Monday, March 31, 2014

Sheep and goats...

Tonight, I tried to pretend that Spring had actually arrived.

Amos?  Well, he was not so keen on having to face his fear of the Great Outdoors.  Have you ever seen a more tortured plea to go back inside?

Once I came to my senses, I promptly took both of us back inside and built a fire.  With this photo, I took nary a moment to truly think about it, but I really like how it turned out.  The kindling is still burning, the flames are all blurry, and that lovely bark is in focus.  My one true wish of fire-photo-taking is that I could capture how the smoke swirls around the green wood.  I have come to savor watching the movement of the smoke as much as I do that of the flames.

Saturday, I called the weekend pharmacist and asked if, instead of having the generic option that I was switched to this last cycle,  I could go back to what I had the past two cycles, when I switched.  Junelle is apparently the mosts popular choice, but I am wondering if the change has anything to do with how poorly I have handled the strain of the past two weeks.

When I think of all that I have had to swallow, I think my fear of the change in generic is silly.  Is of no consequence.  Mostly, because the very, very, very little girl in me is downright terrified of going back to life without erythromycin.  Even if, somehow, it is possible for me to take one of the other classes of drug (all have far greater interactions and cardiac concern), I will be embarking on the rather unpleasant roller coaster of trial and error.  Celia very kindly reminded me to stock up on activated charcoal.  SIGH.

I just don't see how I can go back to spending hours and hours each day writhing in agony with innards misery.

In any case, I have been drowning in fear and shame and just couldn't see myself going back to catechesis today, even though I have been waiting for instruction for so long.  I did not think I could go.  But I tried the whole asking for help thing again, this time just speaking my fear and shame to my pastor.  Frankly, his response sounded like something Mary would write me.  Very gentle.  And some sweet, sweet Gospel thrown in to boot.

Still, I very much doubted that there would be any chance of me making it to the car, much less out of the parking lot.  I had to do some serious loin girding.  On went my leather boots, a flowy skirt, and my GREEN sweater.  And then, despite the horror of realizing I rushed out of the house last week to talk to my pastor in lounge pants, a hoodie, and my stubby braids ... the braids I am just now managing to mostly weave after that dreadful hair-cut-that-was-essentially-a-mullet at the beginning of last August (or end of July ... I forget which).  Today, though, I purposely wove my stubby braids.  Stubby braids, although awfully inappropriate for a middle aged woman, are rather courage engendering to me.

I did remember to bring my notebook, but I forgot to write it in.  SIGH.  Being all nervous and distraught, I was relieved when my pastor broke off from telling me where to turn in the Bible and asked me if there was something I wanted to hear.  Immediately I mumbled 27.  A shaking, pine-cone clutching Myrtle told him that, for this time, I did not want to pray it with him; I wanted to hear it prayed for me.  He did.  I didn't even have to ask.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee,
"Your face, O LORD, I shall seek."
Do not hide Thy face from me,
Do not turn Thy servant away in anger;
Thou hast been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

I found it ... interesting ... that this was the Introit for church tonight.  Or parts of it are.  I would have picked a different antiphon.  Psalm 27 has a plethora of good take-way thoughts, as I would call the antiphon.

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: 
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear? 

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, 
And be gracious to me and answer me. 

All good thoughts to have cling to you, eh?

I had wanted to read through a section of Part V in the Large Catechism and then compare it to what we read in 1 Corinthians 11.  My pastor asked me if I wanted him to read, but I didn't. I wanted to read the words to myself.  For the thousandth time, to me, they are a love letter from Jesus penned through the hand of Luther.

I want to write them all again here.  Only it has been communicated to me that when I quote whole swaths of the Christian Book of Concord, those who read this blog skim ... or skip ... them.  But everything that an anguished, burdened soul would want to hear.

I struggled with 1 Corinthians last time, thinking about the specificity of the situation.  Thinking of what was going on in Corinth and yet somehow getting to the harm in receiving the Lord's Super.  I think, for me, this is the very first time that I could see how clearly the Confessions explained something from Scripture.  Luther took the specificity out and showed, much in the same way as he does with the Commandments, how it isn't just about eating meals (the haves not helping the have nots; the have nots treating Christ body and blood as common food), but about disregarding the Sacrament and sin ... being indifferent or even arrogant.

We talked some about forgiveness, but I do not wish to try and capture that now, since it was just a precursor to getting there.  My pastor also dangled the most attractive carrot in front of me.  He has in mind a chart looking at both the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism, because he understands now that, for example, the SC tells me (the way I read it) that I am not worthy of the Lord's Supper, whereas the LC (the way that I read it) woos me to the altar.

And we talked about Africa.
I am still ... burdened and confused.

Something that I found oddly comforting was my pastor talking about sheep and goats.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father,inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 
(Matthew 25:31-46)

Truth time:  I've never really been taught about the sheep and the goats.  Just the part about how we are to feed and clothe and visit Jesus, to feed and clothe and visit Jesus in all those God brings to us.  Law.  Lots of Law about what you should be doing.  Only my pastor pointed out something else.

He was talking to me about how when I walk up to the figurative pearly gates, when I enter eternal life, God isn't going to be standing there punishing me over all the wrong teaching in Africa ... and all the rest.  I asked him how he knows this and he brought up the sheep and the goats.  I was not all that willing to admit that I have never understand all the sheep and goat talk I hear Lutherans speak.  Not being a dense person, my pastor figured that out and explained.  

His comfort was, first, that any judgement to be had over Africa was already meted out and born.  Meted out on the cross and born by Jesus.  But he directed me to look at what was actually said about the sheep.  It's all good things.  Even if the sheep are left scratching their wooly heads trying to figure out when all those good works were done, what is mentioned are good works.  Good.  Not good and bad.  Not only bad.

My next lesson is April 28th.  Oh so long into the future, but needful with all this Lent and Easter stuff, all that I do not really understand.  Like the four services of Easter.  My pastor already started reading through all the BOC quotes I gave him on repentance.  Tonight, I started thinking that I should figure out what Bible verses there are about repentance.  

I wonder if I could find them.  I wonder if I could managed to not mis-read them.

I'm a sheep.  
Today, I realize that I do not even know what that means.  
But I am a sheep of Jesus Christ.
Not a goat.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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