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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, July 21, 2006 eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth

Last week seemed like a 'typical' summer day in New York City.

Hot, humid, sticky. Clothes sticking to you and your feet sticking to the asphalt accentuated by zillions of chards of recycled glass. The "New Jerusalem" is not full of milk and honey or the streets paved with gold: the recipe instead is asphalt, tar, gravel and recycled glass.

There were the requisite dog walkers, pre-school kids paired off buddy system two by two, speeding couriers on their stipped down bicylces weaving in and out of traffic without regard to taxis or pedestrians.

In addition there were several food service trailers... ah, they must be filming in the neighborhood. Another huge trailer sported doors with different signs - including "Stunt Coordinator". That's a give away.

Yet there seemed more police presence. When I was walking toward the General Assembly building the ranks grew. More blue uniforms. Far more vigilance. Then I saw the trucks. All with booms and satelite dishes. What has happened?

I fight against my own aversion to the media that swoops down like a line of vultures onto the premesis when world news - usually bad news - is being made. This time it's in Lebanon.

Death. Vengence. Bloodshed. Vindication. Retaliation. Honor. Justice.

I can recall sitting in an Old Testament class while the instructor went on at length about the establishment of a reasonable ethical order among the Hebrews. Instead of over reacting to an act of agression (for example, coming with all your relatives - weapons in hand - to wipe out the population of a village in retaliation for one of their members breaking your brother's leg) one could only exact punishment in equal proportion.

Fighting, killing. Where will it end? Even if we tear each other apart, body part by body part, no one "wins". God help us all. On a summer day in the city, in Lebanon, in Israel. God help us all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Encouraging the Mommy Reflex

I watched a program on Animal Planet ... 'Growing up... Elephant'.

Although somewhere in the recesses of my memory I recall that the gestation period for elephants was lengthy, I forgot the actual number; my memory was refreshed tonight: a total of 22 months. A mama elephant is pregnant for 22 months before finally giving birth. Wow.!.

Mommies, I am becoming convinced, are magical and amazing creatures. Many human women can bear children, but there is a particular person that becomes a Mommy. That woman falls in love with her child and will do anything to preserve, protect, nurture that baby.

I don't know whether Mommies are born or Mommies are just might be a slice of each. Whatever the origin or environmental influences, Mommies are incredible. The Mommy reflex is the one that is installed in a parent that makes it tolerable to change innumerable diapers and field projectile vomiting and cool febrile brows.

mommy-ness is consistently Christ-like. Kind, patient, selfless, loving. I have seen some Daddies who display similar traits, yet my eyes fill with tears when I see a photo of a new Mommy holding her newborn tenderly. No, I am not going to go into gender bending here. Jesus the historical figure was a man. Period. There is ample evidence - especially in Luke - of how tender he was toward children and the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

We have all seen baptisms, all been witnesses and asked to participate in the spiritual life of the individual - infant, child, adult - being introduced into the the Christian life of community, prayer, worship and service. Think back to the last baptism you participated in. How have you reached out to these new family members? What can we do - individually or on a parish level - to encourage the Mommy within each of us?

Two ministries come to mind: Christian initiation/Christian education and Hospitality/Pastoral care. Preparing individuals for confirmation, being included in the process of initiation and integration into the Church is a wonderful calling. Another is doing both inreach and outreach. Establishing and maintaining an 'open door' policy in any given parish is much more involved than it may seem.

generosity of heart encourages the Mommy reflex. When we can see someone else's point of view, experience some level of empathy in another's grief or pain or struggle our Mommy reflex strengthens and becomes second nature. Jesus would be proud!

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