Monday, August 31, 2009

Christian Funerals

Roman Catholic liturgy defined my first funeral experience. Those memories spoke loudly while I watched Senator Kennedy's service on Saturday. I cried.

Strange, since there's not a lot about Mr. Kennedy's politics (or person) that I appreciated.

When I was 10 years old, my great aunt died. It made me feel grown up that I was old enough to attend her memorial mass.

It was at The Cathedral of Christ the King here in Atlanta.

There are not a lot of specifics that I remember, except about her husband (when he broke down and cried) and the incense.

Weird though,

that I didnt cry then.

Furthermore, having grown up (baptized and confirmed) in the Anglican-Episcopal church, I continue to have a strong appreciation for the ritual and splendor of high-church ceremonies.

After all, my Lord is the one and only true King:  Ruler of All.

But now I eschew too much pomp and circumstance and look for a simpler funeral. The components are a worship service, burial in a cemetary (no cremation), and a fellowship meal. Here's what I'm thinking today:

First, I want the gospel preached. The minister can start with John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent .

Second, I want the congregation to sing a lot. I'll make a list suggesting some hymns. My blogging buddy, Carol, has already started her selections. If possible, I'd love to have a soloist sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Third, I dont want much said about me.

I want the focus to be on Christ and what He did for me (and what He wants to do for the lost).

I want the message to be clear that when God looked down on me and changed my heart, that from that point onward whenever He glanced in my direction, He saw the finished work of His Precious Son.

So, dont talk about my deeds. Or lack thereof.

Talk about Christ.

Horatius Bonar, one of my favorite hymn writers. said it very well with these verses from Not What My Hands Have Done, sung to the tune Leominster.

PS You can talk about me at dinner
or in the circle.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not What My Hands Have Done

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;

Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.

Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;

Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

By Horatius Bonar
Scottish churchman and poet
1808 - 1889

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fashion on Fridays


from my writing desk
in the living room,

where Matthew Henry's Commentaries

grace the desktop;

and a pencil drawing after Harnett

makes me ponder
what I'd choose for a still-life


It's that time of year again.

What?, you say, what time of year?

Time to compose, I say.

Perhaps you think I'm referring to the *back-to-school* season. And I am, but not in the sense of curriculum choices.

Nope, today's essay topic is what-not-to-wear.

Hopefully, I can inspire you to take a second look at your wardrobe. Whether you stay at home all day or leave the house early for a day of errands, I'm challenging you to pay attention to what you wear - from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.

So, skipping over all the details and rationale for wardrobe composition (see Chpt 12 of Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art of Homemaking), I'm posting a list of items to identify in your closet. No shopping necessary, just look to see what's there.

Then, make a plan.

Top Ten Clothing Items:

1) Feminine Blouse
2) Boho Skirt
3) Jean Vest
4) Chunky Sweater
5) Novelty Jacket
6) Fashionable Dress
7) Sweater Set
8) Anything with Ruffles
9) Something Glittery or Shiney
10)Pantone Color Palette

So, you've read this far and dont feel inspired?

Okay, here's the best fashion advice I've ever received. It was from the owner of an upscale accessory shop.

If you cant do anything else, Dana, pay attention to your lips and your ears.

Top Five Accessories

1) Lipstick
2) Earrings
3) Watch
4) Pocketbook
5) Sunglasses

So, after making sure that my hair is clean and coiffed and ignoring that I'm wearing an *old* skirt,

I color my lips and clip on my ears, thereby framing my countenance.

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,
I Timothy 2:9

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Manhattan: Vermeer 's Allegory of Faith

Sunday seems like a fine day to highlight this particular Vermeer which was new to me.

I dont think of this Dutchman as a painter of religious works, but apparently he painted one.

Here's a link to the gallery label to help you locate all the meaningful items.

I love that Faith is using the world as her footstool!

Isaiah 66:1

Here's word of explanation copied from humanitiesweb:

You'd never know it from looking at his work, but Vermeer lived during turbulent times in Holland. Political and religious strife between Protestants
and Catholics in Holland was at a peak during the mid-1600s. Vermeer was born
and raised a staunch Protestant. But, much to the consternation of his parents
and friends, he fell in love with a Catholic girl, converted, and married her.
Even today, the saying goes that, "There is no more devout Catholic than a
Catholic convert." This was probably even more the case in Vermeer's troubled
time. His faith was important to him. That's why, when he was asked by his
church to paint an allegory of faith, he could neither refuse nor resist the
challenge, even though such a work was completely foreign to his artistic
background. This also accounts for the fact that his Allegory of the Faith,
painted in 1670, is easily his least satisfying, least successful work.

In many Protestant churches, pictures of Christ are forbidden (as graven images). Yet they abound as decoration and teaching tools. An enormous part of art history is church-related. So, while I fall squarely on the side against icons, I am not offended by Vermeer's rendition of the cruxification depicted in Allegory of Faith.

Side Note follows:

In my very short visit of Manhattan I am pleased to report that I regarded eight original Vermeers. I repeat: eight. There are only 35, all together.

So, three at the Frick.

And,  five at the Met.

Plus I've seen the ones at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

That's six more.

I am especially fond of the one with the woman holding the balance.

According to my travel diary, I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Holland, on June 18th 1978.

There are four there. That brings me up to 18!

I must have seen *The Milkmaid* because she's there.

(FYI she's visiting the Met in September.)

Then in Vienna at the Kunsthistoriches Museum around 4 July 1978, I could have seen The Artist's Studio.

Earlier that summer in London, I recorded visiting the National Gallery in London, which boasts two: Women at Virginals.

Now I can count having seen 21 of the 35.

Do you seek out artists/paintings like that?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

Counting my blessings by categories, here's what comes to mind on this particular day:

Faith - the gift of it - Ephesians 2:8-9

Health - restful sleep

Husband - the way he can tell a good joke

Home - A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. Irish Proverb

Family - dinnertable conversation over BLTs and corn on the cob

Church - for the election and installation of three new elders who are committed to shepherding God's flock.

Employment - for the short-term summer jobs DD#3 & 4 enjoyed this summer

Country - the privilege of voting in local, state, and federal elections, unlike some around the globe. I thinking specifically of the recent Afghan elections.

Photo Credit: Getty images FYI -I really did try for a long time to scan my own, but will have to post it later, as the machine would not cooperate :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Manhattan: Alice's Tea Cup

Early Monday morning we joined the bustle of the morning commuters,

but broke off from the throng in order to enjoy a quiet breakfast at this stellar tea room.

After looking around the restaurant,

we settled on this sunny spot near the window.

ordered a pot of Orange Spice Tea

and Eggs Benedict

And didnt eat again until dinner (link).

Is there a tea room in your town?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Manhattan: Redeemer Pres

Hunter College

Last Sunday evening I worshipped on the upper East Side with about 500 Christians who make up part of the larger Redeemer Presbyterian Church. It was a delightful service with jazz band accompaniment, a strong female vocalist, a confident worship leader, and a teaching elder who entered the sanctuary moments before delivering the sermon. He also exited immediately afterwards and the service was closed by the unnamed worship leader.

When I left I asked an usher the name of the minister; it was Rev Matthew Paul Buccheri. The usher explained that they never know in advance who will be delivering the message because the session wants to decrease the chances of congregants' attendance based on the teacher.

While the music was definitely more contemporary than what I'm used to or what I prefer, it was well-done and I enjoyed the singing (7 songs all together!), even if I couldnt do it as lustily as I would have like (due to lack of familiarity).

The sermon was expositional: both basic and forthright and followed along in their series about King David (2 Sam 7:1-17).

Visiting churches is not one of my favorite things to do, but I'm definitely glad I went and would attend again.

What about you?

Do you attend church while on vacation (or traveling)?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


(because I'll be there in a few days)

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,

Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and
steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd,
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the
houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd,
beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
shops and shows,
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--
hospitality--the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!

by Walt Whitman

Link to American Experience: Walt Whitman