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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

My indoor cat is a window warrior.

Her confidence is unshakable.

Daily she stalks her prey

And dissuades would be trespassers.  (Never mind the window is there).

Her throne window might even have the dogs persuaded.

I am not unlike my indoor cat.

So much of my life is as a window warrior.

But some say that God, at times, opens windows as if they were doors.

Who does the window warrior become when there is no window to protect them?

 

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Star of Bethlehem, Magi - wise men or wise kin...

I am jumping ahead to what are traditionally the epiphany readings.

Call to worship:

Leader: Expectation is such a difficult experience from which to recover.

People:  It has been, at least, weeks of expectation.  For some of us our expectations linger on.

Leader:  When Mary is no longer expectant she is surprised by what arrives into her life.

People:  Gift-bearing wisdom makes its way.

Leader:  Wisdom is a warp in time.  A place where past and future are conjoined in the present.

All:  Let us worship our God of wise men and women. Amen.

PRAYER OF PRAISE (easily adapted to become a prayer of confession if that is what is needed)

Holy Spirit of intuition and initiative, we praise you for the Christmas offerings of gold frankincense and myrrh presented to the Christ child and thus to us.  May gold remind us of our priceless place as your disciples and thus servants to the world.  May frankincense keep us mindful of our world ever holding others in prayer.  May myrrh leave us courageous enough to give our life and energy into our community for your glory.  May the wise men’s gifts symbolically guide our own lives into the fullness of Christ.  Amen.

 

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I have needed, for a long time, a formula by which to consider my opinion on religion in public schools.  The first chapter of Progressive Christians Speak:  A Different Voice on Faith and Politics has provided that formula…at least in part.  In addition to providing a rich legislative history of the issue in our nation, the authors provide at four perspectives on religion in public schools: 

School prayer

FACT:  Ceremonies of mandatory attendance invalidate the constitutionality of prayer.  In a document by the US Department of Education in 1995, teacher led prayer is unacceptable but student led prayer is allowed.  In the same document, school endorsement of religious activity is  forbidden. School officials are to remain neutral toward religion

Dilemma – The definition of neutrality usually means one of two things, either school officials shall have nothing to do with religion or officials shall do nothing to discriminate against religion.  How does moral education happen effectively without a  

Teaching about religion –

FACT:  Teachers are to express neutrality regarding religion but there is a conservative and progressive concern that this encourages human secularism as the mindset of the day.

DILEMMA: Issues such as posting of the Ten Commandments (House Bill “Defense Act” Sponsored by Robert Aderholt) and Creationism are dealt with only a surface knowledge of the complexities of each.  For example, which version of the Ten Commandments to post and how Creationism is as limited a choice as a mechanistic model of science.

Use of facilities

FACT and no DILEMMA:  By law, all religious groups are given equal access to school facilities and that poses no dilemma for the authors of this book.

Financial aid and vouchers

FACT: State support of public and private schools is determined by a child benefit theory. 

DILEMMA:  Voucher system promises to bring political battles over concerns of racism, perceived complacency in the public school system. 

Over each of the four points they characterize conservative and progressive Christian response to these issues. The  characterization is that Conservatives are typically interested in hemegony while Progressives are typically more interested in diversity.     

Hegemony is my habit…diversity is my desired destination.  At this time of year, I cannot help but think of the Christmas story as a movement toward diverse community.  Within that simple and familiar story, there is a radical reality of pluralism as represented by the Wise Men‘s world view as foreign to the Isrealites.  There are audacious breaks from tradition in the decisions of Mary and Joseph. There is risk as Shepherds change direction for we know their routes were set in advance through political alliances and contract agreements.   There is a cosmology at work as the heavens and the earth are in conversation.  All characters within the story arise with a specificity of circumstance to comingle as a great concert that is remembered as harmonious.

 It seems to me that religion in schools within a democratic nation is a tool for diversity rather than hegemony.  Consideration of religion as a subject and as a subjective reality at its best is a tool to help a child understand the specificity of others not with a competitive eye but each trusting in God as if a conductor of humanity’s orchestra.   The schools surely need local churches to be mobilized toward such an open end.  Churches must be interested in learning about different sections of the spiritual orchestra.  Even within our sections, congregations would do well to resist sorting themselves as either conservative or progressive congregations.  Only when both types of individuals abide within the same congregation can a church receive the necessary fodder for spiritual growth out of cultural context.  Ultimately, churches must make an important switch.  We must become servants of the spiritual journey rather than keepers of denominational destinations. 

 And yes, my metaphor of an orchestra is a blatant plug for increased spending on arts within the school.

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