Voice Update and Holy Week Stuff

I finally got my voice back on Sunday morning just in time to sing for the Easter Cantata.*  (And promptly blew it out singing the cantata.  Naturally.)  And I do mean just in time.  We arrived at church at 6:30 am for the sunrise service.  The fifth graders in the congregation do the entire sunrise service each Easter.  My son is a fifth grader, so we came for the early service.  I have pictures to post later. Yes, I brought my camera to church.

After the early service, we were treated to a lunch put on by the church elders.  At that point, still croaky.  The 5th graders did a balloon release for the 8:15 and 9:15 services and did their level best to create chaos throughout the church building in between.

I got into my choir robe and  took my place at 10:30 behind the 24 piece (Wow!) orchestra.  Still wobbly in the vocal chords.  We went over a couple of places and then warmed up.  And then it was go time.  I’m a first soprano.  The one that is generally relied upon to hit that note hanging around somewhere near a high H.  (Fellow music nerds get the joke there.)  The rest of the choir has been known to call me ‘High C.’  Thankfully, I would not be alone up there on top of the treble clef for the cantata, but with the orchestra in front of us, we needed every bit.  And so the choir director was understandably concerned to have one of her large voiced sopranos out of commission.

I was pretty sure I could sing.  Not certain.  Not at all certain I could hold it together to the end.  But I made it!  Whew!  I don’t know whether or not anyone in the congregation would have known the difference with or without my contribution, but I really love performing these big pieces and would have been terribly disappointed had I not been able to do so.  I was disappointed enough at needing to sit out Maundy Thursday even though that did give me the opportunity to watch hubby reenact the  last supper and then serve our son his first communion.  Honestly, I’m glad I did get to sit where I had a much better vantage point than the choir for that.

Holy Week had special meaning in our household this week.  We actually started with the week before Palm Sunday when the 5th graders made their confession of faith in front of the church.  And then Palm Sunday, we had the pleasure of watching our son’s baptism.  Maundy Thursday was the day of his first communion, and Easter Sunday I had the pleasure of watching my son actually serve communion and read scripture from the pulpit.  He’s really growing up.  I’m so very proud of him.  (Even if he does make jokes while distributing the blood of Christ.)

*The Catata was awesome.  There were recordings made.  I’m so anxious to hear it!  Maybe I’ll even share 🙂

Divine Denial Of Service Attack on God?

Um, good luck with that.

As you may already be aware, recently the Atheist Founation of Australia and the Global Atheist Convention websites were the target of a significant DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, which began on Monday 19 October.

This is a call to all non-believers and advocates for freedom of speech to join us in a global co-ordinated minute of prayer with the aim of inundating God (in this context, the Christian god, God, as distinct from the Greek god, Zeus, the Egyptian god, Ra etc etc) with so many useless prayers that it causes his divineness to go offline as as result of our own DDOS (‘Divine’ Denial of Service).

The prayer minute will be at exactly 8pm (Eastern Standard Time) and 9am (Greenwich Mean Time) on Sunday 8 November 2009.

Oh!  I see that it has already passed.  So, how did that work out for you?  Because, you know, God isn’t a collection of servers spitting out 404 errors.

You can’t take God offline.  You can’t remove Him with posters.  And really, why are you wasting so much effort battling something you don’t believe exists?  Why pray to something you call nothing more than naive superstition?

Does my faith hurt you?  Does it even effect you?  Because your lack of faith doesn’t directly hurt me.  Sure, I feel compassion for you.  There is a great peace in knowing God.  Maybe one day you will understand it, but it doesn’t hurt me if you never do.

So, really, why the all out campaign against God?  Why wage such a war?  Is it because you feel so threatened?  Why do you fear something you don’t believe exists?  What is the harm done to you if someone has faith?  Are my prayers so offensive?

Or maybe, you don’t believe your own rhetoric.  Maybe, you think by waging this war and winning converts that the conviction you feel deep in your soul will go away.  That small seed of doubt that nags at you when the lights go out?  You know, the little voice that haunts you just before you go to sleep?  That’s God.  Doubting Him does not make Him go away.  All of your flawed arguments only serve to show how empty and hollow your solutions really are.

But if you must fight this war, do so with my blessing.  You won’t win.  Eternity is a long time to reflect on your position.

Weird Evening with Random Celebrity Sighting

It was an interesting evening.  It even came with a souvenir.  Wanna see?

Card with scripture

Cool right?  Oh, I guess I should explain.

It all started with dinner.  We usually take the family out to dinner on Wednesday nights.  It’s a busy evening for us, so eliminating the cooking usually works out well.  This evening, we decided to pick up Sonic and bring it home.

When we got home, there was poop.  At least, there was the stench of poop. Obviously, we had to investigate the source before we could eat.  It was the pup.  Something she had gotten into didn’t agree with her digestive tract.  There was evidence all over the dog and all over her crate.  All of which went outside so we could have dinner.

After dinner, I tortured the dog.  First with soap and water and then with her nemesis, the hair dryer.  Meanwhile, hubby cleaned out the crate.

I have choir rehearsal on Wednesday nights at 7:30.  Hubby came inside from cleaning the crate and told me that I was running late.  I grabbed my coat and things and rushed out the door.  Traffic was stupid between the house and the church building.  I had decided that if the choir director asked me why I was late, I was going to tell her that I had shit to deal with.  It was funny in my head, but I probably would have chosen different words. Because God only hears the bad words you say at church.

When I got to the church building, I parked the car and rushed inside.  I rushed to the sanctuary to take my place.  I was stopped dead in my tracks at the doors.  There on the chancel was some guy with a drum set and a bunch of kids around.  I found another choir member and asked if we were having rehearsal.   She confirmed that we were, at 7:30.  Confused, I looked at my phone for the first time.  It was 6:47.  Apparently, I had only looked at the minute hand on the clock in the living room wall.  Around that time, the guy on the stage started to play.

And he was awesome.  Really, really awesome.  I pestered the sound guy to figure out who he was.  John Humphrey, the drummer from Seether.  Yeah, really.  Right there at my church entertaining all the kids.

See

John Humphrey talking to kids at First Christian

Here’s another one.  Better focus, but kind of dark.

John Humphrey talking to kids at First Christian

I didn’t take any more.  I didn’t want to be one of those people.  And I know, I need a better camera.  I love my little point and shoot and even if I had a good DSLR, I wouldn’t have brought it to choir rehearsal.

John Humphrey was very nice and great with kids.  He’s got a couple of cute kids of his own.

Oh and my souvenir, here’s the other side

Yep, I got a rock star’s autograph at church.  It all comes full circle.  After all, the General Minister of our denomination will be the first woman to preach at the prayer service immediately following the inauguration of our new rock star president next Tuesday.

Peace That Passes Understanding

(via Anchoress)

This story brought tears to my eyes.  I am so humbled by this little girl.  She was attacked because of ther faith and had this to say about her attackers.

“[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes,” she told Asia News. “They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future.”

Here is the beautiful ten year old girl.  She is truly amazing.

Her words again

“The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace,” she said. “I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel.”

Glass House Atheists, God Bless Them

With all their logic and reason, they know exactly the appropriate response when someone is reaching out. Without the cumbersome ideas about grace and mercy, they are free to challenge to intellect of those with whom the disagree. Just ask an atheist, all religious beliefs have been refuted (and global warming is scientific fact). They are so confident in their disbelief in the existence of an immortal soul and a divine creator that petty things like tact have no bearing in conversation. Since how they feel right now is the most important thing in their finite universe, there is no need to temper their reactions to an unintended offense.

Yeah, you’ve caught on to my point. Well most of you since all but a very few of my readers also read Rachel Lucas. For those who don’t, well you should, but I will fill you in on the basics. Rachel’s future father-in-law was in a serious motorcycle accident. Not being a believer herself, she asked her readers that are to pray for him. (Go and read. He needs all the positive thoughts and prayers that can be gathered as well as the support of the medical professionals.) She then wrote a post titled “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” The title is apparently too much for the delicate sensibilities of some atheists. Rather than read the post and realize that she was talking about reaching out from a place of desperation, they decided her pain was nothing compared to the offense they perceived and proceeded to make asshats out of themselves in the comments.

I’ve made no secret here about the fact that I am a Christian. You can agree with my belief system or not, it doesn’t change how I feel about you. As an adult, I don’t need to have each of my beliefs validated by those around me. I don’t go trolling around atheist sites to tell them how misguided and stupid I believe they are. I’m all for intelligent debate, but I’ve no time for childish bickering. Besides, what the atheists failed to notice was that it was not a religious debate! She never even said that she agreed with the sentiment in her post, just that it felt right for her in her difficult situation.

Atheists are quick to point out that you can’t prove the existence of God (big or small ‘g’). But on the flip side are reluctant to admit that you cannot disprove Him either. They tend to be quick to insult creationists, but do not want the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory to be taught in schools. It almost as if they are afraid of what might come of discussion about things like the laws of thermodynamics.

Given my experience, most atheists* are thin-skinned, whiny brats who have yet to learn the value of not throwing stones from glass houses.

*Not all atheists are small minded trolls, just those that choose to attack someone while they are down. To those mature atheists, I respectfully disagree with your belief system. This post is not directed at you.

Happy Easter!

I have already broken the rule about talking about politics in polite company. Now I’m going to talk about religion as well. Either I’m some kind of uncouth individual bereft of social graces, or my readers aren’t polite company. I’ll let you decide.

Growing up, I thought Easter just meant chocolate and a weird bunny. I got a new dress to wear to church, and often a frilly hat as well. I had no idea why. They didn’t ever talk about it in my childhood church either. I grew up in one of those churches that doesn’t celebrate days like Easter or Christmas as anything other than the overly commercialized secular spend-too-much money days. In spite of the fact that the word holiday specifically means Holy Day. I didn’t get it until I was older.

In elementary school, I had multiple fights with friends and classmates about Jesus’s birth date. I knew that the Bible did not specify and had never commanded us to celebrate it anyway. For me, Christmas was nothing more than getting family together for too much food and presents.

Every year for Easter, we would go to my cousin’s grandma’s house (no blood relation, but we’re Okies so we’re all kin) for an Easter egg hunt. Great fun! We’d compare our hauls and gorge on candy. Never once mentioning a spiritual significance to the day. It was years before I really got that there was one.

For just over a year now, my husband and I have been attending a liturgical church. I’m still getting this Holy Week thing down. I sing in the choir. Last year, I sang for my very first ever Maundy Thursday. It was the first time I realized such a day existed.

Last Sunday prior was Palm Sunday and we brought in trumpets. Seriously awesome service. We processed in led by a pipe and drum band. From now on, I would like to be preceded by bag pipes everywhere I go. Please keep that in mind if you ever choose to invite me somewhere. It was the first Palm Sunday service I had ever been to in my life.

For Easter, we did an amazing cantata where we brought in an orchestra. Did I mention that the church I grew up in was anti-instruments? Yeah. I was 28 years old before I ever sang in a church choir. And I’m a well trained first soprano. I had a full tuition and fee waiver as a vocal music major in college. Didn’t finish, but that’s another story.

My point here is that this is really all very new to me. I’m fascinated by the whole Holy week events. I’m blown away by Christmas productions (I was the soloist for our Christmas cantata). I think I really finally get it that it doesn’t really matter whether or not Jesus was born on December 25th. It’s a day that early Christians got to celebrate it without being persecuted or killed because they lined it up with a pagan festival. Their courage made modern Christianity possible. That is worth celebrating, and what better way to celebrate it than to keep up the tradition?

Easter is even more worth celebrating. This day is commemorating Jesus’s triumph over death. The day that He rose from the grave. This is the cornerstone of His promise to us as His followers.

After church, we got together with family. We had a lovely dinner and then sent the children outside to hunt the eggs. But this morning, before we even left for church, I asked my nine year old son what Easter was celebrating. He said, “The day Jesus rose from the dead.” I didn’t know that at his age. I agree with my childhood church’s philosophy that we should be celebrating that every day, but I don’t think having one special day set aside for it cheapens that idea in the least. I believe in reinforces it.

You know, the vast majority of us pay taxes with each and every paycheck that we receive. We don’t actually think about it because it’s the same each and every time we get paid. We only think about it when it comes time to file our taxes once a year. If communion is the same each and every week, by human nature we become just as complacent. By taking the time out to focus on what it means, we are forced to realign ourselves. I know, I just compared salvation and taxes, but it works. Except, of course, that on Easter we are reminded of how much we get for so little. When we file our taxes we are reminded of how little we get for so much.

I’m rambling and should probably end this entry. I’ll leave it with this: Christ’s death and resurrection extends grace and salvation to us all. We are all fallen creatures in a fallen world, but because of His sacrifice, we can be saved. This isn’t limited to those belonging to any specific church or denomination. I believe that only God knows a man’s heart and holds the keys to salvation. I believe that He is far bigger than any human boundaries and labels that we have tried to put on Him. Jesus told a thief condemned on an adjacent cross that he would be in Heaven with him that very day. This thief was not a “good” guy. He wasn’t a member of any church. He didn’t jump through any legalistic hoops. He didn’t deserve salvation. At least, not any more than the the rest of us do.