Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Update from Suzy McCall and God's Littlest Lambs

Dear Members and Friends of St. James Santee, One of the ministries SJS supports is the Lamb Institute based in Honduras. This multi-faceted ministry was founded by Suzy McCall in 1999. Suzy is a native of Barnwell and lived in Charleston for many years. She taught at Trident Academy and also served as the Director of Christian Education at St. Philip's where she had been a long time member.
In the mid 1990's, Suzy was called to serve in the mission field in Honduras. Through her ministry, as you will discover, God has been doing great work with the poorest of the poor in Honduras.
LAMB is supported by many Episcopal Churches in our diocese, and now has a national constellation of congregations and denominations of all kinds who partner with LAMB.
Please read more about this remarkable ministry at the link below. Also included below is posted one of Suzy's regualr update letters. I thought you might be in what is happening with LAMB. God's peace to you all, Jennie

Dear LAMB Friends,
It's when we most need your prayers and input that it is most difficult to find the time to get information into your email baskets! We are busy busy busy, but that is when we need God's outpouring more than ever, His love through you. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers and thoughts, even when I haven't written in awhile.
Betsy's Illness
Some of you already know that Betsy Hake, the missionary with whom I shared a home for ten years, is ill. She has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, and is undergoing chemotherapy in NYC. If you would like to call her, she is staying at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. Her friend, Dr. Elvia, is with her. Please keep her in your prayers.
Blessing-Filled Suitcases
We are well into the 2008 school year at God's Littlest Lambs in Flor del Campo, and God's LIttlest Lambs in San Buenaventura. Now that we have TWO schools, along with everything else, we are trying to do a better job of coordinating what comes down in suitcases with our visitors. Julie Hoffman (, from Clinton UMC, is working with Valerie to make lists and spread sheets so that all of our programs receive support in this way. We are thankful for Julie's help. Please feel free to get in touch with her if you are planning to come down, or want to send something.
Fighting Corruption
Our ministry was recently involved in a peaceful demonstration against government corruption. About thirty people (no one from our ministry) were on a hunger strike in front of the congressional building, and we helped with latrines, spiritual support, singing from our children, and by marching in the accompanying demonstrations. As a result of the strike and demonstrations, a new law was enacted which makes it possible for state attorneys to be prosecuted for corruption during their administration. Also, several files of high-ranking officials were re-opened for prosecution. The people leading the strike have suspended the demonstrations for ten days to give the government an opportunity to demonstrate good faith. If that does not happen, the strike will begin again. We can be thankful that the process has been completely non-violent. In fact, the organizers called the demonstrations, "A March for Peace." We feel that Christians should join the struggle for justice, and will continue to support this movement. We appreciate your prayers for the country of Honduras.
Battling Hunger
Food prices have escalated tremendous during the past few months, and of course the poor are always hit the hardest. Since we work in a poor neighborhood, people come to us for help. Our food bank has not been able to meet the demand. St. David's Episcopal Church in Atlanta has begun a drive called "Put the Beans Back in the Bag," and have raised several thousand dollars for food for our folks. Thank you, St. David's!
Obeying the Law, Trusting Jesus
Each year during June and December, all Hondurans, by LAW, receive double salaries, a full month's pay. Since we are subject to Honduran law, we pay these bonuses. It is really a wonderful thing, as many many people here, including our own employees, work for little pay. Everyone looks forward to these two months. June is upon us, and frankly, we don't have what we need to pay double salaries. The Lord has always provided, and we are trusting Him to provide this time as well. Please join us in prayer for this immediate financial need, and if you feel led to help, thank you. As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, the economic situation here is grim, and the needs great.
Our Beautiful Children
How can I not mention our beautiful children? When I walk through our schoolrooms in Flor, visit the children's home in SBV, and just sit around my own house, I am struck by the beauty and character of our children! Joyful, well-behaved, intelligent -- well, we have a GREAT GROUP, and we love them all so much. Many of you have visited our children this year, and I'm sure you agree with all that I am saying. Thank you for helping us teach, love and disciple these children -- more than 200 of them!
Inner Healing
In my master's program, we are doing a class called "Healing and Wholeness." First we read two books about physical healing. Now we are reading two books about inner healing. We are praying for people, and we are taking a close look at our own lives in order to receive healing ourselves. This week we are doing a "Healing Prayer Inventory" for ourselves. We have already done genograms on our families to look for patterns which need healing. This master's program has now left being practical, and has gotten downright personal! Thanks be to God. We all need healing, and I am no exception. I thank the Lord for this opportunity, albeit required, to invite the Holy Spirit to do some serious work in my soul and spirit.

Thank you for all that you do for LAMB. Thank you for your prayers for Betsy, for the children, the construction, the double salaries, the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of our staff (including me!), and our precious country, Honduras. May the Lord continue to speak to us His plans, and may we be found faithful in working towards their completion.

Love always,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trinity Sunday

Copyrighted Art by Jan L. Richardson, used with her permission. Check out her web site

How many sermons have you heard about the Trinity ? I suppose that, since I've really been paying attention, for me, the number would be around forty or so. It's one of those topics that we can talk, talk, talk about and never really feel that we have it pinned down. I want to suggest to you that this is a *good* thing. For, how in the world can we wrap our arms around the ultimate mystery? Below follow some clippings on the topic of mystery and the Trinity. Enjoy!

"There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer.
There never has been an answer.
That's the answer."

That's from Gertrude Stein and could apply to many areas of life (despite her choice of grammar!) Here's another one, this time from Robert Capon. Our efforts to describe the Trinity are fruitless, because....

"We are like a bunch of oysters trying to describe a ballerina"

And finally from William Willimon...."Augustine, one of the greatest minds of the Western World, put his head to thinking about the Trinity. Augustine, a master of words, took fifteen books to talk about the Trinity, fifteen books that took him over a decade to write. Augustine’s On The Trinity continues to be helpful in thinking through that which is difficult to think about, and talking about that which is difficult to describe, namely the nature of God who comes to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Early on in his massive treatise, Augustine had seven statements about God: The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Son is not the Father. The Father is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Son. And then, after these six statements, Augustine adds one more. There is only one God. This is the thinking that is tough to get into our brains. We have experienced three rather distinctive modes of God’s presence. God is the Father, the Creator of us and the world. God is the Son, the One who comes to us as Jesus, living, suffering, dying, and rising among us.

We experience God as Holy Spirit, that power that has intruded into our world as the near presence and power of God. And yet, we are not trite theists, we don’t believe in three gods. We know, with Israel, that is only one God. These names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three names for the same thing. They are three names of one God. And how to make sense of that? You can certainly understand our sisters and brothers the Jews who hear talk of this kind and who may think to themselves, “Christians are no longer monotheist. They no longer believe in one God but in three gods.” No, what we are attempting to do in the Trinity is make sense of how there can be one God, and yet that one God being experienced by us in three special ways. In the Council of Nicea, they spoke of God’s “three persons.”

In our language, that sounds like we are talking about three different people. No, Nicea was building upon the Greek experience, from Greek drama of the way in which one character in a Greek play portrayed a number of different people in the play by simply moving off stage, putting on another mask which was called a persona, and returning to the stage as a different actor. One actor could play three different roles. I am one person, but I play the roles of father, husband, and son.

In a similar way, though there is one God, we experience that God working in three different ways in the world. And yet, like most analogies about God, this analogy helped, but not completely. In Book 7 On the Trinity, Augustine tried this. Rather than looking specifically in scripture, or in the world, for analogies to speak about God, he looked within himself. In looking within himself, Augustine noted how the human soul itself is Triadic, Trinitarian.

There is a kind of triune way in which we experience ourselves, as if the Trinity is built right into the structure of our reality. We say for instance “I love myself.” According to Jesus, it is all right to love ourselves, for we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So we can say, “I love myself.” When we do so, we are speaking in a Triune way. When I say “I love myself,” there is a lover that is doing the loving, namely me loving myself. There is also the beloved, the object of my love, which is also me, then, there is the loving, the act and energy of the lover upon the beloved. So even with the one there is the lover, the beloved, and the loving. Thus, within our own hearts, in our own experience, Augustine said that there is the vestigia trinitatis. Reality is Trinitarian.

One of the church fathers said that, “When we talk about the Trinity, we must forget how to count.” He was simply recognizing that, at first glance, the Trinity is a mathematical impossibility. After all, how can one equal three? We must throw away our math, not because the Trinity is a logical muddle, but because we need a different kind of logic.

It took Augustine fifteen books to try to think about it, because God is God and we are not. Because God comes to us with a complexity and effusiveness, a ubiquity and a plenitude that boggles our modest minds, no wonder we have trouble thinking about God. No wonder the Trinity boggles our imaginations. And that is probably the right way to put it. The problem with the Trinity is not that this is a bunch of nonsense, but that God is God, in God’s particularly glorious, effusive way, and we are just people, the recipients of a love so deep we cannot find words to describe it.

When we think about the Trinity, we must forget how to count. Augustine makes another attempt to think in a Trinitarian way by looking at himself. In my soul, there is memory, understanding, and will. That is when I say, “I remember my mother,” there is the will, my decision to remember something, to draw into the present that which is past. And yet simultaneously there is that act of memory. I will to remember something and, with luck, I will to remember. And yet while I am willing, and remembering, I am also understanding. My mother is appearing instantaneously before my eyes, in my memory. I see her, know her, and understand. It is as if the Trinity, God’s dynamic, effusive nature appears to be built right into the structure of who I am and what the world is. There is a modern word for talking about this dynamic structure — synergy. Within the Trinity, there is constant movement, interaction, as the Father gives to the Son, and the Son is constantly returning praise and glory to the Father, and the Father and the Son give to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit constantly draws everything back to the Father and the Son.

There is the Beloved, the Lover, and the Love."