Monday, August 27, 2007

Rainy morning

Isaiah 11 (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD -

3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling [a] together;
and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.

9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

Hosea 6:3 (NAS)

"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth."

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Children News - international news about children.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

from USA Today: Food for Thought

My husband found this article in USA Today. Food for thought.


More from Children Matter:

"Understanding what Jesus says about children is at the heart of being a true disciple of Jesus." (p. 39)

"How could Jesus help their culture-blinded eyes see the reversed values of God's kingdom? 'Jesus . . . took a little child... (Luke 9:47-48)" (p. 40) What wonderful imagery!

"The Greeks and Romans viewed children as raw material to be formed, or uninformed beings to be educated. Jews believed children needed teaching and discipline so that they would learn to live like their ancestors and the adults in the faith community. However Jesus holds up children as teachers for adults. Within the kingdom of God adults are challenged to be open to learn from children and others who are the least." (CM p. 42, they footnote Strange, Children in the Early Church)

How do we know when we have culture-blinded eyes and culture-deaf ears? How does our own culture see children in contrast to the way God sees them? The way we hear the words of Jesus - are we culture-deaf, as well?

Father, Son, Holy Spirit we bless You. Heal us.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Incarnation

from Children Matter :

"Jesus did not walk onto the human stage as an adult; Jesus came as a baby and lived out a complete childhood. He experienced helplessness, loving care, obedience to parents, and the process of growing in divine and human favor (Luke 2:52). The incarnation powerfully affirms the significance of childhood." (p.38)

I've always thought it curious that Jesus laid His life down when he was 33 years old and didn't live to become a grey-beard and we know so little about those first 30 years and so much about the rest. Dying so young meant half his life had passed when he was 16. So He spent half of His life with us as a child and a teenager. Not to idolize that time in our lives, but it's curious in a time when adults were of more value than children. We don't even really know if Jesus had great parents or lousy parents, we just know that God chose them.

It's a neat quote.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One more thought pertaining to children from my Celtic readings:

"It was only days after the Dunblane massacre in Scotland in 1996," Newell says "that a child from Portsmouth, in looking at a crucifix said, 'That is like the Dunblane children.' We believe that the grace of moving into a further union with God was given to Jesus in his horrific death. Can we affirm that to be deeply true for all people, whether they die peacefully or violently, suddenly or expectedly?"

"The tendency has often been to try to shield children from the dark side of the Christ story. . . In the religious education of children we have tended instead to concentrate on images of the good Jesus, gentle and kind. Should we wonder then why later in life the Christian inheritance for so many seems to be lacking? When they begin to witness and experience injustice and sorrows for themselves, have they then the tools to look for grace in those painful situations? Or do they simply begin to doubt the half-truths that the Church has given them in its avoidance of the reality of suffering and death for each one of us?" (One Foot in Eden, p 85-86)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Worshipping with all of Creation

I also read God Under My Roof: Celtic Songs and Blessings by Ester De Waal (72 pages) , and I have Power Lines by David Adam (112 pages) a book of poetry (ie. blessings) about work. Celtic believers didn't draw lines between sacred and secular. They continually offered their daily chores gratefully to the Giver of Life - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God Under My Roof is a tiny snippet taken from a collection of writings recording an oral tradition from the Scots Islands and Highlands in the 19th century - a tradition of Christian faith handed down from generation to generation. A tradition that did not divide sacred from secular and saw all that is created as originating in the heart of the Creator.

"Children learning the first prayer of the day from their mothers were unconsciously made to feel their worship of God took place in the midst of the whole worship of the natural world. 'My mother would be asking us to sing our morning song to God down in the back-house, as Mary's lark was singing it up in the clouds, and as Christ's mavis was singing it yonder in the tree, giving glory to God of the creatures for the repose of the night, for the light of the day, and for the joy of life.' (Carmina Gadelica -III, 25) The dressing prayer she was taught as a child set the tone for the rest of the day which is seen as a total act of worship both in activity and in word..." (De Waal, pg 19)

Many of us aren't into liturgies and repeated prayers, but the Celts (perhaps the orthodox in other cultures, too?) had a prayer, a blessing, a song for everything - the bottom line of which: it was a way to acknowledge and include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in every part of their day.

One Foot in Eden: A Celtic View of the Stages of Life

I'm still reading Children Matter but I got side-tracked again when we were traveling this weekend. I picked up a couple of small books on Celtic Christianity. One is called One Foot in Eden: A Celtic View of the Stages of Life by J. Philip Newell (c. 100 pages) There are some interesting thoughts about children in these pages.

"...The early British Church was not prepared to say that a newborn child was at heart sinful. Its conviction was rather that of the Genesis account, accentuating the goodness of all that has been created. Similarly it shared the vision of St. John who in the prologue to his Gospel writes of all things as having come into being through the Word. We, including our bodies and the whole of creation are seen in essence as utterances of God..." (One Foot in Eden p. 16)

"...In the innocence of a child we see most clearly the beauty of the image in which we have been made." ( p. 22) These are out of context. He qualifies his thinking acknowledging sin and evil but he continually addresses how we see. Do I look at an infant and see a small life created in the image of God or do I see fallen man and sin? Both have basis in the scriptures. What does God see? The Celtic focus was on our being made in the image of God not on our inherent sinfulness yet they didn't deny the realities of sin and evil. Their focus was on the words of Genesis - God called all that He created "good". How we see and focus affect our attitudes, understandings, and actions. What was Jesus perspective as God walking among men? How did He teach us to see?

In chapter 2, Newell asks if childlike innocence is meant to be left behind when we pass through adulthood if God says, "of such is the kingdom of heaven..."

In chapter 3, he speaks of "adolescence and awakening" - not just to hormonal changes but other hopes, urges, expectations and yearnings as well - like a violent explosion or maybe like childbirth. Redefining adolescence when kids become teenagers as "awakening" - if we thought about all the ways that they're awakening from childhood into adulthood, their quest for depth, truth, purpose, identity, intimate relationships, and independence perhaps that re-definition would change the way we love them and lead them and guide them.

Chapter 4 -Early Adulthood and Passion - (not just sexual passion) Early adulthood is laced with passion of all kinds.

Chapter 5 - Middle Years and Commitment - the power of love.

Chapter 6 - Old Age and Wisdom - wisdom "a way of seeing or understanding that grows out of experience." (page 71) "According to the wisdom tradition, wisdom was born with us in the womb. . .created as we are in the image of the One who is Wisdom. The grace of wisdom stirs within us at the different stages of life." (page 71-71) "Wise men and women see beyond the busyness of our age and more deeply than the idolizing of appearances and possessions. They see these things as vanishing like a shadow..." (page 77-78)

Chapter 7 - Death as Return - He says, "Death is like a womb that opens into the other dimension, expansive and unbounded. While it is strange and frightening it is also, as the Irish Carmelite priest Noel O' Donoghue says, the journey towards a 'freshness of dawn'. He continues, "If all that is seen, as the writer to the Hebrews says has come forth from what cannot be seen, then death is the return of all that is visible into the invisible realm of God." (page 83)

No more quotes. I don't want to give it away. It's a very short book but a rich and interesting read. It will send you back to scripture and cause you to ask questions about how you see.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"... lived faith..."

I'm not going to highlight all the good stuff in this book. There's too much!

quotes from Children Matter:

"At the beginning of Deuteronomy 6, Moses places before the people the challenge of passing on their faith, a lived faith, from generation to generation..." (p. 32) I like the phrase "a lived faith."

Here's a "what if": ["live" as in "alive"] If live observation, interaction, and communication between individuals in groups of people disappears from the earth can the church survive generation to generation? Can faith survive? Maybe it's a miracle that faith survives from generation to generation despite all our personal interactions . . . but it does.

The authors also draw our attention to the significance of what they call the juxtaposition between Deut. 6 verses 4-9 and verses 10-12. Though the Israelites are commanded to teach this living faith to their children throughout their daily lives as they're wandering through the desert, Moses fears for Israel facing good times when a life of plenty is handed to them. The authors continue, "When we feel self-sufficient, we often let God drift to the periphery of life; we continue to give God an hour or two on Sunday mornings, but the rest of our lives have little in them to stimulate the faith questions of our children." (p. 35) That's the profound part "...our lives have little in them to stimulate the faith questions of our children ..." (It's worth reading the scripture foundations they highlight leading into this discussion.)

Maybe I'm engaged in ministry or maybe I'm engaged in work that isn't "church" centered - either way, I believe I'm doing exactly what God wants me to do . What's the focus of my heart, mind, strength, conversation? What do I talk about when I wake up, walk, ride in the car, sit around the dinner table, say goodnight? What are the things in my life and the life of my faith community that stimulate the faith questions of children - children asking questions about a "living faith" that's happening right in front of their eyes?

These authors are asking the important questions! And a book like this will probably be a timeless treasure because they give us foundations that don't change and they ask questions that have to be asked and answered generation after generation if we, as a faith community teaching our children to walk with God, are going to stay focused on loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves .


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kids and Children

This is totally random.

... "kids" or "children." How many great and appropriate synonyms can you find for the word, "children"?

For some reason I cringe when someone kindly (and humbly) corrects me for using the word "kids" instead of "children." Probably my stubborn "free-spirit". Recently, I encountered the director of a popular preschool/daycare who said, "I prefer to use the word "children.'" He was very kind and runs a great program.

I understand the respect that the word "children" implies but, in my thinking, it also implies distance, separation, formality. Adult. Child. "Children" (in my thinking) is a more formal word, a less familiar word - even though it's used by people working with children every day, people who love children and love their work.

I guess for me it's the difference between William and Billy. You can use either word and you'd be right, but the word you choose to use says something about how you relate to Will. Maybe he has a preference. Out of respect you'd call him by the name he prefers.

People used to say, "children should be seen but not heard." People who use the word "kids" in place of "children" would never say, "kids should be seen but not heard" because they'd never make that particular statement to begin with.

I'm not being entirely fair. Paul became all things to all people, so he might win them. He probably would have used the appropriate word among the appropriate people.

I respect people who respect children, I do. But I enjoy people who enjoy kids.

For those who remain convinced that "kids" will always refer to baby goats (characters in their own right), if you know so many people with four legged kids that your listeners might get confused, I would say most- definately, use the word, "children."

And yes, some dictionaries do list "a young goat" as the first definition for kid, but not all of them. Young sheep, of course, are lambs.

Monday, August 06, 2007

CM Children Are a Blessing!

Chapter 2 is a wonderful chapter about children in the scriptures. Much better than my blogging WWTK.

What if we never explored the idea of children and faith beyond "children are a blessing"?

What's my attitude towards a blessing from God? Granted, sometimes I don't know for sure that a blessing is a blessing. But God tells me flat out "children are a blessing".

A child, finances, friends, land, talents ...
How does God bless me? What do I do with a blessing?
Is it for me - something* to protect and keep safe?
Is it something to give away and use for the benefit of others?
How do I steward a blessing?

How do we steward God's blessings when those blessings are little people - and someday, God will want them back with interest? He doesn't want to lose them.

There are lots of issues in our western/American culture and our church cultures that ultimately come back around to whether or not we really believe that "children are a blessing." If we truly believed that children are a blessing, we would ... [what would I do different?]

*Children aren't "things". I'm not saying that. A blessing might be anything. "Children are a blessing." What does it mean to us? What does it mean to God?