Convent and Classes and Kenya, Oh My!

30 03 2007


Originally uploaded by amandajmorgan81.

Sorry for the lapse in entries lately…I was deep in the mess of finals and then enjoying a much-needed spring break.

I decided to take a personal retreat during the down-time to get away from the chaos and be silent with God. In searching for a place to go, I stumbled across a gem in the heart of Los Angeles: The convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The picture I posted doesn’t do it justice. The place is like a castle and is absolutely amazing. It was so wonderful to explore and relax and be still. I was refreshed and plan to make it a regular place for retreat.

Now I am back in the normal routine again; Spring quarter started up this week and I am really looking forward to my classes. Expect to see some blogs from what I will be learning in Post-Reformation and Modern Theology, Globalization and the Poor, Christians in Politics, and Ministry to Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Children. It will be heavy, but it will be good!

I am also excited to share with you my recent decision to travel to Kenya this fall with my church here, Christian Assembly. It has been awhile since I have been overseas and I am very excited to be going with my new church. I am particularly interested in working with our partner organization, Empowering Lives International, which is a Christian development organization working to build indigenous leadership among the poor in tackling issues affecting their poverty. We will be going for two weeks to help finish construction on a school for AIDS orphans and to work with the children themselves. I will provide many updates about my trip as the time draws near, and will hopefully offer some links for more specific information regarding how you might be able to partner with me, but for now I just wanted to give you the news!

Blessings to you as the season of Lent draws to a close and we wait for the celebration of His resurrection!

Recommended Reading: Cross-Shattered Christ, by Stanley Hauerwas


Ash Virgins No More! (and random thoughts on the Eucharist)

3 03 2007

Ash Wednesday

Originally uploaded by amandajmorgan81.

This post is a little late (thanks to papers and projects)….but who am i kidding – i’ve been late all my life.

My roommates and i got marked on Ash Wednesday for the first time and we were pretty proud (at least for this moment of picture-taking). 🙂 i’m sure this will make all of my catholic friends reading this very happy. and it will probably make all of my protestant friends worried that Fuller is turning me into a catholic. haha. but i’m just going to leave you with the picture and move on to other liturgy.

The Eucharist, otherwise known as Communion. I led it for my small group last night (also a first) and have been thinking about the practice over the last couple of days. I must say, Communion has never really been a way i have connected with God. Sure, i’ve tried to be sincere as i have taken the tasteless wafer and shot of juice, but my somber attitude has always seemed a bit akward, a bit contrived. it has never connected me with my Savior in the same way other serious reflection has. i’ve felt pressured to squeeze something magical out of my single piece of bread before i ingest it, lest it go to waste. the thought process usually goes something like this:

“time to get right with God…wait, aren’t i already right with God?…maybe i’m not…Lord, am i alright with you?…quick, think of something not right…Lord, show me what’s not right…(singing) “i’m forgiven, because you were forsaken”…that song is so overplayed…should i even be singing right now?…i can’t sing and think about what’s not right with me at the same time…i better stop singing…oh no, i have to drink this cup now…everyone else has already put there plastic cup back in the pews in front of them…there must REALLY be something wrong with me….well, whatever it is, that’s what the body was for, right?…Lord, thank you for your body…whatever it means…”

and then i move on, knowing i just remembered Christ’s body and blood, but having no clue what it’s supposed to mean in my life and wondering how eating a cracker is supposed to remind me of that. the churches where you have to walk up to the front, tear off a piece of sourdough and dip it in a big ol’ glass of juice are even worse. no time for reflection there, i’m too busy worrying about what the other people in church will think about what i’m wearing, whether or not i’ll trip and fall, or if the tearing and dunking will go smoothly without any spills. i once saw a guy pull off practically half the loaf on accident and stuffed the whole tough piece of crusty bread in his mouth because he didn’t want to put back bread that had already been torn off. now you know he wasn’t reflecting on anything significant at the time. he was probably just praying he wouldn’t choke to death.

in all of these things, for me at least, the PROCEDURE has gotten in the way of the PRESENCE. and as i was getting ready to lead my brothers and sisters in communion yesterday, i found myself asking, “Lord, how did you intend to be present with us in taking the bread and the wine?” In my Reformation Theology class we have talked a lot about the historical controversies over this issue. Big words like transubstantiation and consubstantiation define the debate, where the church has divided itself over whether or not the bread and wine actually are (literally) the fleshly body and blood of Jesus or whether they are just symbols of His grace. But in all of the history, i found 1 Corinthians 10 to be most helpful:

“We all eat from one loaf, showing that we are one body…you cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s table and at the table of demons too.”

Elsewhere in scripture, communion is called a celebration, a time of proclaiming Christ’s death, and a time of examining ourselves. And for the first time, i realized that Christ, in giving us this sacrament, was comparing himself to a meal. to a feast. something that was meant to fill us and sustain us and satisfy our hunger. His body was GIVEN to us, as tangible as bread and wine, and i want to partake.

i cannot truly be filled at Christ’s table if i am secretly feasting at another. I want to be sustained by Christ alone. And there is something celebratory for us to come together to the Lord’s table, to feed on the gift of himself as one, and to say, in so doing, “You Lord, are our feast. You Lord, are our portion. We want a place at Your table and at no other. Nothing else sustains us the way You do.”

Let’s eat!

Current Listening: The not-too-distant echo of the 210 Freeway