Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Worship or model U.N.?

The World Communon Sunday tradition around here is to have a joint worship service with the Spanish speaking Presbyterian congregation with whom we share our building.

A number of folks--from our congregation and theirs--always choose to stay home on this day. The main complaint from the "sit this one out" folks from our church is that they don't speak Spanish and it's a pain to sit through a service where they don't understand half of what's being said. (Despite the fact that we always have translations printed in the bulletin.) The main complaint from the absentees in the other congregation is that our church is so big and their church is so small that they always feel like guests at OUR church rather than equal participants in a joint service--even if their choir sings, their pastor preaches, their elders serve communion, etc. At least 85% of the folks in the Hispanic church speak English, so comprehension is not the big issue for most of them.

My experience last year, (remember I've only been here 18 months) was that the service was well planned and executed, but it still felt more like an excersize in diplomacy than a worship service

So--here's my question. Have any of you been part of a bilingual service that "worked"? What made it tick? Could you recommend any resources?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Case of the Vanishing Members

At a stewardship committee meeting yesterday the subject arose of formerly active members who seem be taking a vacation from church life. How to encourage them to return?

The big push seemed to be for a high tech solution. If we could do a better job collecting the data from the little "friendship pads" in the pew, we could manipulate that data on a regular basis, (quarterly seemed to be general consensus),to find out who had missed worship more than, say, 10 times. The Pastors could then call on those folks to see what's going on and, so the theory goes, nip potential discontent and unhappiness in the bud.

My response was that the most sophisticated "attendence tracking" program available would not resolve this issue. What is needed is the very low tech, but apparently too difficult and awkward, strategy of being community for one another. If you notice someone hasn't been around in a while, give them a call. Or if that seems to "in your face" wait until you run into them at the grocery store and say, "The choir's Easter music was amazing! I was so sorry you missed it!" Or something. When I have contacted inactive members in the past the most common lament I've heard was, "When I stopped coming NONE OF MY FRIENDS FROM CHURCH seemed to notice." A computer program can't replace people actually paying attention.

Or am I the crazy one?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feline Metaphor

It's raining here in Academic Suburb. There has not been measureable rainfall here since April 22nd. Balrog the Kitten was born March 30th and wasn't getting out much yetin mid April.

This morning she made her usual joyful dash into the back yard as soon as we woke up and opened the door for her. She screeched to a halt-- paws back-pedaling, just like in a cartoon--and stood transfixed in fascination and horror. Her familiar world was gone, replaced with one in which wet stuff falls out of the sky and her favorite napping spots have become puddles. She looked back towards the door at me and gave me an accusing look that said, "What did you do?" She stood there for a few more moments until an extra big drip from the tree hit her smack on the head, at which point she sprinted back into the house.

I sometimes feel like the church today is like that kitten in the rain--utterly undone by what seems like an overnight change in our familiar world, blinking in confusion, accusing any nearby and likey target of having caused this calamity, retreating farther and farther into what still seems like safe territory.

Waiting for the sun to come back out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Feline Ethics

Elizabeth the Cat here.

I am not happy. Repeat--NOT HAPPY.

That kitten is getting bigger and more annoying every second. Here she is stalking me at my second favorite napping spot. It is too hot to go outside and enjoy my first favorite spot under the grapefruit tree.

I need your advice on a matter of ethics. I am not a pacifist. How much violence is permissable in this situation?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

History of Us

As I've mentioned before, my second grade daughter is a big American Girl fan. Due to this passion, I have recently been made aware that AG is debuting a new historical American Girl book/doll/associated paraphenalia very soon. This new American Girl will introduce today's youngsters to that long ago era of American history-----wait for it -------The 1970's!!!!

Check it out

Does anyone but me feel that this is just sick and wrong????

(Off to buy more Geritol . . .)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Good-bye Madeleine

I don't think I would have survived sixth grade without A Wrinkle In Time.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Morning Without Make-up

Today was the second day of school. I spent the morning filling out the piles of forms, permission slips, etc. that came home with the kids yesterday. (My son's new teacher fiendishly promised any child who turned in all his/her forms by this morning 50pts of Classroom Currency which can later be traded in for fabulous prizes or privileges.)

Also, today is the day that the Domestic Goddesses make one of their twice-monthly visits to my home, so I was also frantically trying to de-clutter the house sufficiently for them to arrive and do their thing.

Finally, the little cat, who is not supposed to spend the day outside unattended, got out just before we were ready to leave and we had to launch an (ultimately unsuccessful) search and capture mission.

The bottom line is that I completely missed the "apply make-up" portion of my personal morning routine.

Oh well.

As I was walking across the church lawn to my office, I met a friendly woman walking her dog. We chatted a bit. Turns out her niece goes to the same school my kids go to. She has the same first grade teacher my daughter had last year.

"Wow!" said my new best friend, "You have a second grader? You must have started late!"

I sure did, Buttercup. But at least the Politeness Fairy didn't pass over my house.

Tomorrow: lipstick and face powder.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Varieties of Domestic Experience

Last spring our youth director decided to have a cookie baking night with the youth group. She had the idea that baking together would be good fellowship and that the cookies produced might be taken to shut-ins, etc.

Well, she was stunned at the lack of kitchen experience among our teenagers. It seems many of them were completely unable to follow a recipe, use your most basic cooking implements, or set the controls on a non-microwave type oven. After one batch of dough was finally assembled, our youth director caught one of the girls putting the mixing bowl directly into the oven.

I was very smug upon hearing this report. I bake with my kids regularly. I always have them read the recipe out loud to me, they measure out the ingredients, and they certainly know how plop drop cookies onto a baking pan. If MY kids were old enough for youth group, THEY would have been able to take charge. HMPH!

However . . . the other night we went out for Sushi. My husband ordered saki. At one point my daughter exclaimed,

"Gosh, dad! You're drinking a lot of that!"

"Not really," I pointed out. "That saki cup isn't much bigger than a thimble."

Whereupon my kids asked in unison:


My grandma would be so ashamed.