, I WAS, but, well, you've probably already found her), the unhelpfulness of McCain himself who seemed determined to loose...but I didn't write any of them, and considering the breakneck speed of the days ahead, I doubt I'll get to it. There is some small consolation, and that is the Sovereignty of God who is not surprised by anything.

We have finally learnt by heart this song.

Right now, A is wandering around, holding a tiny spiderman and singing
'then he had Shealtiel who begat Zerubabel who had Abiud who had Eliakim. Eliakim had Azor who had Zadoc who had Akim....intent to form a new nation, intent to form a new nation, intent to form a new nation'
If God could still bring Jesus into the world, even out of the mess of his lineage, well, he can probably still come back, even though we've elected such a nice young misguided man to be president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Sermon from Yesterday: All Saints Year A

When Matt gets the podcast up I'll try and post it. Enjoy!

All Saints-Matthew 5
Open with me to Matthew chapter 5, beginning in verse 5.
‘Seeing the crowds’, because if you look up a few verses, the crowds had been coming fast and furious, ‘seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down.’ The Sea of Galilee is just off what was once the Great Trade Route of the middle east in the first century, the Via Maris, or way of the sea—
a road visible from Capernaum and the house of Peter. So, on the one hand, you have the out of the way Sea of Galilee and its bustling, but, provincial, fishing towns and on the other hand you have a Very Strategic location. The whole known world, walking over that Road, would have heard of Jesus from people going by and could have walked over to see him, if they wanted.

Some went out of their way out of curiosity. On the information highway, its always nice to see that Latest thing, the Thing of the Moment. Jesus was the thing of his moment. Others came out of desperation. They were sick, or knew someone who was sick. The crowds grew and grew. Like an ER waiting room, or the Walk in at Flue Season, so inwardly tuned from pain and affliction, just coping with reality, they came and waited and hoped to be healed. The crowds became so great that Jesus went up onto a mountain. His disciples, fresh from being picked out of their boats and their lives, came to listen to him. The crowd filtered in to ‘listen in’ and find out what all the fuss was about.

When many people in the crowds of life think of Jesus, they vaguely like him.
They profess, sometimes, to like his ‘teachings’ which we’re going to look at here. They don’t often like the people who follow him, that would be me and perhaps many of you here this morning. They might say that we are fanatical or that we have ‘corrupted the message’. Let’s look at this message, some of the ‘teachings’ of Jesus and see what we shall see.

Matthew says, in verse two, that Jesus ‘opened his mouth’. When God opened his mouth and spoke, the Word, the only begotten Pre-existent Word from before time and for ever, brought all things came into being. The Word, Jesus, has power. His words overturn the world.

Jesus opened his mouth and said, ‘Blessed’ or ‘happy’ or my own version, ‘Well’ as in, ‘it is well with my soul’. There is no good English word for what Jesus is saying. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.
The poor in Spirit is the one who knows his or her need of God. For those of you who believe yourself able to get on without God, yours is the Kingdom of the Flesh, this world. Your reward is the pride of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and trusting yourself to get you through this life. I hope none of you find yourself there this morning. No, the Poor in Spirit, the one who knows he cannot draw breath apart from the mercy of God, who knows she cannot eat except God provide bread, who cannot be saved unless God comes to earth,
the poor in Spirit is poor in pride. Pride is a meager foundation; the World of the Flesh is a glittering glass bauble that will shatter in your grasp. If you think you are rich in yourself, you are deceived.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’.
‘Mourning’ here is not just mourning over a loss. Those who mourn, in the time of Jesus, would have been anyone who was in need, material, spiritual, or in need of healing. Are you broken? Do you grieve over your own sin? Over a great loss? Over the waywardness of your children? If you look at Jesus and grieve, or mourn, or do not have enough, and then, and here is the key, do not rush in to fix it yourself, Jesus will be your comfort and your solution, your salvation.

‘Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’
Jesus is not saying, blessed are the ‘mousy’ or ‘happy is the pushover’ or ‘blessed is the quietly speaking person who never causes offense’. Meek means humble, one not constantly standing up for their rights, or out to get what’s ‘rightfully theirs’. The earth, as it stands now, belongs most generally to the rich, the powerful, the good negotiator, the person with a little penny in their pocket who can cut a good deal. But, it will not always be so. The one who meekly, humbly throws his full self onto the mercy of God in all things, this person will ultimately, remarkably, rule the earth with Christ in glory.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied’.
God is righteous. He is Right about everything. He is perfectly just. He is good. If you are hungry for righteousness, for what is good and holy and true, your hunger will lead you to God. If you hunger for God and find Him, because if you seek him, you Will find him, all will be well, you will be in a good place, you will be blessed. The opposite bears out. If you are not hungry for goodness and truth and beauty, if you are caught in darkness and your soul doesn’t yearn for that which is greater than you, for God, you will not be well, you will be hungry, thirsty, tired, worn thin, unblessed, unhappy.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’
Mercy is the centerpiece of the Gospel. God didn’t have to create us. When we sinned against him, he did not have to set into motion his great Plan of Salvation, beginning with Abraham, culminating with Jesus. He did not have to become a human being. He did not have to die in our place. He did, out of Mercy. What business do we have not letting each other off the hook?
If you, having been forgiven, do not turn around and show mercy, do not make every effort to understand and make excuses for, do not go out of your way to help someone who doesn’t deserve it, why should God go on being merciful to you? Forgive and you will be forgiven. Be merciful and you will be given mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’
Like righteousness, purity is a characteristic of God. Jesus was pure, perfect, holy, he was the pure unspotted lamb required for sacrifice. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. He didn’t sin. And in not sinning, he wasn’t cluttered by the ugliness of grief, brokenness, rebellion, and trouble. Purity of heart and mind comes from hungering after and seeking God. Purity makes you an uncluttered person. Imagine that your body, soul, and mind are a wide room.
You can clutter up your room with many things—sin, busyness, gossip, rebellion, attitude, anxiety. Your windows become dusty and foggy; you cannot walk from tripping over some wretched problem. Purity of heart requires that you clear out all the junk. You confess your sin, you trust God and let go the anxiety and worry, you exercise mercy and grace towards other people, you do not allow the junk of this world to clutter up your mind. Then you will be, on a very practical level, better able to see who God is and to follow him, rather than tripping everywhere, or becoming distracted by the bright glittery junk all around you.
This is one reason why Jesus encourages us to become like children in order to better enter the kingdom of heaven. Not because children do not sin,
or are not in frequent open rebellion against reality, their parents and God, remind me to introduce you to my children after the service, but because they haven’t had as much time to clutter up their lives with sin and trouble. The small child is best able to see God. That is why Sunday school is So Important for the littlest of our church family. Bring them here while they can still see.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’
Peace is a necessary byproduct or side-effect of life with God. God is the ultimate peacemaker. He, through mercy, grace and power, overcame our rebellion and sin by dying for us, allowing us to make peace with him. This ultimate peace allows us to make peace with each other and with ourselves.

And finally, if you haven’t been paying attention, Here is where the World of the Flesh, which as been gradually tipping, blessing by blessing, is finally turned all the way over. Verse 10,
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad.’
I imagine that the crowd, after this remark, began to thin. Jesus goes on, from this moment, to say many more difficult things to his disciples and all the people about divorce, lust, anxiety, fasting, anger. Most of the crowd, after being healed and eating all the free food, decided that the teachings of Jesus were too hard.

Not much has changed. Just about the whole world has available to it the Teachings of Jesus. Missionaries are everywhere. The internet is abundant with good information. You can find a free Bible, if you really want one. If you are curious or broken or hungry or tired or sick, Jesus will be of interest to you.
But it’s easy to be apart of the crowd, to have your hand out for a good thing, closing it again quickly against the sacrifice of yourself, your pride. That is what, I’m sorry to say, is at the heart of these few verses we have walked through together. The cost of following Jesus, of knowing him and being known by him, is your pride, yourself. I encourage you to count the cost. If you’re willing to give up yourself, your pride, the world of the flesh, I congratulate you, you are well, you are blessed, indeed you are Rich. You have gained the everlasting Love,
Grace, Mercy, Peace, Righteousness and Purity of the Kingdom of God.
Sure, the world won’t like you any more. You might be called a fanatic, or be passed over. Some, remembered on this day, have even been killed. But mortal death is a small measly price to pay for the perfect presence of God and the everlasting community of believers from every time, every place, every language, every nation who worships around the great throne, the throne of the Lamb who died so that you might live. Amen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Quotes from the Week

I was sorely tempted to do a Saturday on the Links: Highly Infuriating Blogs that Make Me Want to Jump Out of My Own Skin and Run Away Screaming but that seemed awfully negative. So instead I offer you

Quotes from the Week
Me: What is Promised in the Covenant of Works?
A: (thoughtfully) A Turkey

Much Later, Picture in Hand
A: This is a picture of Columbus. He's crying because his shirt is on the wrong way and his tag is scratching him. He is on one of his trips and he is sitting in a chair next to a table. What does he look like?
Me: I'm not sure.

And finally, Matt, in frustration: Anne, you're your own Pharisee. You tie up heavy burdens for yourself and then refuse to carry them.