Monday, June 27, 2016

Julie Meets Peter Elbow!

This image courtesy of Brave Writer
Julie Bogart, the founder and owner of Brave Writer where I have taught since 2002, interviewed Dr. Peter Elbow, Professor Emeritus of University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Elbow's work has revolutionized the teaching of writing. This interview goes far beyond teaching writing in home schools to the overall philosophy of writing.

I watched this interview live via Periscope while sitting in a Starbucks in Lakeside while Elizabeth had a meeting, and I was completely entranced. (And yes, the "Susanne" she mentions near the beginning of the interview is me. )

When she posted this interview on the Brave Writer Blog, Julie included this introduction:

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer!]
My love affair with Dr. Peter Elbow started in the mid 1980s. My mother, a professional author, handed me his book Writing with Power as one of her chief sources of writing inspiration.
I got midway through the first chapter and my margin notes said things like, “Wait, that’s what I do!” and “I never realized other people wrote this way, too!”
Writing with Power put my writing life into words and identified the processes that came naturally to me. Even more, Peter Elbow gave me new ideas to test and new methods to aid me in expanding and exploring my mind life in writing. Writing with Power popularized the term “freewriting” and Peter’s work cascaded into a revolution of writing practices at all levels of the school system in the 1980s-1990s.
Over the ensuing decades, I’ve studied his writings eagerly adding to my “Elbow book shelf.” In 2000, after I published The Writer’s Jungle, I packed up the three ring binder and shipped it to Peter without pausing to consider the audacity of that move. Peter served as the head of the writing department as a professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I told him how his work had inspired me and shaped what I teach in Brave Writer. I thanked him for his ground-breaking ideas and the influence they had on me.
I never expected to hear back.
A month later, an email arrived from Peter! Imagine my shock (and anxiety). What if he thought I was a hack? Instead, the warm voice I had come to know in his books greeted me immediately. Peter thanked me for the manual and told me he was glad I was taking his ideas to the homeschooling market since he had no access to home educators. He liked what I had written. Satisfaction and a big confidence boost came along for the ride.
A few years later, Peter’s secretary contacted me and invited me to hear Peter speak at Miami of Ohio University. I couldn’t believe he even remembered who I was! I attended a writing workshop for professors as Peter’s guest, was seated in the front row, and got to spend time talking with Peter before and after the seminar.
We’ve since had a few email exchanges, including a recent one where I praised Vernacular Eloquence. The pattern had repeated itself. As I read his latest book, I discovered that what we do in Brave Writer is exactly what his writing theories set out to assert—only in this case, we were successfully practicing the principles long before he had completed his 7 year magnum opus! All I could think was how glad he’d be to know that his deepest, most sacred beliefs about writing and process and reader response were most effectively experienced in the home, not school. I couldn’t wait to tell him!
When I realized that I would be traveling to Seattle (where Peter and his wife, Cami, now live), I let him know. Peter invited me to lunch. Cindy and I joined him at his lovely home and followed the meal with a Periscope (live video) where he and I freely dialogued about our shared writing values and strategies. It is not an overstatement to say that spending time with Peter is on par with meeting Bono in person.
For me, Peter is my writing “rock star” and I feel privileged to know him and call him my friend! We played off one another, I learned more from him, he seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing in Brave Writer, and we laughed and laughed.
His most gratifying comment to me came after we turned off the camera.
Peter said, “I meant to say this while we were filming but we kept moving forward. You articulate many of my ideas even better than I have!”
I can now die happy.
Dr. Peter Elbow is 80 years old. His commitment to the writing process and to gently holding a writer’s self-expression while giving meaningful carefully worded responses to that writing is inspiring.
With this introduction, I give you my writing guru, Dr. Peter Elbow. (Yes, I gush, blush, and fawn like a fangirl.)
May you find new inspiration for how to support your children in becoming free, brave writers.



Enjoy!!

Writing with you,

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Fourth Week After Trinity and Quote of the Week

David Tennant as Hamlet on a Royal Mail stamp to honor the 50th anniversary of the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) in Stratford-on-Avon (Shakespeare's "hometown")

As we continue through Ordinary Time, I thought I would take the time each week to post the new Collect from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 along with the Sunday readings. In addition, I'll include the new Quotation of the Week.

Every week I change these two elements in the sidebar, but I was thinking that I would return to my old habit of posting them each Sunday here in the blog itself.

I plan to be posting a ton more in the blog once I finish this wacky school year. I'm still plugging away on the Literary Analysis: Hamlet class at Brave Writer; in fact, we have passed 1300 posts for this class, almost all of which I have either written or have responded to thought-by-thought.  And then I have to grade the MLA Research Essays for my co-op Expository Essay course at Heritage Christian School's co-op Class Days at East County 2. With final grades for homeschooling during the second semester of the 2016-2016 school year due this Friday, June 24, I have to get those MLA essays graded and returned to my students plus complete B's report card as well. Once Hamlet and homeschooling (Class Days and our own schooling) are done, I'll have time to write, read, and blog. And sleeeeeeep. Oh, how I neeeeeed sleeeeeeeep right now with my average bedtime at 3:00 AM.

I have so many things to share with you all: finishing my final Class Day course, visiting the First Folio exhibit at the San Diego Public Library as part of Shakespeare 400, seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass, Julie's (founder and owner of Brave Writer) interview this week with Peter Elbow, and so much more. So once I'm done being a teacher (until July 5 when my Fan Fiction course at Brave Writer begins--it's full and closed already!), I'll get to all of these wonderful things.

In the meantime, with my brain thoroughly Hamletted (yes, it's a word, says me!), I'll share the Collect and Quotation for this week....

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
THE COLLECT:
O GOD, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply your mercy upon us, so that with you as our ruler and guide, we may pass through all that is temporal and not lose the eternal; Grant this, heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and rules, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: Ecclesiastes 11.3; Matthew 6.21; Hebrews 6.18-20)

THE READINGS:
Romans 8.18-23; Luke 6.36-42; Psalm 27.1-7; Psalm 9.9-12; Sirach 27.4-7

And the Quotation of the Week, taken from my Quotation Journal which I've been keeping for 15 years this summer....

"The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual pluck."
~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 20

Wishing you all a blessed Sabbath and a wonderful week ahead! I'll be hanging out with Hamlet for the first part of the week, and then I'll be tackling those lofty and long MLA Research Essays, so I'll be quite occupied....

Soli Deo Gloria,


Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Class Day Poetry Class

A re-post from the Archives with an all-important addendum at the end...



With the exception of the few years we did not attend Heritage Christian School's Class Days because of my illness, I have mostly taught high school students. In fact, since returning to EC II Class Day for Elizabeth's 10th grade Biology Lab three years ago, I have taught only high school writing, both college prep and honors levels--to mostly 10th-12th graders.

But this year was different.

At the end of last year, I was informed of two things: 1) My Advanced Writing Class (honors, grades 11-12) was closed due to lack of students (actually, there were students who tried to register later and couldn't), and 2) The 4th-6th poetry teacher had decided not to return to Class Day after all, so a class of 15 students was now without a teacher. And guess what? Both classes were scheduled for first period, so shifting to the poetry class was an easy move. The idea of teaching a poetry class was intriguing, so I volunteered to cover the class--which meant "design and write and then teach the class, and grade all student work."

Once September rolled around, both the families and I were to adjust a bit. Somehow misinformation escaped about the class: I was told that the class was a poetry class and therefore designed the syllabus and wrote the class to reflect the subject of poetry; however, some parents were informed that the class was a creative writing class. I added more writing to the class via the writing of responses during our first semester as we read and discussed the lives and works of such poets as Robert Louis Stevenson, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, William Carlos Williams, and Emily Dickinson. We lost a few students whose families wanted a creative writing course rather than a poetry class or who felt the class was too much work for their current workloads, but overall, the class seemed very successful.

The students also worked on a Poet Project over the course of the first semester which included the writing of a report on the life of a particular poet and then the copying of five poems by that poet as part of the project. So on our last day of first semester, the students presented oral presentations of their Poet Projects, covering the lives and works of Christina Rossetti, Walter de la Mare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Shakespeare, Aileen Fisher, Roald Dahl, and Langston Hughes.

During the second semester, our poetry class focused on the writing of poetry. We studied stanzaic structures and wrote couplets, tercets, and quatrains; we tried the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka, and we played with visual poetry in the forms of acrostic, cinquain, diamante, shape, and concrete poems before concluding the semester with letting loose with some free verse.

Our little class of eleven students, grades 4-6, also hosted two Guest Poets: Judith Deem Dupree, author of living with what remains, and Kathryn Belsey who recently completed her Pacific University MFA thesis, Fire Storm and published two poems in the latest In Posse Review. Both poets read their work and/or taught a lesson to my little class, and both were impressed with the quality and depth of work produced by these young poets.

Kathryn Belsey ("Kitty" to those who know and love her) suggested that I should publish my students' work into an anthology of sorts. Our final class on June 10 consisted of a Poetry Reading for parents and family of the poetry class, each student choosing his/her three favorite poems that he/she composed for class and reading them aloud before the class. Secretly I e-mailed the parents, requesting them to e-mail me copies of their students' three poems which I then formatted into a 27-page anthology with "The Poetry of XXXXX XXXXXXXX" at the top of each page, each student (except one) receiving two pages for their poetry--one poet needed three pages as her poems were lengthier than the rest.

I found that I could e-mail the PDF version of the anthology right to Staples, and I picked them up right before class, beautifully bound and ready to present as a special gift to each student in class. After the group of parents had applauded each young poet, I opened the boxes from Staples and handed out the anthologies; both the parents and the students were ecstatic at seeing their work "in print." I wrote an introductory page similar to what I've written here as well as a Table of Contents listing the "Featured Poets" alphabetically, and finishing the anthology with one of my own poems as a gift to them: "Easter Life."

I received many hugs on our last day of class from these wonderful young poets as well as the thanks of many parents who commented, "You brought poetry into our home," and "XXXX loved writing poetry so much that she wrote in her pajamas before starting school" and "I can't get XXXXX to stop writing poems!"

Those comments are more than adequate reward for putting heart and soul into teaching these young poets. My hope and prayer for them is that they will keep writing poetry long after our class ends and that poetry will continue to be a force in their lives long past this year's class.

From Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance:
Hail, Poetry, thou heav'n-born maid!
Thou gildest e'en the pirate's trade.
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail, all hail, divine emollient!

Addendum: 11 June 2016:
Last night I attended the high school graduation ceremony of Heritage Christian School, and I watched many of the students from that 2009-2010 4th-6th grade Poetry Class graduate. Over the last two years, many, if not most, of these young poetry students spent another year with me in Expository Essay (11th and 12th grades only), applying their poetry skills to the Poetry Explication Essay and earning extra credit with their own original poems, as well as writing nine other formal essays over the course of the school year. Yes, out of the 80+ seniors who graduated last night, 18 had come through one of my classes, either Poetry, Discussing Shakespeare, or Expository Essay.

Once I get caught up with my Brave Writer class, I'll post here about my "retirement" from teaching Class Day, a volunteer position that I took on starting nineteen years ago in 1997.

Meanwhile, ever in the grip of poesy,

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trinity Sunday and Quotations


from the Archives...

The Sunday following Pentecost/Whitsunday is the celebration of the Holy Trinity. Trinity Sunday is a celebration of just one day, and the liturgical color is white, symbolizing the purity and sinlessness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Now that the Holy Spirit has arrived on the scene to complete the Trinity, Ordinary Time shall begin starting next week, stretching over twenty-some weeks to Advent in late November to early December. Nearly half of the Church Year consists of Ordinary Time for which the liturgical color is green, symbolizing the continual growth of our faith as we follow Christ and endeavor to become more like Jesus. During Ordinary Time, the weeks are counted as being "after Trinity": the First Sunday after Trinity, the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, etc.

But today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. The website Church Year explains:
Trinity Sunday, officially "The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity," is one of the few feasts of the Christian Year that celebrates a reality and doctrine rather than an event or person. On Trinity Sunday we remember and honor the eternal God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday is celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost, and lasts only one day, which is symbolic of the unity of the Trinity. The Eastern Churches have no tradition of Trinity Sunday, arguing that they celebrate the Trinity every Sunday. Westerners do as well, although they set aside a special feast day for the purpose.
The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.
For the Epistle today, the Book of Common Prayer requires the reading of the fourth chapter of Revelation; you may read it here in the English Standard Version: Revelation 4:1-11, ESV.

The Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday is written in the third chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, the first verse through the fifteenth. You may read it here, again in the ESV: John 3:1-15.


Today is also the Feast of Title for two churches in the San Diego area, both of which have removed themselves from the liberal San Diego Episcopal Diocese and have put themselves under the authority of Biblical leadership: Holy Trinity in Ocean Beach (along the coast in the city of San Diego) and Blessed Trinity Anglican Church now in El Cajon. I have been attending weekday healing services led by Father Keith Acker when he was Rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church and also after he and his church left the Diocese and reformed as Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity and recently relocated to the SCAIR building on Main Street in downtown El Cajon as Blessed Trinity Anglican Church which is now part of the Reformed Episcopal Church. So blessings to both churches on their Feast of Title!

So today we give special thanks to our Lord who is realized in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although we praise God for the Trinity each and every day of the year, this day we celebrate it more than usual, remembering His gracious goodness, His lovingkindness, and His ever-faithful mercy in, as Dr. Stephen Sammons, our former pastor at Lake Murray Community Church often stated, loving us as we are, yet loving us too much to allow us to remain that way. In the words of the Gloria Patri, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

Here's the Collect for Trinity Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer 2011:

ALMIGHTY and eternal God, who gave grace to your people to proclaim the true Faith, acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity and, by the power of your Divine Majesty, worshiping One God; Keep us standing firm in this Faith and always defend us from danger; Who lives and rules, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Also, I wanted to share a couple of quotations on The Trinity...which are not easy to find, by the way. But I really like these words from an Anglican who started the Holiness movement:

"Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God."      
~John Wesley

And one more quotation, this time from a friend of mine from Lake Murray, a former missionary to East Asia who shall remain nameless to protect her identity:

"Because of the cross, everything is redeemable."
~K.L.T.

Wishing you all a blessed Trinity Sunday as Ordinary Time begins once more....

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecost: The Arrival of the Holy Spirit

An Eastern Orthodox icon of the Christian Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of theHoly Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. (Source: Wikipedia)

A repost from the Archives as I frantically attempt to keep up with my wonderful Brave Writer students in our discussions of Hamlet....


I just do not understand something. Why don't evangelical churches celebrate Pentecost? Scripture tells is that the Gift Jesus promised His disciples has arrived: the Holy Spirit! We read Christ's promise in the 14th chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, beginning at the 15th verse:
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.... 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you....(English Standard Version--ESV)
Then on the Feast of the Pentecost, with Jerusalem filled with Jews from around the known world, Christ fulfilled his promise fifty days after His Resurrection. We read in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles:
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested [1] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." (ESV)
Peter then preaches to the astounded visitors to Jerusalem (also in Act 2), quoting the prophecy of Joel hundreds of years past as well as passages from the Psalms of David while also relating what he and the other disciples witnessed of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection as well as the many sightings of Christ following His resurrection from the dead until His ascension to the right hand of the Living God. Peter concludes:
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing (Acts 2, ESV).
And then we read the response of the crowd listening to Peter:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38 And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2, ESV).
The events of this Pentecost were simply incredible, and it is from this amazing Gift of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God, that the Gospel of Christ first began to spread and the Church first began to form. Why evangelical churches do not celebrate Pentecost is a mystery to me. It always lands on a Sunday and thus it can be easily celebrated with Scripture readings, with praise songs and hymns about the Holy Spirit, with sermons grounded in the Holy Spirit, and perhaps even with baptisms since approximately 3,000 people were baptized and added to the Church on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection in Acts 2. Pentecost is a Biblical holy day, and we can celebrate it Biblically, too, with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart[s]" (Ephesians 5:19, ESV).

In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, one of the Collects (collective or public prayers) for Pentecost reads thus:
Almighty and most merciful God, grant, we beseech thee, that by the indwelling of thy Holy Spirit, we may be enlightened and strengthened for thy service ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
And the Book of Common Prayer 2011's Collect for Pentecost (also in the sidebar of this blog):
"O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen." (References: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)
The Anglican Church has an interesting name for Pentecost: Whitsunday which comes from the white garments worn by those who are baptized this day, just as over 3,000 people were baptized on that first Pentecost in Acts 2. In the above hyperlink to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry of "Whitsunday," an interesting fact is given:
Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day's duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide [Eastertide].
So why is this important Biblical Holy Day, celebrated from the very earliest days of the Christian Church, hardly mentioned in evangelical churches, including my own? I don't know. I simply don't get it. But I pray that the evangelical churches will indeed start to celebrate Biblical Holy Days more and more in the future, celebrating the rich, 2,000-year heritage of Pentecost/Whitsunday.

Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of Christ's Ascension

Reprinted from the Archives....



Today is Ascension Day, forty days after Christ's Resurrection, when He gave His final earthly encouragement and directions to His disciples before Ascending to the right hand of the Father. Today's Epistle reading is from Acts 1 in the English Standard Version (ESV):

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 

The Gospel reading relates the same event, also told by Saint Luke at the close of his gospel account:

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (ESV)

The Collect for Ascension Day from The Book of Common Prayer 2011 which Father Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity modernized and I helped to edit:   

ALMIGHTY God, as we believe your only eternal Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into heaven; Grant that we may also ascend into heaven in heart and mind until, at the last, we may dwell with him forever; Who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always. Amen.


Father Bosco Peters, an Anglican priest in New Zealand who runs the amazing Liturgy.co.nz site, posted a wonderful reflection on Ascension can be read here: Ascension Day.

On Twitter, Father Peters noted that Ascension Day is a holiday in several European countries, such as France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. Yet we in America hardly even know of this Biblical holy day, at least among American evangelicals. Part of Eastertide which lasts until Pentecost (just ten more days!), Ascension is obviously noted in Scripture as being forty days after Christ's Resurrection. 

This holy day has been celebrated since the early years of the Church, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:
The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Sylvia (Peregrinatio Etheriae) speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feast itself, as they were kept in the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ was born (Duchesne, Christian Worship, 491-515). It may be that prior to the fifth century the fact narrated in the Gospels was commemorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost.... Representations of the mystery are found in diptychs and frescoes dating as early as the fifth century.
You may read the full article from the Catholic Encyclopedia here: Feast of the Ascension.

I simply don't understand why American evangelical churches do not celebrate these Biblical festivals, or at least Pentecost if not Ascension. Pentecost lands on a Sunday every year, so there's really no excuse not to at least mention it...if not read the Scriptures recounting the gift of the Holy Spirit to the waiting disciples and perhaps even preach on the subject. Yes, every day of our earthly existence should be a celebration of what Christ has done for us, and every Sunday should indeed be a celebration of the Resurrection power and love of Jesus. But noting and celebrating these other Biblical holy days seems like a wonderful idea to me, one in which we can walk in the footsteps of our Risen Lord, glorifying Him Who first loved us.

Enjoy a blessed celebration of Christ's Ascension,




Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hymn: "Son of Man and Son of God"

My Prayer Times with The Divine Hours (This photo was taken before the BCP 2011 was completed, so please forgive the 1928 BCP shown here.... ;)

Three times each day I pick up one of the three Divine Hours prayer books edited by Phyllis Tickle. Together, all three take us through the entire year with The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime, and The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime.

This series of prayer books contains The Morning Office, The Midday Office, and The Vespers Office for each day. Then each month has a separate section for a week of Compline Prayers that can be prayed for each day of the week throughout the month. Because I pray the Compline from The Book of Common Prayer 2011, the vast majority of the time, I pray The Divine Hours three times each day: before breakfast, before lunch, and before bed.
Image from Amazon
While the Morning and Midday offices contain both a Reading from the Scriptures plus a reading from the Psalms, The Vespers Office usually contains a hymn or poem instead of Readings from the Old or New Testaments. Often these hymns are ancient to the church but very new and fresh to me.

The Vespers Office for last Tuesday had a wonderful old hymn that reads like a poem (as many song lyrics do--we study song lyrics as poems in The Playing with Poetry Workshop at Brave Writer), and I wanted to share it here with all of you. (When I perused a short Wikipedia bio of William Mercer, he is indeed referred to as a poet in the post, so either he wrote this hymn as a protest (as he espoused the Protestant cause during and after the Reformation) or someone else set this poem to music. Either way, the words seemed to sear themselves into my soul....

The Hymn: "Son of Man and Son of God" by William Mercer (d. 1675) 

How bright appears the Morning Star,
With mercy beaming from afar;
The host of heaven rejoices;
          O righteous Branch, O Jesse's Rod!
          You Son of Man and Son of God!
We, too, will lift our voices:
Jesus! Jesus! Holy, holy, yet most lowly,
Please draw near us, Emmanuel, come and hear us.

Though circled by the hosts on high,
He deigned to cast a pitying eye
Upon his helpless creature;
          The whole creation's Head and Lord,
          By highest seraphim adore,
Assumed our very nature;
Jesus, grant us, through your merit, to inherit     
Your salvation hear, O hear, our supplication.

Rejoice, you heavens; O earth, reply;
With praise, you sinners, fill the sky,
For this his Incarnation.
          Incarnate God, put forth your power,
          Ride on, ride on, great Conqueror, 
Till all shall know your salvation.
Let us cry, "Bless the Lord," and again,"Bless the Lord"
Praise be given evermore, by earth and heaven. 

I especially appreciated the internal rhyme, such as "Holy, holy, yet most lowly" and "through your merit, to inherit." I wish that I knew the melody to such a lovely and carefully-crafted poem. 

As long as I'm posting about The Divine Hours, I think I'll post this week's Collect from the BCP 2011:

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER (Rogation Sunday)
THE COLLECT:

O LORD, from you all good things come; Grant to us, by your holy inspiration, to think of good things and then accomplish them by your merciful guidance; Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: James 1.17; John 15.5; 2 Corinthians 3.5; Philippians 1.6)

So what are some of your favorite hymns? Leave your answers in the responses. Thanks!!

Wishing you a blessed week in the love and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ,



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shakespeare 400 This Weekend!!!


On Friday evening, I was skimming through Pinterest and saw the above image--and immediately loved it, pinned it to my "Bardilicious" Board, and "favorited" it...and then noticed my name below the image!!

The amazing graphic artists at Brave Writer designed this incredible Shakespeare 400 collage image to accompany my post for the Brave Writer blog which happened to be from my current online Shakespeare Family Workshop at Brave Writer. So here's the rest of my post on Shakespeare 400:


William Shakespeare: 23 April 1564-23 April 1616

To mark William Shakespeare's 452nd birthday this week, (he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and children at that time were usually baptized three days after birth) and the 400th anniversary of his death, celebration is going on in the United States as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In fact, yesterday, April 23, 2016 was World Shakespeare Day!!! 

When I was in a Shakespeare class in high school, we had a HUGE birthday party for Shakespeare with British food and drink (rather like a high tea). A month beforehand, we had each drawn the name of a fellow student for which we were to make a handmade gift. I remember hemming handkerchiefs in pink embroidery thread with the initials “M.A.” for one student, and I still have the floral wreath strung with ribbons (meant to be worn on the head) hanging on my bedroom wall…although I don't remember which young man made it for me (or more likely, his mother made it on his behalf, LOL). 

So how is the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard being celebrated?
Celebrations in Great Britain:

At Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC):

In New York City:

Here in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre:

So let’s celebrate Shakespeare's birthday/deathday this week in our homes. Here are some ideas: 
  • Shakespeare Teatime/Meal! Gather around the table with scones and jam and some Earl Grey tea (or, if you want to prepare authentic Elizabethan fare, check out this site: http://www.teachersfirst.com/lessons/shak-feast.cfm and read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud. You can find Shakespeare sonnet apps for your smart phone or check out this site: http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/). (Parents may wish to pre-read the sonnet choices beforehand as some get a bit too, um, romantic....) 
  •  
  • Shakespeare Character Party Game! Write the names of famous Shakespeare characters on 3X5 cards with a Sharpie (pick characters that the kids know) and without letting the person see, tape a card to each person's back. Then each person asks "yes-no" type questions of other players to try to determine which character's name is on his/her back. When someone guesses their character, tape a different character to his/her back. Several rounds may be played, depending on the number of players. (Sample questions: Am I male or female? Is my father dead? Is a play named after me?)
  • Shakespeare Copywork with Quills! Make quills from feathers (either dip feathers into ink or insert the innards of a ball point pen into the bottom of a feather and wrap with florist tape if needed; see this link: Instructables) and copy some favorite Shakespeare quotations or insults onto parchment (or regular) paper. (Barnes and Noble carries a good selection of quills and calligraphy ink.)
  • Shakespeare Trivia! Play some Shakespeare trivia games on SporcleShakespeare Trivia Home Page such as "Shakespeare vs. Batman Quotes," "Shakespeare Threats & Insults," and "Complete the Shakespeare Quote." (Note: these quizzes are *challenging*--I missed quite a few!)  
  • Shakespeare Monologues! Read some of Shakespeare’s famous monologues aloud dramatically, perhaps even in costume. Here’s a site with a listing of some of the best single-person speeches, one list for men and one for women: http://www.shakespeare-monologues.org/ Try performing them for family members and/or friends or at a co-op! 
  • Shakespeare at the Movies! Watch your favorite Shakespeare play on film (mine is Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing).  Check your local library or Netflix for some excellent titles, and the International Movie DataBase (www.imdb.com) includes some helpful parents guides with advisory content for you along with ratings and information on most film versions. 
  • Shakespeare Documentary! For older kids, check out Michael Woods’ in-depth documentary In Search of Shakespeare which first aired on PBS in 2004 (http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/). Both the DVD and the companion book should be readily available through most public libraries. 
  • Shakespeare Live!! Best yet, see a live Shakespeare play as soon as possible. Check out college/university performances near you as they’re usually much less expensive than professional productions.  
How are you planning to celebrate??? 

So, Happy 452nd Birthday (and 400th Deathday)
William Shakespeare!!


“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
 
~Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

Wishing you a Bardilicious weekend,

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Book of Common Prayer and Third Sunday After Easter

Book of Common Prayer 2011
First printing of the Book of Common Prayer 2011; we are now on the second printing with red covers. 

A re-post from the Archives with a few revisions....

As one of the editors of the Book of Common Prayer 2011, I am quite attached to it and have been using it as a private and family devotional even before it was officially in print. Plus, Father Acker (the author/translator of the Book of Common Prayer 2011) and I use it for corporate worship during the Friday Healing Services at Blessed Trinity that I have now been attending for nearly twelve years, first at Christ the King Anglican and now at Blessed Trinity after Father Acker left the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. (For more info, see this article: Alpine Leaves SD Episcopal Church.)

For the past several years, I have been posting the Collect for each week from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 here in the sidebar of my blog and also on the Book of Common Prayer 2011 Facebook page. I thought I'd also take a moment and post each week's prayer here in the blog itself and explain a little about what a Collect is and how it is used in the Anglican tradition.

The History of the BCP
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) came out of the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church under King Henry VIII around 1530. Many people believe that this separation marks the beginning of the Church of England, but that fact may not be the case.

A number of Anglicans believe that it is quite possible that Joseph of Arimathea, the man who asked Pilate for Jesus' body and buried it in his own tomb, was a merchant who traveled by sea to many ports, including those along the southern coast of England. It is rumored that Joseph shared the Gospel with his trade partners in coastal towns as early as 37 AD, fewer than five years after Christ's death and resurrection, and helped start a few rudimentary churches. If this  story is true (and there seems to be slight proof to support it), then the Gospel reached England and gained a toehold in the British Isles before even the Church in Rome was established. I found a reference in Wikipedia which states, "Alford also asserts that 'It is perfectly certain that, before St Paul had come to Rome, Aristobulus was away in Britain.' This is in accord with the date given by Gildas the Wise (425–512 AD) that the 'Light of Christ' shone in Britain in the last year of Emperor Tiberias (37 AD)."

The English Church, even under the authority of the Catholic Church based in Rome, did its own thing more often than not due to the distance from Rome to Britain. So it was not surprising that the Church of England was established during the Protestant Reformation as the Catholic Church in England was always rather independent of Roman authority.

In 1549, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote the first Book of Common Prayer. As the Preface to the Book of Common Prayer 2011 states, "The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is not just a collection of prayers or liturgies but rather represents the life and worship of God's people. Thomas Cranmer crafted the first BCP (1549) as a single volume incorporating not only English Sarum usage but also current reformed, ancient Gallican, and Eastern Rite liturgies. Cranmer simplified, shortened, and used language that was readily understood not only by the clergy but also by the whole fellowship." The Preface continues, "Holy Scripture gives voice to our language of prayer and is integral to the BCP tradition. The texts and rites are intentionally scriptural."

What's a Collect?
The Preface to the BCP 2011 informs us, "Each Sunday in the Christian Year has a theme about living in relationship with a holy God and with one another. This theme is found in the Propers for that Sunday which consist of a prayer [called a Collect] and two or more readings from Scripture....During the week, we continue to pray the prayer and to apply the lessons [the readings from Scripture] from our Sunday gatherings as we go about our daily life. We read additional portions of Scripture in a planned sequence of readings [called the Lectionary] so that we may hear all of God's Word, not just the highlights."

So here is the Collect for this week and the Sunday Bible readings:


THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER

THE COLLECT:
ALMIGHTY God, you show the light of your truth to those in error so that they might return to the path of righteousness; May all who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ reject everything contrary to the Faith, and follow everything consistent with the same; Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: 1 Peter 3.10-11; Ephesians 5.13-15; 2 Peter 1.5-8)

THE READINGS:
1 Peter 2.11-17; John 16.16-22; Psalm 66.1-8; Acts 3.1-13

I wish you all a blessed week as Eastertide continues until Pentecost, fifty days after Easter.

Soli Deo Gloria,



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday



Revised and updated from the Archives....

I always enjoy Palm Sunday greatly as the opening of my favorite time of the liturgical year: Holy Week. During this week, I try to focus on Jesus' final teachings to His disciples, on His humility in washing the disciples' feet, on His institution of the Lord's Supper during Passover, on His agony in Gethsemane, on His trial before the authorities, on His suffering as He was beaten and scourged almost to the point of death, on the brutal mockery He endured for our sakes, upon the sorrow and passion of His crucifixion, and finally on the joy of His miraculous and glorious Resurrection. 

The fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures always strikes me fully during this week--so many details foretold hundreds of years ahead regarding the final week of Jesus' earthly life come true in the New Testament Gospel accounts of this last week of Jesus' earthly life.

In the 21st chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, we read first a quotation from the Old Testament:

This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet [Zechariah], saying,
Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden" [Zechariah 9:9].
The disciples ... brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:4-9, ESV).

By the way, the Book of Zechariah was written between 520-518 BC, more than half a millennium before the time of Jesus' earthly life.  

The Collect for the Sixth Sunday in Lent: Palm Sunday from The Book of Common Prayer 2011 reads:

ALMIGHTY and eternal Father, who in your tender love for humanity, sent your Son Jesus Christ as a man to dwell among us and in mortal flesh to suffer death upon the cross, so that all people might learn true humility; In your mercy, grant that we may follow him in his sufferings and share in his resurrection; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: Philippians 2.4-8; 3.9-10; Hebrews 12.3)




In liturgical churches, the palms distributed in Palm Sunday's services are bent and folded into crosses and then saved by being put behind icons or framed pictures of Jesus until the Sunday before the next Ash Wednesday when they are burned and the ashes used to anoint the foreheads of those attending the Ash Wednesday services as a new Lenten season begins. I love how the palms come full circle: the Holy Week from one year coming into the beginning of the next year's Lent. As Benedict states in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, "There's a double meaning in that." 

I missed any sense of liturgy in the Palm Sunday service at Pine Valley Community Church; no one mentioned that it was Palm Sunday. We didn't sing the praise song "Hosanna in the Highest." No palms were seen anywhere. I texted Father Acker of Blessed Trinity to save me some palms that I keep on the shelf above my desk until the next Lent rolls around. In past years at Lake Murray Community Church in La Mesa, our church home for twenty years, we often entered the sanctuary on Palm Sunday to see huge palm fronds strewn along the front of the auditorium, and we always sang several praise songs that include the all-important word for this day: "Hosanna." And frequently one of the pastors or elders read the Triumphal Entry from one of the Gospels.


At Blessed Trinity Anglican Church, which meets on Sundays at the SCAIR Center in downtown El Cajon, they had a Blessing of the Palms as well as a Passion Theater in which various congregants take the parts of narrator, Jesus, and Pilate, and the rest of the congregation will be The People...the People who demanded over and over, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" mere days after welcoming Jesus with enthusiastic cries of "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosannah in the highest!"  

My week will be very busy with Holy Week services: a Messianic Seder with Blessed Trinity Anglican Church at the SCAIR Center in downtown El Cajon on Tuesday evening at 6:30, Maundy Thursday evening services including footwashing also at the SCAIR Center at 6:30, the Good Friday liturgy again with the Blessed Trinity Anglican at the rectory in Alpine at 6:30 in the evening, and the Holy Saturday Vigil, my favorite liturgy of the entire Christian Year, also at the rectory in Alpine a little later in the evening (7:00 PM) so that the rectory is darkened as we bring in the Paschal Light, lighting our candles from the huge beeswax candle with the red Alpha and Omega on the side and with five nails pressed into the beeswax to represent the five wounds of Christ. Then we'll celebrate Resurrection Sunday with services in the front yard of the Pine Valley Community Church parsonage after a community Easter breakfast at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center across the street from the parsonage. With a new pastor this year, I am hoping for a joyful and exuberant celebration of the Resurrection, preferably with the singing of my favorite Easter hymn, "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."

I wish a blessed Holy Week to you and yours, dear readers. May we all experience the sorrow of Christ's sacrifical death for us and the joy of His glorious Resurrection by which He saved all people, past, present, and future, from all of their sins, past, present, and future.


Following in His footsteps this Holy Week,

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