Mennonite Encounter: Aftermath

The Mennonite church rocks and not just because the congregations always sing in 4-part harmony, often a cappella.  AND all four verses.

Top that, Methodists.

Amidst an American Christian culture (and yes, it is distinctly American) that seems to be running amok and is sometimes frighteningly Taliban-esque in its overtones, the Mennonites are one of those branches that stand out from the crowd. Or rather, stand apart from the crowd and just go about their own business.

And what is their business?  As far as I can tell, their business is peace (they are so in your face about their peace, already! ha. just kidding), justice, equality and striving to live more simply so that others too might live, not just local neighbors but global neighbors.

What if, instead of going out into the community to “save” people, to “win them for the Lord” (yes, if you aren’t familiar with the lingo, this is one of the phrases), to proselytize, basically, to go out with an agenda of soul-winning, and go after this agenda disguised as a do-gooder, as someone handing out kindness and food and money and programs all the while with the main purpose of getting them into the church door and their butts into a pew, but what if, instead of that, we all went out into the community and shared kindness and food and money and programs for the main purpose of doing it because that’s what followers of The Teacher are supposed to do?

Think of the revolution.

Of course, I speak from my own cherished faith as a Christian, but what if EVERY faith background did this?  Offered charity and compassion because of a desire for them personally, themselves, to be more  like the one they follow, not to get the other person to follow that One?

I’m not a theologian and I don’t claim to be. I don’t claim to even be a particularly good Christian. (heck, I never even knew what Quiet Time was until I went to university. And?  Usually I would fall asleep during my Quiet Time. And I just asked Troy if he ever fell asleep during Quiet Time and he said “no” so I guess I WAS really the only one who did that and that shows you!)  Anyway, meditating yourself into a nap aside, I guess one of the things that makes me distance myself from American-style Christianity is the overwhelming emphasis of having strings attached. or at least that is how I perceive it.  I know it’s not always the case. But I know that with some people it is.

(and this is one of the reasons I think I support the current health care program overhaul. I’ve heard the argument that people want to help others through their churches, but again, there’s that “strings attached”. don’t you think maybe the government might be a good vehicle for us to do the Lord’s work of extending compassion and social justice? not always and it’s not perfect but it’s a good place to start, imho. AND it’s a lot easier when its just taken right out of your paycheck than to add that extra percentage to your weekly tithe, week after week, month after month, year after year. there’s lots of reasons to NOT add it in and not many to do so.)

Would Jesus act like that?  Did he really heal the lame and the blind just so they would go to temple or synagogue or home church or Wednesday prayer meeting?  Somehow, I kind of doubt it. Doing awesome stuff like that was, I think, just kind of an impulse, a compulsion; he couldn’t help it, it was just who he was.  And sure, he told them to go and sin no more, but really?  He just did it becaused he loved them in all their inopportune, unattactrive helplessness, put down and down-trodden, no resources and no way to buck the system or to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

So that’s one of the reasons I’m not an evangelical. I try to live simply and charitably because THAT’S WHAT’S EXPECTED OF ME. And usually I fail. But I try.  And if somehow someone wants to look behind that and understand my motivations, then we can go further but otherwise, I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and, hands off, I’ll just leave everything else up to God.

(or maybe I’m just lazy. remember, I often fell asleep during QT)

It’s a lot easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. MAYBE (yeah, actually, I’m PRETTY SURE) we need a lot less talking, a lot more listening and a lot more walking.

Because walking’s good for your heart.

I’m with the Mennonites; peace, justice, equality, simplicity. All that comes first and the rest all falls into place.

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Stream of conciousness

Rob and colleen lost 2 of their 3 cats in 2 short days.  I feel so sorry for them. sniff. will be a wreck when Ollie goes, i just know it.

warm, scent-laden breezes wafting through the windows, flirting with the curtains

swish of car tires on the road outside

T and the TT out for a walk somewhere = quiet

birds chirping, cat meowing to get back upstairs…go get cat

cat came up

need to go put up another shelf in laundry room. it’s such a jumble, that room, i need to get it organized.

actually went to church today. Happy Pentecost, everyone!  have been feeling the need to sing hymns again. pastor started strong and lost steam as he went, getting bogged down in illustration after illustration.  tedious. also his notion of language-learning as being only of the ‘educated class’ (hence, the surprise exhibited at the ‘uneducated’ Galileans being able to speak many languages) but that is an American concept. America, the home of the hopelessly monolingual.  many people around the world who lack classroom learning are multi-linguagal. it’s based on need and exposure, not some magical educational formula.

duh.

they only sang 2 hymns. but Miles had fun w/ the kids. may try another church next week. altho this one suits Miles’s nap schedule best.

my balance is pathetic. need to work on it. am afraid i will be a tottering elderly woman who meets her end with a tumble down the stairs…at age 53.  looking for tai chi classes but the local Ys are limited in this. need somehting that has child care.  maybe a dvd?  but want the group effect…

gotta go install shelf in laundry room.

hope T and TT having a good time.

wish i could go outside.

need to go finish my work so i can play.

that’s all.

That which Was Lost

One ring to rule them all

One ring to rule them all

Over the years, Mr Fussy Crankypants has honed his jewelry buying skillz as he has bought various gewgaws for Mrs FC and her jewelry-wearing pleasure.

This past Christmas, in consideration of Mrs FC’s lack of wedding ring wearing due to those slight few extra pounds that seem to be focused in her ring finger the protuberance of Mrs FC’s diamond setting and her disinclination to scratch the TT therewith, Mr FC outdid his jewelry-buying skillz in force by buying the above pictured ring. It is titanium. It is also engraved with tender words the message of which would warm any Fussy’s heart and most especially this particular Fussy.

Mrs FC noticed a few weeks ago that she wasn’t wearing the above ring. She had taken it off to apply lotion to the TT, that much she remembered, and she thought she remembered placing it on the kitchen table. Mrs FC hied herself off to Norfolk for a week to eat seafood play on the beach visit her brother and lovely sister-in-law and assumed she would find it when she got back.

Needless to say this post would not exist if in fact Mrs FC HAD found the ring as per her presumably false memory of the taking off of said ring.

Mrs FC started to become worried.

Mrs FC looked around. She looked in her bag. She looked in her wallet. She looked in the pencil case in her wallet. She looked in pants’ pockets.

But the ring was nowhere to be found.

Mrs FC became seriously upset but she was loathe to tell Mr FC that she had lost his ring because she knew it would confirm his impression of her as a brainless, disorganized bit of fluff really upset him.

Mrs FC began, in fact, to beseech the aid of a Higher Power. She did, in fact, pray. She prayed very hard.

And lo, the Lord was with Mrs Fussy Crankypants and lo He dideth grant that her frantic lowly humble prayers wouldst be answered-eth.

And it came to pass that as Mrs FC took out the bag containing a fresh piece of baklava baked at the local bakery, as she took this bag out, therefore, of the side pocket of the stroller, indeed so it was that The Ring itself didst appearethed.

And lo, there was much rejoicing.

yay.

And the moral of this story is that Mrs Fussy Crankypants has just proved that there really is a God.

And also, that baklava is good for you.

The End.

Considering Angie

I contacted her via Freecycle. She was in search of extra plants for a beautification project her church group was working on for one of the area schools.

She came by late, after Miles was in bed, a petite, dark-haired energetic woman, young with her hair in a ponytail.

In the darkening evening, as I dug up the extra plants from the cool evening for her to take and use somewhere else, she told me her story, or, more accurately, her daughter’s story.

Her daughter, 4 years old, her first-born, beautiful girl, the image of her mother. Her daughter, who in February, darted away from her dad as he had his back turned at the park getting the other two toddlers out of the car, who headed down to feed the ducks.  Who, the last time she was at the park, had gone out on the ice. Who attempted to again.

By the time they found her, she had been underwater for 30 minutes.  She was technically dead.  A team of 40 caregivers worked over her at Children’s Hospital for 2 hours, unable to stop giving CPR until her little body had been warmed up enough to see if she could breath on her own.

Angie was, she told me, firmly convinced that her daughter will make more gains that predicted. She is already doing things the doctors said she wouldn’t be able to. She can communicate now by blinking her eyes. She still seizures frequently as her little brain makes new neural connections to help her relearn how to live.

I met Angie’s family; they were waiting for her in the car.  The 2 year old out cold, the 1 year old squirming and unhappy at being in the carseat so late at night. Abby, with her pixie-cut, glossy dark hair and big brown eyes, looking up at the light, at nothing.

I came back in and cried.  How do you endure the unendurable?

If you ever desire to see a vivid example of the sustaining power, and not only sustaining but invigorating power, of faith, just meet up with Angie. She’ll be the one telling you of God’s intervention in bringing her daughter back to life, in sustaining her marriage through the unimagineable, in giving her grace and strength to learn how to raise her daughter in a way she never, ever envisioned having to do. 

I hope I never have to face what Angie has faced. I hope I can cling so strongly to Christ as she has done if I do.

Good Friday

O sacred Head, now wounded,

               with grief and shame weighed down,

               now scornfully surrounded

               with thorns, thine only crown:

               how pale thou art with anguish,

               with sore abuse and scorn!

               How does that visage languish

               which once was bright as morn!

 

What thou, my Lord, has suffered

               was all for sinners’ gain;

               mine, mine was the transgression,

               but thine the deadly pain.

               Lo, here I fall, my Savior!

               ‘Tis I deserve thy place;

               look on me with thy favor,

               vouchsafe to me thy grace.

 

What language shall I borrow

               to thank thee, dearest friend,

               for this thy dying sorrow,

               thy pity without end?

               O make me thine forever;

               and should I fainting be,

               Lord, let me never, never

                        outlive my love for thee.

MY Charitable Donations are Better than YOUR Charitable Donations

This year we are all giving each other a donation to a charitable organization. Because we are insufferable goodie two-shoes.

Talking today with one person for whom I will donate, I realized that I did not approve of this person’s choice of charity to which this person wished to be donated for (by? now I’m all confused by prepositions). 

This person’s choice was a charity that gives out Bibles to, um, hotels and stuff. It rhymes with…uh, Gideon. Actually, it sounds EXACTLY like that.  Now, fostering the spiritual welfare of others is, of course, important but I would rather see my cash go towards buying surgery for some child with a deformity or protecting the environment or providing a goat to a child in poverty or buying well initiatives for a village in need of potable water or provide safe, educational spaces for at-risk kids in poor neighborhoods of 3rd world countries.  In short, I want TANGIBLE, PRACTICLE results that I can SEE and that change someone’s physical well-being.

How can you address someone’s spiritual needs if they are hungry?  Or sick? Or too busy wondering how they are going to provide for their family?

That’s just me, I guess.

Because I am more awesome and much better than anyone else, of course.

A good reason to go

This is a good reason for us to FIND A CHURCH already. sheesh.

Oh, AND, when Troy went to church on Sunday, Jeff asked him where I was and instead of telling Jeff that I was supporting my brother in another state, Troy just said I ‘wasn’t able to make it’, thereby giving the impression that I was home in bed!  Which was TOTALLY FALSE. (I wasn’t home in bed, I was in VA in bed :P)  Anyway, so I am NOT a pagan, just a semi-pagan. (actually, I think I was out worshipping the sun on the beach at church-time last Sunday, so, yeah, maybe I was a pagan, as I was accused of being by JeffC)

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