Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

My post this week:

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Last night, I dropped the kids off at VBS but didn't stay for the adult portion because I was committed to attending the summer Bible study at my parish which met at the same time.

Tonight I stayed for the adult section. We crossed the road to the church and met in a Sunday school room directly off the main sanctuary. The room is filled with pews but no tables. The associate pastor distributed a worksheet to us that included several questions about Matthew 22:34-40 and directed us to work in teams. He paired me with the couple at the far end of my pew, a youngish set. Before I slid down, a lady behind me said, "Wouldn't you rather work with us and remain where you are?" and I said, thinking of obedience, that I was told to work with the others.

I introduced myself to them and vice versa. Her name was Maria and it struck me as a pretty name so I said so. His was John. He is, I believe, a corrections officer and looks the part, with a muscular build and serious demeanor. I told them both how I had heard this very Scripture passage at church that morning. What a coincidence. I also had in mind the first reading, from the beginning of the Book of Ruth, just in case there was anything complementary in it for our assignment.

After we answered our questions, we had a few minutes to chat. I complimented the man on his Guadeloupe tattoo. If I had been sitting on the other side of them, I probably wouldn't have seen it because it was inside his left forearm. She asked how long I had been attending the [Independent, Fundamentalist Baptist] church and I said that we came only for VBS. She said she's on the fence about the IFB church because she's Catholic. I said that I am also Catholic. She asked where I live and then she confirmed which parish I attend. That was remarkable to me because nobody outside a very small geographic radius has ever heard of the parish. But she said she has relatives that attend there.

At that point, we have to break off our conversation because everyone else was finished with the assignment. The husband's parting words were that he wanted his wife to attend a Christian church and didn't care which one but that they had visited on Sunday and liked the Baptist service very much.

Of course there were things that I wanted to tell her but I had to be respectful of her husband. It would have been a red flag to him if I had disregarded his authority.

After we reviewed the assignment, another pastor stepped in to preach a bit on Philippians 3:13-14 and he gave us time to find the passage by saying a few things about Hebrews 12:1. He's going for the athletic imagery, you see. Gosh, I ran in college, so I've heard it all, long time before. Besides, he didn't think in terms of track or cross-country but football and baseball! Ugh.

The poor guy next to me, John, spent all this time trying to find Philippians. After much page flipping, he came across it. Meanwhile, my Bible pages were stale, having been open to the verse so long. Then the preacher told us to "turn back" to 1 Corinthians 9:24, those subtle, directional clues for them with ears to hear. John had so much trouble finding Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians that he gave up and tossed his Bible at his wife who wasn't about to try.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The kids were certainly happy to return to VBS this evening. They got points for wearing a hat and bringing a Bible. I gave Ella a copy of Peterson's "The Message," Kenny took a Catholic edition of the GNB in two-tone leather, Chris brought my compact NRSV that I used in Israel ten years ago and Tim carried a flashy NASB '95 paperback, lovingly covered in clear contact paper. Also, we brought more change for the missionaries in New Hampshire but none of them had memorized their Bible verse!

The pastor's composure was better even though he had spent most of the night and a better part of the day with his employee who had broken his leg the night before. We parents gathered together and walked as a group across the street to the Sunday School rooms in the church. He gave us a tour of the church and the rooms, the nursery was really cute. We opened our work packets and he scrounged up Bibles from the church pews for those who had forgotten theirs.

The activity was all multiple choice questions, like a middle schooler's homework assignment, on Christology. Questions like, "Which verse says Jesus is God?" with four scripture references. There were more than four of us, so he couldn't assign them one apiece. Instead it was hodgepodge, "Who has Titus 1:3? Does anyone have Romans 14:18-19?" There were many times I opened my mouth to read the verse when someone else piped up, "Oh, I have that one, shall I read it?"

One man didn't know John from 1 John and confessed, "Usually my wife looks these up for me." But his wife wasn't there. Another lady said, "It would take forever to look all these up!" Meanwhile, I'm halfway down the page, especially because I knew a few without looking them up. When reading Hebrews 1:8, she pronounced "scepter" as "skepter" and her husband needed help reading "Bethlehem Ephrathah" from Micah 5:2.

Giving us time to look up the verses, he would talk about, well, I don't know what. I wasn't really paying attention. Maybe things like, "Oh, that's a good verse, such a good verse" and "Oh, why did God put that in there, it's so hard to do!" And, like any grade school teacher, he can't keep quiet long enough for his class to do their work in peace.

He passed around samples of their Sunday School programs, for children and adults. The kids' is Patch the Pirate written by a man who had cancer in his eye and had it removed. The publisher, Majesty Music, in Greenville, SC also provided the hymnals in the pew in front of me. A reference in our work packet was made to Bob Jones University, in Greenville, SC. The adult materials looked a little more interesting (chapter 1 in PDF).

Tim told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not to sign him up for Sunday School. I wouldn't dream of it, he can be sure.

We walked back across the street and, by this time, it was dark, being well after 8pm. He said they usually hold VBS in July when it's still light after 8 but this year they picked August way back in February and didn't think about the shorter days. I'm glad they didn't hold it in July. But we'll skip it tomorrow because there's a parents' picnic at the kids' camp and I wouldn't miss that for anything.
On the way to a bowling party for Chris on Sunday afternoon, I spotted a VBS sign at a church in Robertsville. I couldn't see the dates on it, only that it had evening hours. So this morning I googled the church and then called about it. They sounded delighted to have four last minute registrations. OK!

I got the kids checked in, the boys are all together and Ella is on her own. She doesn't mind that. The theme is racing/race cars which seems a little masculine (and hick) but we're keeping positive. During an opening game, a man taking photographs of the activity - for the week's-end slideshow - fell off the stacked plastic chairs he was on, for a better shot - and broke his leg in two places. An ambulance was called but I think someone could have simply driven him to the hospital. An ambulance seemed excessively cautious.

When the kids went to their groups, the pastor led a session for the adults. He was still so shook up about his injured, hospitalized friend that his presentation was all over the place. He distributed materials that he says he's "working on," a hodgepodge of boxed text he's clipped from various books, mostly by John MacArthur. It's supposed to be a study on the life of Christ but it primarily involves authenticating the Bible.

He quickly got off-topic, however. He talked about chips getting put into people's wrists and a parent blurted out, "Isn't that in Revelations [sic]?!" EXACTLY! came the pastor's reply. In another exchange, he said we're supposed to love our enemies and an older man lamented, "Does that included Muslims?!" When told yes, he buried his head in his hands and shook his head back and forth. I don't want to think that these are plants but I know the type.

In fact, that one admitted to having a "Catholic upbringing." He said that he used to feel better "for a little while," after going to confession on Saturdays. But then he got saved and ... what, 1 John 1:9 doesn't apply anymore?

We did talk about the rapture quite a bit and read 1 Thess. 4. In finding the book, the pastor said that God, in his wisdom, placed all the 'T' books together in the New Testament. I refrained from pointing out to him that Θ is different from Τ. He seemed to get such a kick out of how the Bible was crafted. Since he was reading from the King James, he had to translate "prevent" as "not going before" (cf. modern translations' "precede").

Then he took us to the Ten Commandments, for some reason, and I followed from Exodus 20. Of course, he got the numbers all wrong and downplayed the necessity of honoring the sabbath because it's Saturday: "The only one of the commandments not repeated in the New Testament." He teaches Bible at Timothy Christian School ("Brodie") and he came across as a teacher much more than as a pastor, despite the M.Div. On the 6th commandment, according to his numbering, he read "Thou shalt not commit murder" even though my King James in my lap has "Thou shalt not kill", both in Exodus 20 and Deut. 5.

I looked over the materials when I got home. We'll see what tomorrow night brings.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I was at the pool this morning somewhat later than usual. The later I am, the more crowded it is. A much older man was already on the pool deck just ahead of me. Common courtesy dictated that I allow him to pick a lane first. Initially, I thought there were two lanes available so I quickened my steps, not in competition with him but in case anyone was behind me.

Within a few steps, however, I saw my mistake and slowed down. I recognized a couple of the swimmers and knew their approximate daily schedule well enough to guess they were about done with their workout. In which case, I didn't really mind waiting what I supposed would be only a few minutes.

Instead, a man exited the pool from Lane 6, right in front of me. I gestured to the older man who was, in my mind, ahead of me, to come over. The man exiting the pool told me, "You know, you don't have to wait. It's two to a lane. There's no reason on earth why you should be standing here. Get into Lane 2." I replied that I know it's two to a lane but that I was deferring to the other gentleman who had arrived first.

At which point, he came over and I offered him the lane. He protested, "I'm not sure which of us was here first. But, well, if you have to be at work or something, just go ahead. I'll wait." I said, probably too proudly, that I don't work.1 He said sincerely, "Beautiful. Finally!"

I'm not certain what he meant by "Finally!" My first thought was that he was commenting on my not working. But then I thought he was just happy about getting a lane or pleased that a woman had let a man go first for a change. I mentioned the conversation to Jeff and he thought it was the first thing, about me not working. There's all kinds where I swim, ages and cultures and professions, and it isn't always easy to figure where people are coming from. Some are courteous and some are disrespectful, for instance. But I can only do my best to act in good faith.

As soon as the man took Lane 6, Lane 1 opened up completely for me and I had a good swim.

1 However, naturally, my husband does work but he's home watching the kids while I swim, waiting for me to return so he can go to work!