Sorry for only posting one post this last week. I know, sacrilege, right? But in all seriousness, I have been extremely busy, what with a full schedule of homework, Driver's Ed, plus Bible Quiz Team. I will now publish a mega-post, with what is probably my longest title yet.
Anyhow, today's verse is Lamentations 5:19, courtesy of biblehub.com. I've just finished Jeremiah and Lamentations in my One Year Bible, and have moved into Ezekiel, but I feel that Jeremiah, that long lived prophet, deserves some more spotlight:
"But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations."
The ESV Study Bible has this to say about the verse:
"Unlike frail humanity, God reigns as king of the universe (Ps. 103:19) forever (Ps. 90:1-17; 102:12-13). Whatever forgiveness, renewal, and relief Jerusalem will receive must come from the one whose throne endures to all generations (Ps. 45:6-7; 93:1-2)."
Today in church, the pastor in the main service spoke about how we wear "masks," in that we all relate differently to different people, and that we "can courageously co-create the beauty of God's image" in ourselves. This is accomplished by repenting and "putting to death" sinful habits, and the pastor listed off a series of seriously serious sins. In the High School service, we talked about David and Bathsheba, and how the basic message of this story was that sinful decisions lead to trouble. I believe we got a preview of next week's sermon, which I think will talk about redemption.
Last Thursday was Halloween, one of the most commercialized holiday in America, second only to
Christmas. Also on Thursday (kudos to a friend of my buddy Caleb for pointing this out) was Reformation Day. After pulling my first all nighter, I had a rather lax day yesterday where I drove a car for the first time and went to rather strange dinner with the quiz team, before driving some more today.
The exact origins of Halloween are heavily debated among scholars, but long and short of it is that it was almost certainly a pagan Harvest festival from Ireland and Scotland (Samhain, pronounced sow in), marking a supposed blurring of the divide between the spiritual world and the physical world. The Celtic people celebrated it during the slaughtering animals for food in the winter. It was later "Christianized" by the Roman Catholic Church as All Hallow's Eve, during which many of the traditions currently associated with the holiday were established. "Trick-or-treating" originated as people going door to door threatening "tricks" (e.g., pranks or other mischief) in exchange for "treats," soul cakes in days of old and candy today. Dressing up in costumes came from people disguising themselves in order to hide from imaginary vengeful ghosts. Jack-o-lanterns were an Irish tradition which came from a theologically unsound story about a guy named Jack who conned the Devil into barring him from going to Hell. Due to having led a life of sin, Jack was barred from Heaven as well, and carved a lantern out of a turnip to hide a flaming coal the Devil had given him. Thus, he was condemned to walk the Earth with his lantern, forever looking for a place to rest. Apparently, costume wearers also tended to carry around their jack-o-lanterns in ye old days. Jack-o-lanterns were also handy in the days before lampposts for guiding trick-or-treaters to doors in the dark of night (as a side note, one of the "Lost Episodes" of Adventures in Odyssey ("What Are We Gonna Do About Halloween?") deals with the touchy topic of Halloween in a much better way than they dealt with fantasy role-playing games).
Despite it's propensity for being celebrated as a festival of the macabre, Halloween's current name comes from the Scottish rendering of All Hallows Eve, or All Saints Day Eve, a Catholic feast day. This feast day quite obviously celebrates the lives of all Catholic saints, and in ye old days, people would be allowed to dress up as their favorite saints. It was brought over to America by Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century, and its traditions were assimilated into American culture over time. At its most mild form, Halloween can be an innocent and fun holiday, in what is basically a national costume party. Others, however, choose to embrace the uglier side of it and watch horror flicks and play destructive, mean spirited pranks. But hey, free candy is always good.
For Halloween, my family has a long tradition of going to my friend Nate's family's neighborhood with another friend's family, and together our three families go trick or treating. This year, however, we went with different set of friends to another neighborhood, before attempting to go to another friend's family's neighborhood, getting lost, and then going home. I dressed up as Commissioner Gordon and mooched off my dear friend Ano's candy (he dressed up as Captain America, photos are on Facebook. My sisters dressed up as Dr. Horrible and a ninja princess, respectively). I was unable to secure grey hairspray or a police badge for my costume, but I did get a nice, secondhand trench coat out of the deal. Unfortunately, I now owe my dad forty bucks for the costume, for which I had to buy a second hand dress shirt and a fake mustache in addition to the second hand trench coat. Happily for me, I got a wonderful new coat out of the deal, and my costume looked great. Not quite as good as my Joker costume from a few years ago, but still pretty cool in a minimalist sort of way.
Also on Thursday was Reformation Day, a day dedicated to remembering the Protestant Reformation as started by Martin Luther. Understandably, it is mainly celebrated by Lutheran and Reformed churches, but as a Protestant Christian (technically non-denominational, but as a non-Catholic Christian, I also qualify as Protestant), I also appreciate the holiday's significance. Although considered a lesser festival by those groups, it is important in that it commemorates the day when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints' Church, also known as Castle Church, in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the central catalyst of the Protestant Reformation, an event which drastically transformed Christianity into how it is today. Next year I will see about celebrating this important holiday as well.
On Saturday, I, mom, and my sister joined our fellow quizzers at an event at the house of one of our lady coaches. This "Mystery Dinner" as it was called involved us picking items with strange names from a menu, so that we had three courses of six items each. My first course was salad with no dressing, marshmallow cream, and sprinkles, with no fork, spoon, or plate, which were added later. Further courses involved taking the plate away and having to eat off of the table... without using our hands. I was lucky enough to get water that was actually in a cup (we were allowed to use our hands to handle the cup). There was also spaghetti, meatballs, ice cream, peas, ranch dressing, and bread with butter. Some unlucky souls got truly bizarre combinations, such as peas and spaghetti sauce mixed together, or ice cream and spaghetti. After all of this foolishness was done and the three courses were finished, we were allowed to have a real meal, with the full use of our hands, utensils, and cups, followed by ice cream. I'm telling you, that Tillamook stuff is good! All in all, it was a fun and filling night.
Today and yesterday my dad took me out practice driving in a couple of spots around Renton. They were ideal driving spots; wide open spaces, no other or very few cars around, and good spots to practice turning. I'm having a little difficulty on turns, staying in the right lane, and driving in reverse. I hope to improve steadily. So far, driving has been pretty fun. I just hope that I don't get any tickets or into any accidents, and that my plastic learner's permit arrives soon.