Thursday, August 28, 2008

Saint of the Week -- Augustine of Hippo

In May, we celebrated Saint Monnica, mother of Augustine. Now at last we have arrived at the saint day of her son.

It is hard to estimate the influence of this one North African bishop on Christianity. Augustine gave us way too much to think about on the topic of original sin, an outgrowth of his lifelong struggle against lust (we still have a theological hangover from his work on original sin). He also gave us the just war theory, which teaches us not so much whether or not to enter conflict, but what is an ethical way of conducting one's part in the conflict. As Rome fell to barbarian invaders, he wrote the massive City of God, which explained how the Church, the "city of God" would eventually win out over human empires -- "the cities of men."

Augustine was a Berber, not a Roman, an outsider, a genius rhetorician, a wild and crazy guy, who after years of resisting his mother's prayers and the grace of God, gave in. He heard a child in a garden singing, "Take and read, take and read." He picked up the Letter to the Romans (which has gotten more people riled up for Jesus than any other book in the Bible ... like Martin Luther and John Wesley for starters.) and was converted.

"Thou hast made us for Thyself," he wrote later in his Confessions, "And our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."

+ Kit

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reading Ahead -- Pentecost 16

This week's Gospel reading is the core of the gospel of Matthew. This is when Jesus reveals his identity and his purpose to his friends. Peter identifies him as the Messiah and Jesus drops the bomb about what being the Messiah means:

Being the Messiah means not success, but failure.

Being the Messiah means not conquering the world, but suffering what the world is and does and means.

Being the Messiah does not mean throwing out the oppressors, but coming under the power of the oppressors.

Being the Messiah means not fixing all things but bearing all things, suffering all things.

Messiah = Cross.

And if we are to become followers of the Messiah, we must also become bearers of the cross, the cross that suffers, the cross that bears, the cross that yields to power, the cross that fails rather than become part of the system of cruelty and oppression, the cross that finds power in powerlessness, the cross that conquers by being vanquished.

Are you ready to take up that cross? What's getting in your way today?

+ Kit

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This Year's Freshmen

The Beloit College list is out. This is the cultural gut check for people who think about this year's crop of freshmen. I alluded to some of these items in the sermon Sunday.

The class of 2012 was born, by and large, in 1990. These are some of their controlling realities:

They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.

GPS systems have always been available.

Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.

WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.

The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.

Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.

The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno.

Caller ID has always been available on phones.

There have always been charter schools.

This may help us greet this year's crop of incoming freshmen. Whether you bump into them on Grand River, serve them dinner at a Canterbury meal, or teach or help them on campus, remember ... they come from Another World.


+ Kit

Monday, August 25, 2008

At the Campfire Coffeehouse

Last Saturday was a lovely, mellow evening, as we gathered at Dan and Gail Shaefer-Crane's farm. There were a couple of hayrides, a chance to see all their wonderful antique cars, a great potluck supper plus hot dogs and it all ended with s'mores around the campfire and a handful of songs before the thunder came.

Best of all was the relaxed conversation as people met, grouped and regrouped, catching up after a long summer, meeting new people, laughing at the kids playing in the bubble machine. As the sun set, it warmed the friendship and fellowship that knits us together in Christ's Body at All Saints.

+ Kit

Friday, August 22, 2008

Improve Your Child's Grades ... With Church Attendance

New research shows that teens who regularly attend church have higher GPAs than their counterparts who lie in bed on Sunday mornings.

GPAs of regular attendees were .144 higher than those of non-attendees. And it didn't matter if the teens cared about the religious or faith aspects at all. Regardless of their attitudes toward religion, regular attendance seemed to be the key factor.

The researchers suggested some reasons for this effect:

o They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
o Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends' parents.
o They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
o They're more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.

The results, from a team of Notre Dame and University of Iowa researchers, are outlined in the winter 2008 issue of Sociological Quarterly

So, kick those adolescents out of bed and bring them on down!

+ Kit

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All Saints Welcomes ALL

I have been thinking about "welcome" this week as the horde of students descends upon East Lansing. Not only for how we welcome the students back to East Lansing and MSU, but also what it means to be a community that welcomes ALL, as our mission statement says, and what it means to be individuals who welcome ALL.

It is easier than one might think, and also harder than one might think, to be welcoming to all. It can be as easy as wearing your name tag all morning every Sunday, so others can learn (or remember!) your name. It can be as easy as saying hello to someone who is obviously new and looking lost.

But it can also be difficult. The real challenge in "welcoming all" is to move from simply greeting to actually welcoming. Do we move outside of our circle of intimate friends to get to know another in a fuller way? Do we invite people by name, as individuals, into our groups -- our study groups, our ministry areas, our social circles -- and help them get rooted there?

And finally, as individual people moving through the day or week, do we "welcome ALL" with whom we come in contact? Is it possible to maintain a welcoming attitude when the lines at Meijer get impossibly long, or when the guy who sits behind you at the football games gets drunk and obnoxious? This is a challenge for me in my own spiritual growth.

What about you? How easy is it for you to be someone who "welcomes all" and to be someone who shares in making All Saints a place that "welcomes all"?


+ Kit

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading Ahead -- Pentecost 15

Let's hear it for uppity women. This week's
reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is full of them.

It starts with Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives, who instead of killing the Hebrew boy babies, as Pharaoh commanded, tell the authorities instead that the Hebrew women are just too quick to give birth and they just can't make it there in time to kill the boy babies. Then we have the mother and sister of Moses, who put the baby in the basket in the reeds so Pharaoh's daughter can find him. With sister Miriam close by, so she can enlist Moses' own mother as his wet nurse.

Then we even have Pharaoh's daughter, who knows her father has issued this decree to have the Hebrew boys killed, but who carries one right into the palace, raises him as her son, gives him an Egyptian name (Moses is not a Hebrew name, but an Egyptian one), and preserves him right in the face of the man who would have had him killed.

How many secret, shrewd and crafty acts have kept God's story going and God's purposes alive in the world? And how many of those secret, shrewd and crafty acts have relied on women?

How are you secretly, shrewdly, and craftily keeping God's kingdom dreams alive in your world today?

+ Kit

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Come to the Campfire

This Saturday, it's time for some singin' and some eatin' and some marshmallow toastin' and some hayridin' and some checkin' out of some cool old cars ...

At the second annual Campfire Coffeehouse at the farm of Dan and Gail Shaefer-Crane. We'll have hayrides and a chance to check out their collection of antique cars from 5 to 6 p.m., then dinner at 6 (bring a salad or side dish to share, the hot dogs and drinks are on us), followed by s'mores and singing around the campfire.

It's at 3447 W. Stoll Road in Lansing, out by the airport.
Here's a map, if you need one.



Monday, August 18, 2008

The Students Are Coming! The Students Are Coming!

Move-in starts this week and pretty soon the streets of East Lansing will be back to their crowded school year selves. And we will be seeing students checking out All Saints and the Canterbury-MSU ministry. Already, yesterday in church, a couple of grad students visited and worshipped with us.

All Saints plays host to the MSU students in several ways. First, by welcoming them when they show up on a Sunday morning looking homesick and confused. (As you welcomed me some 30 years ago when I showed up as a freaked-out freshman far from home.) And also by hosting the Canterbury-MSU student ministry for worship each Sunday at 5, and by providing a home for Chaplain Sarah in our rectory (and a great hang-out space that she has set up for the students in the rec room there).

The CMSU ministry needs COOKS to make dinners for the students this fall. Also, mark your calendars for the Fall Feast fundraising dinner for Canterbury on October 10. This fundraiser makes the annual mission trip (Alternative Spring Break) possible for the students. Please call the church office (351-7160) if you'd like to make a dinner one Sunday night.

And know that you are always welcome to worship with Canterbury at 5 p.m. on Sundays. So if you can't make it to church on Sunday morning, Sarah will be very pleased to see you on Sunday afternoon.


+ Kit

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reading Ahead -- Pentecost 14

Well, Jesus does not come off very well in this week's Gospel reading. He is traveling in Gentile territory -- what is present-day Lebanon. I imagine him going incognito, on vacation from all the craziness back in Galilee. Here he doesn't have to be the Messiah or a healer or anything. He can just take a break.

But this woman keeps bothering him to heal her daughter. "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" he tells her. (Like, "Look, lady. I'm on vacation here. I only do my work in Israel. I'm supposed to be off. That's why I came to this Gentile place.")

Then he really insults her. "It's not right to take the children's food and give it to the dogs." Jesus calls her and her daughter and all her people "dogs." Jesus, who fed 5,000 people and had plenty of leftovers, implies that there's just not enough to go around, especially for the likes of her.

How does this story of a seemingly uninterested Jesus disturb or challenge you? Can Jesus change his mind? Is the Gentile woman smarter about the ways of God than he is? In your prayers this week, argue with Jesus as the Canaanite woman did. See what his reply to you might be.

+ Kit

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Check out the website!

Our parish website has been redesigned by Deb Lashbrook. We're still working out a few kinks and editing the pages. But this is a good chance to ask: What do you think should be available on our website? What would make it work better? What do you want to find there?

+ Kit

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

If You Had Just One Question

About ten years ago, Joan Osborne hit the charts with a song ... "What if God Was One of Us." I was thinking about the opening verse: If God had a name/What would it be?/And would you call it to His face/if you were face to face with Him/in all his glory/and what would you ask if you had just one question?

What would you ask God if you had just one question?


Monday, August 11, 2008

Neither Rain Nor Heat, Nor ...

Any kind of weather can stop All Saints folks from getting out to have some fun. There was a great turnout yesterday for the annual Lugnuts outing at Oldsmobile Park. Even though the game started an hour and a half late because of a rain delay, we ate hot dogs, drank beer, chatted and laughed and enjoyed the occasional shower.

Tamara Hicks-Syron finally kicked it all off at 3:30 when she stepped out onto the field to sing the National Anthem. It was great to have one of our own start the proceedings.

And the Lugnuts won! So what could be better, really?