Tag Archives: EfM

A good TR

My EFM class did a GREAT Theological Reflection on today’s Gospel lesson. So, I’ve not much else to add to the discussion on this blog that hasn’t already been said.

I enjoy TR’s and these excercises are some of the best ” ah-hah” moments of my EFM studies thus far.

 

Amen.  

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Studying a summary of The Crusades….

Map of First Crusade

This week in Year Three of EfM, we are studying The Crusades. Now I admit that really do not know too much about this period of Church history. Since I am a visual thinker, I’m in the process of finding maps to aid me in my study of this period of history. So far I have found two maps that will be useful for my study online{ the Internet is a wonderful educational tool, if used properly}

Anyhow, as a Christian, I am not proud of the violence that was done in the name of our God & our Lord Jesus Christ by these medieval militias. Yet on the other hand, I feel that the super-extreme Muslim idea of ” holy war” against Christians & Jews is wrong. While humanity cannot undo the past wrongs{ of which the Crusades are just some examples of one group of people waging war versus a group they feels threatens their way of life}

The current Muslim ” holy war” is wrong, but sometimes Christians { including myself} forget that our forebeaers in faith waged our own ” holy war” against those whose faith is different from ours. As most Christians are nonviolent people, the majority of those who practice Islam are also peaceful. We need to , as a now-cliched bumper sticker proclaims ” COEXIST”. If we do not even try to work for religious tolerance worldwide, we’ll forever be plagued with one form of ” holy war” or another. The extreme Christian right is just as guilty as the Muslims who say that they won’t quit fighting until ALL so-called ” infidels” either convert to Islam or are murdered.

One of the greatest freedoms we have in America is the freedom to worship as we see fit. Even now, many nations do not grant their citizens this freedom. With freedom comes responsibility . I think that part of becoming an informed & responsible citizen includeds educating oneself on other races, RELIGIONS & ethnic groups.

One of my mottos is: the more we know, the less we can hate. Amen.

We Believe…

 I’m studying  the Early Church documents, councils, ect in Year 3 of EFM.

Whew!

 There is no doubt in my mind that today Arius would be considered a radical heretic. His argument against  Trinitarian theology{ God  as Three in One} not only got him into a heap of trouble back then, but I would bet that most bishops even now would excommunicate him based on his teachings.  According to my EFM text, Arius even cited certain parts of Scripture as  supportive of his far-left theological position.

This coming week’s lesson centers around the development of the Nicene Creed, a basic, albeit extra-Biblical part of the Catholic Tradition.

We Anglicans recite the Nicene Creed every Eucharist.  At servies where there are baptisms & confirmations/receptions, the Apostles’ Creed is recited. { Look in your copy of the BCP}  I noticed that the Apostles’ Creed is a more….personal statement of one’s Christian faith. 

Look at the pronouns: ” We believe” versus ” I believe”.  Those pronouns are momentously different , Especially for new Christians & { I suppose} even more so back in the time of the First Church Councils , it was paramount to attempt to agree upon what the Church teaches regarding the Godhead.  Yet as a 21st century Christian, all this ” bickering” that occurred back then among bishops seems unimportant to me in the here & now.

While I do understand the tenets of the Christian faith, as expressed in both the Nicene & the Apostles’ Creed but I’ve never really sought out a scientific understanding of the Trinity. { this is totally unlike me as usually I demand a rational explanation for everything else in my world, but I thank God for the wisdom to discern the Truth –capital T– of the basic doctrine of my faith.  To me, praying in the Name of the Triune God is as natural as  breathing.   At the end of the day, I am very grateful that these Councils happened, but  this historical knowledge really brings me no closer to the Truth that I know of a God of Love.

Amen.

Spiritual Autobiography:Year 3

The best is yet to come. TBTG!

Yesterday during our weekly EFM { Education for Ministry} seminar, it was my tern to give the annual ” Spiritual Autobiography” I’ve discovered that every year that I do this excercise, it becomes slightly easier to do *AND* I am lead by he Spirit to share { and omit} different parts of my Christian journey.

This year I talked much more about my teen years spent at Hill Top Presbyterian church when we lived in Ohio. During Years 1 & 2 of EFM, I was still healing from some deep spiritual/emotional wounds & my spiritual autobiography reflected as much. God hs led me to a point where I can FINALLY forgive & forget those who have ceased speaking to me since I came to my current Small Episcopal Church.

As I prayerfully prepared what I was shaing for this year, I wanted to avoid focusing on the negativity surrounding my departure from the last church I attended before coming to my current parish. I was baptized at the age of 20{ Yes!} at Hill Top Presbyteran Church in rural Ohio, I realized that the love , instruction & support I recieved from this small church as a teen { and as a teen coming from an unchurched family} played a huge part in my own walk with God & God’s Son.

In this year’s autobiography I’ve finally verbalized that my passion for Christian Education & youth ministry originated from how much the good people of Hill Top Presbyterian Church nurtured me. I am the woman,the Christian & the teacher that I am today mainly beacuse of the relationships formed at Hill Top Church. At Hill Top, I leared that church is abut a COMMUNITY of believers & sbsequently I’ve found such a community here at Small Parish. :O)

If I reach one young person and impact him or her as much as the folks at Hill Top did when I was young, I’ll accomplish my mission. Of course I the parish’s education & youth programs to grow, but in order to bring in more families it is imperative to nurture community with the youth we are blessed with already. { and , even if I do say so myself, Small Parish is blessed wth some awesome youth who regularly are party of ou community}

As an active layperson in the Episcopal church, my prayer is that God shows me how to use my gifts to build community among the youth & children of my parish *and* our Diocese.

The purpose of EFM{ and please correct me if I am wrong} is to equip laypersons to better identify & enrich their individual baptized ministry. Right now, I am called to work with organizing & implementing programs for the younger Church. Thanks be to God, I am blessed with a good example of an effective small-church Christian education comunity-building that was my experience at Hill Top Presbyterian Church. Thanks, y’all.

Moses stuttered. I can’t drive a car.

It’s that time of year again….soon I must present my spiritual autobiography to my EfM seminar group. Thankfully I still have two more weeks to polish this years’ version of my spiritual autobiography, but its gonna be very different from the past two years’ autobiographies.

I’ve grown a lot since last summer & a lot of growth occurred because Best Dude is also the senior warden at our small parish. I am for sure not the most patient person ever born, so this year has been a year of me attaining some decorum. :O)

That being said, I am still rather unwilling to follow my vocation. I’m probably making up excuses, but I am just not quite sure why God wants me to do what God seems to be asking me to do. My main concerns are my physical limitations. While there is NOTHING wrong ith my intellect, I am mildly autistic & also have a spine supported permanently by two titanium rodes *and* a neurological problem that alters my eyesight so much that I possess almost no depth perception. I’ve overcome many of these challenges , but right now God hasn’t opened a metaphorical ” door” for me to fully overcome my physical conditions that keep me from safely operating an automobile. Part of my spiritual growth that I’ve prayerfully worked on over these past five years is coming to peaceful terms with the fact that I will never operate any sort of motorized vehicle.

It has been in the past two years that God has opened up opportunities for me to serve the Church in a wider way in spite of my challenges. After all, Moses stuttered & he led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.

evaporating funds…and tuition due

My computer...a love-hate relationship!

My computer had to go to the ” shop” last week. My bill for the repair of my machine came to a whopping 169 dollars. Ouch. Granted, the tech guy pretty much revamped ALL the programs on my Dell laptop & cleaned out several viruses but the repair bill really took a huge cut from my limited monthly funds. Since I had to get the computer fixed & totally trust the guy who has worked o my parents’ many computer-related emergencies, I wrote that check without * too* much complaining.

Tuition for my Education for Ministry program is due in August. This well-done _theological education for laypeople_ program out of the School of Theology at The University of The South in Suwannee, TN is a good investment in my future as a Church leader For instance, since I’ve complete the first two years of EfM{ Old and New Testament} I feel much more prepared to start a Bible study group for adults at my parish.

EfM Year Three, Church History, is where I am at present. Normally I budget during the summer months so that I can afford the tuition for EfM{ which is only payable in one lump sum…a payment plan would be most helpful to many of us…just saying!}The unexpected but totally necessary repair bill for my computer was totally unexpected. I’ve had this machine for two years & this as the first time I’d need to call Geek Guy for help.

Sheesh, it was very bad existing without my computer for{ drumroll, please} five whole days! Yep.

I am hoping & praying that my rector knows of some scholarship sources for faithful EfM students. Inasmuch as I hate asking for any sort of financial help for anything, I silenced my pride & am asking around if any of my Episco-peeps know of sources for funds to help cover the cost of EfM.

If it is God’s Will that I continue with EfM this academic year, then I’ll have my answer soon.

Spiritual Autobiography

I am so behind on this blog…again.

Anyhow at last week’s EfM it was my turn to give my spiritual autobiography. This year went MUCH easier than last year, but at the same time it was so dang hard to discuss the art about why I left the other church & how painful that was & apparently still is. Spiritual abuse is not discussed all when I’ve looked online for resources o help me through the pain, there was nothing that fit my needs. Most of the Web resources on spiritual abuse focus on abuse by clergy. Sure this can be a problem, but it is a different & much less encountered, problem when a whole institution’s structure is built around one or two powerful individuals & families.

I wish I could get ” over it” After all, I am in a great parish & am thrive in my new ministry. But at the same time the scars spiritual abuse past hide beneath the surface. I had an incident today which , although the person is someone whom I love & respect, all these feelings of inadequacy stemming from years & years of dealing with abusive lay leadership in a congregation.

But I know that the issues are with me & I just somehow need to figure out how to reframe all this ” stuff” I bring with me to my ministry.

thoughts from F Scott

‎”The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ha, I love me some F. Scott. :O)

Anyhow, this quote really ” speaks ” to me. I get really frustrated with an ” us versus them” mentality. Yet at the same time I find myself getting wrapped up in the trappings of this unhealthy way of looking at the issues surrounding our Church & our society.

Anyone who knows me at all knows how very opinionated I am. But at the same time I do not see the merit in wanting to separate from others, especially other Christians, who think differently than me. I feel strongly that schism is bad for the Church & that all schism does is rub proverbial salt into wounds that are centuries old. I don’t agree with those who have left our Church for reasons that they perceive as ” right” . But on the other hand if they{ wither collectively or as individual family units} wish to return to our Church I welcome them with open arms. As Christians & especially American Episcopalians, we are ” One in the Spirit” & what should unite us is way more fundamentally important than what divides us.

In EfM I am learning to open my heart to other points of view & for someone as opinionated as me this is no easy task. I’m also learning fromj my participation in EfM, to be an active & appreciative listener to others whose points of view on any given subject do * not* match mine. Healthy relationships are all about communication & in order to communicate we can’t run fro those with whom we disagree. Admittedly I do not hold a lot of respect for folks who let their sociopolitical veiews separate them from the one holy catholic & apostolic Church but if said ” desserters” wish to worship & fellowship with a community again I’d welcome them back.

While I’m discussing leaving a church let me go on record as saying that the reason I felt led to leave my previos denominated was NOT NOT NOT sociapolitical. I left that community for reasons that are personal & quite painful to discuss but I can assure y’all that my reasons for leaving them were not polity-based.

Anyhow, I digress { again} We have to be able to be in conversation with those on the ” other side” of sociopolitical issues if we are going to move forward as a society. Listen, people, Listen. Amen.

Spiritual Autobiographies

Yep…Its that time of year again, friends. It is time for me to write my spiritual autobiography for EfM. It might be just a tad easier this year.. since I am no longer brand new to EfM but it still isn’t gonna be easy.

This year I am gonna focus on the ” Steppingstones” of my faith life as an adult. Last year, the focus was to tell our entire story chronologically & I think that this year’s method of doing spiritual autobiographies will be less daunting.

Its been a year of change for me, thats for sure. And until recently, I have not felt comfortable sharing with folks about some of the ” stuff” I experienced in my adult faith life that was painful. But I also realize that if I did not experience the pain & would not be the strong person I am now. Carly Simon sang” You have to hurt to understand/ you have to get by the best you can.”Yep.

I love my life as it is….and I have no regrets. I’ve also learned who my REAL friends are this past year. My REAL friends don’t make a big deal about attending the Mass at which I was confirmed only to TOTALLY cut off contact with me two weeks later. Sorry, but I fail to understand such actions.

I am blessed with being part of a Church & a parish that puts the teachings of Christ at the center of its corporate life. I’ve grown closer to Christ especially through my EfM seminar group. Thy taught { & continue to teach } me that we Christ-Followers are truly ” one in the Spirit” & that opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one.:O) I watch CNN to get political opinions, I go to church to worship God.

Year 2 of EfM is here!

Oy…I am behind in blogging.

Anyhow, my EfM seminar group started this past Tuesday. I’ve missed it: after one year of EfM I am convinced that this is one of the * best* resources for Episcopalians! I went through Year One at the recommendation of a priest whose opinions I trust & value & at the end of last academic year & am SO glad I listened! This year my priest will mentor & a friend of mine from my Cursillio will co-mentor. Our group is wonderful & diverse. Naturally I am the youngest { but not by much} in age in our group & several others in the group are sister choristers. :O) We have one male student, but both mentor & co-mentor are also men.

Since this was the first Tuesday, our priest took responsibility for leading us in devotions & we had Eucharist in the church.

If you all have been following my blog at all, y’all know that I have stepped up to a new & exiting{ yet somewhat daunting} ministry as my parish’s Director of Education. In order to be the best lay Christian Ed director I can be, I need both the book knowledge & spiritual discipline that the EfM program offers us. Once again I am faced with writing a spiritual autobiography & I pray that this year’s spiritual autobiography will not be * quite * as hard to write as was last years’. Writing a spiritual autobiography is not as easy as one might think but I am told that this task gets easier with practice.