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The God of the Old Testament

Posted by Ann, June 3, 2012

Day nine of the Bible Challenge. I keep worrying that people are freaking out when they actually read Genesis. Several times I have heard good church-going Episcopalians say, “I don’t like the God of the Old Testament.” And it’s easy to see why. Asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Bargaining with Abraham about how many people of Sodom he will allow to live. Then there are the people of the Old Testament. How can such a holy book contain so many morally questionable and reprehensible stories as Abram telling Pharoah’s people that Sarai is his sister, so Pharoah can sleep with her and then deal kindly with Abram. Or Sarai suggesting that Abram sleep with Hagar to produce an heir, but then after Sarah bears her own son, casts out Hagar and Ishmael to the outer darkness. What about Lot’s daughters getting their father drunk to sleep with him so there will be descendants? Yuck! Or circumcising adult males for that matter? Ouch! I cringe as I read that and we’re not even half way through Genesis. I have to remind myself that this holy book has shaped faith communities for centuries, that humans have always been well… corruptible and troubled. That the God of the Old Testament loves us anyway, craves to stay in our lives when we go wandering and philandering. The God of the Old Testament creates a covenant with us and doesn’t give up on us even when we break the covenant. That sounds like a holy book.

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Just Talk!

Posted by Ann, February 11, 2012

Just finished reading the in-depth and very disturbing piece in the February 6 New Yorker, The Story of a Suicide by Ian Parker. It provides much background to the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the young Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in October of 2010, after his roommate posted images online of a romantic encounter with another man. Of course it reveals much more nuance than Clementi was outed and was the victim of a hate crime. But the most astonishing thing we learn is that the two roommates barely spoke to one another.

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Lost In Motion

Posted by Ann, February 11, 2012

This clip is such a glorious metaphor for how God works in our lives. At the height of each of his leaps, he is suspended, upheld in midair by some unseen force. I have always felt that God asks us to leap first, and then we are carried through somehow, often with more grace than we could ever muster or imagine alone. Ok, so yeah, he’s totally easy on the eye and a gorgeous dancer. I admit I am confounded by the title, though. Rather than Lost in Motion, I think it should be called, Found in Motion.

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Holy Land Trip Sat / Oct 29

Posted by Ann, October 29, 2011

We came full circle yesterday when we made a visit to the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, Jordan. This mission to deaf and profound hearing loss children has been operating since 1965. 160 children, as young as three and up to 20 years old, live together in this colorful, harmonious boarding facility designed to create one big family where everyone speaks sign language. The Holy Land Institute has long been dear to Christ Church missioners. Not only have we given our treasure in years past, we have also given time and talent. Some of our parishioners have spent time volunteering at the institute. Under the capable leadership of Audrey Grissom, and supporters like Joanne Metcalf, this vital ministry to the Holy Land was nurtured. While our commitment to the Holy Land hasn’t wavered, our support for the Institute has waned over the last few years.annblog1029boy.jpg

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Holy Land Trip Fri / Oct 28

Posted by Ann, October 28, 2011

Random reflections about Jordan:

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Holy Land Trip Thurs / Oct 27

Posted by Ann, October 27, 2011

Children of the Middle East who have disabilities are often hidden away because of the shame it can bring to families. In this culture, a disability is a black mark on the family’s honor and may affect the positive marriage potential of the other children in the family.

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Holy Land Trip Wed / Oct 26

Posted by Ann, October 26, 2011

Some of you may remember that my brother died in May of 2010. My family scattered Rob’s ashes in the desert outside San Diego in June of that year and again in the Vermont woods in July. I knew at that point that I would be making a Holy Land pilgrimage the following December with the group from Christ Church, so I reserved a small baggie of ashes with the intention of spreading them somewhere in the Holy Land.

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Holy Land Trip Tues / Oct 25

Posted by Ann, October 25, 2011

Today we worshipped at St. Paul’s Episcopal church, in Shef’amer, a city in the north of Israel near Haifa, where Muslims, Christians, and Druze (a staunchly independent sect of Shiite Muslims) live in peace. It was a joy to be welcomed so warmly by the rector, Rev. Faud Dagher, a big, gap-toothed, energetic bear of a guy.

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Holy Land Trip Mon / Oct 24

Posted by Ann, October 24, 2011

Today we leave Jerusalem with its noise, contrasts, intensity, and press of people. But before we do, I feel compelled to say something about walls. Of course, they are everywhere, with the city streets being so narrow and everyone living on top of one another. No walls are more beautiful and impressive than those of the Old City, constructed of white/gold lime stones, some of which date to the first century. When the sun hits the walls, the reflection of light can be blinding. The massive walls were built to protect the city from marauding antagonists and they look impenetrable. Ironically though, the walls have either been destroyed or moved several times throughout history.

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Holy Land Trip Sun / Oct 23

Posted by Ann, October 23, 2011

So I have learned a bit more about Bishop Suheil Dawani and the Diocese of Jerusalem (which also includes Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan). As the number of Christians in Israel dwindles to less than one percent of the population, the diocese serves mostly Muslims, some Jews in their three schools, two hospitals, four clinics, and 32 churches.

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