In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dead Sea Scrolls

For Thanksgiving, my other half and I went to Seattle to be with his family. It was an incredible weekend for a variety of reasons. One of the activities we did (we, meaning my other half, his mother, and me) was go to an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They only have a few public viewings in the United States, and they have been in Seattle since the beginning of November. It was amazing.

First, the story of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was incredible enough. Before they were discovered, most of the Old Testament was from manuscripts taken from the Middle Ages. These manuscripts are dated about 1000 years older than any of the manuscripts we had at that time (2000-2500 years old).

Some shepherds stumbled upon the manuscripts in the 1940s. One of the shepherds threw a rock into a tiny opening in a cave and heard the sound of pottery breaking. They entered and found clay pots filled with manuscripts. They sold four of them to a dealer for only $65.

The exhibit also had a lot of the artifacts from the find. The ancient city of Qumran was a intentional community of the Essenes. They withdrew from society and, apparently, collected religious writings. All of the manuscripts were of a religious nature, but not all of it was included in the Old Testament. There were other psalms, passages, and even apocalyptic literature.

We looked at coins, pots, bowls, and learned about the excavation process. Then, we got to enter the room with some of the actual scrolls. Most are in fragments, so we looked at mid-sized scraps of paper with writing in Hebrew and Aramaic (they said others were in Greek, but none of them were on display). The room was dark, because light damages the ancient paper (papyrus or parchment). Even in the display, the lights would turn off occasionally to restrict the light on the paper.

I have not studied Hebrew, and I'm wishing I had. Some of the writing was very hard to distinguish. Other times, it was very clear. At one point, the name of God was written in a completely different script. Instead of leaving the space blank, attention was brought to the name, so the reader would not say the name of God aloud.

I purchased a book with the writings of the scrolls. All the writings in the book are the ones not included in the current Bible. However, I wanted to read the manuscripts of the biblical literature. It was said that the Dead Sea Scrolls have had an impact on what our current Bible says! How amazing it would be to read something direct from the manuscript.

This was one of many adventures in Seattle, but it has left a profound impact on me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thank you for...

We've been emphasizing Thanksgiving for the last couple of weeks around here. It's been amazing. People who generally grumble about quite a bit have really opened up to talk about what they are thankful for.

As for me, I'm thankful for quite a bit:

My blues of earlier this fall have faded away, and I'm excited to look to the future.

Even though I'm always busy, I'm glad to have something to do.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to teach a class, even thought it scares me to death!

I'm thankful that I have a loving family who truly cares about my well-being. I'm also thankful that we laugh as much as we do.

I'm thankful to have a group of friends that can share our lives with one another in the most supportive way possible.

I give thanks for my prospects.

I'm thankful that we have been able to weather cold winters and high heating bills.

I'm thankful for everything I have learned through some financial hardship. It's not easy to live on a small budget, but we have learned how to do it and how to thrive!

I'm thankful that thoughtful reader comment on this blog to encourage. Most of you are strangers, but I'm thankful for you.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

My "To-Do" List

Last weekend, I realized that I had too many tasks to be able to manage in my head. I decided I needed to make a list. For me, making a list is when you know that there is just too much happening. I can usually keep track of most things in my head, but this is too varied!

The best part of a to-do list is getting to cross things off when they are completed. Right now, my list is about half crossed off. If I were to take after my mother, I would write incredibly detailed lists, just so I can cross off more stuff! Instead of writing "Clean Kitchen", she would write "clean sink, wash dishes, sweep floor", then she could cross off each individual item to make her feel better. I'm not quite to that point, but I can certainly understand it!

I remember a class I took when the teacher talked about the fallacy of making God first in your life. He said that if we truly followed the "make God first" mentality, we could create a list, much like a to-do list. Then, once we've satisfied God with a prayer, or song, or worship, or offering, then we could cross God off the list.

His point, which has impacted me, is how do all our actions speak to how we relate to God? Can I praise God when I'm cleaning a toilet? Martin Luther (among others) would say yes. This is the sense of Vocation I've been dealing with for the past three years. We want to figure out a way to understand our whole lives as an offering to God. Not just the "good works" we do, but what we do with all our attributes, both good and bad.

God is not on this to-do list, but the items listed there (as varied as putting up Christmas lights to booking a flight) are all considered God's work.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Forth and Vote

I've been intending to write for some time now, but it hasn't happened. I already voted this morning. I'm hoping that my vote will be one of many to create exciting new changes in how we operate as a country. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but I have to believe it's true.

I encountered a very short line, with a lot of people prepared to help out. I got in and out smoothly.

I'm probably most anxious for races that I cannot vote for. I am hoping to see Patty Wetterling become elected to the US House of Representatives. I think that we need a good child advocate there. I also am quite opposed to her opponent.

Tonight, I'm going to a play. That way, I won't sit and watch election results all night long.

And for you, GO AND VOTE!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints

I still do not have my "opportunity" solidified, so I can't comment on it quite yet. However, I did want to note that we had a marked improvement in our trick-or-treating. It was interesting, because we changed up our routine this year.

We live in a side-by-side duplex. There is a front door that leads to an entryway staircase (I call it the "Grand Staircase"). You climb these stairs to get to both halves of the house. It's not conducive to people easily getting to your part of the building. In years past, I've sat down in the (freezing cold) entryway, waiting for kids to arrive. Mostly, I read a book, while the half-dozen or so kids come around. We also don't have any decorations, so kids don't always know that we have candy.

This year, we had to pick up our car from the shop after work. That got us home well after dark, later than usual. I didn't think we would get any. However, we've been collecting these partially used red candle jars (like the kind that would be in an eternal flame at your church). I decided that these candles could be our decorations. They are pretty safe (the flame is in a jar...way down there). So I lined the driveway with them. My other half put a bunch in the window as well.

Then, I cooked dinner, washed dishes, and read a book, while we had about 25 kids come by throughout the evening. I didn't sit and wait for them, I got on with my life and let the kids interrupt. It worked out very well. I probably gave half of my candy away (I gave 3 pieces to each kid). I also don't feel like I "lost" my evening, like I sometimes do. Definitely a better Halloween than in years past.

Now, All Hallows Eve has passed and All Saints Day is here. The biggest loss of the last year was probably my friend Robin. I posted on her back in March. However, I'd like to list the names of other folks I'm thinking about on this All Saints Day.

Grandma Ellen
Baby Hook
...and all the others who discovered God's glory more fully.