Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to Say?

Almost every Sunday (at least during the weeks of Pentecost) we sing As The Grains of Wheat

As the grains of wheat once scattered on the hill
 were gathered into one to become our bread;
So may all your people from all the ends of earth
be gathered into one in you.
It's a lovely tune, but the words are lovelier still...and quite profound. They are particularly relevant in these days of cultural wars around the globe, in our own country, within Christianity, between denominations, and amidst individual churches.
I'm concerned with one aspect of the culture war as it relates to faith, specifically the Christian faith: to borrow from Justin Lee's, Torn, I'm concerned about Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay vs. Christian debate. I saw a thought-provoking post on Facebook, it was just what I'd been thinking. It said something like, Perhaps God made gay Christians to test His followers, to see if they would obey His command to love one another.
That's what I think about when I sing, so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you. I think about scriptures that tell us we are one in Christ. I reflect on Galatians 3:27-29 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Love one another is a command to those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior. There is no distinction, no caveat that says you only have to love those who believe and act just like you do. Rather, speaking to Christians, the Bible clearly says, love one another...meaning all fellow believers.  That's not an option, and it's not an invitation to judge or pass judgment on who is or isn't a Christian. We're to leave the judging of others to God, and live our own lives in obedience. 
I'm trying to do that, and I'll admit it's easier said than done. I want to pass judgment on all who limit the grace of Jesus to only those who live and sin as they do. I'm working at not judging others who sin differently than I do. Because that's what it boils down to.  
I'm a believer and follower of Jesus. So are my Mennonite neighbors. I don't dress like them or live my life like they do, but they accept me as a fellow Christian. And I return that favor, because I love them. I don't prefer to follow their practices, and I don't need them to follow mine. We both believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried...
Or to put it more succinctly -- here are the words to the song Lord I Lift Your Name on High:
You came from heaven to earth to show the way
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high.


But back to the creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen
Anyone and everyone who believes the words to the Apostle's Creed is my brother, sister, loved one in Christ. How they dress, how they live, who they love, what denomination they belong to or doctrine they ascribe to is of no concern to me. It's between them and God, who judges all people rightly, because He alone sees the heart.
Whew, what a relief. I don't have to judge others. God's got it covered. I just have to love. And that's what I needed to work through. That's what I wanted to say -- for my own benefit.
All God's people...may the peace of Christ be with us, with them, and also with you.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Zzzzzzzzzz, zzzzzzzzt, zzzzzzzzt! It sounds like a wasp on steroids, but no, it's a hummingbird, one of the regular visitors to our front porch. Tiny creatures swoop in to sip nectar from the feeder even while we sit not 4 feet away on our porch swing. No fear...on either of our parts, which is not to say there isn't a startle factor, usually on my part.

Tom calls them the kids. They are demanding like two year olds. If their juice runs low they'll flit right up to Tom and hover beak to nose, letting him know about it. Talk about in your face! And even when the feeder is filled up some little critters are not eager to share. Apparently there's a pecking order. One vigilant ruby throated bird stands guard to chase away others who dare sneak in for a sip. I think he's trying to tell us we need another feeder or two.

To describe a hummingbird is an exercise in dichotomy -- they've got split personalities. Delicate yet bold, lovely but demanding, tiny, and by their diminutive size you'd assume, gentle, but no, they are really quite aggressive. We get a kick out of them. And it seems they are very smart. First thing this spring a hummingbird was buzzing me when I was out back. Odd. Later in the day when Tom was on the porch swing one of the little fellows zoomed in and hovered right at Tom's chest (might have been the red shirt) and then went up and perched on the metal bracket that held the feeder the previous summer. He repeated the motion, never touching Tom, but poking the air as if to say,
"Hello, I'm back. How about you go make some juice."
                                                                         "Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about!"
And when we aren't feeding Tom's little tykes, their heavenly Father provides.
He's always watching out for them -- and us. Consider the birds and the lilies...
Luke 12:22-32
22 And He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens (and hummingbirds), for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Good Morning World!

French Creek at Sunrise
(I missed it, I was sleeping.)
Okay, so it's not morning any more, but for me and other not-so-much morning people, close enough. I've always wanted to be a morning person and a writer. I want to be a writer who gets up in the morning and writes! Though it eludes me, I hold on to hope...I just came across this quote and I'm loving it. Perhaps it's the magic key.
"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape." - Ray Bradbury

Finally -- here is the solution, the answer to my life long quest to be a morning person! All I have to do is stuff myself full of all those wonderful things by day and by night, and then boom -- I'm gonna be bounding out of bed in the morning to write prolific poignant prose, maybe even some poetry.

Will I head to the computer to capture all the brilliant thoughts jumping around in my mind before my morning coffee? No, I'll put the coffee on first, and swim, and do a little devotional of some sort, and shower and dress. While I'm at it I'll scrub the tub and gather laundry. If it's been a week or so I'll quick change the sheets on the bed. Oh, and I'll do my hair, which only takes five or so minutes, but if I let it dry on its own it gets wild and unruly. The phone will ring and I'll answer it and chat for a bit too long, but really, relationships with friends are part of my soul food, so that counts. By the time I've got the washing machine running -- mid-morning now -- I'll realize I'm starving. Make a quick bowl of oatmeal, check email, drip a second cup of coffee and call (another) friend, because who wants to sip coffee all alone? While on the phone I can empty the dishwasher, take a peek at Facebook and make a couple of moves on Words with Friends, switch washer to dryer and throw in another load.

Now where was I? Oh yes, on my way to write. I'll just fold those clean clothes, pick out some cards for overdue thank you notes and upcoming birthdays. I'm not going to write and send them, just put them on the table with unsorted mail to take care of later, making a mental note to buy a few belated cards, and fix a sandwich for lunch. With the mail, cards and folded clothes there's no room at the kitchen table for my laptop, lunch and cup of tea, so I'll move to the family room, fold a blanket, straighten the throw pillows and settle in to eat and -- to write.

Now what was it I was going to write about? It was something really good, I know it was really good, worthwhile, important -- but what was it? Good grief, I'll grab a book to replenish the muse, which I know full well will lead to nodding off -- but just for a quick power nap.

"Quick" is my recurring theme. And no matter how quick I do things the day keeps moving along and time gets away.  I really wanted to stuff my head and my life with poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, and all that jazz. And then I wanted write about it, but time ran out...today. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Maybe I'll get up to see the sunrise.