Breaking From Tradition

Families change.  We sometimes don’t like to admit it, but the elderly die and infants are born and our families just keep changing.  One problem is that as our families change so must our traditions.
I was watching the most recent episode of Ugly Betty and it was all about family changes and changing traditions.  This episode was very timely for me, as I just spent Thanksgiving with my sister and mother in Madison, WI.  My sister was unable to go home due to work obligations and I was going to be in Madison chaperoning a youth event anyway- so we decided to have thanksgiving there.  My mother decided to come up and join us and thus our long-standing tradition of family dinners at my grandparents’ houses changed…at the very least we took a temporary break from tradition.
I thought it would be hard on my mother, especially not having dad there, but we all had a wonderful time.  My mother insisted on having a full thanksgiving meal, so she packed up turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, pie, cookies, etc.  into the car and brought thanksgiving to Madison.  It definitely wasn’t thanksgiving as usual around Carrie’s tiny table in a small one bedroom apartment, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t Thanksgiving.  This year’s holiday was not deficient of anything, it was extraordinary and special in its own way.
The church is no different:  In the church we must stop holding so tightly to our traditions.  We must begin, instead, to honor the past as we look forward to the excitement of the future.  We must bring a relevant Christ to a new and exciting millennium -and we will probably have to use new methods!

I spent the past week with my sister and mother and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  I won’t look back longingly for “the way things used to be,” but instead I look forward to next year’s Thanksgiving holiday for whatever lies ahead.  Perhaps next year will be thanksgiving at Grandma’s house – or my mother’s house – or maybe we will have thanksgiving in Fiji.  Who knows what the future will hold.

I Have Been Violated.

Okay- this is freaking me out a little bit.  I got back to school and thought I would drive out to Lincolnshire to the IMax and watch Beowulf.  I didn’t want to drive half an hour just to find a sold out show or something, so I purchased my tickets on-line on Fandango.  I even had to setup an account on Fandango…so it’s not like I set this up and don’t remember…   Next thing I know, I log into Facebook and it is on my mini-feed that I purchased a ticket for iMax to see Beowulf.
Somehow Fandango knows my facebook or vice-versa and it got connected through my email address and wham-bam-thankyou-ma’am….   My business is being announced on facebook.  Has anyone else had this issue?  Does it feel weird to anyone else?  I’m sure it is a facebook application that I’ve downloaded that ended up doing this, but still……..
This morning on 103.5 the morning talk show was about school bullying.  They were discussing Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on The View.  It was interesting to listen at first, but then as calls came in, I realized that no one was talking about the underlying issues!?!  Why is it that children bully and is it a new thing?  So far as I know there has always been schoolyard bullying.  It is the tactics that have changed and, perhaps, escalated.
As I consider what it was like to grow up, I think that bullying was simply a part of my formative years.  I’m not saying that it is right, but I think it natural as children learn about interpersonal relationships.  In fact, having been the victim of bullying (although I never thought of myself as that) helped me to become the person I am today.  In fact, it is still a part of my life, today…does bullying ever stop?  We become more sophisticated with how we bully, but it continues throughout our lives.  We perpetrate bullying and we are victims even as we move through adulthood – we just have new names for it:  “business”, “politics”, and “war”.
I don’t believe that bullying is something that we can stop.  I’m not even fully sure we should – even if we could…  I believe we must accept that bullying is part of our growing up process, but we can not accept the escalation of violence and the new ways in which bullying now takes place.  Most of all, we must work toward the elimination of hate crimes that happen daily in schools.  We must make schools a safe place for our children and we can accept nothing less…. but can we control the actions and words of others?  No.
We can only control ourselves:  our own actions and our own words.  We must consider this when dealing with the issue of bullying.  How do we model kindness for others?  How do we change attitudes?  It is not by creating a new law or rule!  It is not by retaliating!  We can only affect a change of heart when we share the love that God gives us.  We can not simply implement new District-wide policies or put more police on-campus.  We must mobilize our churches to go into the schools.

First UMC in Green Bay has begun to do this.  They do not go preach or evangelize in the school – that wouldn’t work (or be legal).  They have 80 adult volunteers that volunteer as aids in the classroom.  They are there to show the children that they are important and loved.  I have seen this first hand and I have to believe that it is working.  It doesn’t just help the child experience God (LOVE).  It can be a deeply spiritual event for the adults who volunteer without even the uttering “God” or “Jesus”.

I’m Back!
Wow, it has been a crazy few weeks.  I had a midterm exam in Old Testament, on which I did well.  I turned in my midterm essay for History…don’t know how I did on that, yet!  I completed my practica in my United Methodist Worship class (we develop and led a worship service) and we did well on that (my litany was only so-so, it didn’t “draw on the theme of the service”).  Tonight I have a quiz on the latter prophets, my rule of life is due on Wednesday and Thursday I have a paper due on Stookey’s Eucharist book.
I write all of that only to excuse my on-line absence over the past few weeks, but now I’m back.  This weekend I should have been reading for my Old Testament, but instead I am catching up today.  I went to Janesville, WI to worship with a church (the church for whom I led a youth retreat a few weeks ago).  It was fun to see the youth again and to  get away from the seminary for the morning.  When I got back Sunday afternoon my friend Jill, from Green Bay, had just arrived in Chicago, so she picked me up on her way down into the city and we were able to catch up.  I came back up on the train around 8 p.m. and was able to read some old testament on the train home although I was sitting near to a nut case and it was hard to concentrate.  I should tell you the story:
This strange guy starts hitting on this odd girl who sat next to him.  He starts telling her everything about him and his job.  She clearly was not interested after just a minute or two and you could see her eyes roving for an empty seat away from the guy.  Everything about her verbal and physical cues should have told him that she wasn’t interested, but he asks for her number and she wouldn’t give it to him. (smart girl) but he just keeps on it – all the way until she was off the train and then he continued swearing and kept muttering about how she was playing hard to get….    weirdo!

It has been a busy but fun weekend.  Now I just have to get back to work today so that I am well prepared for tonight’s class.