Sunday, December 16, 2007

What kind of evangelical are you?

Well, considering I'm an Anglican, I think they got it right. Not that i'm high church by Anglican standards, but compared to fundamentalist evangelicals i'm probably off their page!

What Kind of Evangelical Are You
created with
You scored as High Church Nomad

You were raised as some kind of evangelical, but you've started to appreciate other forms of Christian piety. Specifically, you're starting to think that Roman Catholics aren't as crazy as you once thought they were. You probably won't end up going home to Rome, but Canterbury has piqued your interest.

High Church Nomad


Moderate Evangelical


Evangelical Presbyterian


Fightin' Fundy




Reformed Baptist


Conservative Evangelical


Presby - Old School


Christmas meme

h/t Suzanne

1.What is your favorite Christmas carol?
Well I love lots, most of the “biggies” have a special verse or line hidden in there somewhere, but I think my all-time favourite would have to be “Hark the Herald Angels sing” (even though when I was a little I thought the herald angels had something to do with the Sydney Morning Herald, our local newspaper). Verses 2 &3 still touch some incredibly deep place inside me.

2.What is your favorite secular Christmas song?
How secular do I have to be? Santa songs do nothing for me, and winter/snow ones even less since, Aussie born and bred, I’ve only ever known Christmas in summer. There are some great Aussie carols (and some silly ones, like the 3 drovers who hear the angels sing) but they still mention Jesus, one way or another. If I’m allowed to have something that’s not a carol but not all that secular, I’d probably settle for Do you hear what I hear?

3.What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Sorry, I hardly know any Christmas movies. This may be a cultural difference, with a summer Christmas we’re out going to carols by candlelight and stuff like that, there aren’t even all that many “Christmas” movies on tv.

4.What is your favorite Christmas memory growing up?.
As a teenager in the church youth group I would go carol singing Christmas Eve. We’d sing as we walked the streets, wishing everyone we saw a “Merry Christmas”. We’d stop at the homes of some of the youth group parents, sing them several carols and earn ourselves some refreshments, then be back at the church in good time for the 11:30pm service, It worked out so that virtually our first act on christmas morning was to take communion.

5.Do you shop early or are you a late shopper?
Medium. I start early december, and aim to be done by a week before christmas (which is when schools break up for the summer holidays, and the shops get REALLY full) then a few days off before I have to worry about the food.

6.Is your tree real or artificial?
Artificial. Real trees don’t last long in summer conditions, and we like to follow the English tradition of putting up our tree at the beginning of Advent and taking it down 5th January (end of the 12 days of Christmas)

7.Do you still put tinsel on your tree?
Still? I’m missing something here. Not traditional tinsel, and not lights either, just lots of ornaments (mainly angels and reindeer and a few stars)

8.Do you read the Christmas story every year on Christmas day?
Is this an American tradition? No, but we go to church.

9.Would you consider yourself to be a Grinch?
Last time I looked I didn’t have green fur.

10.Are you more like Scrooge or Father Christmas?
My problem is figuring out how much I can give people without embarrassing them. Giving presents is so much fun!

11.Do you make homemade gifts for friends and family?
My life is a craft-free zone.

12.What was the worst Christmas present you ever received?
A carpet-sweeper, and I won’t embarrass my husband by telling the whole story.

13.What was your favorite Christmas present ever?
When I was 8 I got this huge parcel. Inside were over 20 books. I was ecstatic! (But then I still feel like Christmas every time a box arrives from Amazon. Which probably tells you a lot about me – but yes, I survived a lonely and rather abusive childhood by escaping into books)

14.On the average how many presents do you buy for each of your kids?
Who’s counting?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jesus the Skandalon

His birth was a scandal. Imagine the whispers and innuendos in Nazareth: little pious Mary, of all girls, to wind up pregnant before she was married. And Joseph seemed to be having some problems with it himself. Did this mean he wasn't the father? It was probably a good idea to get right away to Bethlehem for the birth. Then no one could count the months.

He was attended by outcasts -- shepherds and Gentiles. He spent his earliest years being raised in a foreign land, the land of Israel's slavery (how symbolic is that?), instead of spending all his formative years in the Holy Land, Eretz Israel.

He hung out with all the wrong people. he let that rebel, that critic of kins, John the Baptist, baptize him. He couldn't even get respectable rabbinical students to be his disciples, instead he collected a bunch of riff-raff to follow him , including some fishermen and even, unbelievably, a tax collector. He did not show proper respect for the religious authorities: he called the temple a den of thieves and had a lot of vile names for the pharisees. He touched lepers, and bleeding women, he healed on the sabbath. he spoke to samaritans (politely!) and even one on one with women he wasn't related to. And for all his disreputable ways, he seemed to think he was God. Even his family thought he'd lost it at one point. And there were far too many miracles -- showy stuff with demons and storms and interrupting funerals!

Then, as if He hadn't offended enough people, he had to go and die shamefully, painfully, like a criminal, in the exact way the Law said was accursed. And he didn't even have the decency to stay shame-faced in the tomb! Everything about him was inherently offensive to the well-bred and self-righteous. The way he treated the really bad people, you'd have to conclude he didn't take sin seriously enough. The way he contradicted some of the traditions of the rabbis you'd think he was a bit of a liberal...

You have to wonder how Christianity ever got mistaken for the religion of respectable people!

And, by the way, no one ever, ever took sin more seriously than Jesus did!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Came across this prayer by Thomas merton. it seems a good fit with where I'm at right now.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton

Christmas thought

Maybe everyone else already knew this, and I'm just the last to catch on, but it occurred to me the other day that all those people we place in our Nativity scenes would have been ineligible to go to the temple and worship God. The shepherds as a profession were considered ritually iunclean and were banned from temple and synagogue. Mary would never have got further than the Court of Women at the best of times and now, having just given birth to a male child, she was ritually unclean for 40 days. Joseph presumably had helped her through her labour (if they couldn't find a room, I don't like their chances of finding a midwife) and so, having been in physical contact with her, he was unclean as well. And yes, we know the wise men (of indeterminate number) didn't turn up till some time after the event, but they're part of the story. And they were Gentiles. They would never have got past the outermost court of the temple.

But unto those who could not come to God, a child was born and a Son was given. And His name was Immanuel, God with us.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Choir of hard knocks

My daughter gave me the DVD of this for my birthday, and now I've finished college I have time to start watching it. incredibly moving.

To recap: Opera singer and choirmaster Jonathon Welch had the idea to form a choir from the down and outs of melbourne. No singing auditions were required, the only qualification was to be homeless or disadvantaged in some way. Hence most of the choir members have serious problems with drugs, alcohol etc. But here, in this choir they are given value. Jonathon is a natural with these people; he doesn't condescend or patronise them. He insists on a few basic rules, like treating each other with respect, then he simply loves them and responds to them as they are. We see him crying at some of their auditions for solo parts (ok, I was crying too), hugging them and encouraging them. There was a special on Channel 2 the other night showing them being brought to perform at the Sydney Opera House. I defy any normal person to have dry eyes when a young woman gets up and sings a solo about "the two of us" with her young daughter, and then announce to the crowd that she's been clean for 3 days and this is the first time in her life she's ever sung sober!

And then you see those faces, across which life has written things that you and I can only imagine in our nightmares, and there is light and hope there, and they are singing the words of Leonard Cohen's hallelujah:

And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

That's grace. Beyond our theological differences and quibbles, that's the heart of it for everyone of us. Dare we imagine that, because our lives are more comfortable and our sins are more genteel, we are any less broken than they? We will not be singing our Hallelujahs one day because we got it more right than anyone else, but because God in His mercy has come among us, as Jesus, and lifted us out of the gutter and set a new song upon our lips. May we, too, have tears of wonder in our eyes.