Sunday, February 24, 2008

Second Place!

My son Robbie took second place in his age group and category at the National History Day Northern Virginia Regional competition yesterday at George Mason University. That means he now moves on to the state competition at the end of April in Williamsburg. We are very proud of him! He was up against some pretty stiff competition in his age group (6th to 8th grade - Robbie is in 6th grade) and some other really good projects. Here are some pictures – one of him with his medal and the other of him with his project and teacher, Miss Hartt. His project was on the CSS Hunley, the Confederate submarine that was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Special Anniversary

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of my mother’s death. My family and I will go to Philadelphia to be with my father. As we have each year now, we will go to the same restaurant I took my father to that night three years ago to be together. It is a good evening.

As I think back, sometimes it seems as if that day happened a long time ago, while other times it seems to have happened almost yesterday. But the more time goes by, the more I come to realize what a great mother I had and all that she did. I was truly blessed by her – and by God through her – in so many ways. I sometimes think to myself that if I can be half the parent to my kids that she was to me, then I’ll be doing okay.

She would not have thought that, however. She often shared her struggles of parenting with me after I myself became a parent. She told me that she and my father really didn’t know what they were doing – they just did their best and entrusted all us kids to the Lord. Overall, I think that’s a pretty good model of parenting to emulate! And not just of parenting, but of all the Christian life – do the vocations God has given you to do to the best of your ability, and entrust the results to God.

I know I will think of her much more as my kids grow older and I struggle with the same things she struggled with! I will use the wisdom she planted in my heart. And I will thank God that He blessed me – like Timothy – with such a godly mother.

So tomorrow we celebrate a great lady, and rejoice that she now rests with her Lord and Saviour.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Patristic Quote

"If someone asks, therefore, why God allowed man to be tempted when he foreknew that man would yield to the tempter, I cannot sound the depths of divine wisdom, and I confess that the solution is far from my powers. . . . I do not think that a man would deserve great praise if he had been able to live a good life for the simple reason that nobody tempted him to live a bad one." (St. Augustine, Ancient Christian Devotional, 73)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Learning the Language of the Liturgy

I am learning Spanish. I am getting better, little by little. I am learning more words, and with practice, the sentences are making more sense and coming together. It takes time, but anything worth learning takes time.

It occurred to me that this is true also for the language of the liturgy. For visitors who come to our church for the first time, things sound funny and don’t make a lot of sense. What does Agnus Dei mean? Why do they bow when they do? What does the Creed mean when we say “of one substance with the Father”? But gradually, these things are learned. Little by little, with practice, things come together and begin to make sense. The rich and powerful symbolism deepens the awe and mystery that comes from being ushered into the presence of a holy God. And like with my Spanish, things begin to ‘click.’ And we’re at home.

Some would argue that the liturgy shouldn’t have to be learned, but that folks should feel comfortable right away. That would certainly be easier, wouldn’t it? But I believe easiness breeds boredom, while learning implants one in the depths of what is taking place, so that we’re at home not just for a while, but for eternity.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Importance of the Liturgy

A good quote:

"People are uncomfortable with mystery (God) and mess (themselves). They avoid both mystery and mess by devising programs and hiring pastors to manage them. A program provides a defined structure with an achievable goal. Mystery and mess are eliminate at a stroke. This is appealing. In the midst of the mysteries of grace and the complexities of human sin, it is nice to have something that you can evaluate every month or so and find out where you stand. We don’t have to deal with ourselves or with God, but can use the vocabulary of religion and work in an environment that acknowledges God, and so be assured that we are doing something significant."

(Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, 48)

My thoughts: The importance of the liturgy and liturgical preaching is that it is not programmatic. It ushers messy (sinful) people into the mystery (the presence of God for us), not so that we can do something significant – but so that God can: the forgiveness of sins. And this we do not evaluate, but receive, for it is gift. And our standing with God is assured, not on the basis of what I see or feel in myself, or what I have accomplished, but on the rock solid basis of His Word and promise (Rom 3:23-24).

Perhaps this is what makes the liturgy so polarizing in the church today, between those who live in it and those who do not. This simple fact: program and liturgy do not go together.