Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hebrew Bible: On the seventh day...

On the seventh day God rested. I have thought a lot about Sabbath, but I haven't really looked closely at the seventh day when God rested. I jotted down notes to myself in class, because I know that I am not doing a good enough job of honoring my sabbath day (which happens to be on the same day as my class so it might change...)

The week of Creation builts up to this day, and Dr Hopkins talked about how God is rushing toward rest. She pointed out that this isn't the rest of exhuastion (emotional or physical). I usually have Monday off, which is good because I'm often exhausted. Plus, there were many Mondays last spring where I was so discouraged about low attendence that I needed a day to recover. For the first couple weeks I was back at work, I was really worried that things wouldn't go well. Fortunately, things have been going great with youth programs so far... we've had great attendence, and kids seem to be plugged in. Sunday was our first "regular" youth group meeting, and it went so well. Monday I went into the office and took care of attendence, and added new contact to my list, and looked at this coming Sunday's lessons. Tuesday I took my sabbath and I was really able to enjoy the rest of satisfaction.

On the seventh day, God doesn't speak. This passage is short and doesn't repeat the same things that run throughout the other days. There is not, "and there was evening, and there was morning," or "it was good." In my notes from class on Monday, I wrote "Megan, shut up on your sabbath." I usually get caught up in e-mail or a phone call or whatever on my day off. I worry that I need to be available, that I need to keep working. If God can take a break and be aloof and silent, why do I think I can't? The Bible says that "God rested from all the work God had done in creation." Did God need to rest? Or was it just a good idea? Either way, I would assume that if the creator rests, then people who are creative need to rest.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hebrew Bible: In the beginning

It has been really refreshing to read some of Genesis from a new perspective.

It is sad to me that I often need to be told when there is humor in the Bible... We are so used to hearing the Bible in a slow, serious, (possibly Brittish accented) voice. when my Frick text pointed out the humor of Adam naming each animal, but not finding a suitable companion, I suddenly pictured an old Hebrew grandparented telling the story to their kids. "And then Adam named the giraffe, but the giraffe wasn't the right companion. So then Adam named the bear, but the bear wasn't the right companion..." It sounds like a story book for kids.

It was also pointed out in some of my readings, that Genesis 1-3 doesn't talk about sin or the people being "cursed." Rather, one could read God's speech about the fate of man and woman as God pointing out the way things are. It doesn't matter who ate the apple... someone would have after awhile even if Eve didn't. When I was 13 I liked to joke that Adam was probably whining for Eve to make him a sandwich, so she gave him the apple. I still think that in the story, Adam is oddly passive (from my biased perspective this reminds me of lazy men who would rather let women make decisions for them and who drift through relationships). And because of my own personal... quirks... I imagine Eve being restless and curious and possibly wanting to impress Adam with her knowledge and guts. (Clearly this is my own imagination at work).

Regardless of the whos and whys of the removal from Eden, it is clear that in Eden there was partnership and equality. In nakedness there was openness and lack of status or rank or guise. Outside of Eden there was strife and inequality and hard work and pain. In being clothed there was separation, and shame, and (eventually) status and separation. To me, the truth of this story is not that it tells us why life is like this, but that it tells us how life is and points out to us that it could be different. Am I content to seek out a husband to rule over me as punishment for my fallen state? Instead, why wouldn't we try to live under the conditions of Eden? In other words, why wouldn't we treat others with equality, listen to God, and trust in God's provision?

Personally, I want to marry a man whom I trust to lead me, but not because I think if he doesn't rule over me I'll run amok or violate God's will. I want a husband who is a partner, who will put me before himself even as he is sometimes leading me. And I want to be a wife who helps as God helps, hopefully selflessly and occasionally doing things because I know what's best for my family. And while I don't suggest all Christians live on a nudist organic farm, I think it would do us some good to think about what it means to live as a community or faith that doesn't use clothing to denote status, and treats everyone as equals and partners in ministry, and that does its best to take care of the world that God has created for us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Darfur Matters

Is this child...
I went to the Voices to Stop Genocide Rally on Sunday. It was awesome to see over 30,000 people (12 of them road up with me) gathered to raise their voices in support of the people of Darfur. It is so frustrating to me that with all of the power our country has, we haven't done anything to bring about an effective solution to the deaths that are happening daily.

of more worth than this child?

Mira Sorvino spoke almost as soon as we got there, and did an amazing job. She was so passionate and so emotional, and had so many good points. She told stories of children who had been mutilated and mothers who had babies cut from within them. She talked about orphans and parents who lost children. She told us that she read these accounts to the White House 2 years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter, and now her daughter is a toddler and the killing is still going on. Generations are growing up knowing only violence, hunger, and homelessness. Generations already have grown up this way in Sudan.

It brings me to tears, because I think about how precious children are. I think about how the highlight of my day is seeing my pastors' kids who are 2 and 4. Those kids are such blessings, and when one of them has a cold, the whole church cares. But there are hundreds of thousands of kids in Sudan who are of just as much sacred worth, and those kids are being left to die by the international community. How can we do that. HOW can we do that? Our government is afraid of putting too much pressure on the government of Sudan partly because they are helping us with the "War on Terror." To me, that sounds like sacrificing hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, on the off chance that the Sudanese government can help us a little.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go to and take action. Education yourself, spread the word to others, and call/write the President and your elected representatives. Soon it will be too late and we will be saying "we could have stopped it."

Like the Holocaust

and Rwanda

and Bosnia

and Armenia

and South Sudan.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hebrew Bible

I started my Hebrew Bible class on Monday nights, and one of the extra credit options was to blog about the class every week. Well, since I already blog and I tend to blog about things I am learning, it seemed like a no-brainer. Thus, every week I will be blogging about my Hebrew Bible class.

Monday was our second class, and one of the things that has come up so far is the idea of each person having a context for reading the Bible. We also talked some about the way the Bible "came to be." We talked about the documentary hypothesis, which I learned about in my Ancient Biblical History and Culture Class at UMD. Studying the history of the Bible is actually so faith-affirming for me, because I find the idea of the Bible being strictly word for word literal to be so stifling. But the idea of the Bible evolving over time from different contexts and different peoples' experiences actually gives it more credibility in my eyes, and reminds me that God uses all sorts of people and cultures.

This topic came up in Pastor Amy's Bible study this morning, because she is preaching on "How God Speaks" this Sunday, and she's going to focus on scripture. We talked a little about the fact that we impose a contemporary definition of truth on the scripture, when the Bible was not written as journalism, but as a way of understanding the character of God and the relationship between God and God's people.

I am wrestling a little with how to teach my youth group to think and read critically, without pushing them too hard. In Bible studies at Camp this summer I had at least one kid a week ask me if the flood really happened, or if Moses really performed all of the miracles. It is a really touchy subject when we have such a wide range of theological backgrounds, so I usually ask "What do you believe?" and "What does it mean for you to believe that?" I found that when I took classes that questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible in college, it helped me to grow in my faith. How young is too young for these ideas? I don't want to confuse my youth and push their questioning too far, but I also don't want them to go unchallenged until they get to college.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Save Darfur NOW

Back in April I went to a rally to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur. People are more aware of what is going on, and the international community is denouncing the events in Sudan, but women, children, and men in the Darfur region are still dying. On September 17, while the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York, there will be a rally in Central Park, so that people can raise their voices in support of the people of Darfur. Right now the government of Sudan is fighting back against the rebels who are committing the genocide, but the civilians are still the ones suffering. The looting, raping, and fighting is apparently getting worse, and all the while there hasn't been a strong enough international push for peace.

Today is the beginning of 10 Days of Action for Darfur. During this time, people around the country and around the world will act together to raise awareness and move toward a resolution to this crisis.

Here's how you can be involved.

September 7. Shine a light for Darfur. People will be holding candlelight vigils and lighting candles for the people of Darfur. Put a candle in your window, and be sure to tell people why you are doing so.

September 8. Prayer and Action. Join the international community of faith in prayer for the people of Darfur, and educate others on the genocide.

September 9. Rally in DC. This rally will be smaller than the one in New York, and will target the White House with speakers and people practicing civil disobediance.

September 13. National Day of Prayer. Gather together to pray for peace and reconciliation in Darfur and around the world.

September 14. E-mail and Call in to the UN. Ask Secretary-General Kofi Annan to make a peacekeeping force in Darfur a priority.

September 15. Postcard Day. Send postcards to President Bush and Kofi Annan, asking them to support stronger peacekeeping efforts. Postcards can be printed or electronically sent from

September 17. Save Darfur Now: Voices to Stop Genocide.
Join me in New York to raise our voices and learn more about the situation in Sudan. Wear a blue hat to symbolize the need for more UN peacekeepers. If you are interested in riding up together, please leave me a message or e-mail me. The rally is from 2-5 pm.