Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's Your Power Color?

Your Power Color Is Red-Orange

At Your Highest:

You are warm, sensitive, and focused on your personal growth.

At Your Lowest:

You become defensive and critical if you feel attacked.

In Love:

You are loyal - but you demand the respect you deserve.

How You're Attractive:

You are very affectionate and inspire trust.

Your Eternal Question:

"Am I Respected?"

Yep, it's right on the money -- me to a "t." Let me know which Power Color you are, k?

(Shamelessly stolen from dali's Sentient Marrow blog -- see sidebar.)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why I Get Up Early on Fridays....

It's for "the peace that passes all understanding, guarding your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Sitting in the single-pewed chapel, surrounded by icons, lit candles, facing the altar covered in green to symbolize our growing faith, I felt peace settle around me like a warm woolen shawl. We open our prayer books and praise the Lord with words of awe and reverence in the "Gloria Patri": "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," intones Father Acker. I join him as we praise: "As it was in the begining, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." Father continues: "Praise ye the Lord," and I reply, "The Lord's Name be praised."

As we recite Scripture together in the "Venite" (selections from Psalms 95 and 96) and then read the Psalms for the twenty-eighth morning responsively (Psalms 132-135), I feel the usual sense of peace wash over me. We go on to read the Scriptures set aside in the Lectionary for the Friday Morning of the Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity; I read aloud the Old Testament selection, I Kings 9:1-9, and Father Acker reads the New Testament reading, I Thessalonians 4:13-end of chapter. After each reading, we recite a short canticle, usually straight Scripture; we usually pray the "Benedictus es, Domine" after the OT reading and after the NT reading we pray the "Benedictus" from St. Luke 1:68 (prayer of Zechariah). Together we continue in prayers for grace, peace, healing of the sick, as well as the Collect for this week:

O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Morning Prayer ends there, and Father proceeds to "The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion" by praying for our cleansing before we accept the gift of Communion:

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

After repeating the verses from Matthew which sum up "the Law and the Prophets," we take out the special page Father has printed for these Friday healing services, "The Litany for Healing." In this litany, we pray for doctors and nurses and other health care workers, for those who are "sick , injured, or disabled, that they may be made whole," for those who are ill in mind or depressed in spirit, for those who are on the point of death and for the comfort of their families, and for the forgiveness of "human sin in our lives, in our nation, and in the world," among other intercessions. We close with:

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

I then read aloud the Epistle for the week, Ephesians 3:13-21, and then Father reads the Gospel selection, which is from St. Luke 7:11-17. In a usual Sunday service, a sermon would naturally follow the readings, but in the weekday services, Father Acker sometimes has a short lesson for B and myself on something relating to the Gospel reading or to a certain saint's day; however, we usually proceed to the affirmation of our faith in the Nicene Creed after the Scripture readings.

After the Creed, we pray "for the whole state of Christ's Church," which includes prayers for the Church, "beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love." We also pray for "the hearts of all Christian Rulers," especially our president and governor, plus we pray for all pastors and church leaders, for the people present in the congregation, and for those who are ill. At this point, Father prays aloud for specific people from Blessed Trinity, and I pray aloud for the healing of specific people from Lake Murray and from my circle of friends.

Then Father continues in prayer for those who are departed. This is my only "sticking point" in the entire service where I still have questions and issues that haven't been answered to my satisfaction. Father is working on a leaflet of sorts to give to new attenders at Blessed Trinity, ans this point will be addressed there; I've told him that this portion is where most non-liturgical Christians would balk. Hap, the Beadle, tried to explain it to me, but I still didn't understand. I'm trusting that I'll get answers, and until then I simply don't join in this specific prayer.

After the prayers, we then pray a corporate prayer of Confession, one that I've printed in this blog before and won't type out in its entirety now. It's a gorgeous, awe-inspiring prayer that admits our sin and disobedience and asks God for his merciful forgiveness. After Father prays for us after the confession, he then recites some "comfortable [comforting] words" from the Scriptures: St. Matthew 11:28, St. John 3:16, I Timothy 1:15, and 1 John 2:1-2.

At this point the actual Communion Service begins: "Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore praising thee, and saying, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory; Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the Highest."

Then proceed the prayers and Scriptures for Communion, the praying of the Lord's Prayer, another prayer for Communion prayed aloud by both Father and myself, then the receiving of Communion. After we receive Communion, Father then brings the holy oil over to me, puts his hand on my head, and prays for my healing, then anoints me with the oil in the form of a cross on my forehead, "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen." It's this simple prayer of healing and anointing that empowers me through God's strength to keep on going despite the debilitating physical pain I experience on a daily basis:

Susanne, I lay my hands upon in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ to sustain you with his presence, to drive away all sickness of body and spirit, and to give you that victory of life and peace which will enable you to serve him both now and forevermore. Amen.

We pray aloud again a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and of asking the Lord to "assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in." On special holy days we pray the "Gloria Exclesis," but on ordinary days, we are blessed to go on our way to serve and please God, as Father signs the cross over us and we cross ourselves as well.

Aaaaahhhh, the peace that comes from the reading and meditation of Scripture, from prayers that attend to global issues as well as issues close at hand, from the silent, grateful acceptance of the bread and the wine, from the quiet movement of hand touching forehead and heart, shoulder and shoulder that affirms within us our love for Jesus with all our mind, heart, and strength.

Yes, I attend these services for me, but in a way that I can't explain, because these services are so much about God and so little about me, they bring me to a less selfish and a more balanced perspective. Morning Prayer and Communion are all about God -- who He is, what He says, who we are in relation to Him, how we praise Him, how desperately we need Him. I thoroughly enjoy the God-focus rather than the me-focus in these services, although I admit I also go for selfish purposes of blessing and prayer and peace. It's less about me, though, than any services I've taken part in -- it's so much more about God.

So this is why I get up early on Friday mornings....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Not-So-Very-Good Day

I found myself praying a lot today. Especially after I opened my e-mail, that is. I woke up in more physical pain than usual, so after s-l-o-w-l-y showering and gathering my yogurt and granola for breakfast, I settled at the computer and gulped down my meds, hoping they would help how rotten I was feeling. But things certainly worsened as I opened my e-mail and saw in the subject line that dear Ellie, wife of Pastor Bob, had gone Home to be with God. Ellie had suffered for many years from rheumatoid arthritis, and then was diagnosed with cancer last year. She and Bob have been so encouraging to me. A few years ago when I was bedrodden with autoimmune issues, Ellie called me and prayed with me often; it was so comforting to talk with someone who suffered with similar physical issues and also possessed the same spiritual desire to live a life that transcended physical limitations.

Bob and Ellie have served so amazingly together: services and Bible studies at County Mental Health, Cloisters, and other places where people suffer. Bob preached at Lake Murray a few weeks ago, talking from a place of pain and sorrow as Ellie grew closer to her eternal Home. I wrote them a note after his preaching, just thanking them for their wonderful support while I've been ill and to tell them that they're in my prayers. Bob called a few days later to thank me, and that's the last I heard from them until the e-mail this morning.

The next e-mail in my inbox this morning was from our former secretary at Lake Murray, telling me that my former professor, advisor, and mentor, Dr. De Saegher, was having cancer surgery this morning. He and his wife, Lou, came up to PV a couple of months ago and took the kids and me to lunch at Major's Diner where we had a lovely time catching up and talking about homeschooling; I found out today from one of the women in our school office that their son and his family have joined our school this year. I've been in prayer for Dr. D's healing and recovery and for Lou's comfort.

Later this morning I took E to the dentist and also had one tooth of mine checked that has been sensitive to cold lately. At first I was told that my filling needed to be redone -- $800. Then as the dentist drilled the old filling out, he found that a root canal was needed. Now the bill was $2100 -- and after the other news of the day and the financial stress we're under due to my medical bills, I burst into tears. Dr. Barber put a temporary filling in for now, and the root canal will be done next week. And he felt badly enough about the bill that he offered to pay $300 of the bill -- how sweet!

So today was a good day to light a candle, focus on the cross that sits on the shelf above my desk, and just pray.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Guilty Pleasure....

One of our favorite guilty pleasures is watching ABC's Dancing with the Stars. E and I caught onto it in the middle of the first season and have been die-hard fans ever since. In fact, last year E joined a Junior Cotillion class at the San Diego Women's Club that taught manners, etiquette, and ballroom dancing; she loved every minute of it. Although we haven't been able to find another high school level dancing class for her, she does the Dancing with the Stars Workout DVD which involves dance moves along with aerobic exercise; her favorite dance on the DVD is the Paso Doble.

Tonight we watched the women dance, and Jane Seymour has to be my favorite; she's so classy and elegant, and her foxtrot was very nice. Some of the younger hip-hop danceers may be better dancers but they don't have her presence or her grace. Marie Osmond didn't dance as well as I thought she would have. But overall, it was an excellent first night and a joy to watch. Tomorrow night the men dance, and I'm espcially interested to see how Wayne Newton does; he's partnered with our favorite professional dancer, Cheryl Burke, a two-time winner of the show thus far. I just wish his face wasn't quite so very orange.....

Well, I'm off to vote for Jane at the ABD website. And I'm so glad that this show is back, as well as our two favorite Tuesday night favorites. We'll actually be recording Dancing in favor of watching our absolute favorite shows, NCIS and House. Expect posts about those two shows tomorrow evening.

This week is all about TV. I'm the first to admit that I shouldn't watch so much TV, but when my autoimmune challenges keep me in a prone position all evening, TV distracts me from the pain and doesn't require the concentration that reading or even films do. And E is my TV partner; perhaps she'll end up writing TV shows or something in the future. It's fun to send the boys to bed, break out the organic chocolate, and watch our favorite actors do their thing. So there's almost nothing better than premiere week in our household....

Sunday, September 23, 2007


This weekend I read a very intriguing chapter from Evelyn Underhill's Essentials of Mysticism (1920) on the medieval English mystic, Julian of Norwich. Even though I've been told that I have a rather wide mystical streak, I really don't know that much about mysticism, but reading this little chapter has increased my desire to learn more about it, and especially about Julian.

Why does this medieval woman intrigue me so? Partially it's because of her illness (something I can relate to). Partially it's because I love medieval writers, especially medieval WOMEN writers. Partially it's because Julian speaks some real truth despite (or perhaps because of) her cloistered life. Partially it's her refusal to worry and her joyfulness of heart, something I strive for (most imperfectly) to imitate. And partially it's because I've experienced God talking to me, although not with the visual visions she experienced which I consider well in the realm of possibility for every Christian.

I have a Norton Critical edition of Julian's main work, her Showings (Revelations) sitting in my tall and teetering reading stack, along with another Norton edition of the works of Margery of Kempe, a contemporary of Julian as well as another female mystic. I have yet to break open Julian's work, mostly because I have so many books started, plus library books I'm doing research from that need to be returned soon (like this week!). Once I get a few more theology books finished, I'll pick up Julian and thoroughly engulf myself in her writings. I have a feeling that if I ever get back into grad school to pursue my doctorate, I will end up studying my medieval women mystics, especially Julian.

This little chapter, from which I took copious notes as always, has whetted my appetite to study my medieval mystics, especially Julian and Margery. I plan to be picking them up later this fall and immerse myself in my favorite literary time period, one I feel drawn to for the same reasons I feel drawn to more liturgical faith practices: the reality of God is soooooo tangible. Curled up under my olive-green velour throw on our sofa, studying a little bit about Julian of Norwich, was an excellent way to spend a cool and windy weekend.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

First Day of Fall....

The cool autumn weather today on the First Day of Fall made it very hard to believe that last week we were watching a fire burn during temperatures near 100 and humidity in single digits. A winter-type storm in San Diego County in September is a rarity; the last time it happened was 1986. However, we received only a few sprinkles late this morning, with the highs in the mid-forties. Later on in the afternoon when the sun peeked out, the thermometer nearly bumped sixty, but not quite.

Fall is here, although I doubt seriously that we've seen the last of the hot days; October can bring those nasty Santa Ana winds that dry the skin and make sleeping nearly impossible with highs in the 110s and the lows in the 80s. I'm hoping we'll escape such a weather pattern, but the autumn is notoriously unpredictable, as today's unseasonably cold weather demonstrated. I would love to be settling in for the winter rather that fighting the heat, but only time will tell.

We'll be turning on the furnace tonight and will check for firewood sources as we have none left from last winter. Welcome, Autumn! Stay cool for us, okay?

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Feast Day of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

I snapped this photo while Father was gathering his prayer book, Bible, and vestments. Today, September 21, is the Feast Day of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Here's the Collect we prayed from p. 259 of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires, and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Father gave B a little lesson about what a tax collector in Jesus' time did, how many were unscrupulous and very much disliked as they enriched themselves to the detriment of the common people. Matthew immediately walked away from his collection table to follow Jesus without looking back.

The readings for today were 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 for the Epistle and, for the Gospel reading, St. Matthew 9:9-13 which tells of Jesus' call to St. Matthew. For Morning Prayer on this specific feast day we read Psalm 119:1-16 for the Psalter reading, 1 Kings 19:15-21 for the Old Testament reading, and St. Matthew 19:16-30.

But my favorite part of feast days is getting to pray the Te Deum Laudamus, my favorite prayer, during Morning Prayer (pp. 10-11 in 1928 BCP) and to pray the Gloria in Excelsis after Holy Communion. The Te Deum is very long, and I think I've posted it here in the past; if you're really interested and don't have a Common Prayer Book sitting about, you can Google it; it's truly sublime worship, one that dates back to the early church. I'll include the text of the Gloria which comes just before the final Blessing:

Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will toward men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

So the extra Scripture readings, the meditation upon the Saint's service to Christ (and all of the Saints celebrated in the Anglican tradition are found in Scripture), and the extra prayers and blessings all make Feast Days truly special. Feast Days are an integral part of the Anglican Church, and one that I appreciate the most.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Baaaaaack!

Yep, Survivor China began tonight with a Buddhist ceremony. I'm seeing Leslie out front as a Christian (she couldn't handle bowing down to the idols in the temple) and Todd as someone to watch carefully as he claims that he'll do "anything to win." James' quiet strength impresses me greatly. Courtney does NOT impress me with her superior New York attitude.

So "Chicken" went home tonight, and deservedly so. When he first wasn't listened to, he just refused to answer legitimate questions about constructing the shelter, which after three days still isn't done. That team really needs to get together all the way.

We'll see how the season goes, but Survivor's mystique is still running strong, imho.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dr. Adema Speaks....

Last night Dr. Donald Adema was our Featured Artist for our monthly Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council meeting. He spoke about how the old MCAT tests (medical entrance tests) had sections on art included so that serious students were making trips to art museums in order to do well on the test. Now, of course, the MCAT is geared toward science and math, and the human element has been removed. As an osteopathic physician and a compelling speaker, he talked about the components of wellness: spirtuality + mental health + physical health = wellness. Firstly, he cited studies by the "brontosaurus magazine" (The New England Journal of Medicine) that belief in God promotes healing, that prayer promotes healing, and that even distance prayer (prayer by others nowhere near the patient) promotes healing. Dr. Adema even found a main lecture at the annual Harvard Medical School review that was on the power of prayer in healing: a third of the doctors present listened in bemusement; a third were taking notes avidly, and a third walked out. Says a lot about our medical profession, doesn't it?

Secondly, the mental health component is very important, and this is where art comes in. With every patient, Dr. Adema asks about the person's artistic outlet. Creativity lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression. In his blended practice, medications may be used to treat severe ailments, but then as overall health increases, the medications can be lowered and even removed from the patient's protocol. (That's what is finally happening with me: I'm slowly going off the pain patches onto an oral pain med, which I'll also reduce as I can.) He also spoke about kids on Ritalin -- how most (not all) of the kids who are diagnosed as ADD or ADHD need artistic outlets that help them to deal with their issues. When these kids are alowed to draw during lectures, they sit still and can also recall almost perfectly the information they've been taught. Plus, the two-dimensional world of TV and video games has contributed to ADD/ADHD, in his humble opinion.

Thirdly, the physical health dimension had been turned over to the pharmeceutical companies in the name of profit. But in a blended practice, drugs can be balanced with options such as exercise, nutrition, and other choices like acupuncture, massage, manipulation, etc. Pharmaceuticals have their place, but they aren't the be-all, end-all of medicine. Basically, there are three main issues: hypertension, high cholesterol, and depression -- almost all medical problems are slipped into these three areas. Listening is the most important thing a doctor can do -- and be observant. (Once Dr. Adema noticed my new toenail polish and deduced that the pain meds I just started were working because I couldn't touch my toes before then.)

Dr. Adema also discussed the relationship between autism and immunizations, and recommended a great book for all parents to read: Children with Starving Brains by Dr. McCandless. He also talked about how the use of birth control pills to help girls in their mid-teens with bad acne often results in infertility ten years later. There were some scary factors he discussed medically, but for the most part, he said that wellness relies on artistic expression. He cited some of his Alzheimer's patients who take up sewing or knitting or painting and can reduce their dementia meds after a little while. He works with a great number of hospice patients as well, and he talks about how artistic expression can help them through pain and suffering.

Dr. Adema also showed us his first watercolor painting which was of his daughter. He also talked about singing in the Point Loma Chorale and how that experience keeps him healthy and sane, and then extended the choir metaphor into wellness: all parts of the body need to work together as a choir does; if the tenor section is gone, then the choir limps along, unable to sing "The Messiah."

He gave us lots of food for thought, besides encouraging us to continue to pursue our artistic outlets. He was such a wonderful speaker that I completely forgot to take photos as I had planned on doing! I'm so glad to have him as our family doctor, and also as a friend and a brother in Christ. What a blessing he is to our backcountry area!

New Name for Our Church

We've been attending Lake Murray Evangelical Free Church since June of 1993 -- yep, that's over fourteen years. We've had only two senior pastors during that time, but the shift between the first and the second was rather traumatic. However, this week marks probably the second-biggest change in our church since we started attending: we voted on a new name for the church.

The idea of renaming the church started soon after we changed pastors. When Steve was moved from Interim to Senior Pastor a few years ago, one of the items at the top of his list was to change the name of the church. He and the secretary were getting questions about the "Evangelical Free" portion of the name, obviously from people who weren't familiar with the Evangelical Free denomination. Steve made the point that a few people had asked if the church was free of evangelicals, like Pepsi-Free, caffeine-free, and sugar-free advertising. Steve and the elders thought that confusion regarding the name could be keeping some people from trying out our church. So a committee was put together to research different church names and to come up with a short list of names which ended up toward the more modern side; I remember "Crosswalk" being one of the choices. There was enough opposition to halt the change and the idea was shelved for a couple of years while the church healed from the pastoral transition.

Recently, the elders discussed the topic again and on Sunday the congregation voted on a two-part ballot. The first part was whether we agreed to change the name of the church; the second gave us a list of three names to choose from: Lake Murray Christian Church, Lake Murray Bible Church, and Lake Murray Community Church. The first part passed 83-8-1, so the name change itself was agreed upon by the VAST majority of the church. Lake Murray Community Church passed by a wide margin (41 votes, versus 21 for "Christian" and 16 for "Bible." We'll still be listed under Evangelical Free churches in the Yellow Pages and San Diego Church directories, and we'll remain within our denomination, but the new name reflects our interest in making a difference in our community.

In fact, as the elders were researching the different church names, someone discovered an old photograph taken in the late 1950s (when the church was built) with the name "Lake Murray Community Church, Evangelical Free" on a sign. So, really, we're just returning to our original name when the church was first built on the present property on Lake Murray Boulevard. The large street sign will reflect the name change as it needs a bit of a face-lift anyway, and we'll also get a new web address, with the old one still up and redirecting people for the next year or so.

I'm pleased with the change; the main thing that concerned me was keeping the "Lake Murray" name intact as the church foes have a history and a reputation within the community of San Diego, and I wanted to keep our main name consistent.

So "Lake Murray Community Church" we are!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I've Found MY Candidate!!!!!

In my attic sits a dusty sign: "Alan Keyes for President 2000." Tonight I learned that Alan is running again for President in 2008, and I couldn't be happier.

He is the most articulate candidate I've ever heard speak. And he doesn't talk "politico-speak" where everything sounds great but there's no substance. Alan is ALL substance. You may hate him or you may love him, but one thing's for sure: you know where this man stands on every single issue because he's simply NOT afraid to tell you.

Keith listened to an online debate tonight featuring Alan Keyes along with some of the lesser-known candidates such as Duncan Hunter (my own Congressman), Michael Huckabee, and Ron Paul. When (if?) the debate is available, I'll link to it.

But Keith and I -- we've got our candidate. And Alan Keyes he is. And now I'm finally excited about the 2008 presidential election.

Check him out:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Brandie and Micah's Wedding

I love weddings, especially now that the young people at Lake Murray are now coming of age to marry. Micah is the oldest of the Huff offspring -- William is the first service Sunday School teacher (and he totally rocks!) and Joan is our choir director and pianist. So to watch Micah and Brandie get married on Saturday was simply lovely.

The reception really got swinging after the bride and groom arrived (a rather long wait for the guests, but that's always the way). The music was good, a little too much country, but good. The most fun part was singing the Turtle's "Happy Together" and "Chapel of Love" to the bride and groom as they cut the cake -- the music happened to be playing and everyone just spontaneously joined in and sang to them, drowning out the music from the DJ. Then the dancing -- I jumped out on the dance floor for "Love Shack" -- one simply can't remain still when the B-52's are playing! About six of us joined into a circle (including William) and several of us were doing the Twist. (And yes, I'm still sore from that four minutes of exercise, thankyouverymuch. And yes, it was absolutely worth every ache and pain to dance again!) Other good music was also playing -- Vanilla Ice and some great oldies; Kitty, Diana, Debbie, and I had a little routine going while we were in the food line to "Still the One," among other mischief and silliness.

Weddings are so much fun, especially when dancing is involved. It was so wonderful to see so many church friends loosen up and dance away the afternoon.

And many good wishes for a sweet marriage and a wonderful life to Brandie and Micah, currently on their honeymoon up the coast in a convertible....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Final Fire Update

As of Friday night, the Pine Fire is 95% contained (surrounded) and tomorrow morning some of the 700 fire fighters from across the state of California will be on their way home, plus lots of inmate crews who dug fire breaks and did other grunt work in 90+ degree heat. And we pray for rapid healing of the two injured firefighters (one burned on his hands and ear when his bulldozer was overtaken by flames, another was hospitalized briefly with heat exhaustion). Both should be fine.

Many, many, many thanks go to our terrific fire department in Pine Valley (one paid firefighter, all the rest volunteers) and to all the firefighters from San Diego County and around the state who helped. Special thanks go to the polits of the sir tanker planes and copters who were on scene within twenty minutes and who turned the fire away from town immediately.

No structures burned. No evacuations ordered. Good communication from the Sheriff's Department. Excellent response in getting firefighters on scene and repellent in the air. A good result all around.

It's good to know that the mistakes that led to the severe devastation of the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego have been addressed and remedied. We can't control the winds and heat and other weather-related issues, but we can control the speed of getting air tankers en route, getting ground crews adequate support, and getting warnings out to affected citizens, all of which were NOT handled well in the Cedar Fire which contributed to the death toll (17) and the number of houses lost (3,000+).

We're just thankful for everything and everyone who helped, prayed, and called to see how we were doing. And we love our firefighters ... THEY ROCK!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fire Update...

Good news on the fire front. Although we were concerned when we lost power this morning before leaving for Class Day, we couldn't see any smoke as we left town. Our last reports were of 35% containment and the fire is now a mile and a half away, and still moving away from town. The fire should be contained (surrounded) by Saturday, and who knows when it will be put out completely.

This morning on the radio we heard that there was a slight danger regarding a valley in the path of the fire that could bring the fire back into town, but I think that danger is past.

The cause: a camp fire apparently set by an illegal border crosser. Sheer stupidity in such dry weather and dry brush -- even the off road vehicle area just south of town was closed over the weekend because of high fire danger. Yesterday I didn't have time (or room with all the TV crews' vans parked everywhere) to snap a photo of the "high fire danger" sign with clouds of smoke behind it -- that would have truly been a picture that spoke a thousand words.

Over 700 firefighters from all over California are here fighting the fire, and more than 2100 acres have burned so far. Two firefighters have been injured, but their injuries are not life-threatening. Today was still hot, with the high around 96 and low humidity. However, tomorrow should begin a weather change that will bring below-normal temperatures and much more humidity.

So we thank God for the west winds that have been steadily taking the fire away from Pine Valley, for the area that has burned -- all brush and no structures in an area that hasn't burned in over thirty years, and especially for great firefighting from the air and the ground. We love and appreciate our town's volunteer fire fighters as well as the firefighters who have come from all over the state.

We've also been having small earthquakes lately, and another today off the coast of La Jolla ... there's just no rest from Mother Nature here in sunny Southern California.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fire Near Our Town

We were taking our lunch break from homeschooling when T called us onto the porch. Immediately we were awestruck by the smoke pouring from a brush fire just south of our small town (pop 1200). Immediately we were tuning the radio to the news station, checking online, and taking photos. An hour and a half later, when I had to leave for my chiropractic appointment in San Diego, I was torn. Although there wasn't an immediate threat from the fire, I felt deeply uncomfortable leaving the kids at home alone while I was 35 miles from home. So all five of us climbed into my ancient Corolla, and E insisted on bringing both her rat, Ronnie, and our dachshund, Dash. In the front seat, E held the rat, inside his carrier, in her lap while T cuddled our leashed doggie in his lap in the back seat. Although we listened to Harry Potter tapes on the way down, we were much more embroiled in the large plume of smoke covering the sky in my rearview mirror.

After seeing the chiropractor, we immediately turned the car around and drove back up the mountain, the huge billows of smoke always before us. We drove on side streets to avoid traffic for a while, listening to radio reports every half hour. As we drew closer and closer to home, the smoke took up more and more of the sky in front of us. As we approached the large bridge near our town, we had to watch for news crews who were pulling off the freeway to film their reports. The enormity of the fire struck us as we watched a hillside burn just as we drove down the offramp to our town and saw a local news truck filming a live feed as we drove under the freeway and home. The fire had traveled a good way since we had left; the fire had moved east behind three mountains, and the smoke filled the sky above us.

We were glued to the local news late this afternoon and through the evening hours. At five, the Sheriff's Department contacted us via a reverse 911 call, a new thing since the 2003 Cedar Fires when many people died in the night as fire raced through their neighborhoods before the police could evacuate people. The officer's voice was recorded and told us that there was a fire in our area (duh!) and although they were not ordering any evacuations, they asked us to track the news and be prepared to leave if asked. Meanwhile, my mother called from her and my dad's vacation in Washington State, checking on us.

The kids have been nervous, even scared all day. While E insisted on taking the animals with us on our short trip down the hill, the boys had stuffed their backpacks with their favorite toys and stowed the packs in my trunk. As we left the house, she started crying, panicked, because she didn't have supplies with her for her contact lenses. The boys were unable to settle down for school before we left, going to the window to check the smoke and running into their room at the least hint of a news report. They've been through this before, too many times, really. Twice now we've packed up and left our home, not knowing if they would see their house or their possessions again. This is the third big scare we've had in the six years we've lived here. Watching people on the news from our town evacuating their animals didn't help them feel safe. Tomorrow is our first Class Day and we need to be in the city until midafternoon, and E is terrified for our animals and for our home when we leave.

Right now we're in no danger as long as the wind doesn't change direction, but if it does, our town could be in trouble again. Thankfully, no structures have been destroyed yet. 1,200+ acres have burned, one fire fighter has been injured with third-degree burns, and with almost 100 degree heat and humidity down near 20%. There's no containment so far. We don't know how it begnan, but it's in a very inaccessible area -- most of the warfare against the fire has come from the air, from tanker planes and helicopters, all the county has available. Tonight they're all grounded but they'll be back in the air by 7 AM.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I hope the fire will die down overnight and containment can start to happen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poetry: In Honour of Those Who....

Six Years After ...

The taxicabs were stilled,
the streets desolate.
Murky smoke,
black as enraged storm clouds,
sheathed the wounded city.
Murderous orbs of dust
plunged through the deserted streets,
clogging and choking lungs
with the debris
of lives lost.
Strangers with smudged faces
and blank, glassy eyes
stood there --
just stood there --
disbelief wrought in their
staggered expressions --
the same disbelief
that enshrouded
a nation.

September 11, 2007

(copyright 2007 by Susanne Barrett -- all rights reserved)

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Prayer of St. Patrick

Okay, okay, I know it's September and not March, but I ran across this prayer tonight in a little booklet on St. Patrick that I bought several years ago at Family Christian Store. Rather than wait slightly over six months (and after hearing a sermon at Lake Murray on Patrick in December -- good ol' Rollo!), I thought I'd blog on St. Patrick anyway (and will again on his feast day as well, I'm sure). The booklet contains the story of his life, prayers that he wrote, prayers written for his intercession, and devotions. As I glanced through this booklet that sits on the bookshelf above my desk while I waited for my computer to stop having a fit (which happens every 6.4 minutes, unfortunately), this little introduction caught my eye:

"It is certainly not surprising that the word 'saint' is derived from the Latin word for "holy." The saints are known to us, first and foremost, as men and women of outstanding holiness, who surrendered their lives to God in loving fidelity to His will. Whether they were mystics or missionaries, educators or apostles, popes or laypeople, we remember and honor them primarily for the quality of their spiritual lives.

"Saint Patrick, for example, was a man of great holiness, who believed that God was with him at every moment. But he was also a profoundly human being -- in his humility about his own gifts as a missionary; in his embarrassment over his lack of formal education; in the emotional strength he displayed in enduring the many hardships of life in Ireland."

Later in the booklet I spied this little prayer, one that we all should pray along with St. Patrick:

Prayer for the Faithful by Saint Patrick

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us --
Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and
forevermore. Amen.

May it indeed be so, in all our hearts.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

So Far, So Good...

T doing math with his reader close at hand:

We're starting our fourth week of homeschooling tomorrow, and so far, it's going extremely well. Class Day starts this week, so I'll be teaching 25-30 students, plus E, T, J, and B will be taking classes as well. It's a huge addition to our schedule in both time and effort, but it will be good to be back after a five-year hiatus.

B is still working on basic reading skills. T also was a late reader (didn't read well until late 3rd grade) and is now reading college-level textbooks in his areas of interest, so I'm not too worried about B; he'll read when he's ready. Otherwise, B is doing extremely well in his other courses: he loves handwriting and is speeding through his math text. Even his phonics workbooks are fun, even though I need to read the directions and exercises to him. He's looking forward (with a bit of trepidation) to his Class Day courses in art, PE, and "Gross Science."

T and J adore their new physical science materials as well as World History and World Literature; they are constantly begging for more. Their readers have been a challenge, but one that they're up for. They're enjoying learning Latin, and they are liking math more, especially as they're responsible for checking their own work (which helps them see their mistakes and saves me mucho time). J and T are also doing language arts and spelling together which means fewer workbooks and more teaching time for me. The boys are continuing with their piano lessons and they are doing a little composing as well as playing. On Thursday they'll be back at Class Day for the first time in five years; J is taking art, PE, and cooking while T takes Art I, volleyball, and chess club.

E is finding that the old adage about studying Latin holds true:

Latin's a dead language
It's clearly plain to see --
It killed off all the Romans
And now it's killing me.

Latin is a lot of work, but she's still doing well with it. Johanna is tutoring her in Algebra II this year -- math is E's bugaboo. She is enjoying her biology, World History, and World Literature, in the latter of which she just finished a poetry unit. She's entering her third week of a six-week online literature analysis course through which gives her a chance to discuss literature in a class with peers via a forum; they're reading, discussing, and will be writing an analysis paper on Great Expectations. At Class Day, E will be spending two periods in biology lab and will also be taking a self-defense course for her PE requirement.

And as tonight is Sunday night, I need to plan this week's lessons instead of just blogging about how well this year is going. We're having a great school year thus far, and I pray that we all continue to stay motivated and willing to learn.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

You Know You're Too "Into" Harry Potter When...

(from of course, with my comments in italics)

You mutter nonsense Latin words under your breath. (Now that we're all learning Latin, this is more of a possiblity....)

You call your least favorite teacher "Snape." (My homeschooled kids had better not get this idea!)

Your computer says "You've Got Mail" and you run outside looking for an owl. (We'd find one, too -- a benefit of living in the mountains....)

You mutter "lumos" under your breath every time you turn on a flashlight. (Yep.)

You sort everyone you meet into the four Hogwarts houses (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin). (Yep.)

You were burned when you couldn't get through the flames of your fireplace. (We're not that stupid ... but it would help with freeway traffic, dontcha think?)

You had to go to the hospital after you broke your nose running headfirst into the wall between platforms nine and ten. (If I ever went to the train station....)

You point at normal things like parking meters and say "Look at the things these Muggles dream up!" (Could happen...)

You collect plugs. (Plugs, no ... batteries, yes.)

You try on every piece of silvery fabric your mom has to see if you turn invisible.
(Worth a try, perhaps?)

Before getting up to get something, you always try to summon it first. "Accio TV remote!" (The thought has crossed my mind....)

You watched "Love, Actually" because two minor Harry Potter actors were in it. (It's in my Netflix queue, mostly because of Colin Firth but also because of Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson.)

You were reduced to tears when you finally had Book 7 in your hands. (Oh, yes!)

You refer to your Chemistry class as Potions. (Great idea!)

You spend hours tapping bricks in special orders, hoping that a secret entrance to Diagon Alley will appear. (Not hours, exactly ... )

When playing chess, you yell orders to the chess players and get upset when they don't move. (Again, I've considered doing so....)

You get emotional every time you hear "Hedwig's Theme". (Yep.)

You get thoroughly overexcited every time you see a word somewhere that is distantly linked with HP (ie. Saint Hedwig's). (Yep.)

You name all of your pets after HP characters. (Elizabeth's rat Ronald and her fish Aguamenti (and her departed fish Erised) are a testimony to this fact.)

You get into heated arguments over how much gel Tom Felton had in his hair in the first two movies. (Could happen.)

You know that Harry's birthday is July 31, 1980, Hermione's birthday is September 19, 1979 and Ron's birthday is March 1, 1980 even though it was never said in the books. (Oh, yes -- Elizabeth won't let us forget the birthdays of even minor characters.)

You refer to Voldemort as "You-Know-Who", and no one has any idea who you're talking about. (Nope, we're brave enough to call him "Voldemort" since "fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself.")

You went out and bought the latest editition of the Webster's Dictionary because they added the word "Muggle". (Cool -- didn't know that -- will have to go out and get it this minute .)

You were kicked out of the movie theater for standing on your chair, throwing your shoe at the screen and yelling "THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN IN THE BOOK!" (Not kicked out, but it was close, especially with the fourth movie.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back to Victoria Chapel

After a month away from the Friday Healing Services with Alpine Anglican while Father Acker has been on vacation or at synod meetings, I slid into the single pew in Victoria Chapel with a sigh of contentment. After getting seven-year-old B settled with his own prayer book, I opened my 1928 Book of Common Prayer to the Morning Prayer service as Father entered the tiny chapel and lit the four candles on the altar.

It felt so lovely to read Scripture together, pray together, and celebrate Holy Communion together with B doing acolyte duty by pouring the wine and water into the chalice at the proper times. Plus, we prayed the Litany for Healing where we ask God to help and bless for doctors, nurses, and those who are ill "in body, mind, or spirit." After Communion, Father Acker prays for healing and blessing by laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil. We also read the Psalms for the Seventh Morning (Psalms 35-36) and the Lectionary readings for the Friday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity (2 Samuel 15:30-16:4 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Then once Morning Prayer was over and Holy Communion began, we did the readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity -- the Epistle Reading: Galatians 3:16-25 and the Gospel Reading: St. Luke 10:23-37. And all the prayers, especially those prayers "for the whole state of Christ's Church" -- I love praying for our President and leaders, for unity in the Church, for purity of heart and mind, for Church leaders and pastors, and for "the comfort and succour of all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity."

But of all the prayers, the General Confession is my favorite:

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, Amd are most heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Richard Foster, in his book Prayer, recommends this prayer as the ideal of confessional prayer, and I absolutely agree. I just wish that Victoria Chapel had room for kneelers because this prayer truly necessitates the physical act of kneeling in submission before God.

I have missed the Anglican services very much and was so glad to be back in the state of quiet prayer and contemplation. Aaaaahh, I feel so at home with the Anglican mode of worship that is so poetic, so reverent, so truly worshipFULL.

Don't Miss This Book!

I first heard Eugene Peterson, the man who translated The Message, this spring at Point Loma's Writer's Symposium by the Sea. He was funny, intelligent, earnest, softly-spoken, and, to my delight, a great fan of classic literature. He spoke about how reading Dickens, Joyce, Conrad, Austen, Shakespeare, Milton, and others revolutionized the way he pastors his church and the way he views the Bible.

I'm now reading Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (2006), and I'm enjoying every word. Currently I'm in the second half of the book where he very clearly spells out the method of lectio divina, an ancient, contemplative way of reading Scripture. There are basically four elements of lectio which intermix beautifully as we read with our minds and our hearts: 1) lectio (we read the text), 2) meditatio (we meditate on the text), 3) oratio (we pray the text), and 4) contemplatio (we live the text) (p. 91).

I first read about the practice of lectio divina when I read Kathleen Norris' wondrous book, The Cloister Walk, in which she relates her experience of living as a Benedictine oblate while remaining a Presyterian. She described the process of lectio as she learned it from the monks, and immediately I was enthralled by the practice. In some ways, it is very little different than our evangelical idea of "praying the Scriptures," but, at the same time, lectio is so much more.

So if you find yourself interested in the practice of lectio divina (Latin for "divine reading"), or if you would like to refresh the practice in your own devotional life, or if you find your curiosity piqued just a leetle bit, I highly recommend Eat This Book. I'm finding that it's assuaging my spiritual hunger very nicely.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Which Fantasy/Sci Fi Character Are You?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Possessing a rare combination of wisdom and humility, while serenely dominating your environment you selflessly use your powers to care for others.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Galadriel is a character in the Middle-Earth universe. You can read more about her at the Galadriel Worshippers Army.

Take this Test

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Anglican Moment: The Collect

At the heart of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer are the Propers: the prayer, Epistle and Gospel readings laid out for each week of the year. The Propers start with the beginning of the Church Calendar, the First Sunday in Advent and end with the Last Sunday before Advent which follows the 24th Sunday after Trinity.

The Propers start with the Collect, a prayer that is "collectively" prayed not only by all members of the church body, but by all Anglicans worldwide on that particular Sunday.

Plus, there are also Collects that are part of Morning and Evening Prayers, such as the Collect for Grace, the Collect for Peace, and the Collect against All Perils. Again, these prayers are prayed collectively by the congregation as well as around the world by the 70 million members of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Collect for Grace in Morning Prayer has always been one of my favorites:

O Lord, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day; Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by thy governance, may be righteous in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for this past Sunday and therefore this week -- the Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity -- is:

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Propers, including the Collects and New Testament readings, take us through the seasons of the Church Year, including the High Holy Days: Advent, Christmastide, Epiphanytide, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, Ascension, Whitsuntide (Pentecost), and Trinity. Ordinary Time is counted in Sundays after Trinity until Advent rolls around again, signalling the beginning of a new Church Year. Collects and Readings are also available for celebrating Biblical Saints' Days of the Apostles, including Paul and Barnabas as well as John the Baptist, plus other Holy Days such as the Purification of the Virgin, the Annunciation, the Conversion of St. Paul, the Transfiguration of Christ, St. Michael and all Angels, and All Saints' Day. Collects also are used for special occasions, such as the dedication of a church, baptisms, marriages, funerals, and vistation of the sick. Special days such as Ember and Rogation Days, plus Independence and Thanksgiving Days also have their special Collects.

So Collects "collect" together the body of Christ in communal, universal prayer as we lift our voices to heaven with the same words of supplication and praise throughout the world. And that unity -- that's what I love most about Collects. As I pray along and say my "Amen," men and women in Uganda, the Philippines, England, India, Australia, and Morocco are praying the same words, asking God for the same things, praising Him with the same words. What a sweet aroma this must be to our Lord, and what a foretaste of heaven it is, when all our voices shall be raised in praise, totally united at long last.

(This information about the Propers and the Collects is taken from this week's Beadle's Report from Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity -- see link in sidebar.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Blog Entry Worth Reading....

Check out this link to a great entry by the Internet Monk:

Evangelicals and the Path to Catholic Spirituality

Carrie had this link posted on her blog, and I definitely wanted others to read it as well. What he states is much of what I've felt, only that I didn't feel DRY within evangelicalism; I just responded deeply to the richness of catholic faith and practice. (And yes, that small "c" is not a typo -- I mean "universal," not only Roman Catholic.)

Labor Day Pool Party

This afternoon Keith and I arrived at the Reynolds' El Cajon home with Keith's special Spanish Rice and corn fritters to add to the potluck Mexican dinner. Within minutes, Keith and I were both in the pool, enjoying the coolness of the water after a day in the mid-100s. Kitty, Guy, William, Dan, and a bunch of kids were alreadysplashing about, playing water basketball and frisbee. We didn't realize that kids were invited, but we were rather glad we didn't bring them anyway as it was very nice to give our full attention to our friends from church and not be distracted or interrupted by our gang. We MAY bring them next year ... MAYBE.

Keith and I spent hours in the pool, getting our briefly for a wonderful dinner which included homemade tamales, the afore-mentioned Spanish Rice, salad, enchilada casserole, fritters, fruit salad, refried beans, amd other delicious dishes. Within twenty minutes we women were back in the pool with some of the girls while the men stayed out, talking and eating. We got out around dessert time while Pastor Steve, Randy, and some of the kids got into the pool (see shot above). The sunset over the pool was gorgeous as were my dear friends, Kitty and Diana, who looked stunning despite hours immersed in the pool (for photos see my 365 blog in blog list at sidebar).

We stayed outside, breathing in the finally-cool evening air and talking together poolside about the new preschool starting at church tomorrow, about Pastor Steve's dissertation, and about the playground at church that Keith built five years ago that is no longer up to code for the preschoolers and possible ways of changing its configuration to make it work. As darkness fell in earnest, we packed up the leftover rice and fritters and bade goodbye and thanks to our host and hostess, as well as to other families who were on their way home, too.

So this is how we rang out the summer: in the pool or gathered around the pool with great church friends, laughing and talking and eating and laughing some more. That's the loveliest way to say "goodbye" to summer, although with temps forecasted for well over 100 again tomorrow, summer doesn't really feel like it's planning on leaving anytime soon, unfortunately.

The Psalms

I love reading and praying the Psalms. Whenever my heart is troubled, whenever I want to feel close to God, whenever the world seems too much and too crazy, I pick up my 1928 Book of Common Prayer which includes all the Psalms divided into thirty morning and evening readings so that the entire Book of Psalms can be read each month. And I love the translation which predates even the good ol' King James; the Psalms I pray are from the Great Bible of 1540.

Tonight I picked up my prayer book and turned to the Psalms for the Second Day (morning and evening). Here are some snippets of what I read, snippets that encouraged me and led me into the Presence of the Most High God, who loves me for who I am but loves me too much to let me stay that way (a paraphrase of Pastor Stephen's favorite line):

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will speak of all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee; yea, my songs will I make of thy Name, O thou Most Highest. (Psalm 9:1-2)

But the Lord shall endure for ever. The Lord also will be a defence for the oppressed, even a refuge in due time of trouble. And they that know thy Name will put their trust in thee; for thou, Lord, hast never failed them that seek thee. (Psalm 9: 7, 9-10)

But my trust is in thy mercy, and my heart is joyful in thy salvation. I will sing of the Lord, because he hath dealt so lovingly with me; yea, I will praise the Name of the Lord Most Highest. (Psalm 13: 5-6)

I love the liturgical reading of the Psalms that are part of the Anglican Morning and Evening Prayer services. The priest reads one verse, and the congregation the next verse, and on we read until we reach the end of the appointed Psalms. Responsive readings always thrill me -- we've done such readings at Lake Murray as well, and I love reading the Scriptures this way because we're all involved together, our voices intermingling as we speak the Word of God together as the Family of God. It's even more powerful when one considers that millions of Anglicans are reading the same Psalms together in churches all over the world -- the same Psalms are being spoken aloud in Alpine and in Nairobi, in London and in Seoul, in Sydney and in Kampala, in Boston and in Calcutta. The same Psalms that I just read in my prayer book, that I just prayed on this second day of the month, are being read and prayed TODAY throughout the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

That's an idea that feels so foreign to me as I've spent over fourteen years in a church whose history only reaches back fifty years with little national unity, much less a worldwide communion. The worldwide unity of the Anglican and Catholic Churches simply boggles my wee brain -- to have millions of Christians reading the same Scriptures today in their churches and hearing sermons based on those common Scriptures -- that's a powerful thing. A truly awesome thing.

Right now I'm reading Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book which discusses How To Read The Bible. I'm now starting the second section which deals with Lectio Divina, a way of slowly, deliberately, meditatively, prayerfully reading and "digesting" Scripture, an art that has been lost a little, I think, in the busy-ness of modern culture. I'm very glad to find other evangelicals picking up on the idea of Lectio and expanding it beyond a liturgical understanding; all Christians, no matter the denomination, would do well to practice Lectio Divina.

And the Psalms are definitely the best place for the practice of Lectio. As Pastor Peterson says, "Eat this book." "Taste and see that the Lord is good." And my advice: go to the Psalms and eat heartily, my friends. There's comfort and wisdom and joy and worship and love and the voice of the Most High God -- and it's there to be enjoyed, to be taken, to be consumed into our minds, hearts, and souls -- to the very depths of our spiritual beings.


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