Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Category: fellowship

Ancient Greek Megachurch

I’ve been reading through Genesis in my devotions as well as in family devotions. This morning’s passage was Genesis 44, the story of Joseph arranging for his cup to be hidden in Benjamin’s grain sack. I’m never quite sure what to do with these narrative passages of Scripture that don’t seem to have a lot of overtly theological content. It’s my idea that Moses wrote them down to be a rallying point for building a national consciousness, so I try not to make personal application in ways that would be totally foreign to that purpose. I was reading a few commentators on this passage, and I was rather amused at Adam Clarke’s mental gymnastics to try to prove that Joseph was not involved in the practice of sorcery, despite the fact that he had a divination cup. What struck me as funny was the irrelevance of the discussion in the context of the story. What does it matter if Joseph was telling the future? The whole story was in the context of a massive deception that he was perpetrating against his brothers. Most of the commentators try to somehow justify the deception by saying that Joseph needed to know if his brothers had really changed. Why? Does our desire to know something about another’s character justify deceiving them? The entire idea strikes me as odd.

Anyway, homeschooling today went fairly smoothly. In history, we talked about the ancient Greeks’ approach to medicine–both those who sought healing from the god Asclepius and those who sought healing from the man Hippocrates–as well as the construction of the Parthenon and the worship of the goddess Athena. Interestingly, our book noted the cost of these projects. I’m trying to compute what they would be in today’s wages. If a skilled craftsman in America makes $15 per hour, then the cost of building the Parthenon would be about $360 million. Even more startling, the cost of the statue of Athena would be about $420 million. I don’t think we have many megachurches today with that kind of budget. In science, we talked about hair and nails–the keratin twins. Pretty intriguing stuff. We watched an entertaining movie about hair and took a quiz (Elijah did quite well), acted as hair detectives to determine who stole the hair products from a popular boy band, and read the nitty-gritty details about nails and nail care. Elijah is now somewhat of an expert on the topic.

I had a little birthday shopping to work on this afternoon, so I traveled across town to look for a particular item. After traipsing in and out of many a shopping center, I finally found the right kind of store. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t know the words to express what I was looking for. So I spent a long time looking around the relatively small store and finally realized I was going to have to ask for what I wanted. I went around Robin Hood’s barn and, in the clumsiest way possible, explained what I wanted to buy. The saleswoman pointed to the item right in front of me. I wanted to kick myself.

We had some American friends over for a couple hours this afternoon as well. They have some young sons, so it was good for our boys to get a chance to play with them, and we had a fun time visiting as well. We have mutual friends in America but don’t know each other well, so these times of fellowship are always welcome.

It’s -8 here, but at least we’re not facing the blizzard conditions of our friends in midwestern America. Bundle up, y’all!

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New Year’s Eve

Well, 2006 is almost gone. I can tell by the nearly constant fireworks I’m hearing. And frankly, I’m not too sorry to see it go. The year had some good moments, but it seemed to hold a lot more questions than answers. I am looking forward to a clean slate in 2007 and am hoping and praying that I can make better use of it than I did this year.

I only transported three people to church this morning. When the students are off-campus, nobody is visiting their contacts out in the barangays. So some of the casual attendees slack off on their attendance. Of course, a lot of people are traveling for the holidays, too. I had just picked up my last rider in the barangay and was headed back out onto the main road when one of the ladies hollered at me to stop. Mr. Ambrocio, an older gentleman, had gotten in the back of the vehicle. Neither of the fold-down seats were folded down, but he didn’t change that. He was just squatting in the back of the car, and apparently having some trouble doing so. I don’t know if he didn’t know how to fold the seats down or if he didn’t think he should change something on my car. At any rate, I talked him into moving to the vacant front passenger seat.

We didn’t have our English Sunday school class last week, so we had our Christmas lesson today. Mrs. Clark taught on the story of the Magi and the flight to Egypt. Pastor Bong preached on John 10:10 in the morning worship service, and we celebrated communion together. The elements today were cookies and Coke. Grape juice is pretty expensive and not readily available, so substitutes are often used. We also ran out of communion cups, so I only had a cookie.

After a nap, I got up and tried to do some thinking about budgeting for the new year. Even though I think we live pretty frugally, expenses don’t seem to fall far short of income. I know when we move back to the US this spring, we’re in for a reality check. A lot of our expenses are covered here that we’re going to have to shell out for when we get back. Hopefully, we’re able to still keep body and soul together and still have enough to give to others. I’m not losing any sleep over it.

Well, the fireworks are getting louder. In just a few minutes, we’re having our new year’s fellowship here on campus. It’s not technically a watch-night service, just a little devotional time, some snack-eating and playing games. I personally would rather go to bed and get my new year started right (with a full night’s sleep) but I realize that this is probably an important event to some, and I’m sure I will have fun.