June 13, 2008

Calendar Stuff

So, it's Friday the thirteenth today! I heard on the news about some people's phobias. Well, I think I was born on Friday the thirteenth, and have no problems with the line up of the calendar.

I've missed several calendar things I thought I'd just skip, but my continued thoughts and liking to write them down, won't let me leave them behind.

I need to go back and check my posting on the Old Testament counting 50 days, Omer, between the two first fruits festivals to see what details I gave. The link will be here if you want to read more. But on day 40 is Ascension Day. Because Western Christians were celebrating Pentecost Day on Mother's Day, they celebrated Ascension Day earlier then I did. I was 'remembering' it's story and meaning on May 29, along with Eastern Christians.

I like to imagine me as one of Jesus' original disciples, having lived with him for three years. I've probably dreamed of ousting the Roman rule and Jesus setting up a Jewish Kingdom, that I can help lead. BUT WAIT! Jesus is rising into the sky! He's leaving us! This isn't the way I imagined it! Now what do we do?! Before leaving, Jesus told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait till the next Jewish First Fruit Festival - Shavuot. I imagine them in that upper room for ten days reliving every moment with Jesus, everything he did and said, and asking, "Now, what the heck did he REALLY mean?"!

June 5 was saint Boniface day. That's the day he died, thus his birthday into heaven, but I remember his story more in relation to Christmas since some Advent traditions are a result of his doings. In the early 700's he was sent to work among the Norsemen and Teutonics. Boniface was constantly jeopardizing his own life for the sake of the young, the vulnerable, the weak, the sick, and the poor - often imposing his body between the victims and their oppressors.

The Norsemen had brutal pagan sacrificial practices. Boniface decided to strike at the root of their superstitions by cutting down the sacred Oak of Thor. Since no immediate judgement came against them, doubt about the power of their gods began.

A few evenings later, on the first Sunday in Advent, a young boy rushed into Boniface's camp breathlessly telling of a sacrifice soon to be done - his sister was to serve as the vestal virgin. They ran, arriving in the sacred grove just when the Druid priest raised his knife. Boniface ran, pushing his wooden cross forward. The knife blade pierced the cross, saving the girl's life. Boniface seized the stunned silent moment to proclaim the gospel's good news, saying that the ultimate sacrifice had already been made by Jesus on the cross - there was no need for other sacrifices!

Boniface hacked off lower branches from the sacred grove, handing them out, telling each family to take them home and adorn their hearths. These branches, like wreaths were reminders of the completeness of Jesus' work and tokens of his grace. Logs from the grove were burned in fireplaces, later called Yule logs.

On June 9, we passed Columba's day, Columba of Iona, who died in 597. Columba was a scribe and poet. I might have written this on St Patrick Day posting, but while most of Europe was being ravaged by barbarians, books were being restored, protected, and copied in Ireland. Columba established a monastery on the island of Iona. When the Roman church was becoming more ceremonial and priestly, the school at Iona emphasized the Bible as the sole rule of faith. For these Celtic Christians, Christ alone was the head of the church - they did not follow the hierarchical authority or the liturgical ceremonies of the Roman Church.

Many missionaries went out from Iona. The Celtic Christians evangelized all of Europe, bringing a breath of fresh air to the church. Pope Gregory tried to bring the movement under the authority of the Roman Church. For a century there was a struggle between the British Isle Church and the Roman Church for authority. Read the Celtic Way of Evangelism for a great read - How Christianity can reach the West ... again! Roman rule of course won, but revival came in the 16th century during the Scottish Reformation under John Knox and George Buchanan.

Then the last missed calendar date I was wanting to post was the 11th, the remembrance day of Barnabas on the church calendar. What do you remember of Barnabas and the beginnings of "Christ"ians? I remember him as being the one who introduced Saul, renamed Paul, to the disciples. Barnabas took Paul's side in his disagreements with Peter. Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel together for a period of time ... 

BUT, I also remember Paul and Barnabas having a split - going separate ways. Is this the first church split? We so agonize over church splits. We just went through one, it's been awful. I'm sure the spreading of the gospel and the starting of new churches could be done less painfully. I suppose it's a mixture of God's desiring relational growth for all, and human blunderings ... (Exclusion & Embrace!) ...

I took Monte to the airport yesterday morning. He's in Calgary Canada for a bit over a week - working with scientists in the part of the world where the oldest life exists for all to see. They want Monte and Stan to share their science with them, and they will probably be writing together papers (and books?) on their understanding of the origins of life. Monte sees the blueprint written in every cell's DNA, as do others. Scientists DO see a creator's hand, authorship, design ... Sermon's could be preached by scientists - Monte does. It's just that many scientists don't see God as someone desiring a personal relationship with us, but I'm betting that they do have this mystical thing going on within them. And I trust them to God. He'll lead them to know Him!
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