Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas from St. Mark’s Preschool!

Gingerbread ManI’ve been lax about writing, but I wanted to update everyone about what’s been happening at St. Mark’s Preschool! In the beginning of November, we finished up our Creepy Crawlies theme by learning about spiders. The children loved reciting along with “The Very Busy Spider” by Eric Carle. We spent the rest of the month learning about Thanksgiving. We discussed what it means to be thankful, drew pictures of things we’re thankful for, and read a lot of Thanksgiving books. The children also colored wooden turkeys and took them home to their families. When they came back after Thanksgiving break, we talked about our favorite parts of the Thanksgiving celebration.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been learning about gingerbread. We read two different versions of “The Gingerbread Man.” Tomorrow, we’re going to ice and eat our own Gingerbread Man cookies!

We’ll be spending the rest of December learning about Christmas. We have a lovely Christmas tree in our room, which we’ll be decorating tomorrow! We’ll talk about the first Christmas and the birth of Jesus, as well as current Christmas traditions. Watch for more updates about our Christmas theme!

Paragraph to Ponder

From an alternate history meditation by Mark Goodacre, Duke University Theologian…

The prioritizing of Mark’s Gospel is a jewel in the crown of Biblical scholarship. In historical Jesus study, in reconstructing early Christian history, in appreciating its literary genius, Mark is preeminent in the scholar’s canon. It sits alongside source criticism of the Pentateuch, the literary stratification of Isaiah and questioning the authenticity of several Pauline epistles as a celebrated achievement of post-Enlightenment scholarship on the Bible. To imagine a world without Mark is to imagine a world in which one of the key advances has not been made, in which the academic guild is closer to church, and Matthew’s Gospel retains a position of authority for the scholar as well as for the minister.

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God

Sermon Text Mark 1:1-8
Full Text of Sermon

Mark’s gospel as we have it full of odd turns. He boldly states as his first words the title of this post. But the climax of the story is the cross. The demons and the Roman Centurion crucifying Jesus are the only people in the story who recognize the Son of God. Peter might see the Christ, but not the Son. The last scene is the women running confused from the tomb. A reader might ask how such a story is Good News – a Christ who is defeated, disciples who scatter, proclamation of resurrection that causes fear and flight.

It is good news because of the totality of the story. God has acted. God continues to act. God continues with beginnings. God continues guiding beginnings to proper endings. But Mark knows that those stories are not simple. There are no easy epiphanies. We hear the Christmas angels and wonder what that could mean. We read the prophets and are stupefied at times. We run with those women away from that angel in the tomb. We’ve heard the good news, but we don’t know the good news. Not in our bones. As Origen says that requires the heart, not the head. We prepare our hearts. We keep our paths straight. We live under the cross, to instruct the heart. So that we might one day know the depth of the good news of Jesus Christ – The Son of God. The Son of God who knows our beginnings, our middles and our ends.

Three interesting things, no four…

1. Pinterest – the front site is very pretty if in a way-too-unreal sort of way. I’m sure I’m way behind a curve here but it appears to be a visual orientation social networking site. You “pin” up things you like. It also appears to be populated primarily by women. First thought, can you imagine if this was populated only by guys, or even if guys started to be a significant minority? That is going to be a problem for them. But the second thought is with my first impression: lots of glossy mag, vaguely inspirational, way too cute visuals that are deeply seductive but not real in any sense of the word. Still, an interesting visual view of the current zeitgeist. A romantic movement in a non-romantic age? (HT)

2. David Brooks’ Life Reports – One, Two – Number Two is the payoff. If you want the actual data its on his new blog. He’s been reading the life reports of 70+ year olds that he requested. There is a lot of stuff to mentally chew on. There is one line that I’m not sure he backed up. (It also could be selection bias).

Metaphysics is dead; very few of the writers hewed to a specific theology or had any definite conception of a divine order, though vague but uplifting spiritual experiences pepper their reflections.

Christianity isn’t a philosophy. It isn’t a metaphysics completely in the way Brooks uses the term. But I can understand what he means. The bible says things like Psalm 90:12 or Ecclesiastes 3:1ff or Luke 8:4ff. Jesus (or the Bible) has some good thing to say about evaluating a life. The Americans Brooks is tapping sound like they majored too much in psychological jargon and self-actualization hierarchies to examine themselves. They would be better with an old form Roman preparation for confession or even just a reading of Sermon on the Mount. I sometimes wonder how many of my physical countrymen will be saying Lord, Lord…(Matt 25:11-12)

3. Better Living Through Pharmacology – A fascinating post (and the comments are insightful and raw as well) about anti-depressants and the Christian life. The question is a good one and something that I’ve spent time thinking about. I’m pretty sure that most of the “saints” and by that I mean the big ones that inspire us all went through serious dark nights. Luther found the gospel in the midst of his Anfechtung. Wesley was there. Francis. Loyola. Even Aquinas whose writing is so clear and logic so profound you wouldn’t think it possible. I’m not sure there is a place where Theology contrasts more with the reigning psychological therapeutic regime then around what today is called depression. It used to be called accidie or the noon-day demon or a dark night and it was all about spiritual struggle. (We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the power and principalities of this dark realm…Eph 6:12). Today it is all flesh and blood. It is all chemical imbalances to be treated with medication. Neither is correct.

3b/4. The problems with a simplistic numbers = God’s will equation. – This is an outgrowth of number 3. Those dark nights are often what throw you onto the Lord. I’m a numbers type guy. This is a constant temptation of mine to look at numerical failure as spiritual failure. Likewise to look at numerical success as spiritual success. It’s not that easy. I’d tie it back to Brooks even. Brooks extrapolates lessons for a “good life”, but it reads like a self-help book. Are self-help books read 50 years after they are written? 1 year? But St. Paul’s prison letters are read 2000 years later. The Freedom of a Christian is still read. I’m not sure what of our modern age might even survive 100 years even though we publish vast amounts more. The failure of our age has yet to be written.