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:iconfreuddwyn::iconfreuddwyn::iconmissarisu::iconarmandacyd::iconarmandacyd::iconhealingsun::iconyamassaro:Anonymous:iconchronofluxren::iconhisamazinggrace:
So I just ended up trying to work all afternoon, and getting nothing done. :(

The task: Prepare an "exhibition" of different stations leading up to the birth of Jesus. Today's job was to write short introductions / explanations / summaries of the stories (the Fall, Abraham, David, the Prophets and the Annunciation) - and after sitting around trying to do it all afternoon, I still have nothing. :(

Problem #1: The "audience" for whom I'm preparing these things are my hostel mates - most of them either nominal Christians or non-Christians ("post-Christian" Europeans) who have little idea what the Bible is about, and don't believe what it says. That means:
   (a) I can't expect any background knowledge.
   (b) I'll have to expect a lot of doubts and misconceptions.
At the same time, I have to remain concise to keep their attention. So I can't write loooooooooooong explanations - which is hard if they need explanations for certain ideas.

Problem #2: It has to be in German... which is not my favourite language to write in, despite being my second mother tongue. I use English to write whenever I can (diary, to-do list, notes, stories, poetry) - German I use for academic essays and papers, and for sermons because I have to. Which means I'm afraid once I start writing German it will come out all academic!

Problem #3: I'm getting the feeling that I'm not good at telling, I'm better at showing... because I have all the rest of the exhibition planned out perfectly (objects, pictures, etc) and I think it could even work. I just stumble over the words - which is weird, since usually people know me to have a "way with words" (writing poetry and all that).

So after 3 fruitless hours and complaining to Jesus a bit ("I can't do it, no one's helping me") I went off to play some flute (it helps) and now I have no more energy for this stuff. And the horrible thing is I have so many things to do that I hate having just lost an entire afternoon. :(

BUT I had an idea for a solution... I'm going to try and write something more like poetry. As in: focus more on thoughts and feelings and ideas than a set of events. I'll print out the Bible text for them and write a poetic interpretation to try and speak to them on an emotional level, rather than getting into discussions of what is "fact", what is "historical", what is "scientifically plausible", and the type of things one can be tempted to get lost in when writing an "explanation". I'm not going to explain, I'm going to depict. Let's see if this works...

(I have some ideas, but not sure how they'll work out in German - and I wonder how the hostel owners, who are supportive of the project in general but rather more "traditional" than me in some aspects, would react...)

deviantID

deng-li-xin32
鄧禮欣
I'm a missionary kid (i.e. my parents are missionaries) and cross-cultural kid (i.e. my parents come from different cultures) and grew up in Asia. I am from 3 continents. :)

I'm currently studying theology in my "foreign home country", being trained as a pastor, but I hope to return to Asia as a missionary.

My big project is writing a poem for (almost) every woman in the Bible. deng-li-xin32.deviantart.com/g…


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Ten Seconds Prayer for Taiwan: www.taiwanteam.org/index.html
Globalprayer365: globalprayer365.com/

:icongreat-comission: :iconwomen-of-god:

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But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)

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So I just ended up trying to work all afternoon, and getting nothing done. :(

The task: Prepare an "exhibition" of different stations leading up to the birth of Jesus. Today's job was to write short introductions / explanations / summaries of the stories (the Fall, Abraham, David, the Prophets and the Annunciation) - and after sitting around trying to do it all afternoon, I still have nothing. :(

Problem #1: The "audience" for whom I'm preparing these things are my hostel mates - most of them either nominal Christians or non-Christians ("post-Christian" Europeans) who have little idea what the Bible is about, and don't believe what it says. That means:
   (a) I can't expect any background knowledge.
   (b) I'll have to expect a lot of doubts and misconceptions.
At the same time, I have to remain concise to keep their attention. So I can't write loooooooooooong explanations - which is hard if they need explanations for certain ideas.

Problem #2: It has to be in German... which is not my favourite language to write in, despite being my second mother tongue. I use English to write whenever I can (diary, to-do list, notes, stories, poetry) - German I use for academic essays and papers, and for sermons because I have to. Which means I'm afraid once I start writing German it will come out all academic!

Problem #3: I'm getting the feeling that I'm not good at telling, I'm better at showing... because I have all the rest of the exhibition planned out perfectly (objects, pictures, etc) and I think it could even work. I just stumble over the words - which is weird, since usually people know me to have a "way with words" (writing poetry and all that).

So after 3 fruitless hours and complaining to Jesus a bit ("I can't do it, no one's helping me") I went off to play some flute (it helps) and now I have no more energy for this stuff. And the horrible thing is I have so many things to do that I hate having just lost an entire afternoon. :(

BUT I had an idea for a solution... I'm going to try and write something more like poetry. As in: focus more on thoughts and feelings and ideas than a set of events. I'll print out the Bible text for them and write a poetic interpretation to try and speak to them on an emotional level, rather than getting into discussions of what is "fact", what is "historical", what is "scientifically plausible", and the type of things one can be tempted to get lost in when writing an "explanation". I'm not going to explain, I'm going to depict. Let's see if this works...

(I have some ideas, but not sure how they'll work out in German - and I wonder how the hostel owners, who are supportive of the project in general but rather more "traditional" than me in some aspects, would react...)
I saw your light shine from afar,
heard stories of riches,
of wisdom incomparable -
rumours, I thought,
but I could not help
but be drawn,
drawn to your light.

I have come to see
if the rumours are true.
I have come to see
your riches and fame.
I have come to see
if you're as wise as they say.
I have come,
drawn by your light.

And I see that the truth
surpasses wildest rumour,
that the light is even brighter
when seen up close,
and I wish I could take
and keep a little spark,
take it home so it can spread
and envelop the world.

I want to know
more about you,
I want to know
the source of your wisdom,
I want to know
the meaning of this blessing -
I want to know your God.

For He is the one
who put the light in you -
He is the one
who draws all to you -
He is the one
who cal light a spark in me -
now I am drawn,
drawn to Him.
Queen of Sheba: Drawn by the Light
1 Kings 10:1-13 | Matthew 5:14-16
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)

The Queen of Sheba (assumed to be in today's Yemen or Ethiopia) heard about Solomon from far away, and wanted to see for herself whether what she had heard was true. She actually brought riddles and questions to properly "test" Solomon's famed wisdom!! This story made me think of the "light of the world" passage in Mt 5, and also of the "light" passage in Isaiah 60.

When God's light shines in us, when we belong to Him and live according to His will and He lives with us and in us, then other people will (or should) notice something about us. Even without saying anything at all (and maybe even without realising it) we "preach" the Gospel by the way we live, the way God is present in and among us. This can lead to people asking questions, wanting to know why we are different - or, as Peter puts it: wanting to know the reason for the hope in us (1 Peter 3:15).

Being a Christian is not a "private matter"... if we are truly following Jesus, then it will be visible. You can't hide a city that's standing on a hill - even if you try to! Also, people watch us - maybe with a critical eye, maybe with a curious eye. The way we live out our faith can attract people to it. I have heard of families in East Asia, where after one person became a Christian, the rest of the family was at first very sceptical, until they saw how that person's life changed for the better, and that either made them accept his decision, or seek out Christianity themselves!

So let us live out our faith and follow Jesus in such a way that people will ask questions! They might be like the Queen of Sheba and ask riddles and "trick questions" first. ;) But that can lead on to them realising the truth about Jesus, and praising God like the Queen of Sheba did at the end of her visit!
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Waiting.
It is late.
Call me silly - but I worry,
I worry as I wait.

I know
you are a grown man now,
independent,
can care for yourself.
I know
your old mother annoys you
when she worries too much,
when she asks too many questions,
when she pressures you
to come home in time
as if you were still a little boy
getting into scrapes,
vulnerable.
I know -
but I worry,
I worry as I wait.

Don't you know
that to me you are still
that vulnerable child,
coming home crying
after a fight?
A great warrior you may be -
but to me you'll always be
my baby.
And so I worry,
I worry as I wait.

Don't worry, they say.
Don't be silly, they say.
You must be celebrating
another victory
(what else could it be?
You never lose.)
with a girl or two -
why shouldn't you?
Why think of
this old mother of yours,
why care about me
in your hour of victory?
Maybe they're right -
I believe they are right -
because I don't want to consider
what it would mean if
they're wrong.

But still I worry,
I worry as I wait.
It is late.
Please
come home.
Sisera's Mother: Waiting
Judges 5:28-30

Sisera is the guy who was killed with a tent pole, stuck through his head by Jael. (So yes: he's not coming back...)The whole story is in Judges 4-5. Sisera was the commander of the army of a Canaanite king who was oppressing the Israelites during the time of the Judges.

I decided with this poem to focus on the feelings of a mother who stays up late waiting and worried. Young people like me might find it a bit annoying to be asked "Where have you been?" or "When are you coming home?" or "Can't you take the earlier train??" (Frequently Asked Question by my Mamma some years back, haha..) but maybe we need to understand that mothers aren't trying to curb our independence or control our movements or keep us small and dependent (at least not intentionally) - they're simply concerned out of love for their children, they want their children to be safe. Maybe a better way to react to (what seems like "over-the-top") motherly concern is to be thankful and say "I love you too", instead of getting annoyed? :)

(And thinking of Sisera and his waiting mother: "I know, I'm late... at least I'm not dead with a tent pole through my head...") (DON'T try that kind of comment though!)
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5 or 6 years ago, a Chinese catholic nun gave me a rosary. I didn't really know much about the rosary back then, but did consider learning more about it now that I actually had one - and at various points I did consider "trying it out". But during the past 5 years all I really did with it was hang it up somewhere to decorate my room - and seeing the crucifix sometimes encouraged me when I went through difficulties.

Now, what's this "rosary experiment"? After learning more about it, I thought I'd "try it out" and pray the rosary for a week. Protestants: before you get excited, please note:
  • I'm not comfortable with directly speaking to Mary (even though I think the catholic belief that dead saints are still "available" and that we are "connected" with our forebears-in-faith makes sense), so I did not say 50 Hail Mary's every day. There are in fact protestant or ecumenical models for praying the rosary, where the Hail Mary is replaced with a prayer to Jesus. If your main complaint is "speaking to Mary is idolatry", then calm down: I did not speak to Mary. And in defence of my catholic friends: I think whether it's idolatry depends on the heart. I do think there are some people who overdo the veneration of Mary and lift her to goddess-like status, which I think is wrong - but not everyone. Remember: not all protestants are the same, and we don't like people attacking our faith based on what a minority does wrong. It's just the same with catholics: don't attack them based on what a minority does wrong. Personally I think we ought to ask them first what their views really are, before judging and accusing. There's a lot of half-knowledge about catholicism in protestant circles, and it's not particularly Christian, I find, to judge people based on prejudice and not bothering to find out their real views.

  • I have often heard protestants say that the rosary is an example of "vain repetition". Now to clear that up: yes, you repeat practically the same prayer about 50 times (even in protestant versions of the rosary). But the basic idea of the rosary (as I understand it - catholics, feel free to correct me if I say anything weird) is not just to repeat a prayer really often, or that repeating a prayer makes it more "effective" (and as I understand Mt 6, this kind of attitude is what Jesus is speaking against when he talks about "vain repetition"), or that simply repeating a prayer "brings you merit" (and the more the better). The rosary is not just about repeating a prayer, but about meditating stations in the life of Jesus. The prayers are (from what I understood) on the one hand seriously meant prayers, on the other hand like a "timer" - you think about a particular story for as long as it takes you to say the prayer 10 times. In this way I find the rosary can be quite Christ-centred: you take the time to really think over his life and let Him speak to you. The way I did it, I actually read the Bible texts relating to the different "mysteries" before meditating over them.

Anyway, it was an experiment, done in dialogue with God of course since I don't want to do something against His will just because I might find it "interesting" or feel like "dabbling" in it (after all there really are some things we should not even attempt dabbling with). While studying the laws on temple and sacrifices and worship in the Old Testament I found that those texts show that the way we pray and worship needs to be based on what God wants and not what we find "cool" or attractive.

I don't know about other protestants who might be reading this, but growing up I thought there was only one way to pray, and that was to basically hold a conversation with God and talk to Him. Since studying theology, though, I have learnt that there are many ways to pray! Which doesn't make "talking with God" any less central and important and wonderful to me, but I have discovered that studying the Bible is a form of prayer too (listening to God, asking Him to reveal His will), that singing hymns (or just playing them on an instrument) can be prayer, that painting can be prayer, that poetry can be prayer. And prayer is not just me talking to God, but also God talking to me - me listening to Him. The rosary, to my understanding, is a form of meditative prayer - studying a story and letting God speak to one's heart through that story.

I just read something about the role of Mary in the rosary, actually, which is worth mentioning - I quote it here: "It's a simple prayer, humble so much like Mary. It's a prayer we can all say together with Her, the Mother of God. With the Hail Mary we invite Her to pray for us. Our Lady always grants our request. She joins Her prayer to ours. Therefore it becomes ever more useful, because what Mary asks She always receives, Jesus can never say no to whatever His Mother asks for." (from theholyrosary.org) - I think what that means is that the "Hail Mary" does not actually mean "praying to Mary" as if she were a goddess or something, but is more like asking for intercession (just as we'd ask friends to pray for us). A foreign thought for protestants maybe, but not, I think, idolatry.


So here's my "observations" after my 7-day experiment...

Bullet; Green I learnt all sorts of things from meditating the "mysteries" from Jesus' life. I followed the "Ecumenical Miracle Rosary", which basically is about Jesus' healings, miracles and miraculous appearances. I think one benefit of praying the rosary was simply learning those things!

Bullet; Green I had some difficulty "multitasking" (despite being a multitask expert when it comes to homework etc...), praying at the same time as meditating on the stories. Though it's interesting how at times I found connections between the prayer (for the "Miracle Rosary": a prayer based on the "Great Commandment" of loving God and our neighbours) and the story I was meditating on. And maybe "mentally multitasking" like that is actually helpful, in that it keeps you from "thinking" too much, i.e. only using your head to interpret the scripture (which is a typical theologian defect; sorry), and lets the scripture speak to you instead.

Bullet; Green Something really random: I found it easier to fall asleep and get up early the next morning when I prayed the rosary - despite sometimes being up really late. Would it be weird or silly (or to some people even "superstitious"?) to see a connection there?! But I do think it makes sense in general: that it's good to spend an hour before bed in quiet prayer, instead of pottering about or watching TV or even reading a book. "Rationally" one could say it's "calming" and "collecting". And with the rosary I personally am more focused than with other forms of prayer - which leads to my next point...

Bullet; Green One reason I felt like trying out the rosary at all was that right now I really need to sort out my prayer life. I'm very easily distracted - I must admit sometimes mid-prayer I think of something and get up and start pottering about, instead of just fully focusing on God. I don't think it's "wrong" per se to pray while doing other things (I find that while hanging up the washing, or ironing, one has an excellent chance to pray) - but that it's important to not end up only praying in such a "multitask" way. Now I know that's one thing I need to sort out anyway, rosary or no rosary - but I find that the rosary helps to keep you focused. I have tried to keep 1-hour prayer times before, but that usually only lasted a few weeks before that "God hour" started shrinking to 30 mins and then 15 mins. The rosary keeps you praying for (I timed it) 45 mins or 1 hour. Not that it matters how long or short we pray, of course!! But the good thing about the "prayer beads" system is that it helps keep an easily distracted soul like me focused, for a span of time that usually goes over my concentration span.

Bullet; Green The trouble is, though, that I think this can easily turn into a "replacement" to "talking with God". And I think it's really important to simply "talk with God", and bring petitions before Him and intercede for others. Meditating on the life of Jesus, and texts from the Bible, is I think very important, and it's important to take time to focus on them and not just read a bit and then forget it during the rest of the day - also to listen to the text and not just rationally interpret it. But we really need both. And for me, the repeated prayers of the rosary were not really enough.

Will I keep praying the rosary after this?
To be honest, I don't know! But I do think that it is not something "wrong" or "dangerous" that protestants should totally reject (in fact there's evidence that shortly after the Reformation, protestants did still pray the rosary, and the Hail Mary was actually still in use in reformed churches for decades after the Reformation). Of course the "original" form of the rosary can be difficult for protestants like me to completely appreciate (e.g. I just can't bring myself to talk to Mary, no matter how much I respect her) - but there are various protestant forms of the rosary which one can say are "safe" for protestants. :D

IF...
       ...you're interested in some of the "protestant variants" of the rosary:
here's some links:
             Bullet; Blue Ecumenical Miracle Rosary
             Bullet; Blue Christus-Rosenkranz (German)
             Bullet; Blue Protestant Rosary with the traditional "mysteries", but Bible verses instead of the Hail Mary
             Bullet; Blue Protestant Rosary less meditative and more "talking with God"

Today
is reconciliation.
Today
we forge the bond
between you and me,
between your land and mine.
Today
we seal the covenant.
Today
is the start of peace.

Can I forget my people
and my father's house,
and leave them forever
for you - a stranger?
Can I forsake
all I have known
and dare this alliance
with a stranger - with you?

You are different
from other kings -
you reign with peace and equity,
truth, justice and humility.
You look upon me,
your former enemy,
enthralled -
You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.


Can I forget my people
and my father's house,
for you?

Here is reconciliation,
here is peace.
Here is your hand, reaching out
to accept me as your queen.
Here is love
that brings an end to enmity.

So I will take your hand
and enter this alliance,
as joy and song envelop us
into the hopes
of all who long for peace.
And so today
we seal the covenant,
we forge the bond -
today
is reconciliation.
Bride of the King: Reconciliation
Psalm 45

Been wanting to write this ever since reading Psalm 45 some days ago... the Psalm is a wedding song about the wedding of a King with a girl from another country who is called upon to "forget your people and your father's house" (v.10). Some verses seem to point to Jesus (e.g. v.6-7).

Anyway, the Psalm got me thinking about royal "alliance marriages", i.e. where a king married a princess from a foreign country to secure peace and to seal a covenant between the two nations. This was still happening some 100 years ago, actually. On the one hand, I do think one can see it as a problematic practice: a girl being carted off to some foreign country (in a time when people hardly travelled and she probably wouldn't have seen her home and family ever again), to marry a stranger who probably already had a whole load of other "alliance wives" (Solomon had quite a few...). On the other hand, I think that the concept of "alliance marriage" can tell us something about God - since the church (and in the Old Testament Israel) is frequently described as the "bride of Christ" or of God.

Alliance marriages were (a) to seal a covenant between two nations, (b) to secure peace.
In 2. Cor 5:18-20, the message of Jesus is described as a message of reconciliation. God wants reconciliation with us. And the way I see it, it's not God who throughout history has kept a sulky distance - it's us. The Bible shows God approaching us again and again, seeking relationship with us. God does not deny us peace - we are the only ones fighting, by insisting on managing by ourselves and rejecting the love of God. But in Jesus God became one of us, and Jesus died to reconcile us to God. And He wants to accept us as His bride - a gesture of peace, and actually of raising us into honour.

So the "wedding" of God with His people can maybe be seen like an alliance marriage: God wants to seal His covenant with us, and He wants to secure peace. He wants reconciliation with us, wants us to stop fighting off His love. And maybe accepting this love of God and following Jesus means forgetting and forsaking other things - like the bride in the Psalm is called upon to forget her people and her family. It means starting a completely new life, being changed by Him.

The "bride" imagery comes up quite a few times in the Bible, especially in prophetic texts (e.g. Ezekiel 16, Hosea, Jeremiah 3) but also in Revelation. Song of Songs is also often read as an allegory about the love between Christ and the church (and btw, the italicised bit in the poem is SoS 4:7). I find it does good to meditate on such texts and reflect what it means to be the "bride of Christ", how to compare our relationship to Jesus with the relationship of husband and wife.
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pretty-pretty-star Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the fav :)
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HBPen Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave!
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Caz-Art Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave:)
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Watertiger1419 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
thanks for the fave
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theresahelmer Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Professional Photographer
Ps. It's kinda like...example: I want to become a famous food photographer but I really don't think it will happen!!

Or one could say...I want to become a famous food photographer and I am willing to do everything and anything to achieve my dream.

Just a thought...
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