Sunday, June 29, 2008

We Have a Province!

Can you believe it? I can scarcely believe. God is so good.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home Again Home Again

I've wrestled all the little kiddos into bed, fully expecting them to end up with me in a few minutes. Matt will be home tomorrow evening. Thanks for praying. More blogging tomorrow.

A Logistical Miracle

I said a few days ago that this conference happening at all is a complete miracle. As the week has progressed, this has only become more apparent. Logistically, moving 1200 people around this city, and then today into Galilee, had to have been daunting. There have been a few little hiccups here and there, but over all, to the letter, things have gone beautifully. (I’m really sorry I’m not able to think of interesting words to describe things tonight—I just have to get it down, even uninterestingly, and hopefully describe it better later as I assimilate it all).

The organizers of this event have thought of Everything. When getting on buses to go to the Ophel Gardens, there were boxes and boxes of water bottles being handed out (same with the Mount of Olives). Today (Saturday) we lunched by the Jordan River (well, tiny Jordan trickle, mainly dry river bed), under huge shade trees. A crew came in, set up tables and chairs, set out table clothes, set out hot food and cold drinks (pita bread, chicken, beef, salads, rice, potatoes, watermelon, I could go on and on). Everyone ate lavishly and then they took all the tables down and the chairs were rearranged for worship.

Another logistical miracle has been the organizing of the Statement and the Work Groups. TEC has blathered unhelpfully for years and years about ‘lay leadership’ (in our own diocese there were meetings, grumbling, complaining, desperate attempts to get the laity to ‘be involved’ and ‘do more’ etc.) without actually making it a substantial part of ecclesiastical life. Sure, people do things in their own churches, and of course there’s Bonnie Anderson, lay woman extraordinaire, battling her way across the country, but not like Anything I have experienced here in the last few days. The work groups have been carefully formed to include Bishop, Priest, often Deacon, and Lay people. Everyone discusses together the questions (or anything they want), writes down what they feel is most important at the end of the session and submits it to the Conference leadership/drafting committee who read everything and write accordingly. Most groups have At Least One Bishop, often more. The level playing field—everyone talking together from their own “context” has been lively, enlightening, encouraging and, frankly, fun. Plus, my group has passed our GAFCON baby up and down, everyone getting a turn. I have every confidence that what comes from this council is not just the will of the Bishops or Primates, but of the whole body gathered together. I’m also really moved and encouraged that every possible order (lay, clergy, bishop) was invited without fuss or loud trumpeting. Its no big deal, it’s the whole church together.

If you’re looking for the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, look no further. It takes the power of God to make something like this happen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday and Friday and Saturday in Review (as far as I can remember)

The sun is setting which means the beginning of Shabbat. Everything is shutting down. The restaurant downstairs is staffed by Arabs (I hope I'm using the correct qualifier) whereas the hotel upstairs is staffed by Jews. In this way everything continues to run 'smoothly' for all hotel guests.

Across the room from me is a Jewish woman sitting reading a book-looks like a Bible. This hotel in particular (and the one we are in) is very Jewish oriented. The restaurants are kosher and in the evening many young couples populate this coffee lounge talking chasedly and embarrassingly to each other.

I appreciate very much the modesty abounding here. The Muslim women dress beautifully. The Jewish women dress beautifully. So far from buttoning up and looking to repel every thing that even slightly resembles a man, the modesty codes are thoroughly lovely. In every shop, on every corner, I see something that I could imagine myself wearing, which never happens to me in America. If I had my druthers, I would dress this way all the time, and so would my girls. Hmmm.

Today was spent working on the GAFCON communique or statement that will be released on Sunday. I won't say anything about it until Sunday after it is released. Don't want to spoil it for you.

Yesterday, after the morning workshop, Matt and Baby (or rather GAFCON BABY! as she has come to be known) and I went back into Old City Jerusalem to the Holy Sepulcher. I'm going to post about it separately because there's a lot to say.

Today we went to Galilee-to Caperneum particularly and to the Mount of the Beatitudes, which also needs to be its own post.

Overall, I am completely overwhelmed. I feel a little like I'm sitting in front of a vast banquet and I'm likely to go hungry because I don't know what to eat first. I think its going to take me months to sort through everything and remember it all and write it down. Its completely true, if someone wanted to write down everything that Jesus said and did and all the people he healed and all the interactions he had, there wouldn't be enough pages, enough books to do it.

Tomorrow we review again and accept the Statement and there is the closing Eucharist. So, I'm going to post this and try to keep writing. I'm going to post little by little the things that come to mind so that I don't miss too much.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday in Review

Almost ready to pack up and go to the hotel. Matt and I are sharing a cord back and forth, as our batteries dwindle. We've had a pretty good day-excellent talk in the morning in my group by Edith Humphrey. I took notes all by hand so I don't know when I'll get them online, if ever. The afternoon we went to the Ophel Gardens for Evening Prayer and more formal Pilgrimage pictures. We meant to go into the Old City with the tour and see Christ Church and the Holy Sepulcher but we entered into a deeply frustrating and movie like experience of repeatedly missing each other in the crowds trying to find the tour buses leading us to deeply recriminate against each other in front of famous and important people loudly in the lounge. We were forced to have a cup of tea and take the late bus just for prayer.

This evening I went quietly to hear the focus topic (see live blog below) while Matt kept the baby. Very Refreshing.
So we are going to sleep while you are all waking. Today, as you work and play and do every good thing, Pray for GAFCON! Pray for the Anglican Communion!

Notes to my mother

Well, mommy, I've just said hello to Professor Sanneh, at great personnel embarrassment. I very much felt like when Auntie Kay insisted that I go say hello to Franklin Graham because she had been to Wheaton with his father.
Also, would you like a big floating light colorful Israeli wrap skirt or a pillow cushion or some kind of hanging? Or something that I haven't even thought of. I'm going shopping tomorrow. Also, Gadget Vicar has been very cuddling Gwendolyn and was honored to do so.

Pictures from Monday
(not as many as I wanted because its so !!! slow downloading pictures)
Bishops on the Mount of Olives

Gwendolyn in the Garden of Gethsemene. She should be weeping but instead she is rejoicing in...I don't know. The sun? The power of the Holy Spirit? Her fabulous hat.

My "Live" Blog of This Evening's Focus Topic

There were three Speakers on the topic "The Gospel and Religion". I'm just putting it straight up. If I pause to correct it, it won't ever see the light of your screen. Enjoy!

Professor Lamin Sanneh
The fall of Constantinople and the Fall of the Twin Towers: the Muslim world and the west

Thank you to the organizers of this conference.
We are living in Jerusalem, in case we haven’t noticed. I am delighted to stand in this Holy City. I had been a student here in the 60s and I remember being burdened by a sense (worked out later) that Christianity seems peculiar in its troubled nature in the holy land. It does not have its Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Pilgrimage has different rhythms. Three central stages to classical pilgrimage
1. Preparation and Separation. We have had such a preparation. This time is supposed to break the habits of routine and daily practice, shaking up our sense of who we are and where we are. Separation is a stage of consciousness.
2. Transition. We are a transit people. We are going somewhere and we have left somewhere. In this stage of being in between we are supposed to concentrate. We don’t know yet where we are going to be and we are not where we were.
3. Incorporation. Received and given a new identity. We have formed a new sense of community. When we go back home, we will not be the same as we were when we left. This is a process, a path.
Great Muslim scholars have written of this.
I am aware of Jerusalem in that sense. We belong and yet we must go back, but hopefully not the same.
Time constraint forces me to summarize my paper in a scandalously brief way.

The violence that erupted following Pope Ben with reference to Holy War and reason. IT is difficult to argue that the crusades are to blame for inter religious tension. The mongul wars brought about the collapse of the caliphat.
The ghost of the crusade is a reflection of that fact, of the crusades, to reposes the birthplace of Christ. They lost their apetite and wared against each other. Islam was spared and bolstered by this collapse.

John of Segoria--Peaceful engagement for Islam. Follow peace rather than violence, harming the church and not impacting islam. The crusades have taught us that much.
Nicholas …1461:…
The explarations of the new world had immense implications for slavery, for the west.

A new chapter of violence with the twin towers. A new wave of ‘jihad’ as Saladin promised. The attacks confronted the dilemma between fighting and possibly inflaming matters, cultural diplomacy.
The time has come to mobilize resources in Judeo Xn world to counter these threats. Foster a culture of liberty and persuasion.
The unassailable evidence that the church has made giant strides against state oppression.

An example: a little known group of Islam in North Africa who have embraced pacifism. They told him this story: They won’t go to war but they like to obey the king. The king has given us a choice to build a castle or go to war. We have said that if he asks us to build him a castle, we will build him a castle, if he asks us to go to war, we will build him a castle.

If they ask me to talk about the challenge of translatability. If they ask me to talk about the challenge of Islam, I will talk about the challenge of translatability. I am entirely at their disposal. This is how some of my students treated their exam questions.

GAFCON belongs to a bigger a movement of world wide Christianity.
When he lived in Nigeria, he taught as a tutor and in the afternoons he would prepare his lecture. In the morning he would go to the market to buy fish and provisions. On the way to the market, he would be climbing over bodies of worshippers near the railway tracks which were near the airport. The seminar was about the end of colonialism in Africa and the end of Christianity. As he climbed over the bodies of worshippers and went to the doctor because he couldn’t sleep because of all the worshippers, and yet the seminar was about the end of Christianity. But he didn’t see it. The categories of ‘colonial’ ‘post colonial’ entrapped him so that he did not see it.

-Christianity is marginal in the land of its birth, it has no birthplace, no territorial call.
-It is not Gnostic, no special language
-It has no one name for God.

The youruba name for God became the name of God in the OT, the God of the Covenant. That would never have in Islam. This fantastic implications for history, theology.

Christianity is invested in languages that existed for purposes other than Christianity. It doesn’t invent language, it adopts it. This makes an enormous difference to the process of conversion, to religious and moral integration. It is a translated religion.

It is not limited to any one set of languages using cultural criteria. If the suppression of the vernacular leads to an inhibition of Christian spread. If a lingua franca is insisted upon it suppresses the spread of Christianity.

Translation in language domain parallels translation in divine revelation. The audacity of the incarnation. God who became man, it was so offensive to the Romans, to the Jews.

Translation rejects the idea of a superior language or culture. No language or culture is so elevated it can claim exclusive access to the truth of God. None is so marginal or remote it can be excluded. None are dispensable or unworthy. Christian anthropology of culture: the claims of the gospel deny normative exclusiveness to any culture so that superior cultures are relativised and brought down. Not only brings the gospel, but brings life to culture. The Arabic of the street was chosen for translation, not of the Koran. Same with Chinese. By picking the common language, it privileges the language and culture, bringing about religious revolution and social and cultural ones as well.

There is nothing that God wants to say to us that cannot be said in every day ordinary language. It opened missionaries to the charge of political and social subversion. But rather it creates new life for all language.

It is invested in language and culture. Over 90 percent of grammars and dictionaries around the world were created by missionaries around the world, allowing language to be preserved…
After 1960, christianity exploded, after colonialism.

He has spent much of his professional life defending the right of Africans to be Christian. The genius of Christianity is that it is able to repeat for Africans what it did for Europeans. For 200 years English was forbidden for Christians. Tyndale was burned. English was an unclean vernacular. Africa abounded in the gift of tongues.

It is impossible without language how to worship God, to have personality. Africa is profoundly endowed with the gift of language. It birthed Comparative Linguistics.

GAFCON belongs to the tremendous sweep of Christianity around the world. In loosing its territory, it was swept around the world, the heart of Christianity is in the heart of every believer.
Paul never contemplated coming to Jerusalem without fear for his life. He worked his whole life to bring Jew and Gentile together. GAFCON must embrace the rhythm and momentum of the Christian renewal that has more ahead of it than behind it. Let us not consume the energy and movement in internal disputes, explanations, definitions. Converts have arrived without infrastructure, without wealth, without plans. GAFCON is part of the wave of the future. Link to movements that are happening around the world, transcending nationality, race and language.

Dr. Salim Munayer
Palestinian Christian/Isreali, from a small village (didn’t get the name). Able to trace his family to the 12th century. In 1948 the city of Falidi was conquered by the Israeli army, they were ordered to go to Jordan, passing by the church his great great grandfather built. Maybe to find shelter in the church—1200 Christians found refuge and there became refugees. Traumatic time all this time. It is now a mixed city. Was sent, then, to Jewish High School. And there studied Jewish History and the justification for the state of Israelis which is predicated upon ‘Christian’ persecution in the West.
The issue of your ethnic religious context, in this land particular. The conflict of this land is destroying this land and not giving us room to breath. To be a minority Palestinian and then Christian—he began to search for answers to this painful conflict. His uncle put an add in the paper, a Christian Israeli answered, a group was formed of Palestinian Christians and Jews. There he because a Christian, studying the Bible with this man. The cross not only reconciled him to God, but to the people around him.

The situation, the conflict is going to lead to an explosion.
The theological questions his students later asked, ‘from the village to the college every evening and morning I go through the check point and I am going to be mistreated, what would Jesus do?’

‘what do we do about the land that we were going to build on but was taken from us?’
‘what do we do at the Bible college? What people are in the bible?’ ‘I don’t want to learn about the people who are hurting me’.

Why do we come on pilgrimage? To see Jesus?

The Bible that we cherish suddenly seemed to work against their ethnic identity.
Tried to bring Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews together for conversations. Ends up in argument.

Theology of reconciliation of the cross is
1. justice for the Palestinian Christian
2. hope for the Jewish Christian

Rev. Evan Thomas
First large significant Anglican gathering in Jerusalem, is that it? Better late than never.
In Hebrew: blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord, be blessed in the house of the Lord.
Thank you for this unique privilege. The opportunity to address you in this important week. Indigenous messianic Jewish community, he commends us on our courage to take this stand. The leaders of his church convey their love and greetings to us all. They want us to know that they stand with us in the position we are taking and pray it will bring much fruit and the numbers we see coming to faith, in Africa especially, will be seen throughout the world, in the west. They pray that this church will be a great tool in God’s hands for this.
Whether we believe that Israel is an act of God or an aberration of history, it is important to believe that the challenge for reconciliation requires a messianic presence. Reconciliation theology will always point to Ephesians 2:14-16 “he himself is our peace”. His community and Salime’s personify these words. They are locked in an ‘uncontrollable conflict’. The attrition effect of security issues, of military occupation, of terrorism, brings a continual state of uncertainty. It effects world view and robs us of hope. Jesus has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility, but in our hearts the temptation is always there to reerect the wall.
He lives in the narrowest part of the Israel—only 16 kilometers along the west bank. During the first 6 months of the intefada, 16 attacks were carried out. That was the beginning of the security wall which ended the attacks. They were safe, but now truly divided. How would this effect the most basic fellowships of Christians on both sides of the wall.
‘If anyone says he loves God and hates his brother, he is a liar…whoever loves God must love his brother’. For us to be true disciples of Christ, we must commit ourselves to pursuing peace, even at the cost of social disloyalty or challenging our belief systems.
1. The conflict is very complex. For example, while the Oslo peace accords tried to work it out, it has never worked.
2. Our respective collective memories are very different. Intentionally perpetuate our own versions through education and commemoration. To understand better, they brought leaders together to relate about this common history of the creation of the Jewish state, and then step into each other’s shoes and role play the events. This simple act was so powerful…
3. The enormous imbalance of power. This includes the military, economic and political power. Israel controls all energy and much of the water supply. They were able to bring Gaza to its knees by stopping all fuel supplies. This imbalance is reflected when faith communities are brought together, create a level playing fields. Hard to not be in charge and dominate the dialogue.
4. Dehumanization and Demonisation. Example, as a soldier, he was patting someone down, he recognized him, his brother, his enemy. Demonisation occurs in identifying God with yourself, and the enemy as the instrument of the devil, justifying the use of violence.
5. Identity: parts of it are positive (language, history, culture) at the same time our total identification with one group means problems in relating to others. For a long time, his pastor’s group was exclusive to his group. He was convicted that this should cease. Came with a strong challenge—where is the rest of our family? Where are our brothers? It was interesting that the position of exclusion was on the pretext that it would hinder our prayer for the nation, that it would confuse theology. For most messianic Jews, prophetic scripture about the language is inseparable from basic theology. For four years now they have had combined retreats. Arab brothers base their identity in the cross. This brings a healthy dynamic.
At the end of the day, Israelis and Palestinians are living in very small house as a very dysfunctional family. These obstacles are that, they need to be faced with understanding and with the authority that is ours in the name that is above every name. We are light and salt, together. We have to do so understanding that we live amongst our very troubled peoples.

Come back. But don’t just come to see the stones. Come to connect, to build relationships with the living stones of the land. Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday in Review

Summery of the Day
It’s the end of another long day. Matt is buying me a fancy glass of wine and holding the baby so that I can write for a little bit. I haven’t even had time to read what he has written, let alone that of anyone else. Today we have been entirely here in the hotel. The morning was taken up with worship, prayer, bible study and finally workshops. I am in the Marriage and Family workshop and Matt is in Bible Interpretation. They were both very good. Part of the work will be to help contribute to the general conference statement at the end of the week. The afternoon I meant to sit and blog but instead I sat and watched Matt blog, miraculously, thinking all the time that his computer was plugged in, when in fact it wasn’t. He typed for two hours without power on a battery that was nearly empty. Just another small miracle. I talked happily to GadgetVicar while we watched him type. In the evening we heard from Archbishop Nazir-Ali and then divided into provincial groups to discuss our hopes and expectations for our time at GAFCON. So that’s the breakdown of the day. And I’ve finally gotten the first slew of pictures off my camera. I’ll try to put a couple up this evening, depending on my internet connection.

At two am this morning I wrote 3 blog posts in my head. Of course, I can’t lay my mind on them now, but I am going to offer various thoughts under headings. I just want to get them down before they’re completely gone.

The Peace of Jerusalem
Yesterday, on the Mount of Olives, during the open prayer time, someone prayed for the peace of Jerusalem, that all the various religious groups living side by side in the city would get along. I prayed along whole heartedly with the prayer but was troubled all the way down the mountain. What exactly do we mean, when we pray for the peace of this city? Why is it called the city of peace when that is not the actual state of this place, of being at peace? And then, as probably greater and more wonderful people than me have known for a long time, I realized and saw, looking out at the Dome of the Rock, that this is the nexus of disunity on the earth. This is the place, on earth, where division and sorrow is more manifest than any other place on earth. Indeed, there is ‘peace’, it is a place where people live side by side in uneasy toleration of each other. But the divisions between Christian, Jew and Muslim are perhaps the deepest of any division known on earth.

It was so unnerving, walking slowly down the mountain, or rather slipping down the road, so worn by the feet of pilgrims and residents that it is smooth. This, now paved road, was the road Jesus walked so many times in his life, perhaps every year for Passover, and then as an adult over and over. But the last time we walked that road he stopped and wept, perhaps a little for himself and the passion he faced, but more for the people in the city, the people of that city who were poised to ultimately and entirely reject him. Here was God, walking amongst them, loving them in the way they were created to be loved, giving his whole self to them, and they didn’t want him. In open defiant rebellion they killed God in the city where had chosen of all places on the earth to live, to make a name for himself, to dwell. No wonder then that in the same way that Jerusalem was so long the locus of God’s presence on earth, it is now the locus of all the division of the earth, all the strife, all the rebellion. And it will remain so until Jesus returns in glory.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Jerusalem

Today I bought the wooden cut outs of a miniature Ark of the Covenant. At home I will snap it out and glue it together. I am trying to convince Matt to let me buy the temple—full replication. It would be so cool to have in the atrium.

On that note, I will say that working with the City of Jerusalem Material—painting it, drawing it on the board, making the little trees, and then using the material with the children—has made the experience of walking through the streets of Jerusalem…I’m groping for a word…there are no words. I’m just very grateful to have worked so much with that particular material.

The other very helpful visual has been the impact of shade. Talking about the greatness of the mustard tree, grown out of such a tiny seed, the need for shade, for the beauty of the tree will have much more depth for me in the atrium.

We are going to Bethlehem and Galilee on Saturday and I hope to gain much more insight and depth into atrium life there.

Those long promised thoughts on Parenting

Just as I was coming here, KA asked for a good recommendation on Parenting and I will take this opportunity to recommend our Favorite: Douglas Wilson’s Standing in the Promises. It has completely changed our lives as parents. I can’t recommend it enough for Godly, mature, high functioning parents. I wouldn’t probably recommend it so much for newly converted families or ones with serious problems. Here’s why I recommend it so highly.

So on the plane from JFK to Prague they lined all the babies up along the bulkhead—a total of 4 babies. The couple on my right had a four month baby whom they cuddled and doted over and managed to keep from crying nearly the whole flight. On the far left was a woman by herself with her baby, tired but in control. Then me, and then the Last Couple. Let me just say that the airline provided baby food for all of us and wonderful little bassinet things that fixed to the bulkhead of the plane so the babies could sleep, if they would. So, on to the Last Couple.

They were Czech, looking middle aged, very smiley and nice. They had two boys, maybe 5 or 6 and then one just under two, almost exactly the size and personality of my own R, and sensibly cute with fat cheeks, tree trunk legs, and a large gold cross affixed around his neck. This small guy, like the babies, had to be strapped to his mother for take off and landing. Not surprisingly, this was not in his plans and expectations and he screamed with the full force of his fat body to let us all know that. Instead of quietly telling him to stop crying, two things happened. First, the father did NOTHING. He sat back in his seat and gazed about him as if nothing was happening. And second, his mother succumbed and unbuckled the belt and put him down. This little process happened a total of 6 times before the plane took off. Each time his mother would pick him up, strap him in, he would scream, his father would do nothing, the mother would let him down and then a Flight Attendant would come, give the poor little persecuted guy a big hug, wiping away his giant tears, give him a candy, tell him to be good, and leave, only to have it all happen again in three minutes.

If you read the book, this poor couple’s mistakes will stand out like a Casino Billboard. First, it is the father’s responsibility to administer discipline. The second this little guy started wailing, his dad should have taken him from his mother, put the fear of God into his little unsanctified heart, given him a big loving hug, and strapped him on with firm instructions not to cry again. Second, his father having abdicated his responsibility to undertake to discipline him, his mother should have Won. You have to win Every Time, every time. One time of screaming, if you win, and the screaming is all done. Third, he shouldn’t have needed the outside aid and comfort of the Air Attendant because he should have known, through loving discipline, the boundary that he needed.

That’s the short hand. Hopefully, at a later moment, I will talk about dealing with sin and rebellion in children, a la Doug Wilson, and what a peaceful and joy filled home in produces. But onwards and upwards

The Anglican Communion
Is alive and well. I don’t have any idea what will be the substance and direction of this Council in the coming days, but this place is alive with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. As part of the communion is dying, like the huge big gnarled olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane, so a new shoot of Anglicanism, a vibrant healthy, strong church is being grafted in to replace it. I fully expect this to take one or two hundred years, but its going to be so great when it’s a full alive beautiful tree. In the meantime, watch and pray.

Being Here with Matt
Its 10:30. Matt is sitting here very nicely and boredly with me while I have my turn on the outlet. We haven’t had much of a chance to talk to each other, running from talk to talk, conversation to conversation, tepid tea break to fancy coffee, but its jolly nice to be here together. I’m having a thoroughly good time, and so is Matt, even though he is having to fork over the big shekels to be allowed to work out in the weight room every day, with the right shoes on of course, and is drinking unstrained coffee grounds every morning because I forgot to bring his French Press. We couldn’t be happier.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Smatterings of the Holy City

I have been admitted into the inner sanctum of the press room, that holy hushed place of writing and surfing. Matt, anointed once again for this time by the Holy Spirit with the special gift of typing fast and accurately, has written a whole page while I have fussed with my cord, fussed with the baby, dithered over my email, and wondered how on earth to bring into language Any of the past 48 hours.

In a few minutes I will have to pack all this up again and go up for the Opening Eucharist, Archbishop Orombi speaking and presiding. Matt, doubtless, will have it online by its conclusion.

The morning was spent at the Mount of Olives, thousands of pilgrims (one thousand, at least, of us, many more of other countries and denominations) making their way from the top with a clear, pristine, heart rending view of the Dome of the Rock, right smack in the middle of the Temple Courts, down to the bottom to the Garden of Gethsemane.

I was accosted, in the Garden of Gethsemane by a small Canadian woman who told me that 'she was a Kennedy too, are you Irish?'
'My husband is' I lied, well, not totally a lie, he's a Little Bit Irish and a lot bit Norwegian. I didn't tell her that we were Anglican either, felt it would probably ruin her experience of Jesus in the Garden. She admired the baby and then told me reverently how beautiful Ireland is.

Another other thoroughly enjoyable moment of the morning was watching Archbishop Orombi pose for pictures with a whole slew of Chinese pilgrims. I'm not sure if they thought he was part of the landscape, or the package. Matt was dismissive, 'while you were in the church,'he said, 'they all had their pictures taken with the Baby.'

Why these small pass-by-able details?
At the moment of landing, in Tel Aviv, all the thoughts and hopes I had saved up to think of especially on that occasion, all of them fled from my mind and my body and I have only been able to say over and over again and over again, 'My heart is fixed, O Lord, my heart is firmly fixed.' I don't think, in the whole course of my small life, that I have ever been given so enormously great a gift of Gratitude, of Thanksgiving, of seeking the face of Jesus more than my own face.

Bishop Atwood, last night, attributed it to the Holy Spirit-'the anointing of the Holy Spirit in waves across the room' during It is Well With my Soul. There are a thousand small miracles that went into making this one big miracle of all of us being here. It is not even so much that this is the place Jesus walked, or the place he will return to in glory, it is what he is doing in Each Person, the obedience he is working, the gratitude, the joy, the hope, and all through the Holy Spirit, showing us Jesus, drawing us to the Father.

My heart is Fixed, O Lord, my heart is firmly fixed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday

The day is not over. So it is not too late for me to wish my own beloved mother a happy birthday. I won't say how old she is today only that she is Very Young to have so many grandchildren...a child-grandmother practically. I'm spending the week looking for a "piece of the True Cross" to send along as a birthday present. You would be surprised at how many True Cross pieces there seem to be for sale around here.

Finally, a moment Online

Matt and I have been engaged in Intermarriage Blog Wars since we met up with each other in the airport yesterday (and what an airport! I would happily live the rest of my life just in the airport). As soon a we got into this room he dropped everything and has been blogging persistently and selfishly ever since. I was forced to take a long and restful bath, arranged and unpack and watch David Jeremiah preach a long and depressing sermon about Sampson and Delilah.

Matt has already described the beautiful drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (I'm not going to link him, for personal reasons, heh). I was distracted from looking out the window by talking to interesting people. We are on the 10th floor of the very interesting Moriah (honestly, I don't know how to spell it) Gardens Hotel next door to the main conference hotel. When we arrived (at 7pm in the evening) they didn't have a room ready for us so we struggled our way down into the bowels of the hotel with stroller, luggage, baby, shedding little bits of baby food and baby pacifiers out of my wrecked carry on. There were all sorts of interesting looking salads and meats and a vast array of dessert and then, in the room next to us, a raucous Shabbat service carrying on (there was actually another Shabbat service going on upstairs in the lobby with a Rabbi shouting at one or two listeners while children ran around screaming and adults talked to each other, doing their best, it seems, to ignore the Rabbi). We tried everything and then finally made our way up to this very nice room with a Very Nice View.

Now we are wandering around in a stupor trying to get ready for church. Matt is recriminating against me for not packing his coffee. I am recriminating against myself forgetting the One Top I intended to bring and bringing all the other ones I didn't really need.

After church we will try and register and pursue some shops and then everything kicks off this evening. Forthcoming, though belated, are my thoughts about the parenting style of the people next to me on the Flight from JFK to Prague.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thank You for Praying

We are all three here safely, comfortably settled, with All Our Bags-Nothing Went Missing. Amazing. Not surprisingly, I am Way Tired. The baby has been sleeping on and off all day, but I haven't. Intead of staying up and writing incoherently, I am going to go to bed.

Lay Over, without the Laying

Blogger looks cool in Czeck (I am sitting here and I do not know how to spell it) but this keyboard is crazy. I cannot find how to do an apostrophe. Heh.

So I had a whole lot of things I wanted to write, but I do not think I have the mental capabilities to figure out how to type it all, at this time. Instead, I am going to take my dubious cup of warm tepid tea, well, tea is not the word I am groping for, and go write it all out by hand so that when I can type, I will not forget what I was planning to say.

Of course, baby has now collapsed in exhaustion after diligently staying awake for the last seven hours. She will get a nice restful nap in preparation for the next flight, while I wander around awake.

Later today, in Jerusalem. Exclamation Point.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Traveling Mercies

Trying desperately to jam my small travel teapot into my bag even though it wasn't on the list of suggested things to bring. All the children weeping and weeping. So difficult now that some of them are sentient but still enable to conceptualize time. At Matt's direction, will be buying internet connections whenever possible. Blogging, hopefully, will be constant and enthralling.

Pray for me! I'm flying in the air, which is ridiculous for human beings to attempt, given that we are not birds. I'm going to spend more than 24 hours with an 8 month old baby who thinks she can walk and should be walking all the time, and one who has a powerful set of lungs for her surprisingly tiny body. What a good time we are all going to have.

Tomorrow in Jerusalem!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Lightening

I don't know how to embed video, but this is really funny. Go check it out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scattered Thoughts about CC (see below)

So I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday in VA at a Classical Conversations Practicum. It was very worth my while. I came away with Four Major Thoughts.

One: This is such an amazing time to be entering the world of homeschooling. Back in the day, when my mom and I spent one miserable and desperate year homeschooling, all we had at our disposal was A Beka and some weird math thing (maybe it wasn't weird, but I didn't like it). I remember crying every day and my mother being very frustrated, reasonably so, with my rebellious and stubborn spirit. But now, all these years later, there are so many different resources available, so many people who have done it, so much encouragement online, and so many different philosophies of education. At one point the speaker at the practicum asked if anyone had been home schooled when the idea was still new, back when 'you didn't leave the house until 3pm when regular school let out'. One person had. The culture has completely changed. Home schooling has proven to be a reasonable and effective alternative to traditional education.

Two: Ordinary people do it.

Three: It is as sin filled an endeavor as any other activity in life. If anything, I am expecting to be shown more than anything the falleness of my own nature and my need for God's grace. The child is a sinner, I'm a sinner, the directors are all sinners, the tutors are all sinners. And so moment by moment its an opportunity to seek God and be changed by him.

Four: It ought, from all I've seen and heard, to be really fun. If I can pull it together and be organized and realistic about what we can accomplish and what is not worth our time, I think we'll have an impressively good time.

And, in the spirit of being realistic and having a good time, I am now going to lay all this aside and organize my house, have my walking shoes cobbled, record our night time songs on mp3, gather all the insurance cards in one place, replace the broken zipper in the beautiful skirt I plan to wear to the Holy Sepulcher, and carefully and thoughtfully pack my bag because in Only Three Days we go to GAFCON. I can't begin to express to you how excited I am.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Driving home in the torrential and terrifying rain last night, I had one of those momentary and unrelated inklings that many years ago my dad was the speaker for my high school graduation from ICA, a place no longer in existence in the form I remember. I think, I'm not sure, but I think he talked about seeing with different kinds of lenses. I remember more that my class easily chose him as our speaker because he was interesting, articulate, a little bit rebellious, and not likely to embarrass me in any way, which he didn't.

The next important event at which he spoke (well, there may have been other ones, but the most important for me) was my wedding. At that occasion he placed many Senefo blessings on us (me and Matt), all of which, apparently, have worked (we have lots of children, we have a filthy house...).

If you want to hear him preach these days, make your way as best you can to St. Francis in the diocese of All Saints in Nairobi, and look at the preaching schedule. It will be well worth the thousands of dollars you pay in air fair and travel insurance.

Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Early to Bed. Early to...never mind

Its only 8pm but basically I'm ready to go to sleep for the night. I'm down in VA for a Classical Conversations Practicum/Tutor training. I've got Baby with me, an enormous freezer bag full of food, a scratchy and unsatisfying pen, a new pair of glasses and Kellie's life saving GPS. After all the dubious things I said about the GPS last week, I have found it a redeeming grace today. It actually directed me out of traffic and through a parking lot, Amazing.

CC is turning out to be very interesting and intense. I hope I will be able to live up to it.

So, perhaps, tomorrow I will be able to say something. In the present moment, I will now be going to sleep.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I drove ten hours on Saturday. We girls managed to get ourselves in the car and on the road a 6:30am and had a comfortable and companionable ride down to Bethesda Maryland with only one stop. And thanks to a magical and amazing device known as a GPS we didn't get lost (Thanks Kellie, I'm about to go out and pick you all the flowers out of my garden because I am So Grateful).

Seriously Tangential Opinion Regarding the GPS:
The GPS thing is so cool but in my immortal soul, it worries me who might be watching me from the satellite. I haven't actually watched any of those movies about trying to find people by lazering their eyes or whatever, but I've seen the previews. Weird. Being basically anti government, I just don't want people knowing where I am all the time. Also, I disagreed with the interesting sardonic (Kellie's term) British lady's decision to send me on the PA turnpike and so I disobeyed her, flinging her into a time to 'recalculating' and, I think, probably making her angry. And, not really believing, in my soul, that she could be Always Right, I frequently called Matt to have him check the map to see if she was lying to me, which, of course, she wasn't.

We arrived in the blazing heat and went through the cool and peaceful maze of Fourth Presbyterian, looking for my friend Polly, who was there, calm as a cucumber, as always, having little flowers stuck into her hair. We cooled down and ate all the food we'd brought with us and then E dressed herself and her Doll.

It is earth shattering, seeing an old (well, neither of us are old, we're both ridiculously young) friend, in a new context, and observing how all the normal bits of yourself and your situation that you took for granted before, are completely absent now. Back in the bad old days, Polly and I inhabited the end room in our dorm, with two other people I love very much but who are off now busy doing other things. In a dorm with 20 or so girls, only the two ends accommodated four, and when you got to be a junior or senior, you could choose these rooms over and over (inciting envy and gnashing of teeth in the lower classes). Polly was so cool (still is)-languid, steady, unaffected by the thousands of grievances the other three of us indulged in daily. By virtue of being her friend, I got to sit at the fringes of the 'cool' crowd at school (before they all got expelled, naturally), basking in the company of people totally out of my league. But it wasn't just the people, or Polly, or walking nonchalantly and unaffectedly to meals, or class, or the park (unaffectedly, of course, being a complete Lie. Everything Mattered, the pace, the way your shirt was tucked, your expression, the quality of your tan, the number of pimples you had so carefully covered over, the humidity and its affect on your hair, your immortal Soul, Everything.) It was the cracks on the ceiling in that room, the color of the walls, the cool cement floor when everything else was energy siphoning hot, the box of music under Polly's bed, my Tea Pot, Two Cups and Jar of Peanut Butter carefully organized at the back of the cupboard, watching Polly spend three minutes studying and getting all impeccable marks, the small tear in the screen into which boys, walking stealthily by, shoved notes promising undying affection and love.

So Polly is married now, and may her new husband (wonderful as he may be) endeavor to deserve her.
Me with Polly, looking, as I felt through most of high school, short. Also, I neglected the use of Eye Enhancing Make Up because my eyes have been touchy and sore.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Plans for the Future

We have fabulous plans for the weekend. E, G and I are going to get up very early tomorrow morning and drive 5 (or 6) hours to DC to the wedding of my very wonderful and fabulous friend.

We picked out clothes to wear. I'm going to wear a really classy black dress from Target. Probably it will merit a picture. E picked out a black dress to match (she likes to match) but it was heavy and velvet and Christmassy. We fretted all morning. At 10:45 the postman came and needed a signature for a box which, miraculously, overflowed with fancy dresses TWO of which had matching doll dresses to go with them. E tried everything on. When the baby wakes up we're going to try everything on her and see what's best. All this fanciness is the thought and care of Matt's intelligent and wise mother Who Knows, in the depths of her heart, what a fancy dress means for an important occasion.

And then Sunday morning we'll get up at 4 and drive home in time for the Church Picnic. Its practically like Christmas, this weekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Walking and Other Matters

One of the great advantages to having more than two adults in the house is that I've been able to go walking with Matt for two mornings now. He is an extraordinarily disciplined person. I think he wakes up at 4 in the morning, although I could have sworn this morning that it was 3 or something, and he probably exercises and reads the Bible and stuff like that while I sleep. Back in the day when we just had one baby, I went walking with him at 6 am. I was so dedicated that I even went sometimes by myself, straight up the hill behind our house, pushing the running stroller and then sitting down to a healthy and appropriately sized breakfast. And I got nice and thin, of course. Now, three babies later, or four, I guess, being unwilling to walk outside in the winter, or to push a stroller with more than one child in it, or really to wake up early, the days of walking together are essentially over.

But this morning, and Tuesday morning, I drug myself out of bed and lugged myself up the hill, leaving all the children behind. It’s not winter, and there was no need to bring the children because of our friends being here, and, as Matt pointed out, I was up anyway because of the baby.

It takes me half the walk to wake up and be pleasant. Matt walks fast up and down the hill smiling obnoxiously while I walk slowly up it. Once at the top he’s allowed to speak on a neutral subject and then, towards the end, we discuss the state of the world and the church. And by the end I’m shattered. Despite being promised increased energy and an overall glow of well being, the whole fact of having to exercise puts me in a bad temper (here it is, three hours later, and I’m still on the couch unmotivated to accomplish anything—I’ve already done so much, just by walking up that wretched hill.)

I am, however, willing to do it out of a deep abiding sense of personal vanity. I want to be thin, not only because it’s healthy, but because I’m traveling this summer, first to GAFCON, and then to Texas. And even though I know nobody else is worrying about how I look and how well my clothes fit, I’m completely preoccupied by these unimportant concerns.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Just the Ten of Us

Needless to say, I'm not reading anything, let alone Rob Bell. There's been meals to sort out, and disputes to settle, and children to make clean up their rooms, and naps to enforce, and every manner of dishes to keep going, plus laundry. I finally counted up yesterday and found that there are seven children in this house, of varying ages. Our friend and her daughters are very comfortable (well, as comfortable as they can be away from home), and getting their homework done and keeping up with their regular pace of life. And E and A and have So Much Fun playing all day with the youngest, M. They are all going to the zoo today, but of course its raining, so we'll see.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Calm Clear Monday

I'll be getting to Rob Bell, the Lord permitting, late this evening. For the rest of the day I'm going to be scrubbing my kitchen and dishing out lots and lots of snacks. Our dear friend and her three daughters are staying with us for a bit while they sort out the next few steps of their lives. Oops, the children are crying. See, I knew I didn't have time to blog.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

For Sunday

155. The Way
"Christ is the way out, and the way in: the way from slavery, conscious or unconscious, into liberty; the way fro the unhomeliness of things to the home we desire but do not know; the way from the stormy skirts of the Father's garments to the peace of His bosom."
second series, Self-Denial
George MacDonald: An Anthology by C.S. Lewis
p. 88