Festival of Homiletics: Day Three

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday May 20, 2008 in

A lot of African American music and themes of diversity and justice today. Two of our preachers spoke about race, and I wish there were more black pastors in the pews. Maybe in the years to come? And Yesterday Barbara Lundblad gave a wonderful sermon about justice, outrage, and hope, and drew some wonderful cross-analogies between the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Prophet Jeremiah.

So much to think about. I can’t support the ‘youtubization’ of an entire career of ministry, as if a man’s life, his society, as if his (or anyone’s) career can be contorted into sound bites. But with so much ‘anger in the room,’ what happens next? What is it we really want to say? Wouldn’t it be good if we could buy a field over this? And by that I mean, find a little common ground? I hope so! But we can only do that if we have the courage to sit and listen, and then to speak.

Today it was Michael Curry, an Episcopalian Bishop in North Carolina, who preached then spoke. What a charismatic and awe inspiring preacher! Wow. He finished the lecture with an illustration from a scene the movie Roots, where Kunta Kinte is beaten until he submits to be called Toby. And how we all carry these names that are not our true names, but are given to us by the cruelty of the world. (I can’t even try to explain the lesson, you simply had to be there because it was a thing you felt in your spirit and your gut.)

Anyway, on leaving the church my mom tells me a family story. She says that my Aunt Annabel owned an home in London and towards the end of her life had rented out the top portion to a man named Alex Haley. Small world.

[Note from my mother: This is a family story and has not been confirmed one way or the other. It might be wishful thinking on the part of some relative.]

[Note from me: I hope it’s true.]

Coolest song today: “Thuma Mina.”

Most fun: Muffin the cat’s transformation from a balding, drooling wreck, to a mouse hunting super-predator who discovered her purpose and did that which God had intended her to do. (This courtesy of Michael Curry. Go Muffin!)

Best advice for writer-preachers: Zachariah vs Mary. Anna Florence Carter’s advice that you have to move into God’s word and experience it before you can ever hope to preach it.

Good stuff.

Other than that, Mom and I enjoyed another breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen, yum. And I’m seriously wondering if there are as many pubs in Ireland as there are bars in Minnesota. Goodness me!! Three things I’ve never seen before:

1. A bar attached to a Starbucks. No one from the Pacific Northwest is going to believe me so I have this picture to prove it.

2. Starbucks closes in the afternoon in Minneapolis. We went by some time around 5 and the ONLY Starbucks around was already closed. There is also a Starbucks kiosk in the hotel, it closes at 12:30 in the afternoon. For real.

3. A ‘drink and drive’ pub. Yup, booze is to Minneapolis what coffee is to Seattle. There was a new drink and drive vehicle on the road today, a ‘tour and beer’ bus. Your party can rent it out. Everyone takes a seat and starts to pedal. You can ride around wherever you like. And as you are riding around, you can enjoy what is served for refreshment on that cart: lots and lots of yummy beer.

This is truly a beer crazy city.

Festival of Homiletics: Day Two

Posted by: Richenda at Monday May 19, 2008 in

Things are getting busy! Good food, good music, good services. And Mom and I enjoyed another lovely Island dinner tonight, this one at Brit’s Pub. This morning we enjoyed a visit to Hell’s Kitchen, which serves wonderful healthy and eclectic food. Yum!

Just a quick note this morning, services start at 8:30 and we have devotionals, prayers, and breakfast to get to.

Some pictures of the Central Lutheran Church, inside and out. The pictures (taken in dingy weather with a cellphone camera) do not do the place justice. It’s absolutely magnificent, truly, truly. We were also treated to songs from the choir and wow, don’t they sound amazing.


This sign (below) made us both giggle. Similar signs appear outside a number of restaurants in Minneapolis. I’m thinking, it’s a really good thing folks here are nice, because…well, I already mentioned what a lot of bars they have here. And I was thinking, guns too? Do we really want to be mixing bars and guns all that much?

Festival of Homiletics: Day One

Posted by: Richenda at Monday May 19, 2008 in

I am expecting adventure. Here I am at the Festival of Homiletics in downtown Minneapolis, a peon next to over a thousand experienced pastors and many experts speakers and storytellers. A very excited peon, actually. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.

The conference runs Monday – Friday, and the schedule is absolutely chock full. Mom (she’s a UM pastor in Delaware) invited me to come, and so I have been lucky enough to bum a bed in her hotel room—at the Hilton, very nice (you have to pay for wireless, though, what’s with that?). We met at the airport this afternoon, coordinating arrival flights from opposite sides of the country. It was so good to see her! And we celebrated the Seattle way: we went to Starbucks.

(A nice stranger took our picture. Mom says she looks like a pirate. I think she looks wonderful!)

[Note to Minneapolis: Whew! What’s with all the bars, lol. I was joking with my son that you can’t walk ten feet in Minneapolis without running into a bar. The downtown area seems similar. I’ll give you this, though, they are very nice bars. Lol.]

For dinner Mom and I went to the Irish Pub for some yummy Island food. Pickled onions and cheese and the Shepherd’s Pie was fabulous. Our server was a lovely college student (there are two universities within a few blocks of our hotel) and the daughter of a Baptist Minister. She now studies ancient Egyptian civilization, spirituality, and culture, and Latin. A lovely interdisciplinary mix.

[Note to intellectuals: I was going to say ‘post-modern’ mix, but it’s an antique word. We have marched on from there, though I admit we are still in some ways transitioning. I need a word, though, so I will say we are into the proto-global era, with the new young intellectuals and free thinkers already exploring inter-relational ethics and disciplines and combining them into integral concepts and interwoven systems. So, Proto-global, or even ‘proto-relational’ is where we are today.]

Anyway our Server was wonderful and shared a little of her religious upbringing. Though she says her father will kill her if she doesn’t claim to be a Baptist, she explains, like so many of her generation, to be “more spiritual than religious.” Back to the proto-relational again. In this statement, the young make a very astute critique of the Christian climate of the past years. When they say they are “more spiritual than religious,” what they say, rightly, is that Christianity has become more religious than spiritual. It’s time that changed. It’s time we put the ‘spirit’ back in ‘holy’, and alleluia! at the prospect.

So yes, here I am at the Festival of Homiletics, and I am excited for the festival. I’m going to learn everything I can. I am very excited for the future of faithful Christianity—for—like this upcoming generation, I am looking to put the ‘spiritual’ back into our religion.

[Note to self: Though the time shift makes it 4:30 in Minneapolis, it’s 2 in the morning your time. You should probably attempt a couple more hours of sleep!]

Corny or just Kindness?

Posted by: Richenda at Monday April 28, 2008 in

You know what I like best about America’s territorial history? It’s the stories of one person doing good or a kindness for another. I think something about the overland trail, and the muddy disappointment that was the ending place, made people take notice of each others struggles. It moved them to compassion, empathy…and simply, kindness to a stranger.

The pioneer stories are rife with these tales, of sudden widowers taking in sudden orphans. Or the one I remember where a family ended up adopting a man ‘old and friendless’ who had tagged along behind them. At first they worried about the extra mouth to feed when times were already so lean. But his unassuming manner and ready help soon made him a valued member of the family.

I have a few old books about how to run a home. These books often make me laugh because they are so quaint and ….goodness….some of the things women were expected to do! But while pawing through Our Home by C E. Sargent (1891) I came across a lovely poem. The city-sophisticate might call it corny. As would anyone under 35, maybe. But I think it expresses a sentiment of simplicity and kindness, and is worth sitting down to read, and ponder. Wouldn’t this sort of kindness make a more perfect world? I think so. I think Jennie B. Cross might have thought so also, for this was her book, a gift from her ‘Papa.’

The poem is preceded by a quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe:

“…‘be not forgetful to entertain strangers….What do you want when away from home in a strange city? Is it not the warmth of the home fireside and the sight of people that you know care for you? Is it not the blessed privilege of speaking and acting yourself out unconstrainedly among those who you know understand you? And had you not rather dine with an old friend on simple cold mutton offered with a warm heart, than go to a splendid ceremonious dinner party among people who don’t care a rush for you? Well, then, set it down in your book that other people are like you, and that the art of entertaining is the art of really caring for people. “if you have a warm heart, congenial tastes, and a real interest in your stranger, don’t fear to invite him though you have no best dinner set and your existing plates are sadly chipped at the edges, and even though there be a handle broken off from the side of your vegetable dish. Set it down in your belief that you can give something better than a dinner, however good,—you can give a part of yourself. You can give love, good will, and sympathy, of which there has perhaps been quite as much over cracked plates and restricted table furniture as over Sèvres china and silver.”
Blest be that spot where cheerful guests retire To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire; Blest that abode, where want and pain repair, And every stranger finds a ready chair: Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown’d, Where all the ruddy family around Laugh at the jest or pranks, that never fail, Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale, Or press the bashful stranger to his food, And learn the luxury of doing good.

From: Our Home, A Key to a Nobler Life, by C. E. Sargent, A. M., King, Richardson & Co., Springfield, Mass. 1891.

On Angels

Posted by: Richenda at Thursday April 24, 2008 in

I was thumbing through DeHarbe’s Catechism the other day and I thought it might be interesting to post the section on Angels on my blog. A Catechism is basically an instruction booklet for Christians, used to teach the initiate about Christianity, its ways and ideologies. Deharbe’s Catechism is Catholic.

It’s interesting to me as I write this up how difficult it is to talk about spiritual things—those things in the realm of ‘God’ which we can never really know. We have vision and inspiration…but words never really come close. The best chance we have is to dunk those awkward words into a warm soapy bath to try to clean them up. We scrub and soak them. We let theologians wring those suckers within an inch of being torn to shreds…and then we hang them out to dry.

Words in a line. Drip, drip, drip. What wisdom there is left, once humanity is done with those words, drips sudsy in the sun. And yet those same drips nourish the grass, and there grows a verdant furrow under the clothesline.

So. On to the text. Part catechism, part historical document, part struggle between revelation and human conception. For what it is, it is. (Drip. Drip.)

4. On the Angels

61. Has God created nothing else but the visible world?

God has also created an invisible world—namely innumerable spirits called Angels (Dan. vii 10).

The Angels are divided into nine different Orders or Choirs—namely, Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Denominations, Thrones, cherubim, and Seraphim. (Col. i. 16 ; Eph. i. 21 ; Ezech. x. ; Isai. vi. 2).

62. In what state were the Angels when God had created them?

They were all good and happy, and endowed with excellent gifts.

63. Did the Angels all remain good and happy ?

No, many rebelled against God ; therefore they were cast away fro him for ever, and hurled into hell.

‘God spared not the Angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments’ (2 Pet. ii. 4. ; comp. Jude vi.)

64. How has God rewarded the Angels that remained faithful?

He has rewarded them with eternal happiness, which consists in seeing and possessing Him everlastingly.

‘Their Angels in Heaven also was see the face of my Father who is in Heaven’ (Matt. xviii. 10.)

65. How are the good Angels affected towards us?

The good Angels love us ; therefore thy protect us in soul and body, pray for us, and exhort us to do good.

‘He hath given his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.’ (Ps. xc. 11). –Ex. : Agar, Lot, Tobias, Judas, Machabeus (2 Mach. x. 29, 30.) ; Peter in prison ; Cornelius the centurion .

66. How do we call those Angels who are particularly given to man for his protection?

Guardian Angels.

67. What is our duty towards our Guardian Angels?

We must venerate them with great devotion, be thankful to them, and readily follow their admonitions.

‘Behold I will send my Angel, who shall go before thee. Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned’ (Exod. xxiii. 20, 21.)

68. How are the fallen or wicked Angels affected towards us?

The wicked Angels, through hatred and envy, lay snares for us, in order to inure us in soul and body, and, by enticing us to sin, to plunge us into eternal perdition.

‘Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Pet. v. 8).—Examples: Eve, Job, Sara, the demoniacs, Judas. See also Luke viii. 12, and Apoc. xii .

69. Why does God permit the wicked Angels to lay snares for us?

He permits it because He knows how to make their snares served unto His own honor and to the salvation of men.

‘And they talked among themselves, saying : What word is this, for with authority and power He [Jesus] commandeth the unclean spirits, and they go out ? And the fame of Him was published into every place of the country’ (Luke iv. 36, 37.) ‘And the people with one accord were attentive to those things which were said by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For many of them had unclean spirits, who, crying with a loud voice, went out’ (Acts viii. 6, 7.)

70. What must we do on our part, in order that the snares of the wicked Angels may serve to our salvation?

We must fight against them full of faith and confidence, making use at the same time of the arms of prayer, and availing ourselves of the blessings sanctioned by the Church ; and we must firmly resist all temptations to evil.

‘For our wrestling is not [only] against flesh and blood ; but against the spirits of wickedness in the high placers,’ i.e. in the air (Eph. vi. 12.) ‘In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extingui8sh all the fiery darts of the most wicked one’ (Eph. vi. 16.) ‘Resist the devil, and he will fly from you’ (James iv. 7).—Ex.: Tobias and Sara (Tob. vi. 16-19, and viii. 4-10).

Application. Beware of being like the evil spirits by sinning, or of being even their accomplice in seducing others to sin. Imitate the good Angels ; be innocent, docile, pious, devout, and always ready to promote the welfare of your neighbor. Daily venerate your Guardian Angel, and recommend yourself to him in all dangers of soul and body. (Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.)

[Note: I learned a new word today! Contemned meaning viewed with contempt, disdain or scorned.]

Deharbe, Joseph., Deharbe’s Catechism, A Full Catechism of the Catholic Religion from the German of Joseph Deharbe, S.J., Shwartz, Kirwin & Fauss: New York. 1862. Translated, L. Kehoe., 1876.

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