Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanksgiving, Hebrew Bible, and the Bible Studs

I was on the Outer Banks with my family for Thanksgiving, and we lost power all day Wednesday. Consequently, once it got dark, we were all forced to sit together by candlelight and..... talk to each other. It was amazing! I got a glimpse of what family life was like before TV and even radio. We sat around (adults on couches and chairs, and kids on the floor), and listened to the grandparents tell stories about their lives. It was so cool. Of course, at 10:30 pm the power came back on, everyone cheered, and then the TV's went on. So much for that....

It gave me an idea, though. When I asked a student what our topic should be in Bible study, he said he wanted to talk about communication and saying things that God would want us to. I ended doing Bible study by candlelight. We sat in a circle on the floor, and I read them Genesis 1 and 2. I told them that these stories were probably passed down to kids around the fire, in order to teach them about God and their culture. I tried to remember to use some of the Hebrew words, and made it sound like a kids' story. I even paused every time I said, "And it was..." and made them say "good."

We talked about what it means to be made in the image of God. Troy said, "Probably that when you make fun of people, you are making fun of God." Ryan said "Maybe it means that all of the people in the world together are God's image." We talked about this a little more, and then I asked them why God would later make commandments against making graven images.

talked about the rules about not having other Gods, and not making graven images. Again, they had good answers, about not putting things before God, and not worshiping the Gods of other cultures, etc. I told them that idols were made as a sort of point of connection between gods and people, and asked where else we just heard the world "image." Silence... they were wracking their brains. I prompted, "Made in..." and someone said, "oh... God's image." Ok, now connect the dots, "So what's the connection between the two passages?" Then I saw it dawn on Jesse's face.

"Oh... we're not supposed to have images because we are God's image. And God is in us instead of a statue."

Our Bible studies always have a lot of tangents, like when I announced that since only guys come anyway, I'm changing the name to Bib Studs, and I'll just start a girls' group too. Next week we are going to read Genesis 3 and talk about relationships and brokenness. Just having them take home the idea that the are God's image colors everything else we talk about.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is this true?

Your Inner Child Is Sad

You're a very sensitive soul.
You haven't grown that thick skin that most adults have.
Easily hurt, you tend to retreat to your comfort zone.
You don't let many people in - unless you've trusted them for a long time.

Hmm... I kind of think that its true in a way, but I'm not a sad person I don't think. That's so emo. I guess its a good thing that I don't define myself by internet quizzes.

Last night I watched Grey's Anatomy and wrote down this quote:
"When we betray each other, the path to recovery is less clear. We do whatever it takes to rebuild the trust that was lost. And then there are some wounds, some betrayals that are so deep, so profound, that there's no way to repair what was lost. And when that happens... there's nothing left to do... but wait." -Christina Yang

And let's not forget that I took this quiz months ago... I'm not sure its entirely accurate, being as both these quizzes were probably made my 12 year olds.

Which Grey's Anatomy Character Are You?

You are Christina Yang. You are incredibly determined and very blunt... yet somehow very likable
Take this quiz!

Quizilla | Join | Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Yep, I think too much. It's my favorite hobby.

Maybe I do define myself by internet quizzes... :-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Greetings from Jacksonville! I'm in Florida for Exploration 2006, and like a good blogger I couldn't resist taking a minute to write. The conference is for people 18-25 who are considering ordained ministry. I was in the shuttle from the airport and a woman from Ohio (who I was next to on the plane) asked where I was from. She said she was originally from Pen-Del Conference too, and when I told her what town, she said, "Oh my gosh, you're at Amy's church. You're the youth director! And your dad is..." I was really freaked out, but as it happens, Anne Pruitt-Barnett is her mentor (who was also Amy's mentor). I see people who know my dad all the time, but that was the quickest it has ever come out... and the weirdest. She's cool though.

Its been a good time so far. I got here exhausted, but the hotel let me check in at 10:30 am and then I took a nap in the FABULOUS bed. Yay for the Hyatt. My roommates are nice, and the one who I am sharing a bed with also brought stuffed animal. And guess what... her giraffe is wearing a t-shirt from her summer camp. (pictures to come). That's right, two seminarians who sleep with stuffed animals. And Bonnie is here! It's been fun catching up with her.

Other stuff:
~Free Wesley Seminar t-shirt, so I could represent.
~lots of people MY age who are pursuing ministry.
~They assigned us to small groups- mine includes one of my roommates, another girl from Wesley, and the leaders are from DC.
~Took a seminar on personal life that ACTUALLY talked about being single in ministry... they even mentioned dating in ministry. This is something that isn't talked about much since so many pastors are already married when they start.
~Good food. Nay... GREAT food.
~Seminar by David McAllister-Wilson (Pres. of Wesley Sem) on creating a culture of Calling. I wasn't signed up for it, but I'm glad I went.
~Realizing there are a lot of young people who can the potential to liven up the church.
~Confirming my suspicion that people from Ohio are freakin' crazy. There are a million of them here, and since the Michigan v. Ohio came was today they were yelling "O-H-I-O" all day. Even in worship! Michiganders are almost as bad.
~I learned that people from Michigan are "Michiganders."
~the weather is great... not that I'm outside much.
~Free messenger bag, free planner with the schedule of events, all the scriptures and discussion questions and space to journal (!!!).
~Free, unlimited starbucks coffee. At stations all over the place. Free soda too. And cookies.
~I'm in room 1421... the number of The Apartment (where I lived in college).
~One of my roommates is named Emily, a girl in my group is named Emily, and a girl who came with Bonnie is named Emily.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Good things

1. Cloudy day walks. I took a walk around the neighborhood today. I hardly do this, but it was sort of gloomy and misty and really quiet. I even turned off my iPod for awhile, and took a break from listening to things like The Clash's Rock the Casbah, and a podcast of Sen. Barak Obama on the Diane Rehm Show, and spent time enjoying silence.

2. TV on the internet. Thanks to ABC's pioneering efforts last year, the networks now allow you to watch episodes of their most popular shows online after they have aired. This means that I can catch up on Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy without having to tape them. It also means that I am watching even more current shows than ever (see below).

3. Studio 60. This weekend I watched Studio 60 for the first time. The show is a fictional behind the scenes look at a sketch comedy show, written by the guy who did the West Wing. It actually showcases a really interesting dialog about faith, because one of the characters, loosely based on Kristen Chenowith, is a person of faith who acts on a SNL-like show. There are also a lot of themes dealing with women in different levels of the Hollywood scene. Hello, how can you go wrong with Aaron Sorkin, Matthew Perry, D. L. Hughley, Bradley Witford, Steven Webber, and Sarah Paulson?

4. Knitting Socks. I'm doing it, and its awesome. I'll post pictures when I'm farther alone. Not only is it very meditative and something I can do when I'm in meetings, but its productive and helps me connect with generations of women who knit. Jen and I were talking knitting on Saturday while we were tailgating, and it was awesome in a nerdy way.

5. Friends my age. A Jew, two Catholics and a Methodist walk into a Chinese restaurant... I got to college friends twice this week! I went to an interfaith prayer service (followed by dinner at a Chinese Restaurant) with Jen, Marti, and Bryna. I also went to the Maryland vs. Miami game with Jen and Rich. By the way: Miami players may rumble, but our fans storm the field when we win... or lose.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Purpose and Calling (Hebrew Bible)

"I don't feel called to do that" has become the new Christian blow-off line. How often do we see needs in our world that aren't filled because people don't "feel called" to do something. I wonder if the priest in the Good Samaritan story thought to himself, "I'm not trained in First AID, healing isn't one of my spiritual gifts..." as he passed by the man who had been left on the side of the road to die. The prophets spoke against people who ignored the poor and the oppressed. Jesus reminded the Jews of his day that piety without justice for others is empty. Hundreds of thousands of people are being killed, raped, mutilated, and displaced in Darfur, and none of the world's leaders "feel called" to take any real action on their behalf.

Tonight in class, the lecture was about Exodus and Sinai, and one of topics covered was the idea that we need to read the Exodus story from the point of view of the Egyptians, because as privileged people in the First World, we are part of the oppressive power structure. We harden our hearts against the cries of the oppressed in many ways, and Denise said that one of those ways was by focusing on personal spirituality to the point that we don't notice the plight of other people. She mentioned The Purpose-Driven Life as an example of self-centered Christian thinking, and this was uncomfortable for me, because I had experienced a purpose-driven life adjustment when we read the book for Camp. Of course, the whole summer staff had to read it, and we did so in the context of focusing on serving kids all summer.

I think a lot of people get so focused on spiritual growth and finding their calling, that they forget that spiritual growth is supposed to lead directly to serving others and seeking justice. We forget that personal faith has to lead to and be balanced with meeting the needs of the people around us. Having a sense of purpose helps us to focus our lives, but we are called to do all sorts of things that don't fit into the "main calling" we experience. If I am called to youth ministry, that doesn't mean I can ignore adults how are in need. When there are a million different ministries at my church, I focus on the ones where I can serve best, but sometimes needs arise that must out-rank what we think our calling is. If I am preparing for Bible study, but some one in church has a crisis, I need to lend a hand there. If we are called to serve local churches, there are still other crises that call our attention to the larger community, and to the world.

My mom works in property management and teaches Sunday School. She's also filling in at the youth center after-school program, while they look for a new staff member. She went into it without a sense of vocation or a call to youth ministry, but she did it because the need was there. Those kids are really difficult kids. I know this because I also filled in there for a month last year. The kids are awesome, wonderful people, but their experiences so far have shaped them into individuals who are hard to handle and slow to trust. I'm not saying that my mom is called to work at the youth center (she would kill me). My point is that a lot of people talk about not feeling called, or not being sure of their gifts, or not having enough faith yet, and these excuses drown out the cries of the oppressed and needy. We usually grow more when we are serving God and working to extend God's grace to others anyway.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Go to the Pharaohs

This week's Hebrew Bible class was about the call of Moses and the Exodus story as a pattern that we are supposed to follow. We spent some time talk about:
Then the LORD said, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians..."
-Exodus 3:7-8a
God saw what was happening to the people of Israel, and experienced their sufferings. God came down to deliver the people, but it wasn't a matter of deus ex machina. God didn't appear to Pharaoh, and strike fear into his heart. God didn't create a regime change in Egypt. God didn't cause the people of Israel within Egypt to rise up against Pharaoh (as Pharaoh feared they would). God appeared to Moses.

Moses also knew the suffering of the Israelites, because he had seen it. At the time that Moses was called by God, he had fled Egypt because he committed murder. He escaped Egypt, and started a family with the Midianites. He had no reason to go back. But God sent him back, because the people of Israel didn't have time to liberate themselves from the cruelty of their taskmasters. They had been oppressed so long that maybe they didn't remember that life could be better. God sent Moses, because God works most often through God's people.

It strikes me that this is so relevant to the Mission: Africa unit we are studying in youth group. World leaders and politicians argue about whose problem Africa is. Many of the governments are leaving their people to die, and its their job to protect their own people. But can we tell 12 million AIDS orphans that its not our job keep them alive? Can we tell millions of people who suffer from extreme poverty and AIDS that they are out of luck if they don't have access to food and medication? What do we tell the children of Darfur who are being raped, killed, and mutilated?

God sees the misery of the people who are in Africa; God hears their cries on account of hunger and disease. God knows their sufferings, and God is coming down to deliver them. God is calling us to go to the Pharaohs, and to demand that these people be released from their affliction. We are safe in Midian with our families and our security, but if we leave these people in bondage we become less human.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An slanderous attack on a great leader

A Stone's Throw Away

Its Election Day... I did some research and voted the best I could. I can't wait for these ridiculous campaign ads to go away for another year or so (wishful thinking?).

Anyway, the whole Ted Haggard scandal has been bouncing around in my head for a couple days, and I can't help but weigh in. I made a comment on Bryna's blog, because she had some quotes from conservative Christians about proposed anti-gay marriage legislation, and from a person fighting for marriage rights for gay people. This scandal isn't really going to help people on either side of the argument, but I do think it is ironic that Pastor Haggard has been working to deny gay people the very relationships with which he himself broke covenant.

About throwing Stones....

How can we try to legislate personal piety? I don't think it works. I don't think Jesus advocated it. I was reminded by RELEVANT podcast that this is a reminder that all of us are broken and in need of grace. Ted Haggard doesn't need grace any more or less than me. And while both of us are guilty of breaking covenant with our loved ones, neither of us can decide who other people are to make covenant with. Are we also supposed to make laws against adultery?

Israel in Jesus' day had laws against adultery, and the penalty was death. Maybe many of us forget that while Jesus didn't hold a mountaintop seminar on the definition of sexual immorality, he did stop a group of privileged, self-righteous men from stoning a woman who had been "caught in the very act."

“All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” - Jesus (Matthew 8:7 NLT)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Awareness (Mission: Africa Week 1)

In youth group this week, we talked about the AIDS crisis in Africa. The first step to addressing this problem is awareness. We may not be able to change governments and politicians on our own, but if we change enough hearts and minds (one by one, starting with us), the politicians and governments will follow.

DATA: Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa

ONE Campaign

UMCOR - United Methodist Committee on Relief

In round one of the TRIBE game, Matapato won. Here is the video from the winning performance in the Numbu Dance competition.


I am so tired of ad after ad after ad, of politicians attacking each other. I can't wait for this election to be over. But before it's over, please make sure something good comes of it. Vote. Vote ALL your values, and dare to hope that we can make a difference for Go(o)d in the world.