Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Come and have breakfast

I was reading John 21 yesterday morning. Of the precious few stories we hear of interactions with the resurrected Christ, two are about food. It strikes me as interesting that Christ conquers death, and one of his first acts as the Firstborn of the New Creation is to eat, whether with unsuspecting travellers on the road to Emmaus, or with sleep-deprived fishermen who are winded from a miraculous catch of 153 fish. “Come and have breakfast,” he tells them.

There is so much sanctifying of eating going on in Scripture. Levitical sacrifices were mostly feasts, as if God were sanctifying one of the most mundane acts of our existence. He makes the mundane holy, which is why there are so many laws about pots and storage and cleanliness.

And one of the few stories that all four gospels contain (up there with crucifixion and resurrection) is Christ feeding a hungry crowd of people. If I were Catholic I would read that Eucharistically, but even though I’m not (yet), I still find it interesting.

Then Christ dies and rises again, takes on Death and defeats it in the same act, begins the process of restoring creation, and he makes breakfast for his friends.

I’m notoriously bad about eating (or more precisely about not eating). Sometimes I seem to be too well indoctrinated with some form of Christian dualism that tells me that I need to focus on ‘spiritual’ things, and the physical things are less important. But the Incarnation itself, to say nothing of the specific things that the incarnated Jesus did, tells me that dualism is wrong, that the physical has become the holy. And that means food too.

“Come and have breakfast.” I suppose I should.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A prayer from my nephew

My nephew, whose fourth birthday I will miss while I am in Ireland, evidently prayed for me this week. My sister-in-law recalled the paryer to me as follows:

"Oh, Dear God, please bless Auntie Em. And, Dear God, please help her to learn Latin. Amen."

Amen to that!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Look upon thy Church...

The Latin program I’m attending here in Ireland has a surprising Catholic majority from the Americans in the group. Of the 16 students, 7 attend mass regularly, five daily, three study theology at a Catholic institution (called, very catholically, Christendom), and two are seminary students at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Since I’m in Ireland to study Latin in order to write a thesis on (Saint) Thomas More under the direction of a well-known Catholic intellectual, I am attending mass with my friends. Day after day this summer, we as a congregation have prayed

‘Lord I am not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs from your table, but only say the word and I shall be healed’
…only, my friends do end up gathering crumbs, and I kneel and only hear the word. But the word is a good one, and if the Word was made flesh then maybe I am gathering crumbs in a less sacramental sort of way.

One way or another, the discipline of attending a mass I cannot receive has allowed me to add the important disciple of prayer for Church unity into my daily rhythm. In that context, as I kneel and pray for a divided Church in which a local formerly-Catholic Irish Evangelical had picked a fight with my Catholic friend in Subway the other day, a Church with principles on both sides to back up long wedges and injury, the words of Saint Francis of Assisi have been on my lips daily this summer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sorrow, joy;
where there is darkness, light.

Gracious Master, grant that I may seek
not so much to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

Friday, July 4, 2008

In whose name...

So there’s a collect for the American Independence Day… who knew? It must not be part of the official Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, I wouldn’t think. I read it in a church newsletter today, and it sounded weird to me while I am in the U.K. (interesting anecdote: I have spent six of the past ten July 4ths overseas).
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The actual request seems about right. We have liberties; grant us grace to use them in righteousness and peace. The intro feels a little awkward to me, and I’m trying to figure out if it is because of the earlier interesting anecdote that allows me to see what we look like from the outside, or if I have been brainwashed by my liberal education, or what.

But this is my listening blog, not my ranting blog. What do my readers think? Does God get an American title? Does the country, certainly founded in a spirit of the enlightenment, also get to claim God’s name? Maybe… it just sounds weird to me while I’m overseas.