Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Blog

I've just been on a roll lately. Not only is this the third post this month on THIS blog, but I started a new one too! If you are interested in the work I've been doing for my arts thesis, I'm going to be writing a series of articles/posts/whatever related to the topic of instrumental music in worship. Eventually I will branch out into other topics--I'm guessing working in worship ministry with Japanese churches will provide me with ample food for thought and comment (yay, so excited!!)

The aim is to develop a bunch of material for a potential book on the subject of instrumental music in worship. In the process of writing my arts thesis paper, I already had far more ideas and material than I could write about in the time and space allotted. I really think this is an important topic; the responses of the participants in each of the worship services suggested that there was a great need for silent, contemplative prayer, to foster the disciplines of stillness and listening. We live in a noisy, busy world, so we desperately need to be silent before God.

I'll still be posting on this blog. This is our "personal blog" (I say "our" even though Keith has never posted anything... ha ha), so we'll keep posting our stories, pictures, concert announcements, etc. here. I still have several more update posts to do before I'm caught up... :)

So, the new blog:
Please visit, comment, and share it with any friends you think would be interested!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Update 2: Big Projects

Here we go again: another update. This was a busy semester, and now you will see why.

Keith took his Old Testament comprehensive exam. He read 9000 pages for the OT and NT exams together (he took the NT comprehensive exam in December), and was tested on all that material. He met weekly with Professor Bob Derrenbacker last fall and with Professor Phil Long this spring to prepare (hooray for awesome professors who take time to meet with students!) That's Phil's book he's reading upside down there. Keith also took classes on the books of Mark and Joshua and continued working as a teaching assistant for two Greek classes.

I spent this year working on my "arts thesis" (officially it was called an "interdisciplinary project in the arts and theology"), which was a huge project with both written and practical components. Having finished my worship internship at our church, I was ready to use what I had learned through the internship and in my classes at school to try something new: contemplative worship services with a rather high proportion of silence and instrumental music.

This was not something my congregation was accustomed to, and there were concerns about how the congregation would be able to participate in a worship service in which they were "observing" someone else's worship. With the help of my two wonderful advisors (Janet Danielson and Maxine Hancock), I set up four worship services with the aim of educating the school and church community in worshiping through music and silence. The first three services progressively had less words, until the only words in the third service were the call to worship and the benediction. I expected that one to be really difficult for most people, but I was surprised that people seemed to respond well. The final service took a more balanced approach, incorporating the passion narrative from the Gospel of John (read by Keith), a few hymns, and a lot of vocal and instrumental music.

I wrote a paper, too. It was very long. I traced the development of thought among Christians from the early church to the present on the subject of instrumental music, and I dealt with possible problems. I actually want to write a book... and Maxine suggested that I might want to start a blog with weekly posts on this subject and other worship-related topics. I'm sure I will have lots to write about in Japan! So... look for that coming soon. And now, pictures.

Part 1: "All Saints Day: Community." Lots of musicians, lots of singing (Genevan Psalms and Reformation-era hymns), lots of scripture. I posted about this service previously.

Part 2: "Advent: Longing." Music for cello and piano (played by Andrea Tisher and me), scripture readings, a few hymns. There was also a chance for everyone to light prayer candles. Most of this service took place in the dark. This was hard for the word-oriented people. Still, using candles as a symbol of hope is not effective unless it's dark.

Part 3: "Epiphany: Joy." This one had no words at all other than call to worship and benediction. Well, that's not entirely true. There were printed words to guide the times of contemplative prayer, but people were free to use them or ignore them. Music was string quartet, piano trio, and string duo (viola and cello), provided by Kathy Kwon, Jon Ng, my brother, Colin Wilson, and me.

At one point in the service, we did "origami prayer." Everyone received instructions to fold an origami star for Epiphany. The sounds of rustling paper became the sounds of prayer.

Here is the string quartet. I also had some wonderful visual elements for this service, including an icon made for Keith and me by a fellow Regent alum (Matthia Langone)! She's still tweaking things on it, and won't give it to us until she's convinced it's perfect. :) Thus you only get a picture of it from a distance.

Part 4: "Lent: Reflection." This service was built around the reading of John 18-19 (read by Keith) and Isaiah 52-53 (read by Maria Beversluis). In essence it was a Tenebrae service, but not on Good Friday (that would have been too late in the term), and we heard an entire passion narrative rather than bits of all four. After each section of the reading, some of the candles on the table were snuffed out, until we were left in darkness. (The sun cooperated too--sunset happened 10 minutes into the service.) Music this time was a variety of ensembles made up of the same crew plus Catriona Day, who teaches cello with me at the Saint James Music Academy. The selection of music was chosen to fit with the scripture. Afterwards everyone had a chance to ask questions about my project.

Oh yeah... when I wasn't busy with my arts thesis (when was that, you may ask), I continued work as a teaching assistant for 2 Hebrew classes and studied Biblical poetry and the Dead Sea Scrolls--in Hebrew! (My update took up much more space than Keith's... there's just not as many pictures to be had from a comprehensive exam. Although he did wear a 3 piece suit with Dutch clogs the day of the exam. That would have been worth a picture...)

More updates coming. Look forward to it!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Update 1: Christmas Break highlights

Oh my, we have been busy little beavers around here. For the past 3 1/2 years, we have been ignoring our friends and relations whilst attending classes at Regent, not to mention ignoring to-do lists and piles of papers to organize, so now we are paying for it. Not that catching up with friends is a bad thing. It's just all happening at once!

So, on to the blog update. (May I say that I still prefer the blog to facebook? The reason I am on facebook at all is so that people can go look at my blog.) I have a whole bunch of pictures from Christmas break which I will now post with minimal captions. And no, I'm not going to try to format anything. Bear with me. I'm going for speed, not quality. ;)

We spent Christmas, and quite a few days on either side, with Keith's family in Iowa: 10 adults, 2 babies, 1 baby on the way (Sarah and Nate's, not ours... don't get excited), and 4 dogs. Things moved a mile a minute...

The usual: Keith grilled in the snow. He usually does. Yes, we are lots of meat. Keith also played a lot of piano. Elizabeth, our niece, got in on some of that action.

We went out for tea. Elizabeth drank tea out of Grandpa's special teapot... decorated especially for a guy (none of that flowery stuff!)

Elizabeth loves to eat. Here she is eating beef stroganoff. Would I have touched that stuff when I was her age? Not a chance...

Ah, so worn out... but there were too many interesting things going on for her to nap in her room, so it had to be uncle Keith's lap.

My Christmas present to the family: lots and lots of bread.

Trying on Auntie Becca's shoes... she's a fine lady now!

Sarah reads stories to Elizabeth and Michael (our nephew)

Christmas Eve dinner: chicken noodle soup. I think it was well received.

Michael sits on Grandpa's lap... or should we call him Grumpa?

Elizabeth has discovered that pictures show up on the back of the camera after they're taken, so now she always wants to look.

Michael's Santa costume was made by his grandma Fleming for whichever grandchild it fits any given year... this year it was Michael's turn.

The Night Before Christmas read by Ilene... (she's good, they actually sat still the whole time.)

At home on Christmas Eve.

Elizabeth and Michael got hats made by me (hopefully there will be a knitting update post soon). Michael decided that in the house was not the right place to be wearing a hat.

Chris got stuck. Sooner or later we noticed and let him out.

And, once again, at home on Christmas morning.

This guy (Michael, not Keith) was crawling when he arrived, and walking when he left. The impetus to finally get him started was that he was stark naked at the time. There are videos which I will not post. I'm saving them for your first girlfriend, Michael. ;)

The girls had tea the day after Christmas. I did the baking, and Ilene helped.

Oh look, it's a picture of me! It's so hard to be the photographer...

Michael was being a good boy at Grandma's birthday lunch.

Then we were off to Seattle to celebrate Christmas again with my family. The stockings (and underwear) were hung by the chimney with care.

Keith shocked my family by ripping apart not only the wrapping paper, but gift inside... he had removed the book (a Greek New Testament) before giving the empty box to me to wrap. Isn't it fun to buy one's own Christmas presents?

Colin, who asked people NOT to give him presents, received two from us: cup socks, and a special made-by-Keith spam candle.

Carla returned from Brazil and spent a few days with us in Seattle before all of us headed back to Vancouver.

Yeah... not as many pictures from Seattle. There's no cute niece or nephew to photograph. Stay tuned for the next update...