Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday of the Prodigal

"The Sunday after the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. This parable of God's forgiveness calls us to come to ourselves" as did the prodigal son, to see ourselves as being "in a far country" far from the Father's house, and to make the journey of return to God. We are given every assurance by the Master that our heavenly Father will receive us with joy and gladness. We must only "arise and go," confessing our self-inflicted and sinful separation from that "home" where we truly belong (Luke 15:11-24)." Orthodox Church in America

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

334 Must the church always be a follower?

It won't be next year, or maybe not even 2016, but eventually church musicians and pastors will wake up about the noise and volume of their CCM rock, hip-hop and heavy metal music and the damage the blasting loud speakers cause to hearing just as they realized the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke 20 years ago. Too bad they can't be leaders instead of followers in this important health issue.

When we joined UALC in 1976, every meeting room and event was filled with the blue haze of cigarette smoke (with the exception of the sanctuary). I'd grown up in the Church of the Brethren, so smoking was just a plain old generic sin--below adultery and theft maybe, but certainly right up there with swearing and drunkeness. But Lutheran smokers 30 years ago believed in "freedom in Christ," and you were considered a Pharisee if you mentioned it made your clothes stink or burned your eyes. I'm not sure what turned the tide, but gradually smokers went to one room to breathe each others poisoned fumes, and then outside, and now I never see anyone smoking on the property.

What I remember most about this very serious health issue is that the church was not the leader. It was the follower.

How many of our babies and children and teens will need to lose their hearing in the low and high ranges incrementally, to be tested and fitted for hearing aids by age 40? Noise in the church is the latest blue haze that Christians think they can't do without. "Give me Jesus, but don't make me change anything," could be our motto.

I actually shudder when I see young parents taking small children into our X-Alt services because the parents identify with the music and our leadership knows this is a way to fill the seats. People who will floss for dental health, do pilates and kick boxing for exercise, and watch their cholesterol and calories seem oblivious to protecting their ears.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

333 Choir

I covet your prayers for our choir--because I've joined! It's been many years--probably more than you've been on this earth--since I've sung anywhere but the car or shower. I used to be a soprano, but something happens to your voice as you age. A nurse friend of mine explained yesterday that as the estrogen level goes down, the balance between the estrogen and testosterone changes and women's voices deepen. Oh great.

Anyway, I went Wednesday night for the first time and the director doesn't make you audition or try out for any parts, I just sat between two strong (fabulous) sopranos and hope that I can make a joyful noise for the Lord this morning. I now have a folder with my name on it just like the big kids.

We sing at both the 8:30 and the 11 traditional services which means I'll be at church all morning. I can either sit in on the 9:45 service (informal) or attend a Sunday School class, or eat donuts and drink coffee.

The choir is a very warm, welcoming group--you would have thought I was the prodigal daughter when I walked in. We opened with a beautiful prayer by the director, and closed with devotions by a member who is 92. Afterwards we also had a birthday party for a member who is 80. After going to the balcony to rehearse today's anthem (the choir loft is in the balcony space), the director asked for comments on what the words of the song meant (the tune is Finlandia, but I don't remember the title). A number of people gave wonderful testimonies of their faith and how God has led them through difficult times.

So, my prayer request is very specific: restore and heal my voice (and protect the choir!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The fifty most influential Christians

The Church is an on line Christian resource for leaders, pastors, and parachurch executives. The January 2006 issue was about the fifty most influential Christians. Dr. Phil was #50. I had no idea he was a Christian. Joyce Meyer was rated higher (#7) than Beth Moore (#45) or Anne Graham Lotz (#14), both of whom could preach and teach circles around her and (snarky alert) are better dressed (no bling bling). Plus she's been investigated for some funny finances. And that theology! Whooeee.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

331 Super Bowl Sunday

Pornography receipts are greater than all professional sports. The 1950s Playboy centerfolds, which were kept from children, would be mainstream entertainment today, regularly viewed by children. Gene McConnell, Veritas Forum.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

330 The paucity of Christian material in public libraries

Recently I did a quick survey of our town library shelves (suburban, about 40,000, predominately white, college educated (96%) and Christian) for Christian material. There was one book published in 1964 on Lutherans, although we have one of the largest Lutheran churches in the country, and two smaller Lutheran congregations (these were founded when the synod make-up was different). There was one evangelical Christian magazine (but 40 magazines on theater, film making, movies, video, and computers). So I visited the periodicals librarian, requesting an increase in this area. I left her some samples, not to be added to the collection, but so she could familiarize herself with the vocabulary, values, book reviews, etc. My request was denied. I won't bore you with my entire response, but here's part of it:

"I’m sorry to hear, but not at all surprised, that you were unable to add even one more title to your ONE evangelical Christian title in the serial section because “these titles are carried by academic libraries or church affiliated institutions but no public libraries of our size. . . and these titles are not indexed in our periodical database which would make finding articles in the future difficult.” I’m impressed you are concerned about your future readers; I am not impressed that your current readers, the ones who support the library with their taxes, are being under served. Approved lists and accessible indices are wonderful, but they don’t take the place of representing the interests of your community. Also, most library users by-pass those indices and go right to Google, blogs or keyword searches."

"Librarians are 223:1 liberal to conservative on the political spectrum--more imbalance than Hollywood, the legal profession, or probably even the ACLU. This is not to say that there are no politically liberal Christians, nor liberal Christian librarians, but often collections in public libraries reflect not the community’s needs and wants, but the librarians’ beliefs and values, ergo, no evangelical magazines appear on any of the recommended lists which make up the recommended titles for databases from which you make your recommendations. It’s a closed loop."

When I was the veterinary medicine librarian at Ohio State, we had almost no breed books for dogs or cats, because they aren't considered "academic" or "scholarly." This meant non-university people and children doing school projects were coming to the library to use material way over their comprehension level when they wanted to learn about Cushing's Disease in dogs or hyperthyroidism in cats. This put more pressure on me and my staff to help them find something appropriate taking time away from our regular clientele. So I purchased many breed titles, because often diseases and conditions are specific to the breed due to inbreeding. Librarians are allowed to purchase for the need of the people using the library, despite the collection guidelines, or they aren't worth the little they are being paid.

329 My Prayer job jar

At today's Thursday Thirteen I wrote 13 things about my prayer job jar--where it came from, earlier uses, what goes in to it, what gets answered, and what it looks like.