Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Reformation Sunday!

Autumnal Bucolia
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

This last Sunday was Reformation Sunday - a time to remember the faith of our mothers and fathers in the Protestant traditions. Our own Michael Westmoreland White preached the sermon and did a fine job.

Michael never fails to have a great deal of information that is new even to those of us who think we know a bit. Below is an excerpt from the sermon dealing one of our anabaptist matriarchs.

Inspiring. Incredible.

But although the movement began with mostly educated leaders, it quickly became a people's movement, spreading most among the lower classes. Despite persecution, the movement spread like wildfire as a very evangelistic lay-led movement. The Anabaptists stressed personal discipleship (hence believers' baptism), living by the Sermon on the Mount, nonviolence, religious liberty and church state separation, simple living and economic sharing. And it was very egalitarian in the early stages, with women as often taking leadership roles as men for the first generation or so.

One of those women, for instance, was Maeynken Wens. Maeynken was part of an Anabaptist congregation in Antwerp, Belgium. She dared to read the Bible for herself and then discuss it and study it with other believers.

To make matters worse, she proclaimed the gospel to any who would listen. Sister Wens was arrested by the authorities and charged with heresy by the Inquisition. For six months, they tortured her in prison to get her to reveal the names of the leaders of her Anabaptist congregation. They also told her they would release her if she recanted her beliefs, came back to the Catholic faith, and promised never to preach again. She refused.

So, she was sentenced to death by burning at the stake. So powerful and persuasive a witness was Maeynken Wens, that the authorities were afraid she would convert others who witnessed her public execution. Therefore, they took a wooden tongue-screw and fastened her tongue to the roof of her mouth.

They brought her children to her execution so they would learn what happened to heretics. When the flames burned his mother, Maeynken's teenaged son, Adriaen fainted. But after the ashes cooled, he sifted through the debris that had once been his mother, and found the tongue screw. Maeynken had been physically prevented from preaching at her execution, but her testimony lived on.
by Michael, whose testimony also lives on

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tarmilat, Morocco

Tarmilat, Morocco
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
We kicked off this year's Reclaiming Christmas Project with a little poetry. (See next post for info about this year's project.)

The Cravin'
with apologies to Poe

Once upon a Christmas season, while I shopped without reason
Over many quaint and curious trinkets and toys from the store,
While I coasted down the aisles, that went on for miles and miles,
Til my socks of argyle, were slipping towards the floor.
’Tis the season,' I muttered, `fa la la la las galore -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I recall it was very nearly fall
And each of the shopping malls put up their finest Halloween decor
But not that holiday alone, for by September twenty-one
The freaking Christmas decorations did appear all over the stores!
The snowmen, reindeer, elves and Santas made their way into the stores
It seems they stay there evermore.

Presently my soul grew weaker; and my spirits they grew bleaker,
`Ma’am,' said I, `or Sir, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was shopping, and I saw you over there mopping,
And I wonder why you’re dropping, all these hints for us to buy more?
It’s not even November! Do all the distinguished members of the board
Want us to buy forevermore?

Deep into that dark soul staring, long I stood there wondering, glaring,
At the Blue Vested Customer Service Representative from the store
But the silence was unbroken, and that teen, he gave no token,
And the only word there spoken were the grunted words, ` I was just mopping the floor'
This he grunted, like a football punted back the words, `the…the floor!'
Merely this and nothing more.

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if shill or devil! -
Whither the tempter sent you to lure me to this wretched store?
Tell me that I speak treason, not to want the Christmas season
By the greedy corporations – To turn tricks for this whore!
Is there - is there deeper meaning? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the employee, `Dude, I was just mopping the floor.'

Now the manager, slowly running towards the noise so stunning
and upsetting to the blessed shoppers busily treading through his store
For he could not help but hearing that a customer was sneering
At the Christmas decorations so glaringly beautiful upon their doors
Jesus is the reason for the seasonal increase in profits they adore
They kicked me out, forevermore.

Don't go crazy this Christmas Season, go simple.


Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
This year, the money raised in the Reclaiming Christmas Project will go to pay for the salary for a teacher to travel to the village of Tarmilat, Morocco to teach literacy to the people there.

Tarmilat is a very poor village on the edge of the dump for a large city. There are 20 families in Tarmilat and about 120 people total. Tarmilat has about 20 women and 20 children who could be participate in this program.

These are children whose parents are not sending them to school, either because they fear for them to walk the distance or because they didn't send them to school when they were younger and now they can't start first grade at the age of twelve.

With the money raised in this year’s Reclaiming Christmas Project, Tarmilat will be able to hire a teacher to go to them so the children and mothers can be given the gift of education and literacy.

This education can give the children of Tarmilat hope for a better tomorrow. This education can give the women of Tarmilat the potential for significantly more freedom -- freedom to run their work projects more confidently, to participate in other training programs, to do the paperwork that cooperatives need to do.

Finally, by partnering with our Muslim brothers and sisters in Tarmilat, we will be doing our part to promote understanding and true peace in a troubled and often-violent world. And what better way is there to honor the Prince of Peace?

Tarmilat Man and Child

Man and Child
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

May the Circle...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by.

Our beloved Cindy has returned from Sabbatical and gave her first sermon since returning last Sunday. As always, she was very nearly perfect.

I captured a bit of us singing last Sunday and added some photos of our precious church family that you can watch below. I experienced some technical difficulties in the recording, so there are a few imperfections.

Isn't that just the way it goes?

Welcome home, Sister! Welcome home.

Pastor Cindy's Back!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Our idea of "High Church" music

Banjo Feller
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Life is a Cabaret, Part I

I’ve been on a 70’s music kick lately; much to the sorrow of my wife and child. You know the 1970’s:

Just When I Needed You Most by Randy Vanwarmer

You packed in the morning, I
Stared out the window and I
Struggled for something to say
You left in the rain without closing the door,
I didn’t stand in your way,
Now I miss you more, than I missed you before and now,
Where I’ll find comfort, God knows
‘Cause you left me, just when I needed you most…

Ever heard that song? I liked the song as a young adult, because of the angst, and the “you”, in “you left me” great 4 part harmony, and this song was one of the few top 10 songs to have an autoharp solo.

Masked the fact that the guy was a real Loser. I, I, I, me, me, me. Had to unlearn a lot about love from that song.

Or what about The New Seekers: Look what they’ve done to my song ma: First exposure to French:

Ils sont change ma chanson ma,
Ils sont change ma chanson, ma;
mais c’est la seul chose que je peux faire, et ils ne c’est pas bon ma,
Ils son change ma chanson.

I first learned about public nudity from The Streak, (Here he comes, boogadah, boogadah) and learned about how much fun truckin’ could be from Convoy (‘cause we’ve got a mighty convoy, truckin’ through the night….)

Or here’s something that I now consider ironic:

The 1978 Record of the Year award went to the Eagles, for Hotel California; beat out Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life. This, of course, was awful, for everyone knew that the Eagles were singing about Satanism, and Debbie Boone was singing about Love, and she was a Christian.

Here’s where the Irony comes in: Debbie who? And the Eagles, who were singing about the materialism and spiritual emptiness found in Southern California (something a Christian could get behind), have a song that’s stood the test of time.

Susan told me the other day that Hotel California reminded her of her college chemistry lab:

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

by Kevin...but wait! There's more!

Crit and Nathaniel, Goatwalkin'

Life is a Cabaret, Part II

Okay, enough with the singing: What am I getting at?

Well, the role of music in our lives.

Music gets us going. Music consoles us, makes us laugh, provides social commentary. Music cements memories.

Our church songs reflect what we think about God, about the church, about our world. So why do we sing in church?

In our study of Borg’s The Heart of Christianity, Borg talked about Thin Places: those places where the reality of God and our reality interact. Music, for many Protestants can create a Thin Place.

We’ve come to the end of the sabbatical, and because of it, I was reminded again of what we learned 4 years ago: that a church is more than its pastor. That, for the church to be the church, it takes all of us to heal the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the sad and lonely. Knowing that we’re all responsible to make Jeff St. a church, shares the load, and brings a rich diversity to who we are and who we want to be. And the best way I can think of to remind us of that is through music.

We are an incredibly musical and talented church; We’ve had a lot of people sing last Sunday and today. We have music tied to our own liturgical calendar: The Magnificat, Home Grown Tomatoes, Mary had a Baby…Whether you sing solos, duets, or with the congregation, or just tap your feet, music is one way in which we all participate in the work of the church.

Music stitches us together. When we’re together, I listen for Christy’s clear soprano, Andy’s deep bass, the children’s sweet sounds, and all the other voices that make us who we are.

Let’s sing and celebrate our rich diversity and talent, our praises and thanksgiving to God.

Thanks be to God.

by Kevin, who never left us just when we needed him the most

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Visit from Luz Penalosa

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Two Sundays ago, we had a visit from a Colombian lady who worked in the flower industry. Luz Penalosa is touring the Southeast US with Witness for Peace to talk about justice for Colombian flower growers, where a good portion of flowers for sale in the US originate.

Here's a little more info:

At first glace Colombia’s flower sector is a huge success story. In 25 years a handful of flower farms has blossomed into an industry with 450 companies, making Colombia the world’s second largest flower exporter after the Netherlands.

The plains surrounding the country’s capital, Bogota, provide a competitive advantage for flower growers—a perfect climate, rich soil, plentiful cheap labour and proximity to an international airport.

Britain is the largest single market in Europe for Colombia’s flowers. According to a 1994 Christian Aid report on working conditions in the flower industry, British consumers buy more than half of their carnations—about 33 million—from Colombia.

But there is a dark side to the flower sector’s success. To ensure that the flowers are not rejected by importing countries, Colombian flower farmers douse the plants in pesticides to prevent any disease or blemish. The result is poisoned workers, contaminated water and parched soil.


Specifically, Luz was telling us to oppose AFTA - the Andean Free Trade Agreement. Like NAFTA and CAFTA before it, this "free" trade agreement was written for the benefit of corporations, not the people here OR there.

We will always support FAIR trade, not "free" trade - which inevitably means corporations are more free to take advantage of workers and the environment to the People's disadvantage.