Tuesday, July 31, 2007

surely there's a sermon illustration in there

I know someone who gets really excited when weird things happen to him and his wife, because he knows he can always use it as a sermon illustration.

Well, I have no pulpit, but I do have a blog, and yesterday I had a sermon illustration moment.

After supper, my husband and I were getting the kids ready to go for a walk. The plan was to put them in their carrier backpacks and hike to the park with them. So Adam got the backpacks out of the garage, and they were sitting in the living room while we got shoes and hats on the four of us.

That was when Gamgee discovered that one of his pacifiers (which he now only gets at bedtime and naptime and during church) was attached to Adam's backpack by a lanyard. So Adam found our son bent over awkwardly, scrunched and uncomfortable, and sucking away on his binky.

Surely there's a sermon illustration in that, right? What comes to my mind is that this is what our old, immature habits do to us. The ones we've outgrown. The ones that are perhaps permissible, but that are no longer beneficial. We snatch at them anyway, old comforts that they are, but find that enjoying them makes us crumple ourselves into odd, uncomfortable positions, because really, we're too big now for a binky.

Just a thought, courtesy of a really cute one and a half year old.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, July 27, 2007

learning to sew

So, in this long green season of Ordinary Time, I've been trying to master a few ordinary skills. I've been taking a peek at what housekeepers of old used to know (for a fascinating read, try "Behind the Scenes" by Christina Hardyment, which is an intricate and detailed look at how the great houses of England used to go about their day-to-day work of feeding everyone and cleaning up after everyone). And I am realizing that I really should know how to sew. So, after a cute but amateurish dress for my daughter (which is known as "the dress my mommy made for me"), and nine reversable napkins (to better acquaint me with my somewhat tempermental machine), I've made myself a real, live, pretty shirt that I'm actually not ashamed to wear in public:

(Please forgve the bra strap in the first picture - eep!)

Isn't that cute? I made the pattern myself, tracing on grocery store ads the lines my favorite sundress, and shortening it considerably. The pattern pieces just fit on a beautiful blue length of fabric that I bought at a thrift store during a shopping trip with my grandma. It isn't perfect, but it's really pretty, and - thanks to being able to try it on, tailor it, and try it on again - it fits me perfectly. I think I like this sewing thing.

Anyone else out there trying something new this summer? I'd love to hear about your explorations and new pastures.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He has borne our griefs

Today I read something online that depressed me utterly. Scared me, depressed me, horrified me. Nevermind what, because I've no wish to depress, horrify or scare anyone else, and everyone runs across such things sooner or later anyway. But I was sunk in a slough of "oh God, why did you give me children when they have to share world-space with men such as these?" I'm sure you know that awful feeling you get when you're faced with evil too utterly bleak to bear contemplation.

I told my husband what I was feeling, and why, and after supper he went over to his computer, and next thing I know, I hear a sure, steady voice booming across our kitchen, reading St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

"Thank you," I mouthed to him. He nodded and gave me a smile, and we kept clearing the dishes.

Scripture helps. Scripture to music helps even more. After a bit of time listening to Paul's heartening words (Paul is heartening even when he is chastizing), we put on Handel's Messiah.

And I sat, and I listened to the choir sing that Christ has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. "Surely. SURELY. He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And I suddenly had a picture of Christ, strong and sure, his back broad enough to hold the depressing horror I had read about, broad enough to carry it. He suddenly seemed bigger than all the world in my eyes, and more good than I had beheld him before. Surely, surely. And not only was his back broad enough to bear that horror, but he was good enough to overcome it. It shrank and was swallowed up in the strength of his goodness. It could not stand before him, the One who faced it on the cross, who died, who harrowed hell and who rose again, triumphant, Lord of heaven and earth.

That is what he suffered when he hung on the cross, that is the guilt he bore when the Father turned his face from him. "The scum of the earth" is more than a catchphrase. It is what he allowed to cling to him, that he might destroy it forever. "And with his stripes we are healed." My current nightmare and more, all nightmares, he faced and suffered, that they might not have eternal power over his children, over those the Father gave to his care.

Surely, surely. And I love him, because he first loved me. And this is the love wherewith he has loved me. That he would stand between all of us and the powers of hell. And not just stand, but overcome. That is the might and majesty of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. Amen and amen.

peace to you, the peace of Christ to you,