We just got home from dinner. A family in the church adopted us and we had a great time with their daughters, their husbands, and the extended family that showed up. I made my family’s orzo recipe and got rave reviews and requests for it. After dinner, we took a walk through the snowy woods and played pool and talked. It was great and I came home to two lovey, sleepy kitties.

To all y’all in the U.S. and abroad: Happy Thanksgiving!

My Day

My gingerbread cat is a bit angry with me. First, I chopped 8 inches off of my hair this morning (and I will post pics when I get them back on Sunday — I promise) and then I had Jon take a picture of both of us… WITH THE FLASH!!!!!! He sulked under the bed for the rest of the day.

After Jon left this morning, I went for a walk around the neighborhood and took pictures of the snow before it melted. We went from a marshmellow world this morning to a melted world this afternoon and was perched on the chair waiting for me, so I got some very nice pictures of him — he is such a photogenic beast.

This evening was the community Thanksgiving service. I was standing around before the service and got impressed into carrying the banner for St. Paul’s. This banner itself is about 6 feet long (vertically) and the pole adds another 3-4 feet. I’m all of… 5’1″ on a good day. I did manage to maneuver OK and though I think I almost gave Bill a heart attack, I did pretty well. It was a nice service and the music was all stuff I knew.

Tomorrow I have to assemble the pasta salad that we’re bringing to dinner. And…. I GET TO SLEEP IN!!!!!!!

Meanwhile… Robin Williams is on Whose Line!

OK… Open for business a few days early…

I was getting a little too impatient about waiting until Advent actually starts to open up my blog so… I announce the grand opening of Magnificat, a weblog which will now house my thoughts and such. It will be done in Greymatter until I learn how to manipulate MT a bit better.

The color scheme is blues and purples and candles because this is an Advent layout. Advent is the liturgical season that happens during the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ and is probably my favorite liturgical season. So… enjoy the layout and I’ll start posting some more here later!

Oh yes… I have a re-direct script (muchos gracias Krissy) at /blog, so if you are coming there off of that link, please update your links. Thanks!

Worship and Such Things

Academic Schtuff
I finished my Ministry of Worship paper at 13:25 (yes, I use European/hospital/military time) and spent the next 20 minutes trying to get it to print. I race into class only to hear my professor say, “Oh Jen! If you need more time on your paper, just give it to me on Wednesday. I’d rather have you in class on time than your paper on time.” *Jen gnashes her teeth* At least I have time to revise it…

In class today, we watched a Tridentine Mass from 1962 which was interesting and then compared it with a Mass done at St. Peter’s Church in Cleveland. It was interesting to see the comparison. The Tridentine Mass was very detached from the congregation as the priest said most of the major stuff quietly to himself wheras the contemporary Mass had the people standing around the altar. I think there is a place for the ethereal and reverential in life but one also needs to look at the communal things.

Last night when I had done my reflection paper on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (basically the ecumenical understanding of most of the major sacraments), I was talking to Dane who was one of the leaders of my college fellowship and also one of my surrogate parents. I was explaining the paper topic to him and talking about my argument and he asked me one of the most obvious questions:

“Does contemporary music obviate the sacraments?”
My answer: “Ummmm…. yes and no. Let me email you on that.”

Leave it to a seeker and non-liturgical person to come up with the most obvious question that I should be asking! I rewrote portions of my paper based on my responses to that.

Life Schtuff
Currently, I’m sitting at the circ desk of the seminary library chilling since I go from 8:00 – 20:30 on Mondays and 8:00-21:30 on Wednesday. At least I have a break for dinner tonight, which is good because I have Seminary Choir at 7 and that’s one of those times when a full stomach is not a bad thing. I got a 15 minute lunch today because I was working on my paper and I’ve been going straight through since then. I have another paper to do tonight (New Testament I — I have to compare and contrast Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright on a subject from “The Meaning of Jesus”) which should be interesting to write. Borg drives me up the wall because he claims to be Christian but has some pretty heretical ideas. I’m much more inclined to agree with Wright — maybe because he is Anglican and the canon of Westminster Abbey while Borg is just a comparative religion professor at Oregon State — a school not known for its Religion program.

Faith Schtuff
I’ve been trying to learn the discipline of spending time in daily devotion for at least two years now. Honestly, I’m becoming disgusted at my inability do it. Maybe that’s a step, though: realizing that I can’t do it on my own. I know that my tendecy to rely on my own strength and ability is one of my greatest weaknesses as a Christian. It’s rooted in the (aggressively anti-Christian) way I was raised. I grew up in a fiercely independant, self-reliant family, and that way of living has brought me a great deal of worldly success. I often think it would be easier for me to surrender to and rely on God if I experienced more failure in my life, but for the most part, I don’t. And that makes it much, much too easy to ignore my Lord and plow through by myself. Right now I’m just trying to pray that God will teach me how to follow Him and be with Him, since I clearly don’t know. I feel like I’m stuck in an endless cycle, and every rotation dulls my awareness of God just a little more, draws me further from him and more into myself. I’d like to get out soon, please.
Brianna (my beloved hostee) in her journal

That’s basically my same thought. My devotional life is sporadic at best right now because it seems like I’m just doing too much. One thing that we often talk about here is the tendency to get caught up in the academic things of religion and to not nurture the emotional and spiritual parts of ourselves. The last time I was able to spend five uninterrupted minutes of prayer before last Saturday was… umm…. maybe a few weeks before? This is really hard for me to deal with in myself because as a potential pastor, I really should be developing better habits. I’m going to be under just as much of a time crunch as a pastor and I need to at least get some devotional time in place. I feel like I am literally running like a headless chicken. I do attend chapel daily and I count my choir time as prayer but I really don’t get any personal devotional time like I should. Perhaps tomorrow morning when Jon is in class?

Topping all of this off, Jen *REALLY* wants a nap…

Birthday Schtuff

Nobody sang to me at church this morning which was nice (I blush easily) but people did wish me a “Happy Birthday”. Jon came home about 45 minutes ago from playing with the Boy Scouts this weekend and now he’s chilling on the bed with Racky (his evil, belligerent, holey, sardonic stuffed raccoon). I can finally open the sewing machine that Mom got me and hopefully I’ll be able to go down to the quilting store and get some squares so I can practice on something. Thankfully, there’s a video that goes with the machine so I can learn to use it properly.

This afternoon, I’ll probably go work on papers after a nap and tonight, we’re going to the Monk for dinner. (It’s the pricey pub across the street.) We’ve got food in the apartment but we really don’t dress up and go out all that often. I’ll also probably bake some muffins so that I have food for this week and also some chicken so that I have lunch for the next few days. I’ve learned that it’s easier to just cook food ahead of time and refrigerate it.

Weekly Summation

This Week’s Entries
I’ve written a lot about worship this week that I do not usually say. I am not sure if it is because things have just upset me more than they usually do this week or because I am writing a paper on contemporary worship and am more attuned to what is going on around me.

The results of the survey were overwhelmingly in favor of “blended worship” in which liturgy is maintained but some contemporary elements are used. This did not surprise me too much because most of the “contemporary” services I attend are mostly older people (i.e. 65-70 year olds). The “gen-X” services that work in the Lutheran church are occasionally the “contemporary” services that seek to copy the way they do things in the Vineyard churches but mostly the services where there is a sense of integrity maintained with some newer music. Community Church of Joy, probably the largest church in the ELCA, does things similar to the Vineyard, but they’ve lost their Lutheran identity and become just another mega-church. While I know that mega-churches are just serving their communities, it does beg the question of what their parishioners will do when they move and their local Lutheran church is nothing like that.

After the amount of thinking that I’ve done, I’ve realized that I would probably not be OK with the idea of starting a contemporary service if I was a pastor unless the exact words of the call committee were, “we want to bring more people to Jesus Christ” and not “we want to attract more people to our church.” I know plenty of churches that do worship well but are unfriendly. There are also churches that make a mockery of worship but are very friendly. My first thought on attracting people would be to make sure that whatever worship we were doing was done well. I would also want to take whatever steps were necessary to make sure that visitors felt welcomed and were able to get through the service without getting lost. There are ways of doing this without eliminating liturgy altogether.

Life In General
I have been so overwhelmed and exhausted lately. I was planning on taking my permit test this week only to have those plans shot down by having to schedule my table practice (basically demonstrating how you preside and assist at the Eucharist) today after chapel and having to go to worship team practice this afternoon. My devotional life has been random at best and I wasn’t even getting into the music in chapel today or at worship team practice. I think the retreat tomorrow will be beneficial to refocus me. I’ve been letting devotions slip because it’s hard for me to do them with someone else around. (And no Jon, it’s not your fault. I had the same problem while living with Carolyn.) I know it’s something that I have to get used to doing, but it is a really difficult change. I think it stems from having to be so secretive when I was home.

My wonderful and loving in-laws sent me a $25 gift certificate for Amazon.Com as a birthday present. (My birthday is the 19th. I’m really good at languages so it’s not surprising that I’m a Pentecost baby.) With it, I got the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (because Jon and I are in desperate need of recipes and would *love* to find ones that we can cook and freeze and refrigerate for days when the two of us have meetings) and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which I read in my junior honors English class.

I went to see the new kitten that my friends Kristi and Galen just got. It was a kitten that some other friends of ours had found in their apartment parking lot that was in dire need of a home. The poor kitten had a bite wound to the tail and looked pretty awful. They took it home, bathed it, and took it to the vet. When I came over tonight to see it, Kirby (the kitten) looked *so* much better. He has part of the fur on his tail shaved off so that they could fix the bite wound and the fur around his neck looks like someone had either a rope or a really tight collar on it because it seems worn and Kirby is really sensitive about anyone touching it. He let me feel it (but then again, I have positive cat karma and I know how to do it without scaring the cat) and it does feel like he has some sores there. He is a very adorable light-colored tabby though and he is incredibly affectionate. I was sitting down in the basement where they are having to quarantine him and he came over and climbed into my lap and curled up in a purring ball. Jon and I were supposed to be the ones to have him but we can’t have a cat in the apartment we’re in so we’ve got visitation rights at Kristi and Galen’s. We’re also cat-sitting for them in two weeks so I’ll probably get lots of kitty time then. Their other cat, Mimi, is not amused at the moment because she has ceased to be the center of attention. 🙂