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Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does its sucessive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons wax and wane no more.

To him shall endleses prayer be made,
And endless praises crown his head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on his love with sweetest song,
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on his name.

Let every creature rise and bring
Honour and glory to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud "Amen!"

Lyrics: Isaac Watts
Music: John Hatton


Is it the fear and pressure?

One of the things I really enjoy about my Greek class is that there are college aged students as well as seminary students. Every class, as the room fills up, there is the inevitable chatter as people sit down and wait for things to begin. I enjoy hearing their banter and laughter. I enjoy hearing the funny things they say. It reminds me of when my own kids were that age. What is different, though, is that I know that there was always a point when my kids were home when the banter and jocularity became an irritation and I told them to be done with it. When you get a little distance from your own parenting, and they're not your kids, it's a different experience.

It's the same with smaller children. When we have opportunity to babysit for a young family, it is enjoyable because we get to spend time with interesting little people and then we get to go home without any worry. Once, a number of years ago, we babysat an infant for a number of hours, and when the mother and father returned, they were apologetic because they were away for so long. I was not bothered at all. I would sleep well that night, and I didn't have to worry about a thing. I know that will be the joy of being a grandparent some day: our ultimate job is not to raise them even if we do have a lot of input. The pressure is off and can we enjoy them.

One of the things which robbed me of the joy of the moment in parenting was the fear: am I making a mistake? Am I doing something wrong? Will this have long term consequences? What will people think? That last question was something I asked often because I was very aware of the scrutiny that we put other parents under. I did it myself; that eye raise toward a parent whose child is muttering in church; that "tsk" when we observe a young person doing something behind his parents' back. Very often, when our kids are young, we are evaluated on how well-behaved our kids are. When I think about it, that's a lot of pressure to put parents and children under. Children shouldn't have to be the means by which their parents are evaluated. Christian parents can have very outwardly complaint children who actually live with very rebellious hearts. Yes, we want obedient children, but not so we can be applauded or avoid criticism; it's so we can teach them about life long obedience to God.

I think this pressure on being the perfect mother is partly an overflow over the notion that a woman's worth is in her ability to mother. If that is where we get our primary value, we'd better do it right. Parenting is a godly work, but that is not what gives a woman value. What gives her value is the reality that she is created in the image of God. One of the things I learned a lot about when I wrote a term paper about abortion is that personhood is not a matter of function but essence. I am not a person because I am able to walk, think, speak, and serve. I am a person because I was created by God. My value is not a matter of being a perfect mother caring for my Better Homes and Gardens home while wearing Prada. I'm still a person as I putter in my house in my faded jeans and sweatshirt, and the dustbunnies waiting for my attention. And as I deal with a problem child.

I have no idea what kind of bad memories my children have taken away with them. We all have negative memories of our childhood. If they do remember me as a mother who was always fearful and under pressure, I can only hope that they are merciful, and that when they become parents, they will have understanding.


What does the Church value about women?

It isn't fun to fell like you are a square peg in a round hole. I have felt like that much of my life. Within my family outside of it, from the time I was about 10, I felt like I didn't fit anywhere. I didn't fit in with the girls in my school, and though a tomboy, I was excluded from the boys. And if a teenage girl looks like she wants to hang out with the boys, you know what people will say about them. I had people say such things to me. They yelled it at me as they chased me home from school one winter afternoon.

Things didn't change substantially once I was inside the Church. There is love and fellowship within the Church, and I have been the beneficiary of that love and fellowship. But at the same time, to be honest, while I love my sisters in Christ, those occasions where everyone is around the teapot and cookie plate, talking about decorating, fashion, or their vacations, I end up zoning out. I'm not a great decorator. I find it an annoyance, actually, and would love to just have someone come and do it for me. I am, however, not rich, so that rules that out. I like nice clothings, but I'm more of an L.L. Bean kind of girl. I think I probably wear too much plaid flannel. I love to bake and knit and do things like that, but not all day every day.

What I love to do is study. I never knew this about myself until I was twenty years old, and once I realized it, I wanted to do it. I worked on my undergraduate degree while raising small children, and now that they're gone, I am realizing my dream of attending seminary.

In my church tradition, women cannot be pastors. I don't want to be one, anyway. But I do want to teach. And I do want to be taken seriously. I don't want a patronizing pat on the head when I express frustration at feeling excluded because of my gender. I want to do the things that God has wired me to do, but my options are limited. In recent days, the discussion around whether or not women can teach at the seminary level has been a discouragement to me, largely because it is discouraging when people I respect are apparently on the other side of the fence on the issue. There is a reason why women band together on such issues. I try not to complain, though. My husband is a great support, and my closest friends are. But I'm aware that there are some who secretly think what I'm doing is wrong. And I have lost online friends because of my decision to attend seminary. I am no longer womanly in their eyes.

In my most frustrated moments, I wonder to myself, "What is it that the church values about women?" Is it simply childbearing? Or juggling the domestic duties so men can pursue their careers? Is it to provide snacks at church functions? And am I being disobedient to God because I want to pursue this desire to learn? I have no kids at home now; would it be more spiritual if I spent all my time in the nursery or making crafts? I am not a confident person. I freely admit that I am very insecure. Sometimes, I wonder if I shouldn't just give it up and sell Tupperware. And I ask myself, "Why did God give me this ability to learn?"

I love being in school. Every Greek class transports my thoughts to a place where outside distractions can't bother me. Parsing verbs and translating basic sentences puts me in a place where I lose track of time. Researching historical figures or unraveling what election really means makes me feel energized. But does the Church value that? 

Part of me worries that for a woman to pursue any kind of study and not feel like she's trampling all over someone's toes is to pursue education in a secular environment. True, such institutions have their own problems, but would it be better than a church environment where I fear that people would rather that women just sit down and shut up?

I have a 3.9 GPA. I am 52 years old and a mature student. Is this some kind of anomaly? Should I just ignore it and go back to cleaning my toilets? These are questions I ask myself. But I must stop now, because I have a quiz this afternoon, and I want to study more.


Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long)

Rock of Ages, when the day seems long,
From this labor and this heartache, I have come; 
The skies will wear out, but you remain the same, 
Rock of Ages, I praise your name.

Rock of Ages, you have brought me near; 
You have poured out your life-blood, your love, your tears, 
To make this stone heart come alive again; 
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin.


Rock of ages. Rock of ages; 
Bind your children until the kingdom comes; 
Rock of ages your will be done.

Rock of Ages, when in want or rest, 
My desperate need for such a Savior I confess; 
Pull these idols out from my heart embrace; 
Rock of Ages, I need your grace.

Rock of ages, broken, scorned for me,
Who am I that you would make me free?
To give me glory you took the death and pain,
Rock of Ages, my offering.

Rock of Ages, "It is done!" you cried. 
The curtain's torn and I see justice satisfied; 
Now write your mercy, on my heart and hands; 
Rock of ages, in faith I stand.

Rock of Ages, my great hope secure. 
Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul; 
Bind your children with cords of love and grace. 
Rock of Ages, we give you praise.


Aorist tense, Swiss Reformers, and a word fitly spoken

This was such a great week. In Greek, we're getting into more verb tenses, and I can see that it will be challenging in the days ahead. I've been consistent with my review, so I'm off to a good start. This week, we were introduced to the aorist tense. When I was taking Precept Ministries workshops and teaching Precept studies, I was told that the aorist was a "punctilliar" action. Our Greek textbook made it quite clear that "punctilliar" isn't really accurate, but rather the action is undefined. The action happened, but no specific time is given. I'm thankful for that correction.

In Church History, I've been reading about the Swiss Reformers. This is good timing, because my term paper this semester will be about Menno Simons and Anabaptism, and getting familiar with this material before I start researching will be helpful. I took a history of Mennonitism class in university, and I remember some pretty horrifying stories about how Anabaptists were tortured. There were a lot of stories of people being taken to rivers and drowned. Anabaptists are known for their views on the rejection of taking up arms. I wonder how much this violence against them contributed to that.

Yesterday, I went to chapel for the first time this semester, and was so encouraged. The speaker, the Hebrew prof at the seminary, was full of energy, passion, and exhortation. He spoke from 2 Samuel 8, about Christian leadership. It was an excellent message. It reminded me that when we hear preaching, we really are being exposed to another of God's gifts to us. I could sit down and read 2 Samuel 8 and get some feedback from a commentary, but hearing it preached was something different; a good kind of different. It was a great way to end the week.