Saturday, July 22, 2006

"I want to get washed up"-- Godspell

253. What great things, then does Baptism give or work?
It works forgiveness of sins;
b. It delivers from death and the devil;
c. It gives eternal salvation.
-- Luther's Small Catechism
I went to church tonight. The last few weeks I have been going to church on Saturday nights as opposed to Sunday mornings. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is I have a class on Saturday that meets all day, so I have to have Saturdays off, the second reason is that the Saturday service is always a traditional service, the Sunday service I usually go to alternates between traditional and contemporary and I can never remember which week is which. So, to keep the confusion down I've been going to the Saturday night service and I have really enjoyed it. Its a bit more intimate than the big Sunday service and I find myself paying attention a bit more closely.

Tonight we had two of my favorite things: a baptism and communion. Both sacraments in one service. It doesn't get much better than that, really. Seeing God's grace in full view, tangible. It was exciting. One of the things I enjoy about worshiping is watching others around me worship, I get much stregnth and pleasure from that. Seeing someone being truly moved gets my light fired up. As I listened to the Baptism liturgy I watched the mother and the father of the little boy being Baptized. The baby's Godparents were holding him over the faunt as Pastor Y poured the water from a silver shell. The baby's parents were a little to the side. Both smiling and the mother kept wiping her eyes and covering her mouth as she cried happily. I don't think I've ever seen that before-- such subtle happiness and faith burning bright like I did tonight.

That subtle display turned my Faith "pilot light" on. In the back of my mind I thought boo-yah, another one for the winning team. And then I thought of the Parable of the lost sheep from Luke 15.
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Tonight was a good night. Grace was given, received and thanks given.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Survey

Last month, in a fit of hubris, I went bought a new car. Brand new, 2006 Chevy Cobalt. Wonderful car, love it. Runs well, gets decent gas milage, has heated leather seats, power tinted windows-- in short a bit loaded. I'm not bragging, really, I'm not... I got my first monthly bill for it the other day and suddenly a paid off 2000 two door, White Cavalier suddenly looks a wonderful, but the piper must be paid and the bed that hath been made must be laid in. So, I'll reconoiter my finances (again) and commence to pay the sum of approximately 324 dollars a month for the next 70 months of my life.

Now, a few weeks ago I got a survey from Chevy asking me to rate the dealership. And I have been sitting on the survey because I just wasn't very happy with the treatment I got. I almost walked out three times. By the time I was done I was exhausted. I'm not going to get into it, but lets just say it was 6 hours of dickering....

I have the survey filled out, but I'm not sure I'm going to send it. Its not a good report card for them. The survey basically has these choices: completely satisfied, somewhat satisfied, satisfied, not at all satisfied... talk about splitting hairs. I would of rather a 1-10 scale or something. My answers range somewhere between Satisfied and Somewhat Satisfied. The reason I haven't sent the survey back is this: I'm not happy with the choices they give me. Maybe it would be better if I wrote them a letter and told them what it was I didn't like, but I'm too lazy for that and I don't want them bugging me trying to make me like them.

So, the survey sits on my desk, in an envelope waiting to be mailed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Indiana Weather

There is something about a thunderstorm that swoops down on you. Those dark clouds, loud crashes of thunder, bright flashses of lightening and the sheet of rain that comes with it. Then, there is the small pebble sized hail that bounces off the windows and the skylights in the kitchen. Its then that the whole "man, I'm but a little cog in this great unkown" kind of starts to kick in. Of course its really a lot of fun when the special "weather radio" we got from H.H. Gregg starts to sqwak and then the computer generated voice tells us that "the world will end in ten minutes" and then "hurry up, please... its time" and then the world descends upon you with thunder, lightening, rain, and hail. Yes, that's just a lot of fun... have I mentioned how much I enjoy Indiana weather? Tis a blast.

Friday, July 14, 2006

American Gods

The last couple days I have been reading the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Its a rather thick book somewhere around 500 pages, or so. I'm about halfway through it. I'm not exactly sure what it is all about, it has something to do with "forgotten gods," that is mythical gods of various peoples such as Native Americans, but also immigrant groups and the like. In the book it seems that these gods are personified. The main character, Shadow, interacts with them. There seems to be a war or verybad conflict brewing, but I'm not sure between who and over what. Hopefully that wee dilemna will be cleared up with the next 250 pages.

There is another aspect of the book that I do find quite fascinating. In Europe there are sacred places, you know, churches and cathedrals. These things have a certain religious quality to them. According to Mr. Wednesday, the other character in the book, in America holy and sacred places are roadside attractions and tourist attractions-- maybe better said "kitschy power," or something along those lines, though according Mr. Wednesday Disney World has none of this sacred power, Walt Disney Land might, but Mount Rushmore is lousy with it. So I assume a place like Graceland might be the motherload or something.

Its a good book, I suppose, but I think Mr. Gaiman is a bit wordy. I've been chugging through the book for a couple days. I'm not sure if I like it or not, and I think part of that is from the fact that I'm not sure I understand all of it. My knowledge of "gods" isn't what I would call "vast," but I shall endevour to march on through, perhaps the ending punch will all be worth it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Thoughts on a Rubiks Cube

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
-- James 2: 8-11

The other day my dad and I went to an Indaianapolis Indians baseball game. It was
Rubiks Cube night. The first umpteen-thousand people got a Cube. We sat down and I looked at the Cube, thinking about how much I didn't want to start spinning it because I'd never get it back together again. I've never been able to fix the Rubiks Cube once its been screwed up, so I left it in its shrink wrapped state.

A few minutes later a man and his little boy were climbing the stairs to get a hotdog or something and the little kid, probably no more than four or five, was walking carefully up the stairs and trying to solve the Cube. I chuckled as he walked by and his dad said "I told him not mess with it."

I didn't think anything of it until last night.

I must admit, here, that I have been remiss. I haven't taken time for personal Bible study in weeks. Absolute weeks. Sure, I'll even give you the usual excuses, ready? I've been too busy: work, school, sleeping and eating. I just couldn't fit it in. A day or two ago, it hit me that I hadn't had any personal one on one God-time in awhile, aside from Sunday mornings. So, before I went to bed I read a little bit of the book of James. I read James when I need a pickmeup, if you will. There is alot in there that really "speaks" to me.

I read the verses above last night and had a mini-epiphany. The Law is like a Rubiks Cube. In one way we do our best to keep it. We try and say "I follow the Ten Commandments to the letter..." etc, etc. And yet, somehow or another we fall. We each have our, as Paul called them, "thorns." There is that one thing that gets us, time and time again-- a part of the Cube is messed up. So, we try and fix that Cube and what happens... we mess it up worse.

I remember when I was a kid and the Rubiks Cube was the hottest toy on the planet, save for the Gabbage Patch Doll; there were competitions to see who could fix the Cube the fastest. I was amazed at the speed and agility those people had. Amazing.

This Rubiks Cube website has a neat fixture on it: there is a "solve" function. After you scramble that cube up and work on it for a few minutes trying to put it back together again, you can just give up, click "solve" and boom... the cube solves itself... isn't that kind of what Grace does? Isn't that kind of what Grace is all about? After we've mucked up God's great "cube," if you will we can be confident that through Jesus Christ that "cube" is solved and made perfect. We don't have to worry about the discombobulated cube.

Thinking back to that little boy's dad who said to me "I told him not to mess with it" I find myself wondering does God think that, too? I told them not to mess with it." Then His Son says: "It's okay, dad, I fixed it." And our Cube is solved.

Perfect-- just like us through Grace.