Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Snippets

The first of the Lenten ecumenical services was this week during the noon hour.

I had to leave halfway through a Bible Study Fellowship seminar on "quiet time" in order to attend. It was a frustrating drive from Lincroft to Freehold because I got stuck behind a student driver whose only aggressive move was pulling out of the community college lot directly in front of me. After that, she didn't exceed 35 mph and I was trapped until Route 18 where Route 537 goes to double lanes.

Then a road crew was filling potholes at the end of Kozlowski Road and I made my own detour because none was posted. Between following the cars ahead and using my GPS, I got around the closure without losing too much time. Because, you know, I timed it down to the minute. And I am eager to let road crews fill potholes. Naturally, for all my efforts, the program began fifteen minutes late. Which messed up my afternoon's schedule.

While waiting, I checked Facebook:


And I'm like, "How funny, this is my view, too!"

The arrangement was luncheon before and after the service but I wasn't sure so I'd already eaten. As the pre-service lunch folks wandered out into the sanctuary, I looked them over good. Hoping to spot the non-Catholics. Expecting to see deformities: big ears, club foot, crossed eyes, withered hand. But, nope, nothing out of the ordinary. These were just regular people. I found myself smiling and greeting the women in Roman collars. I decided that if Episcopalians and Catholics can't get along, we're in trouble. The church website is more clear than it was over the summer announcing his arrival and installation: "he is married to the Rev. T. James Hargrove, also an Episcopal priest and hospice chaplain." He is an excellent preacher. And, you know, I prefer black vestments for Lent to purple. The black looked good.

The complete lyrics of the few hymns we sang were displayed on the screens. Many people didn't understand that Catholics only ever sing a couple of verses because our hymns are filler. Singing covers the procession, recession, collection and communion. When those activities are over, singing halts. How awkward if those things took place in silence!

I ran into some old friends and, when it was over, they invited me to the post-service lunch. I went for conversation and a drink. On the way, I spotted two old ladies trying to find their way to the lunch hall. They tried the first door of the many lining the back of the church - it was the confessional, clearly marked. I motioned for them to follow us out.

So I'm looking forward to next Wednesday's ecumenical service at my friend's Pentecostal church.


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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sunday Snippets

Ok, this is embarrassing. I spent a couple of hours Friday in the public library's "quiet zone" to catch up on my Bible study homework. I was reading the commentary for this particular chapter in 2 Corinthians. I honestly can't tell you which chapter but it almost doesn't matter. Because the commentary was talking about Satan in general at this juncture and had cited another Scripture to illustrate Satan's role as accuser:


So I happen to be studying Numbers in another Bible study, a topical one on the Life of Moses. And I'm like, "When was Joshua of conquest fame high priest?" Well, he wasn't, of course. Son of Nun, notwithstanding.

Frankly, this exposes the fact that I've never read the Book of Joshua. But it's not as if I've never tackled the post-exilic prophets. In the summer of 2008, I heard Fr. Boadt lecture a week on them. But he was always more into the historical background and not so much about the text. And I haven't read his book.

But, see, this is what comes, also, from reading Jesus into every Old Testament scripture. I've honestly never taken the time to reflect on the original meaning of Zechariah 3 before inserting Jesus into the role of high priest. And now that I've seen it, I hope I don't forget.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Snippets

It's been a while since I criticized a church. That didn't go well, either. It seems that that pastor has moved on to movie making. A fine fit.

Since I haven't learned my lesson, here goes again:


Gimmick. Repeat after me, gimmick. Can we understand that?

"God told me to do this!" In your best Cosby-as-Noah voice, "Right."

I know some of these people and it makes me sad to think that this is their best.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Snippets

Even though I have griped about never being invited to lunch, I still wasn't prepared to be. Practically speaking, I had no cash.

My friend offered to treat me. In fact, she picked up the tab for everyone, all five of us. We handled the tip, including a tract. Quell the twinge of discomfort. But I can't remember when I last shared a meal with tract-leavin' church folk! Pray before eating, of course. Discuss churchy things in earshot of restaurant staff, sure. Send back meals that aren't gluten-free or vegan, absolutely. But leave tracts? Still, they kept saying, "Let's bless her. Oh yes, let's!"

What was interesting, even awkward, was that my friend took a call right after we ordered so I did my best of talk with the remaining three strangers at the table. One was a former Catholic now in charge of the youth ministry. She asked whether I'd ever read Lee Strobel's book.
Oh, sure, that's an old one. Read it in college1. Tells you how old it is! Kids find those kinds of 'logical' books convincing.
I went on:
But what's really convincing is actually going to Israel. I took my son there last February.
That broke the ice! Because another woman has also been, so we swapped stories. Travel is usually a great conversation topic. When my friend returned to the table, she joined in with plans of a summer mission trip:
They're in the woods, alone, for three days with only a flashlight, a blanket and a Bible. After the first day, they take away the flashlight!
Sounds monastic. So, they've memorized the Bible in that time or do they simply clutch it for comfort? Get a softcover one. How do they grow up not hating you and scarred for life?

Earlier in the day, at St. Rose, I noted a flyer of upcoming ecumenical Lent events. I couldn't wait to mention the one at their church with a preacher from the UMC! The news elicited a mild groan from them. They were quite unaware. I teased, "Maybe you're serving the lunch!"


After we finished eating, even the ones who sent back their meals and got replacements, the conversation turned to personal, true stories of attempted child abductions. These tales jogged my memory so I made my exit:
Yes, speaking of that, I must go pick up my children at school! Ta-ta!
I was glad to leave before the waitstaff picked up her tip.


1 In fact, I'm thinking of Josh McDowell's book. These popular apologetics were making the rounds of campus ministries in those days. I didn't read Strobel's book until I was out of college and working.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sunday Snippets

As the deacon and I waited for other participates to arrive Thursday, the final session for the parish Little Rock Scripture Study The Eucharist in Scripture, he shared about a recent mass at his workplace, a retreat house:
"The priest actually said, 'like the dewfall' and it sounded nice. You never hear that but it was alright."
With a few exceptions, I agreed with him that the prayers ought to be said as written. I expressed my frustration with the pastor who alters the prayers, especially as pertain to Mary. I confessed to him:
"I can't attend a Marian feast day here anymore. It's too distracting to hear him fumble for words. The pastor ought to mark his preferences in the book so it flows."
The deacon defended the pastor, saying, "He doesn't want people to get carried away with devotion to Mary. He's no Marianist, that's for sure. I, too, want the Big Guy to get top billing, you know?"

I replied that I trust the prayers to express proper theology (and mariology). Reading the prayers would correct any errors or exaggerations in anyone's piety. Attempts to downplay the significance may have the opposite effect.

After everyone arrived, we were discussing the homework questions. One asked, "How can you better prepare yourself [at mass] to receive Jesus [in the Eucharist]?"

My answer reiterated my earlier point: I rely on the prayers of the liturgy to prepare me. I'm not off doing my own thing at mass, not saying the rosary or any other private devotion. I'm not reading my Bible, at mass, or the pope's latest encyclical. Instead, I'm saying the public prayers with the congregation.

When I catch glimpses of people doing their own thing, usually as they're on their way out before the service actually ends, I wonder if they think they have a superior way.