Monday, February 09, 2004
We're still in the season of Epiphany, but Lent will be upon us in two weeks. Time to start cutting back on my caffeine (never again will I go cold turkey on Ash Wednesday, unless I really want to suffer). I'm working on a list of some reading ideas for Lent, with some help from Jack. One book I really do want to read is The Practice of the Presence of God, which I have started before but never finished. Or maybe I should just try to get through the books I've already bought but haven't read!
This weekend I found a wonderful book by Madeline L'Engle, A Stone for a Pillow, which is a series of meditations on the story of Jacob and Esau. Her focus on Jacob is interesting: she points out that he was a cheat and trickster (he cheated Esau out of his position as eldest son) and was slow to accept the God that Isaac worshiped - yet he became the founder of Israel. Jacob was able to sense God's presence and take delight in it, which was his great strength. L'Engle also has thoughts on how humanity tends to favor belief in a "forensic god," or one who punishes transgressions, over the idea of a loving God. It's very readable (I have dropped a lot of books which were recommended to me because of their convoluted logic and endless sentences) and I definitely recommend it.
In other news, by the time Lent begins our rector will have left for his new job in Arizona as bishop. Next Sunday is his final day with us - we're throwing a party for him. We will miss him, but I am looking forward to having our assistant rector take a bigger part in the services (he's a really nice guy).
Lastly, and this is probably the biggest reason why my thoughts have trended to religion recently, a good friend of mine was ordained a priest a few weeks ago. I was able to attend the ordination ceremony and it made me very happy to see him afterwards. He went through a long period of struggle prior to attending seminary - the first church that sponsored him did not work out and the rector there told him he wouldn't be a good candidate for the priesthood. I feel this is clearly what he was meant to do, but I think that the difficulties he faced will sustain him during his career as a priest. I hope to go hear him preach later this year.