Sunday, June 14, 2009

I wonder if the birds have names?

If your church, like mine, uses the Revised Common Lectionary, it's very likely that you heard The Parable of the Mustard Seed in church today, either as a scripture reading, or maybe as the text for the sermon:

Mark 4:30-32 (NRSV)


[Jesus] also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."


Our priest gave this "sermon" in the style of a Godly Play script. (Godly Play is the Sunday school curriculum we use for young children). So she called all the childen up to the front, sat down on the floor with them, and opened up a golden box which contained the visual elements of this parable while she told it and asked open ended "wondering" questions about the story.

One of the questions was, "I wonder if the birds have names?" One little boy piped up right away and said, "No, they don't." That got a chuckle out of some of the adults watching, but in Godly Play, unlike Laestadianism, children are not told who God is. An environment is created in which children can discover who God is. Children are encouraged to wonder about the questions posed, without being told "the answer."

I've been wondering too. "I wonder if the birds have names?" I think they do. I think some of their names are cvow, Anonymous, hp3, PS, Tomte, Norah, Free2bme, LLLReader, Stranger in a Strange Land, Sisu, YM, Outtathere, Anonymous, Hibernatus, Older-understanding one, mia from the llc, Anonymous, daisy, Pretzel and many others I have forgotten.

I've also been wondering: I wonder what it means that the birds have names? For me, it means more than I put in a single post, more than I alone can imagine.

But for today, for me, right now, what it especially means is that I'm sorry, PS, for riding you so hard. While we will probably never agree on facts, let alone opinion, I realize that at times I let it get more personal than was appropriate, and I apologize.

15 comments:

  1. Your post reminds me of the three leadership styles: authoritarian, democratic, and delegative. Or parenting and teaching styles: authoritarian, permissive, detached and authoritative. I was on an outdoors retreat last weekend where various classes were offered. One of the most memorable was a "Reading the Forest" class, where our instructor encouraged us to look at trees and see what they were telling us. The names didn't matter as much as actually looking at the trees to see if the needles were sharp or smooth, to determine how they had arrived there and their age, what the tree's future was based on conditions in the forest, and much more. Those things - the things you discover for yourself - stay with you much longer than a lecture, and it wasn't boring in the least!

    The same thing applies to leadership styles in churches, and I much prefer someone who is authoritative rather than authoritarian. Authoritarianism works for awhile but when you see people's eyes glaze over and mentally run for the hills, you've got to know there's a problem - and not necessarily a spiritual problem. God himself is not authoritarian. He gives us choices but points us to the better way. How we work it out is up to us, in a sense.

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  2. LLLreader sez: Oh tomte, tomte tomte--it was gracious of you to apologize. Am I surprised that it wasn't reciprocated? Well, no.

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  3. I think it was PS who posted a link to the site called "Adventures in Mercy" http://adventuresinmercy.wordpress.com/, and I've been checking in there ever since, along with other blogs I found through her site. This is an excerpt from today's post, where she reviews a book called "Loving Our Kids on Purpose", and how she felt as she began to implement changes in her parenting:

    "It was as if a huge weight was lifted off of our household, like this paradigm shift up and tossed off a heavy clinging blanket and let in fresh air and sunshine. No one is perfect. But that’s the deal. You can be becoming. I can be becoming. It’s not just “tolerated,” it’s expected. You get to try. You get to fail. Mistakes, failures, they aren’t the enemy anymore. You get to try again and you get to fail again. It’s okay. We’re on a journey and we’re on it together."

    I like that. A lot.

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  4. mia from the llc6/18/2009 10:14:00 PM

    And ditto LLL's comment. I've been a little scarce around here myself--I don't have the jaksa for it anymore. It's like listening to the in-laws bicker.

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  5. LLLreader to mia: The jaksa comment gave me a chuckle--does it mean energy? I have reached an interesting stage. I don't know if it's age, or finally getting over the reluctance to express my feelings, a holdover from my OALC upbringing, but I have, in recent months, let a couple of relatives who have taken advantage of my generous nature know exactly how I feel about their actions. Not only did I explain HOW I felt, and WHY I felt that way, but I expressed the need to not have anything else to do with them--EVER! Needless to say, the rest of the family is reeling around not knowing what to make of it. I have come to the conclusion that family is all important, but when they take advantage of you, then it's time to forge a new family--from those folks that really care about you. Where does that fit in with the Christin belief in forgiveness? I don't know, but when a Finn has had it with someone--then it's Katie bar the door. At least for this Finn. For me there seems to be a line that can't be crossed, and if it is enough times, then I'm finished. Hasn't happened very many times, but my tolerance seems to be gone. I have always hung in there with people way beyond what they deserve and I just don't want to do that anymore.

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  6. In the OALC branch I grew up in there was much debate as to what the "forget" part of "forgive and forget" meant. The most common idea preached was that the incident was NEVER spoken of again in ANY way, even so far as to not be allowed to say, "You broke my trust and I forgive you but you will have to earn back the right to be trusted by consistantly acting in a trustworthy way in the future. Then we'll talk again."

    This played out in situations by still allowing the sex offender cousin to be unsupervised around young ones and not press charges, or telling the wife who's husband beat her, that he said he was sorry so she has to act like it never happened.

    I strongly disagree with that thought, and I have always believed that there is a strong distinction between forgiving and forgetting in the spiritual sense vs the natural sense. In the spiritual sense, I will forgive you and not hold anything more against you, and move on in my heart, but in the natural sense I can still love you and forgive you from as far of a distance as I choose, and I dont have to allow you to hurt me again, either situationally or back in my life altogether.

    This causes a lot of discontent from the people who believe they should act like nothing ever happened, but also the people who have continued over the years to get away with behavior... because we've never said anything before.

    Its hard, definately. I had to do the same thing and decide that blood is not thicker than water after all, but the journey of surrounding myself with new family that also acts the role of family has been most rewarding and I wouldnt go back to the way things were for anything.

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  7. Good for you, LLLreader. I agree with you completely. The way I see it is this: it's not that you don't forgive them, but there comes a time to break the ties and cut off contact. It's a healthy thing to do, for all concerned..even though many might not understand.

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  8. What they fail to realize is that although God forgives, there are natural consequeces for sin. It is unatural to expect otherwise.

    It takes awhile to realize that it is not only o.k. to cease a relationship but far more healthy if it affects your life in a negative way.

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  9. LLLreader on forgiveness: My thinking is that the forgiveness issue is big both in and out of the OALC. I wonder how many people know how it got started in the LLL churches? Somewhere around 1860-1870 or so, Raataama (spelling?) who was LLL's right hand man, was preaching at a small village church. At the end of the service a women was so upset about her sins that she wouldn't let Raataama leave, even though the reindeer sled was waiting at the door. Finally he told her that her sins were forgiven. She was greatly relieved. Raataama talked to LLL about it and they decided that it was a good thing to issue forgiveness at the church. Did the two men decide it was ONLY through the church that forgiveness could be given? I don't know--maybe that came later. Raataama was an alcoholic who continued to drink even while preaching with LLL. He eventually was able to quit drinking and went on to lead the Apostolic movement after LLL's death.
    Disregarding the church, this forgiveness thing sure can be misused. I had a women tell me that the beatings she received from her husband were a good lesson in learning to forgive, just as the Lord commands. My own issue with forgiveness is nothing as serious.
    On both sides of my family there is one person in need. I have carried the financial responsibility for both of them for years. Also on both sides of the family there are people who could help share the load--but refuse even though they could easily do it. I have had it with that, and laid it out there about their selfishness. My sweet daughter-in-law said that they see my kindness as weakness and have taken advantage. My belief is that family looks out after each other. My big blowup has affected both sides of my family. No more family gatherings for me! Was it worth it? You bet!

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  10. I have heard a slightly different version of the story with Raatama. But the basics are the same.

    For sure, the ALC is not the only church that practices asking forgiveness as a way of salvation. Don't the Catholic's have their confession as well? Guess we are a direct spiritual descendants of Catholicism. Interesting that it was not Luther, or LLL but Raatama that caused a whole religion to be based on a simple act.

    LLL- you will be blessed for your kindess in helping your family.

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  11. LLLreader confesses: Well, I'm a little embarrassed about getting so personal about my issue. My anger is not just about the money, it's about the lack of doing for, being with, and taking care of two needy people. I have never understood how someone can ignore a family member, even going so far as leaving them alone on holidays. Not everyone on both sides of the family is mad at me, but they do wish the boat wouldn't have been rocked. I don't extend myself to my loved ones for any reward, here or in Heaven--I only do because I know it's right. I certainly don't want to seem like little miss goody two shoes either--but how the heck do you get other people to step up? I have asked, hinted, pleaded, etc. to no avail. Maybe I'm second guessing myself here--my decision was to tell them off about it and cut myself off from them--it was not an easy thing to do--even though I am glad I got brave enough to do it. I will probably wrestle with this for awhile. Forgiveness is such a basic part of a Christian life--not talking OALC here. How do the rest of you manage these situations?

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  12. LLLreader, I've been pondering this. Even started posting but then stopped to ponder some more. It's a hard thing to see this happening in families. This hasn't happened in our own immediate family, but I know of cases where the elderly seem to be ignored by their own families. I don't know how to make people wake up. We had an elderly aunt who had nobody to take care of her, her son was not capable and the grandchildren didn't step up until she went into a nursing home near them. Until then we took responsibility. I made it known that others (there were numerous nieces and nephews nearby) should help, but they said they were too busy. I was busy too! We have not had to help anyone financially though.

    I don't think this is only a Laestadian issue, this happens in many families. We do feel responsible, and more so if we call ourselves Christian!

    On the other hand, we've gotten involved in other relationships where the people seem to be so 'needy'. Come to find out they take advantage, eventually disrespect us, and we find ourselves angry. I still don't know how we get involved in these things. Just have to learn to say "No"..and feel selfish doing so.. Somehow I don't think it's unChristian to force/let people to figure things out for themselves.. (these are able-bodied non-relatives, not elderly).

    You have done more than enough by helping financially.. as someone said, you will be blessed for it. At least people can't say they 'didn't know' what the situation was.. you have opened the door for help, and it's up to them to step through it. I hope they will.

    I'm glad you got brave enough to do it too. Hang in there!

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  13. The story about Raataama and his first use of the keys to forgive that Lapp woman is interesting. How did he get forgiven from the world if hes the one who had to figure out how to use the keys?

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  14. Hence one element in the dilemma to thier claim of being the sole owners the keys...

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