Pentecost in 2 minutes

Yesterday (5/19/13) we shared this video in the Sunday Morning Forum. For those of you unable to join us, please enjoy this 2 minute look at Pentecost offered by the folks at Busted Halo.

Have other questions? Please use our Comment section to continue the conversation.

Uncovering ancient imagery in 21st century English

The Lord is my shepherd

Psalm 23:1

“The Lord is my shepherd.” This line from Psalm 23 is among the most famous images from the Bible. But as I describe in And God Said, for most people the English words hide the ancient imagery.

So begins Joel M. Hoffman in his post, The Lord isn’t the Shepherd You Think (or: Don’t Mess with the Shepherds) on his blog God Didn’t Say That.

Hoffman, in imagining a 21st century “shepherd,” tells us he would cast Woody Allen to play the role in his imaginary movie. But he doesn’t let us stop there.

So even though the Hebrew in Psalm 23 is ro’eh, and even though ro’eh literally means “shepherd,” I don’t think “The Lord is my shepherd” is a very good translation.

He points us to the qualities of “shepherd” in the Hebrew Bible. Shepherds…

… have a surprising and surpassing ferocity about them

We see … in Jeremiah 49:19, where God is “like a lion” that can’t be stopped. Using increasingly powerful imagery, the text has God ask, “Who is like me? Who can summon me? Who is the shepherd who can stand before me?” (NRSV). In other words, God is so powerful that even a shepherd will be beaten back. In modern terms, again, the imagery is nonsensical. But in the Bible, shepherds were symbols of strength.

… are similar to royalty and nobility

King David was a shepherd. … in Micah 5:5, … shepherds are in parallel with rulers, a literary device that, in the Bible, suggests that they were similar. And in Nahum 3:18 we find shepherds in parallel with nobles.

… have “sex-appeal”

Finally, shepherds were symbols of romance. Song of Solomon, the most overtly sexual book of the Bible, is filled with images of shepherds. … The famous imagery in verse 2:16, “my lover is mine and I am his,” ends with two Hebrew words to describe the heroine’s lover. They translate as, “[the one] who is a shepherd among flowers.”

After this expansion of our wimpy 21st century understanding of “shepherd” Hoffman summarizes: “In short, for the ancient image of a shepherd, think John Wayne, not Woody Allen.”

I encourage you to read The Lord isn’t the Shepherd You Think. You may hear Psalm 23 with new ears, new hope, and new delight.

If you’re in the desert on 4/21/13 come join us in the Sunday Morning Forum at St. Margaret’s at 9:00 am. If not, let me/us know what you think about Joel’s post and linguistic analysis; leave a comment.

How does ‘the Way’ go for you?

We talked about Saul’s conversion (Acts 9:1ff) on Sunday. As always, Forum members voiced a number of questions, expressed their wisdom learned by experience, and each of us left a little fuller and richer for the fellowship and conversation.

detail-conversion

Some random observations and questions from Sunday:

  • Though much of our art and poetry have God knocking Saul off his horse, the text makes no mention of horses
  • Saul is on his way to round up (and punish) any who “belonged to the Way” (v. 2) This is one of the earliest appellations used for those later called “Christian” (See also: Acts 18:23-26; Acts 19:23; Acts 24:14, 22)
  • The term “Christian” was first used in Antioch (c.40-44 CE) according to Acts:
    • 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” Acts 11:25-26 NRSV
  • When one of our members suggested that there is often “conversion” (or recommitment in trust) as a response to trial, darkness, dryness, or the ‘Valley of the shadow of death,’ there were many nods and affirming comments.
  • Does conversion come best, deepest, profoundly, only through a ‘dark moment,’ a trial, a letting-go? A question for the week. A question for you.

Come back, as the week progresses we’ll work through some of the other comments from Sunday. Please continue the Sunday conversation by commenting here.

We pray for the gifts of ministry

On Sunday May 6th we heard “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Last Sunday, May 13th, we heard “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last….” And today, May 20th, we hear, “[Father] as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The speaker in each instance, of course, is Jesus. He is speaking to those who gather around him—in every age—to hear what he is saying. He is speaking to us.

As the Sunday Morning Forum gathers (9am PDT) at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA this Sunday morning we will wonder aloud with each other what this means in 21st century America, in our lives, and in our common life. We will also pray for each other. Having heard something about who and whose we are and knowing that we are sent into the world to “bear fruit that will last” we pray for each other:

O God, we pray for the gifts of ministry. Inspire our minds with a vision of your kingdom in this time and place. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our eyes, that we may see your glory in all creation. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our ears, that we may hear from every mouth the hunger for hope and stories of refreshment. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our lips, that we may tell in every tongue and dialect the wonderful works of God. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hearts, that we may discern the mission to which you call us. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our feet, that we may take your Good News into our neighborhoods, communities, and all parts of the world. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hands, that we may each accomplish the work you give us to do. Hear us, O Christ.

Strengthen and encourage all who minister in your name in lonely, dangerous and unresponsive places. Hear us, O Christ.

Open the hearts and hands of many to support your Church in this and every place. Hear us, O Christ.

O God, we praise you for the depth of your love for the world revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We thank you for choosing and sending us to reveal by our word and example your steadfast love: making some apostles, some  prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers to equip your people for the building up of the Body of Christ. Bless us in our words and works that your Name may be glorified, now and for ever. Amen.

Litany: The Book of Occasional Services, 2003, excerpted, p. 246, Collect, p. 237 adapted

I welcome you to join us (who have more questions than answers and who have love to share). Consider becoming part of the Forum. Have questions but can’t attend? I encourage you to leave your questions here and I’ll answer as best I can. ~dan rondeau

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church …

The Martyrs of the Sudan

… so said Tertullian in the 3rd century CE. Martyrdom isn’t relegated to days long ago and places far away. As a community we remember those who, even now, witness to the faith with their very lives.

Quote . . .On May 16, 1983, a small number of Episcopal and Roman Catholic clerical and lay leaders declared they “would not abandon God as they knew him.” Possibly over two million persons, most of them Christians, were then killed in a two-decade civil war, until a Comprehensive Peace Treaty was signed in January 2005. During those years, four million southern Christians may have been internally displaced, and another million forced into exile in Africa and elsewhere. Yet despite the total destruction of churches, schools, and other institutions, Sudanese Christianity, which includes four million members of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, has both solidified as a faith community, and gradually expanded at home and among refugees, providing steadfast hope in often-desperate setting.

—from the blog post on Holy Women, Holy Men

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) is currently revising the “old” Lesser Feasts and Fasts calendar of the Episcopal Church. The commemoration of the Martyrs of the Sudan is “new.”  This work of revision (and more) of the SCLM will be discussed in the General Convention in Indianapolis, IN this summer.

The Collect for this Commemoration

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Image: Holy Women, Holy Men

Ready for a word order meditation?

The words are familiar: “The Lord is my shepherd ….” I have recited this Psalm many times with the dying, with the bereaved, with those struggling to find the strength to move on, or the strength to face a fear-filled future.

I have been with agitated men and women of a certain age, robbed of mental acuity by illness or injury, and watched calm wash over them and through them, watched peace come to them as I recited the words of Psalm 23.

But, change the word order and you will have the heart of our conversation in the Sunday Morning Forum as it gathers at 9:00 am on Sunday, April 29, 2012.

The Lord is my shepherd … . Ah, peace, strength, and …

IS the Lord my shepherd …? Ah. Wait. What? How dare you suggest …

In the readings appointed for Sunday we hear:

The Lord is my Shepherd … (Psalm 23:1)

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us … (1 John 3:16)

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….” (John 10:11)

Look through the ups and downs of your life.

  • In what ways have these words of scripture been true for you?
  • When have these words been part of your prayers?
  • Are you ready to risk sharing a bit of your history with the group.
  • IS the Lord your shepherd?
  • What has this come to mean for you?
  • Have you always been secure in this knowledge?
  • Have you ever been secure in this knowledge?

Telling our stories of encounter with the Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd, is a fulfillment of our Baptismal Covenant to “proclaim by word … the Good News of God in Christ.”

I invite you to leave a comment, even a story, here. Let your words open the mystery and meaning of speaking this way about God and our relationship with God.

Advent Calendar Day 27: CareForTheTroops

CareForTheTroops

With the war in Iraq officially ended and the troops coming home, the challenges faced by these returning troops demands our attention and response. In Georgia the Rev. Robert Certain (Fifth Rector of St. Margaret’s), men from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and a couple of parishioners  organized an effort to meet the needs of returning veterans and their families. CareForTheTroops is a catalyst for action in Georgia and provides care. Moreover, CareForTheTroops provides a model for other faith-based and community efforts to increase awareness of the challenges faced by returning veterans and their families and provides a model for reaching out to those who have served us well.  ~dan rondeau

Quote . . .Dedicated to the mental health care of our returning troops and their families, we provide information and training to families, clinicians, congregation and community leaders, so that they become more aware of the culture, unique symptoms and issues faced by military families. (CareForTheTroops Home Page)

Mission Statement

  • Work to improve the ability of the civilian mental health infrastructure in the State of Georgia, then nationally, to work with military family members
  • Facilitate connecting military families to providers of spiritual and psychological services familiar with the military culture and trauma
  • Focus on addressing combat stress recovery as well as other spiritual and mental health related problems impacting the marriages and families of military veterans
  • Educate and train clinicians, congregation and community leaders, extended family, and civilian groups about the military culture and trauma associated with military deployments in order to better assess and treat mental health symptoms, and provide more effective referrals and care Provide opportunities for additional trauma treatment training to clinicians
  • Operate in an interfaith, non-political manner, focusing on the humanitarian interest that benefits the veterans and their extended family members

Source: CareForTheTroops

Previous Advent “windows” about caring for our Veterans

Advent Calendar in one place
About the Online Advent Calendar


For further reflection

Wounded Marine Corp veteran Adam Lewis outside his home on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 in Yulee, Fla

Wounded Veterans Struggle To Find Civilian Jobs Amid Downturn, Bureaucracy

Adam Lewis, a strapping Florida man, joined the Marines in 2004 when he was 19, and within a year he was fighting in Iraq’s Anbar Province with Golf Company, 2nd Marine Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. It was a bloody time in Anbar, with vicious and sometimes hand-to-hand combat with insurgents. Lewis kept busy.

He was first wounded in August 2005 by a bomb blast that perforated an eardrum and left him with ringing in his ears and other injuries. He wasn’t hurt badly enough to be sent home, so he went back on duty and was traveling in a Humvee when the road gave way and he tumbled down an embankment, suffering compression fractures in his back. The Marines put him on light duty until he felt better, and he went back out into the fight.

This time, during operations in Fallujah, Lewis was shot in the head by a sniper. Luckily he had just turned his head and the bullet struck his skull at an angle, but the wound was still severe. After surgery came more than two years of rehab, culminating with his retirement from the Marine Corps on medical grounds in 2007.

To help himself land a god job and a career, Lewis took remedial reading courses to help repair the damage from his head wound, and went on to college. It took him three years to earn his associate degree. He got married and has a two-year-old daughter. This past summer he began seriously looking for work.

So far, no luck.

Having given so much for his country, Adam Lewis, at 26, has been without meaningful employment for four years, and is frustrated and angry after four months of intense job hunting.

Read the rest of Adam’s story to see why organizations like CareForTheTroops will be needed for a long time to come

Other stories to raise awareness

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Photo: Huffington Post article of 11/11/11