Growing up in the Anglican Communion, I spent most of my hours in church coloring. Liturgical church is far from kid-friendly. People use funny words, they bow and kneel without warning, and sometimes it smells as though something is burning. But now, after I have matured (ha!), I find so important that which each service symbolizes.
Here is a quick reference to the services of Holy Week — I wish that more churches would recognize the importance of a season leading up to Easter. I long for this time of year!
Palm Sunday: Celebrates the Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem, and the beginning of Holy Week. We would begin the service outside, process around the church and then into the sanctuary singing hymns.
Tenebrae: is the Latin word for darkness or shadows. The service is often celebrated on Wednesday evening. Burning candles are distinguished one by one as Scripture is read until the last candle (the Christ candle) is extinguished leaving the church in total darkness. The congregation exits in silence and in darkness without a benediction. The service is intentionally left unfinished because Christ’s story is incomplete until the resurrection.
Maundy Thursday: celebrates several events, most notably the last supper with Christ and the Apostles. After the service, there is commonly a feast served while the altar is stripped of all devotional items. Large items such as statues are covered up and hidden. The bells of the church are rung and them remain silent until the Easter Vigil.
Good Friday: remembers the death of Christ at Golgotha. It is customary to remember the Stations of the Cross and pause at each station to reflect on the scene with an anthem or reading. This is a very somber service.
The Great Vigil of Easter: is my favorite service of the year. Even just writing the words gave me the tingles. This service marks Christ defeat of death and victory in the resurrection. The service begins in darkness around a small fire outside. The new Paschal candle is lit and the congregation follows as it is brought into the sanctuary. After Scripture is read, the lights come up and the congregation proclaims “Alleluia!” — the first time since Ash Wednesday. The organ sounds with a joyful hymn, and the congregation celebrates with the first Eucharist (communion) of Easter.
This stuff gets me pumped. It makes me feel like doing this…
Anyway, in my free time lately, I’ve been frequenting the bulk food section of the market and creating my own trail mix. Talk about a good time.
My first attempt pretty much flopped:
Ingredients: almonds, raisins, and way too many walnuts (which taste like cardboard).
Capital bor-ing! Of course, I bought the costco pack of walnuts, almonds, and raisins so I’ve been choking that failure down since Thanksgiving.
This latest attempt — how shall I say — rocks my socks:
Ingredients: Sunflower seeds (minus the shells, of course), pumpkin seeds (spooky), cashew pieces (the “pieces” are key: same great nut, for half the ridiculous price), raisins (my fav), walnuts (in moderation), almonds (pronounced ammonds where I come from), and cranberries (zing!).
In order to whet your appetite, I’ve included a complementary sample (what now, Costco?). It even looks all faded and dreamy on the edges… probably because it’s straight from your imagination.
So when I was in eighth grade my aunt thought it would be cool to take me somewhere special. Now that could be almost anywhere for me; a Denver Broncos game, to go see The Clash live, a giant mud puddle, out for ice cream….blah blah. That list could go on and on but when she meant special she really meant it. You see there was one event that I was really dying to see. Much like a baseball game when you get to actually see your favorite players take the field and spit stuff on the fresh cut grass. But instead of seeing the greats like Ken Griffy Jr., Randy Johnson, and John Mattingly, my event involved names like “Hillbilly Jim”, “Leapin Lanny Paffo”, “The Junk Yard Dog”, “Mad Dog Jim Duggin”, and “Jake the Snake Roberts”. And there battles did not take place in the great open diamond shaped ball field but in a small ring bound by turnbuckles and springloaded ropes.
We stepped foot into the darkened Tacoma Dome arena. The smell of musty sweat and fog machines competing for first place against the electric light show and glam rock overloading the central nervous system. A half an hour of chaos and two hot dogs in the chamber and then it began. “LADIES AND GENTELMEN WELCOME TO THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION TONIGHT WE BRING YOU INTENSE WRESTLING ACTION! BLOOD, SWEAT, AND BROKEN BODIES! WE BEGIN OUR EVENING WITH A POEM FROM LEEEEPIN LANNNNNNYYYY PAFFOOOOOOOH!” And then everyone boo’s and this skinny guy comes out reads a poem from a frisbee and then gets hit with a folding chair and the madness begins. It was 2 hours of huge muscles popping out of small spedo’s, cut foreheads and foreign objects in the ring. Even the ref got throttled a few times. And then, the moment we have all been waiting for, with a momentary hush accross the dome, the lights went dark, the fog machines working over time, one lone spotlight suddenly beams to a corner and the song signaling our hero’s entry fills the arena….” I am a true American, I fight to…..” the crowd erupts with excitement and our hero emerges from the fog. Hulk Hogan, the tannest, most shirt rippingest, body slammenest man of the WWF.
I sat in awe. Watching in disbelief as the man who inspired all of my back yard brawls systematically dismantled Kamala the Ugandan Warrior. I couldn’t believe what a priveledge I had, to witness a combination of over 600 lbs get thrown, tossed, slammed, airborne, and eventually flattened. The raw power of these men was over-emphasised by their drama and summed up with a simple count of three by a balding man in a striped shirt.
This was a moment burned in my memory and often encourages me in times of intensity. I share this story with you so that when you see me slightly tap my elbow before I slam it into something, you will know the moment I am re-living. That Hulk inspired moment.
Ever since we named our teen girl camp last year, we have heard every joke and question under the sun about the name “Amata”. My favorite is the old joke that’s a play on words:
Nothing, what’s amata (the matter) with you?”
<<insert roll of eyes and deep sigh here>>
Let’s set the record straight: Amata is the Italian word for Beloved.
So, back to the cheesy joke…
The question, “What’s Amata with you?” could easily be translated:
“What’s Beloved with you?”
Now that’s a GOOD question. That’s a question we seek to answer. That’s a question I want to know the answer to. That’s a question I’d love to hear your answers to
My friend Bryan and I were driving through Ft. Jones over the weekend when we saw a teenaged boy (let’s just call him the Marshmallow Maniac) walking down the highway with nothing but the clothes on his back and a box of “magically delicious” Lucky Charms, presumably just purchased at the local market.
There was a spring in his step and a smile on his face as he bounced home to consume his disgusting “magically delicious” Lucky Charms.
We casually commented on how dedicated this young chap was to walk to the store for no other reason than to buy a box of tooth decaying “magically delicious” Lucky Charms.
We had no idea.
Bryan and I continued at our comfortable rate of 60 mph, drove to Etna (15 or so miles), enjoyed a tasty treat from Dotty’s Corner Kitchen, purchased a few items from Ray’s Foodmart and then began the drive home.
A short geography lesson: from Ft. Jones to my turn off is over 6 miles. six. VI. seis. sechs. 六. SIX!
For many years I’d take my family to Palm Springs in May for about a week just before the start of camping’s crazy season of summer camps. We’d often be tired of the cold, wet winter and loved sitting (sweating really) by the pool taking it easy. We stayed at my brother-in-law’s place at PGA West in La Quinta—if you’ve ever been on that ride “Soaring Over California” at Disneyland, it is the golf course scene…hole #16, Palmer Private Course.
One of my favorite memories was how we finished up each day. The golf course was empty an hour or so before dark and we’d take walks on the perfectly manicured fairways along beautiful lakes surrounded by palm trees. Our kids loved to sprint barefoot up and down the hills just before heading in for the night. My son Isaac loved to race by us and would shout out “1st Place to Bath Time!!”. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but if it made him feel good and helped get him headed in to a bath before bed—so be it. Well, for some reason that phrase has stuck in our family culture when it comes to finishing something up. I guess it gives us this nice feeling of being on vacation, care-free and bringing closure to something good.
I teach a lot on “finishing well” as a Christian Leader. I was stunned to learn during my doctoral studies under Dr. Clinton at Fuller that over 2/3 of Christian Leaders don’t finish well!! We bomb out for a number of reasons (Money, Power, Sex, Family, Pride, Plateau are the top ones). What a waste when we lose a trained, caring leader!
Finishing Well involves more than just knowing and avoiding those pitfalls. We need respond to Hebrews 13:7 that says,
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith”.
When we look at those that have gone before us and finished well, we see they had disciplines in their lives, avoided isolation, had intimate relationships with Jesus and were always learning.
Most of us don’t really think much about the end of our days. But when that day comes for me, I don’t want to be full of regrets or worse– disqualified from the race. I just want to have the same joy and freedom as little Isaac running barefoot across that grass headed to bed! How about you…Want to finish well?
In approaching Phoebe Palmer’s excerpt in the Study section of Richard Foster’s Spiritual Classics, I was anticipating an account of someone excited by exegetical enigmas and preeminently preoccupied with parsing participles—and maybe even awkwardly allured by alliteration, as so many pastoral theologians seem to be. I mean, this excerpt falls in a portion of a book dedicated to the spiritual discipline of study, so I was naturally prepared for some sentence diagrams or a crash course on Greek vocabulary. Instead I was met with a woman who had undoubtedly studied the Scriptures deeply and lived them out passionately. I had expected to see a work of theological study mostly devoid of heartfelt devotion, but instead was met with someone who had altogether disregarded the false dichotomy of the heart and head that is so often promulgated in Christian circles. Here was a woman who had merged homiletics and hermeneutics in a beautiful way that also allowed the reader to see that she passionately lived out her theology.
In this passage, Palmer’s main character is wrestling with the question “Is there a shorter path for getting to the way of holiness that so many saints have walked?” Yes is her simple answer, but there is really only one way: God commands that we be holy. Palmer declares in response, “Whatever my former deficiencies may have been, God requires that I should now be holy. Whether convicted, or otherwise, duty is plain. God requires present holiness.” As she pursues this ideal, Palmer’s protagonist is met with a number of questions and struggles which she consistently brings into the submission of Scripture. Even in confusion and disenchantment at the difficult call towards holiness, Scripture guides: “Be ye steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Eventually, this leads Palmer’s pilgrim to declare in true devotion, “I am wholly thine!—Thou does reign unrivaled in my heart! There is not a tie that binds me to earth; every tie has been severed, and now I am wholly, wholly thine!” Into this ubiquitous surrender, the Holy Spirit speaks: “What! Wholly the Lord’s? Is not this the holiness that God requires?” Thus we come full circle to see that we are called to be holy as God is holy, and to be wholly God’s.
I wish that I could capture or reflect even a sparkle of the glory that shines forth in Palmer’s prose. What other than a deep commitment to Scripture and passion to obey can lead one along such a journey as this? I was humbled and encouraged—and probably convicted a bit as well—by such a simple example of someone wholeheartedly devoted to allowing Scripture to speak the truth of her identity and to dictate the texture of her life. It seems to me a perfect model of what should come to mind when I think of the discipline of study: allowing God to inform my mind, yes, but also my heart and my actions. This is just the second or third segment from Spiritual Classics—the book Echo will be utilizing throughout the summer—that I have read and I am thoroughly thrilled (I know, I just can’t get enough of that cursed alliteration today!) to continue diving deeper both now and in Echo!
As we discussed in an earlier post, the great State of Jefferson (SOJ) has many endearing landmarks. Today, I’d like to draw your attention to one in particular.
As each tourist enters the SOJ, Moodonna stands as a welcoming metallic ambassador. Not always is she adorned in such patriotic garments – this is her 4th of July outfit – but regardless of her “gettyup”, the giant scrap metal cow named after a 1980s pop star/cultural icon stands ready to warmly welcome guests to the luscious land of the SOJ.
I wonder if the flag she’s wearing boasts 51 stars.
To my slight embarrassment one fateful night, I made known to a group of strangers that it was my dream to one day become a pirate or a Jedi master. Attributes I found quite normal within myself were finally unveiled for what they were: slightly abnormal and quirky. Nevertheless, I still proudly display in my office my die-hard authentic pirate flag and official Obi-Wan Kenobi bobble head…may he rest in peace.
Lately, there have been circulations of discussions relating to who would win in a fight: Spock or Yoda. While that debate still leaves me perplexed, I feel that a comparison between pirates and Jedi Masters cannot be based upon who would ultimately win in a fight. And here’s why: to be entirely thorough in such a delicate topic, one must look at all the angles before hastily making a decision. Consequently, we will quickly take a gander at a few of these angles before coming to a conclusion.
Attire: This is ultimately an issue of comfort vs. style. While Jedis look cozy in their pajama-like hoodie-bathrobes, Pirates have the advantage of wearing many layers so they are ready for any weather, hot or cold. And they are the masters of accessorizing and eyeliner.
Weapon of Choice: Pirates do get the benefit of many options when it comes to weaponry, from the traditional sword to the cutlass or cannons, but there is nothing in my opinion that trumps a light-saber. Case closed.
Theme Music: I count this a tie. John Williams and Hanz Zimmer are both absolute geniuses. There’s nothing more chilling than Williams’ opening credits score while you watch the yellow horizontal text float into space. But then, Zimmer created a masterpiece in capturing a melodic tune that fits the heart of a pirate. I’d sail into the far off blue or jump to lightspeed with either music playing….gladly.
Powers: Well, other than backstabbing and marooning your shipmates, pirates don’t necessarily have any natural powers, unless they happen upon a magical compass that leads to their heart’s greatest treasure. Nothing beats Jedis getting to use the force.
Villains: As vomit-inducing as it is to face an undead ship of pirates, or the abominable stench of the Kraken beast, there’s nothing more unnerving than realizing the worst villain in cinema-history is your biological father. My heart goes out to you Luke.
Ship: Hmm, while the Millennium Falcon and X-wings are pretty sweet with their light-speed capabilities, I’d personally like to climb to the heights of the crows nest and gaze at the horizon.
After reviewing some of the evidence, the choice is yours. I personally will never come to a conclusion because my heart strings are far too attached to both. So for those of you who share my thirst for adventure on the high-sea and deep-space, I say to you: Keep to the code, for the force will be with you….always.
So I’ve been trying to sell these whitewater rafts on Craigslist. One guy who responded really peaked my interest. He wrote very ambiguous emails seemingly sidestepping any details and avoiding pointed questions I had for him.
I had a funny feeling so I reported him to the Federal Trade Commission – which is the grownup’s equivalent to tattle-tailing, but this guy was trying to take me for a lot more than my lunch money, so I didn’t feel bad.
Turns out he was a fraud. Crazy, right?!
He sent a cashiers check (which was phony) that was for much more than we agreed on. Then I was to cash the check and give the moving company the difference when they came to pick up the raft. So, in essence, he gets money AND my raft, and I get a court hearing and a hefty fine for cashing a fake check – SWEET!
Don’t worry, due to my tattle-tailing clever reporting, his evil plan was foiled (mwuah ha ha ha).
Now to the subject of this post. When I reported the craigslist criminal mastermind, I was asked to forward his incriminating emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. When I asked what UCE stands for, I was met with the famous line: I’m sorry sir, it’s classified. Words that breed a cruel level of intrigue in the heart of anyone who has ever yearned to utter them (for realsies – not in the I can’t tell you what I bought you for Easter way, but in the I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you way).
So, I bring it to you. What does UCE stand for? Give me your best guess.
This is like blog Balderdash… or, you guessed it: Blogderdash (ha ha ha)
Then join me in a collective shout out to the craigslist criminal mastermind, and a tribute to good ol’ Kevin McCallister by saying: “Keep the change ya filthy animal!”