Woodlawn CC

Woodlawn CC

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ELM Class, Ash Wed and other things...

Well this past weekend was another one of our ELM classes.  This session we mainly discussed Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, and Communion.  It's always interesting to hear others experiences and learn more about other churches practices.  We prepared a service for a funeral in advance of this class and turned them in prior to class.  This was a great exercise and if for no other reason than it gave each of us a guideline beyond our various denominations handbooks to use for any future services.  Most of the denominations in our group are fairly free with how one can organize all of these celebrations or sacraments, so again it was interesting and beneficial to see how others organized these events.

During our conversations on baptism, I brought up the teachings of the Didache concerning baptism.  The following is the directions given to the early church:

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.

It is interesting to note that this early instruction 'manual' (possibly as early as any book in the NT and certainly no more recent than the most recent of the texts) specifies a strong preference for running water as well as fasting (not only for the persons directly involved but preferably the entire congregation!).  Neither of these are things currently practiced by the church in any denomination that I am aware of.  Our Instructor mentioned that she was unaware of the Didache which I found surprising to be honest.  I do hope she looks it up online, it is a fascinating book and one very well worth reading.

Didache - Lightfoot translation

After having read the Didache I have long thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a congregation to a river and do a mass re-baptism in 'living' water.  It seems to me that it would be a great symbolic gesture and one that would cement the bond between us today and some of the very earliest practitioners of our faith.

On Sunday we attended church at Benson Baptist, once again Pastor Paul Marine gave a great sermon.  Paul really is a very effective preacher and I am enjoying taking mental notes on his style.  We saw Susan Gillies there again but didn't have much time to visit as she was rushing off to work on her move to a new home here in town.

After church we went home and had a lazy day of reading and enjoying some good coffee.  I have two of the books for our next ELM class already (there are actual four that we need to read!) so I started reading "Called to be Church, The Book of Acts for a New Day" by Anthony Robinson & Robert Wall.  So far it's a good book and I'm filling it with post-it tabs!  The second book that I have is "A Chorus of Witnesses, Model Sermons for Today's Preacher", this looks like a great book with transcripts for sermons from some of the great preachers of our time.  I am excited to get to it as soon as I finish the book on Acts.

Tonight (2/13) we went up to St. Paul's Lutheran Church to attend the Ash Wednesday Service.  This is as far as I can remember the first time I've ever attended an Ash Wednesday Worship.  Baptist don't generally have services for this day and back when I was a member of the Lutheran Church I was hardly a good person much less a good Lutheran so I honestly do not remember going to Church for Ash Wednesday.  Back then we would go to Sunday Services but hardly on a regular basis.  I found the service to be very interesting and certainly moving spiritually.  Reverend Paul Coen is also a gifted preacher though his style is different than Pastor Marine's.  Pastor Marine gives many more Biblical references in his sermons whereas Reverend Coen relies more on life experiences and life application.  My own style is more towards Pastor Marine but I absolutely see the value and appreciate Reverend Coen's messages.  Honestly Reverend Coen really has the more polished presentation and technically is a far stronger speaker.

On another front, my workouts this week have gone very well.  I modified my leg workouts and am now training for heavy weights again on Leg Presses.  I'm back up over a half ton on the leg press and will push that number as high as I can before year end.  I've stated a goal of pressing as much as one can load on the machine which I think I can do as I'm honestly not that far from it now.  I will confess that it's a great ego boost to load the machine up that heavy.  To keep my ego in check however I started this week using the hip adductor and abductor machines, where I'm sad to report I think several of the women at the gym are leaving me in the dust.  Neither of these machines are ones frequently used by the men but to help round out my hip and leg development I've decided to use them regularly.  Since I'm no longer doing squats I need to be conscious of doing everything I can to properly build up my legs and hips.

I need to get back on my dieting and try to shed a few pounds.  My 35th High School reunion is this July and  I would like to be in great shape by then.  LOL  I know I am terrible.

In closing I will wish all of you a wonderful Lenten season and hope that you each try and focus on the message that Jesus left to us.  I would like to also suggest a great book to read at this time of year.  If I didn't have to read so much for my ELM classes I would dig it out and read it through for a third time.  I honestly have two copies here as I have my own copy as well as a copy that Jesse had.

The book is called "The Last Week" by Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan.  The book uses the Gospel of Mark as it's guide in taking you through the last days and hours of Christ's life up until the Resurrection.  It is a fantastic book and easily one of Borg's & Crossan's best works, it really could almost be considered mandatory reading.  It's that good!

The Last Week, by Borg & Crossan

May you all be richly blessed in His Almighty Spirit and Grace,