Monday, December 21, 2009

disaster averted

Today my hands were definitely FULL.  We hadn't even made it to breakfast this morning (the first official day of winter break) when Eliana (8) announced that she was "leaving."  Apparently the gross injustices of life in our household had taken their toll and she was calling it quits.  My infraction (i.e. giving Emma the bowl to lick and Eliana only the beater) was unforgivable, and the suitcase was already out and ready to be packed.  Emma was pretty concerned that Eliana would be gone forever, and wondered if she could go along.  (Though both of them planned to stop back by on Christmas morning for their gifts).  When they heard that little girls who run away don't get any Christmas presents they were sobered.

I suggested that Eliana eat a good breakfast before she hit the highway.  She lit up and decided that was a good idea.  By the end of breakfast we were all laughing again, and decided that winter really is a bad time to run away anyway.  Eliana postponed her rebellion "until warmer weather." Phew!

My only concern now is that there are still 13 days left before school starts again ... What will tomorrow hold?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

more unlikely witnesses ...

Eliana had big news to share this afternoon after school.  On her bus ride home she sat beside a first grader who said that her mom was a student.  Eliana said her mom was in school, too, studying the Bible.  The first grader didn't know what the Bible was!  Eliana was quite excited to tell her about it.  "It tells about how God made the world and everything in it.  He even made you and me!"  Her seatmate didn't know who God was either. 

As we talked about it after school we realized that this little girl might know all about God and the Bible but just not know the English words to talk about it, because though her English is good, she's hispanic.  Eliana must have a bit of the apostle Paul in her, because that was disappointing news to her.  She was thinking she was the first one to tell this gal about Jesus! (Rom 15:20)

While she was still at school, I was meeting with 2 Jehovah's Witnesses in our home.  They have offered to come weekly for a Bible Study.  And while they are hoping that I will "see the light", I'm hoping to be one.  I shared with them what I was discovering this morning as I studied John chapter nine.  Probably the biggest difference between us (I'm guessing, from what I know of their beliefs) is our doctrine of the Trinity.  And while they are right that the word "Trinity" never occurs in the Bible, and the church did not set down a clearly articulated trinitarian confession until the fourth century, I have expressed that I'm struck by how strongly John portrays his understanding of Jesus' divinity.  For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it's right there!

The example I shared today is from John 9:5 where Jesus says "I am the light of the world".  We could assume that He is simply hunting for an analogy that would express how His teaching brings understanding.  OR we could search the Scriptures for the background of this image so that we approach Jesus' statement with the right expectations.  Isaiah, which echoes throughout John 9, had a lot to say about the light that is to come.  Check out these highlights (pun intended):

"The people walking in darkness see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness." (Isaiah 9:2 NET)  In the context Isaiah is describing what will happen when "the son" reigns on David's throne forever.

Later Isaiah reports what God says to "The Servant" (a name which initially applies to Israel but later is given to the Messiah): "I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)  This is the mission of His Servant.

But here's the best part:

"Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the LORD shines on you! 2 For, look, darkness covers the earth and deep darkness covers the nations, but the LORD shines on you; his splendor appears over you. (Isaiah 60:1-2)

"The sun will no longer supply light for you by day, nor will the moon's brightness shine on you; the LORD will be your permanent source of light– the splendor of your God will shine upon you. 20 Your sun will no longer set; your moon will not disappear; the LORD will be your permanent source of light." (Isaiah 60:19-20)

When Jesus says he is the light of the world, he is saying something very alarming!  Not only is he claiming to be the Messianic Servant, sent to restore Israel and give light to all nations, but he is claiming to be God Himself!

Needless to say, my friends and I did not succeed in ironing out the doctrine of the Trinity.  But it was a start.  And I have lots more examples where that came from.  And they're coming back next week!  Meanwhile, Eliana is busy learning key words like "God" and "Bible" in Spanish so she can try them out on her friend tomorrow.  We're thrilled!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

slow and steady

The kids and I read 'The Tortoise and the Hare' this morning.  I have always liked that story where the unlikely turtle wins the race through discipline and perseverance, while the rabbit, who takes for granted his victory, naps in the shade.

It made me think of my seminary experience.  I am often asked, "How do you do it?"  The idea of managing a home, mothering 3 active children, keeping in touch with friends and family, volunteering at church, and adding a masters degree to all that is rather overwhelming.  But I, like the tortoise, just take it one step at a time.  One book at a time.  One paper at a time.

Every day is full of choices about how we can spend our time.  Being a student means a lot of those choices are made for me (and Danny!).  During Easton's morning nap I study.  During the kids' afternoon rest I study.  After they go to bed I study some more.  It's true, there are no time slots left for TV or scrapbooking or facebook or manicures.  But all those 1 hour chunks really do add up!  That's the steady part.  As for the slow part ... consider this:  Just 18 months from now I will graduate with a 2-year degree ... that I started in the spring of 2004.  For those of you who are not math whizzes, that means I've crammed two years of study into seven.  :) 

And that, my friends, is proof that the Ethiopian proverb is true:  Little by little the egg will walk.
Or to put it in American jargon: Slow and steady wins the race.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

unlikely witnesses

Yesterday evening I attended a chapel service that was such a great reminder of how God's work in sending Jesus was all backwards and inside out. 

Dr. Tim Laniak shared:
"In light of certain rabbinic texts, it appears that shepherds in first century Palestine were not highly regarded. Assuming they were prone to dishonesty, herders were not legitimate witnesses in court. Luke deliberately highlights the “unlikely” people who participate in the Nativity account: an unwed mother, a barren woman, a widow in the Temple courts, and these field shepherds."

After spending the semester in the Gospel of John, I can say that he, too, was mesmerized by God's upside-down way of doing things.  In John 3 we meet Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler, who dialogues with Jesus but is slow to understand and slow to believe.  (We don't see any clear evidence of his faith in Jesus until after Jesus dies!)  But in John 4 we meet a unnamed Samaritan woman with a dodgy reputation, who meets Jesus and then runs off to tell the whole city about him.  Of this woman, whose testimony - like the shepherds' - would not be heard in court, it is said, "From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified" (John 4:39).  Shocking, really!

In John 9 we're introduced to another nameless character, a man blind from birth.  As the story develops it becomes evident that this once-blind-man can see much better than the Jewish leaders.  While they continue to argue and quibble over Sabbath laws, the man born blind sees Jesus for who he really is and worships him. (John 9:38)

And then if we fast-forward to John 20 we have a stunning picture of the way in which God is re-building His community and re-writing all the rules.  Who is the first to come to the tomb and see the stone rolled away?  Mary of Magdala, a woman.  She bears the news to the disciples.  Who sees the angels?  Again, Mary.  And to whom does Jesus first appear?  Mary.  Mary, a woman of questionable background, is the first witness of the resurrection of our Lord.

And while we could add many more to this list, the point has been made.  The fact is that God's kingdom is filled with unlikely citizens, and the truth of His message is attested by unlikely witnesses.  As witnesses to his resurrection we're in great company: shepherds, blind men, and disreputable women.  It is just such a kingdom where a stay-at-home, seminary mom, wannabe teacher belongs!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

be there or be square ...

Today is the LAST day for early bird registration!