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Rethinking Martha

I’ve been reading ‘searching for Sunday’ by Rachel Held Evans, as part of a distant participation in St. James West Hartford’s book study. I got the book late, and have only now just barely caught up. The section for this week was ‘Communion’.

In this section, Rachel writes, “At Eagle Eyrie I learned why it’s so important for pastors to serve communion. It’s important because it steals the show. It’s important because it shoves you and your ego and your expectations out of the way so Jesus can do his thing. It reminds you that grace is as abundant as tears and faith as simple as food.”

This jumped out at me, as I struggle with my own journey. I feel that God is calling me to ordained ministry, but when asked what I think God really wants me to do as an ordained priest, I don’t have a good answer. Can’t I keep doing what I’ve been doing as a layperson? People have suggested looking at things that ordained priests can do that lay people can’t, such as celebrate the Eucharist.

Perhaps I need to become a priest so that I can celebrate the Eucharist as a means of keeping my ego and expectations in check. I remember years ago reading in the Articles of Religion, “Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.”

It makes me think of the Rite I Eucharistic prayer:

And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord;

So how do we think about the story of Mary and Martha? The feast is important. It takes work. The typical guy’s response may be to put out a couple bags of chips and some beer, or perhaps a pile of wafers and some wine, but even so, the feast is important.

Where was the foot washing Jesus, who instead of saying that Mary has chosen what is better, wraps himself in an apron and helps prepare the meal? Was this something that couldn’t happen because of the historical context, or the context in the narrative?

Martha was doing something important, the preparations. The community, the companionship, the meal are important. Perhaps the central message really is about our distractions; how we let the means, become the ends. Are we preparing our meals because they have to be prepared, or are we preparing the meals to facilitate the communion and companionship of Jesus?

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The Heston Cover

Years ago, I lived in a rough part of Brooklyn. On a nearby avenue, there was a small candy store. There was practically no candy in the store, and the clerks sat behind bulletproof glass, like you’d find at a bank. It was probably a cover for a drug or bookie operation.

One day, I was sitting on the front stoop, and a guy came down the street headed towards the social club. He approached us, nonchalantly saying something to the effect, “Got some smoke, got some smoke”.

After he passed us, one of my roommates commented, “You know that store up on the avenue that sells candy as a cover? This guy’s cover is selling pot. What do you think he’s really selling?

This story came back to me this evening as a coworker posted a story about giving a ride to a man on the street who claimed to be Charleton Heston’s son. I’ve met a lot of people on the street telling pretty wild stories, but as I thought about it, the story from Brooklyn came back to mind, and I wondered, who would claim to be Charleton Heston’s son as their cover, their alias.

My mind wandered to Hebrew’s 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Perhaps this was an angel, drunk on rose water, trying to find Yasujiro, François and Andrej.

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Time for a Break?

I’ve had a lot going on recently, and with this post, fifty percent of my posts over the past ten days will be filler posts, posts that I’ve written as part of the discipline of writing a post every day, even when I’m too tired, or can’t think of anything I want to say.

It is frustrating, and so I’m rethinking my blogging strategy. Should I take a hiatus? Just cut back to a few posts a week? Should I keep trying to write, even when the words aren’t coming? I don’t know.

I’ll go and read for a while, then drift off to sleep. Tomorrow looks like it will be another very hard day to write, so the chances of me taking a pause are pretty good.

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#Ingress Flash Shards

Saturday, I went to Boston with a bunch of friends who play Ingress, an augmented reality game, somewhere between geocaching and capture the flag. It was a special event which drew people from across New England. This post is going to get into the underlying details about the event. If you don’t play Ingress, parts of it might not make a lot of sense.

In Ingress, you can carry two thousand items in your inventory. These can be bursters and ultra strikes, for blowing up your opponents portals, resonators and shields to put on portals you have captured, or a bunch of other items. Some items, like bursters, ultra strikes, resonators, and power cubes, come in strengths of Level 1 to Level 8. Other items, like shields, can be common, rare, very rare, or have some special capabilities.

Prior to the event, everyone tried to reach capacity in their items, with the right mix of offensive and defensive items, as high powered as possible. Before I left, I recorded what I had in my inventory. During the afternoon, I used a lot of my inventory, and at the after party and on my way home, I started replenishing my inventory. Here are some general details of what I used and what I had left over.

During the event, different people take on different roles, that may be more offense of more defense. I ended up starting off doing light offense and soon moved into pretty full time heavy defense. This determined what I used. I did find opportunities to play a little offense during brief periods of defensive play.

For resonators, I used about 275 Level 8 Resonators, 175 Level 7 Resonators, and 75 lower powered resonators. I ran out of lower level resonators first. I also farmed new resonators throughout the day. At the end of the day, I deployed just shy of 900 resonators and captured over 250 portals I am now less than 8,000 resonators deployed from getting my next badge for resonators deployed and less than 4,000 captures away from getting my next badge for captures.

I did not end up using many shields, deploying less than 30, and coming back with many of my very rare shields.

In terms of weapons, I ended up using about 275 Level 8 Bursters. I started with a lot of Level 8 Bursters, and came back with quite a few. On top of this I used over 100 Level 7 and Level 8 ultra strikes, which was all that I had. Ultra strikes are harder to get and I always try to get as many as I can for events like this. In terms of my own statistics, I destroyed over 175 resonators and neutralized over fifty portals. However, I’m not close to getting new badges in this area.

I also recycled a lot of portal keys, and got a bunch of new keys. Ultimately, I ended up with about 75 more keys than when I started. I visited nearly 150 new portals, and captured about 50 of those. I’m still a long way from getting badges in this area.

My role for the day didn’t involve as much walking as for others, and I only walked 14 kilometers, or about eight and a half miles. I try to walk a couple of kilometers each day playing Ingress, so this gave me about a week’s worth of Ingress walking. However, at my current rate, it will still be half a year before I get my next Ingress walking badge.

I also brought a lot of power cubes, but ended up using very few of them, so at the end of the day, while waiting for one thing or another, I used power cubes to recharge various portals, not something one normally does during an event like this. I ended up recharging around a million XM and using a little over a hundred power cubes, and I still have a bunch left over.

Now, I’m busy building my inventory back up. That will take a little while. All in all, it was a good day.

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I spent a very long day at an ingress event in Boston and am writing the blog post from the back seat of a car heading back to Connecticut. (Not sure of I'll be home before midnight. )

It was a good day and I hope to provide details and statistics on a later blog post

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