Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Covered Bridge

I was on my way from Cedar Lakes to the office when I had HAD to pull over to take a picture of the bridge. Actually, you can see my car in the picture -- right at the very right hand edge.

I pulled over and took some picture from points close to the car. As I was about to leave and head to the office, I was compelled to walk around the lake - I knew the bridge would be reflected in the water, and that I could only take the image from the far side of the lake.

It was raining, there was a dog chasing me, I didn't think that the water would remain a good reflective surface with the rain disturbing it.

I still had to take the picture.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rely on Jesus

I attended a session of Pastor's School this afternoon. Dr. Andrew Purvis spoke. He talked to us about Galatians 2:16-17:
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is justified* not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.* And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ,* and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.
See that asterisk after the phrase "through faith in Christ Jesus."? That's a footnote which references what he calls an NRSV mistranslation. It should be "through the faith of Christ Jesus." That's a whole different perspective.

I think it places the responsibility where it belongs. On Jesus. We depend on him for everything; we even depend on God for the very breath of life itself. It does seem as if his faith would be more reliable than our own. As Sheila Walsh would call it, "an extraordinary faith."

To extend that thought, when we have unanswered questions, could we rely on Jesus' understanding rather than our own? Can we just leave the questions unanswered, knowing that God has the answers?

When we can't forgive ourselves for our sins, can we rely on Jesus' forgiveness?

When we don't love ourselves; can we find ourselves to be lovable because Jesus loves us?

Can we trust in God when we cannot trust ourselves?

Labels: ,

Monday, September 28, 2009


I was reading Genesis 3 and 4 today. I found some parallels that I have never noticed before:

Have you ever noticed that the Eden story and the Cain and Abel story are structured very much the same? God gives a command, which is disobeyed. God confronts his children, who try to justify their disobedience. The children (or child) are banished.

Cain was sent to Nod, which is east of Eden. My study bible told me that Nod was not really a place. Nod is a word for wilderness; desert -- a place devoid of God. That sentence brought to mind another parallel. The word wilderness made me think of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. I wonder if it was a place devoid of God. I wonder if the experience was a way to walk the path that we sinners walk -- the path that Cain walked. It was a journey that would culminate on a cross -- a path we should have taken.

Image: Fog on a hillside on the way to work.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Creation and Praise

We had a discussion tonight in Disciple class about creation and praise. In Genesis 1, there is a sense that creation is involved in the process of creation -- not motivating it, but putting forth creation. In Genesis 2, man works the last, becoming a partner in creation. The creation is involved in creating.

In the same way, perhaps, many of the Psalms --Psalm 19, for example, speak of Creation praising God. The mountains, the trees, the birds of the air, all praising God. We are called to join the chorus (Psalm 33, for example). We have a response to the wonder of God.

It's a great image -- to imagine trees clapping and mountains praising. But consider birds, flying in the valleys, riding the waves of heat rising. They are living up to their full potential as creations, and perhaps that is means of praise. There is something majestic and wonderful in watching them soar.

In Psalm 150, it seems as if we are called to "give it everything we've got" in praise of God. Cymbals, trumpets, dance -- our whole being involved in praise.

I wonder if perhaps that is what unites the concept. We are made in the image of God; creation is a product of the imagination of God, it sings of its glory when it fulfills its purpose. Perhaps we are glorious testimonies to God's power and wonder when we do the same.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Three things

I attended an Emmaus walk team meeting today. I picked up three snippets of conversation that I wanted to pack up and take home with me:
  1. When speaking about baptism, one of the assistant spiritual directors said that Martin Luther, when speaking of his baptism, didn't dwell on how old he was or the technique that was used. He was say, "I AM baptized." I like that. It's immediate; it's today. It has the words I AM in it, showing the like to God. It is a confident state of belonging to God. I AM baptized.
  2. One of the speakers said in her talk, "I know how to love, because I am loved." Amen.
  3. Joking with another team member, someone said, in order to determine honesty, "Would you tell that to Jesus?" I'm going to use that with my son.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Middles School Band night


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Job or not?

The book of Job has always been a challenge for me. Over the last few years, I have come to appreciate it much more, but there are still parts of it that "bother" me.

Today, as part of my Disciple reading, I read Job 38-39, part of 40 and chapter 41. These are the great passages that are God speaking, telling Job (or maybe not Job) that he is God. God.

Chapters 38 and 39 come right after one of Job's "friends," Elihu, has a speech. I have always assumed that in Chapters 38 and 39, God is speaking to Job. What if, though, in 38 and 39, God is speaking to Job's friends, including Elihu? What would that do to the conversation?

At the end of Job, God makes it clear that Job has done nothing wrong, and yet the tone of these two chapters is one of anger. God arrives in a whirlwind. This word in Hebrew, according to what I read, is most often associated with God's wrath. Why would God express anger when he later makes it clear that Job did nothing wrong?

It makes sense to me that God is speaking to Elihu and his friends. He isn't pleased with these friends at all.

Job is asking questions. Job doesn't understand what is going on. His friends, on the other hand, are almost taking the role of expressing God's judgment. Are they stepping into God's role? Doesn't it make more sense that God would be angry with one who was trying to assume his place rather than someone who was questioning him in order to understand him better?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God's Creation Sings

Open your eyes and look!
The heavens are telling the glory of God.
Listen to the praises of the sun.
Streaming through the clouds.
God's creation sings.

The earth rises with its mountains,
Stands on its feet in ovation,
Proclaiming God's glory
The trees cry out.
God's creation sings.

There is no time of silence,
No moment without creation's song
As day moves into night
and darkness is banished by the light.
God's creation sings.

Wordless, God's work is voiceless
and yet the song is heard
throughout all the earth
To the very end of the world
God's creation sings.

Psalm 19:1-4

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Cometh

The question on the radio this morning was "What tells you that fall is here? What is a sign of fall for you?"

I'm ready for fall; here's what will make me think it has arrived:

  • Blue, blue skies and brilliant colored leaves (obvious, I know, but living in West Virginia, these really are the signs of fall. It's a beautiful time of year in our state.
  • Pumpkins at the Capitol Market.
  • Candy corn
  • School buses
  • The desire to wear sweaters
  • The willingness to keep a sweater on
  • Sneakers instead of sandles
  • Preparation for an Emmaus walk (I've only ever been on the October walk)
  • Hunting for a coat to walk the dog
  • High school football
  • Sounds of the band practicing (we can hear the marching band from our front porch when the weather and wind are right).
  • Christmas decorations (isn't that sad?)
  • Premier of new seasons of television programs
  • Mornings are darker; evenings are darker


Monday, September 21, 2009

Timing of Creation

First of all -- Today's post is Post #1500. It doesn't really mean anything monumental, but it is a very nice round number. Fifteen hundred. Thank you for reading.

Now onto today's post....

I attended a Sunday school teachers' training session a few weeks ago. The presenter started the session by having us introduce ourselves and then tell each other something about our watch -- a story, its origin, thoughts about it.

When my turn came, I told where my watch had come from -- a gift from Steve -- and then I told about watches and Emmaus. Those who attend an Emmaus walk are encouraged to leave their watches behind. Freedom from one's watch is a wonderful gift, and it's something that I didn't realize until I took it off for a walk. You don't need it on a walk -- you are led throughout the schedule, so you have no need to worry. Giving up your watch, though, means giving up control of your schedule. It's the control issue that bothers some of us -- not the watch itself.

But, anyway, I told the group that now I where a watch in order to be on time, but not to time God. We have certain expectations of God, timing-wise. It's good to be reminded that we are not in control, and to let God be God.

I was reading Genesis 1 this morning for my Disciple class. As I wrote down some notes about it, I was reminded of the controversy concerning the counting of days in the Creation story. Counting days leads to counting years, and counting decades, so that there are some who try to date the Creation story with a year. Is that timing God?

What occurred to me is that the normal ways we account for time did not exist in the Creation story. What did exist was God. His creation marked the beginnings and ends of the days. To try to box God into certain 24 hour periods might be a mistake -- instead, I think we should be letting God be God, and letting his work in the world mark our days, and our years, and our decades.

Don't worry about the counting of the days -- count on God, instead.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You are my child

When you were a child,
I loved you.
I called you to join m
Even before you could hear me
Even before you knew I existed.
I called you
I loved you.

The more I called,
The more you were deaf to me
The farther you moved away from me.
You revered that which did not love you.
You sought after those gods that would bring you pain.

I taught you how to walk,
I taught you how to love each other,
I held you when you were broken,
I healed your pain.

I led you with ties of kindness.
Out of love for you
I lifted your burdens away.
You were nurtured and fed by me.
I can still feel the softness of your hair
As I held you close
Kept you safe
Tried to protect you from yourself.

And yet you turn away.
You worship money, possessions, yourself
You rebel against my love
You will not follow my guidance.
You are determined to turn your back on me.

How can I give you up?
How can I leave you to your sin?
How can I watch as you destroy your lives?
As you hurt each other?
As you forget me?

My heart breaks.

There are times when you deserve my anger
When you have earned the consequences
Of your sin.

But I am your God.
I am not man.
I am the Holy One among you.
I will not come in anger.
I can only come in love.

The time will come when
You will follow me.
You will hear my voice
See my vision.
And you will come to me

Like the birds of the air
That I set into flight.
Like the fish in the ocean
That swim because I taught them how,
You will come to me,
And I will take you in,
Settling you into my arms
Like the child you are.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Fable

A Fable

A man stood in a field, surveying an apple tree. He marvelled at how wonderful the tree was. It provided comforting shade in the heat of the noonday sun while still allowing glinting sun rays to reach the man's feet, dancing across the grass. Its apples were round and ripe, the perfect shade of deep, blood red. No worms were found in any of the tempting fruit -- each one was without blemish. The jewel tones of the leave and the fruit were a pleasure to behold. It was an apple tree beyond any tree, providing relief in the heat, fruit ripe for the picking and joy to the eye.

Tearing himself away from this flawless specimen, the man walked on. He came to a peach tree, and he stood disappointed in front of it. It wasn't as tall as the apple tree, and its fruit wasn't smooth like the apple. The man sighed at the color of the peach, wishing it were redder. The leaves were shaped wrong and because of its height, it was difficult to find relief under its branches. This tree did not measure up.

I think this might be my problem with the Proverbs 31 passage about a woman. God creates each of us to bear the fruit of our potential. To extol the virtues of an apple tree is wonderful; to expect a peach tree to bear apples is silly.

Agreeing with JtM, we are to produce fruit, but each of us to produce the fruit for which we are created. What bothers me about the Proverbs passage is when it is used to measure my fruit against the fruit of the woman in the scripture. It's not a problem with the passage as much as it is with how we use the passage.


Friday, September 18, 2009



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Proverbs 31 Woman

One of the lectionary readings from this week is Proverbs 31. What do you think about it?

I went to a funeral this week, and this scripture was used to list the praises for the woman who had died.

On one hand, I don't mind the passage. It is a passage that describes a woman who could be called -- in anachronistic terms -- a Renaissance woman. She was into everything -- purchasing property, providing for her family, establishing a household. You name it; she was doing it.

On the other hand, and the reason I think this passage bothers me, is that it describes a woman's value based only on what she DOES rather than who she is. We are more than the sum of our actions.

When I am remembered, I hope it is because of the way I loved people; I hope it is for the grace I brought or the hope I created. I hope it is not just for what I did (or didn't do).

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today I read I Kings 19. It's a great passage which describes Elijah fleeing from Jezebel as she threatens his life. A few things I noticed:

  • Elijah flees into the wilderness. Is he only running from Jezebel, or is he running from God? Or is he running to God?
  • Under the tree, he prays for God to take his life. God doesn't do that, but in the end, it is apparent that God has his life, anyway.
  • God provides for all of Elijah's needs, both for his physical body and for his spiritual well being. Elijah doesn't ask for it, but God knows what he needs.
  • I love how God comes in the Elijah in the "sheer silence." The wind, the earthquake and the fire might have been warnings, but God comes in sheer silence.
  • Once Elijah is restored, God gives him a mission. He meets all of Elijah's needs first, then tells him what he is to do.
  • Elijah anointed his successor, Elisha. He passes by him (which is a phrase used to describe what God did to Elijah) and then he throws his cloak over Elisha. I reminds me of the famous mantle passage that occurs later on.
  • Elisha gives up his life, saying good bye to all that he has known. Elijah had offered his life; God restored it. Elisha gives up the life he knew. I think that is an interesting parallel.

Great scripture.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Choosing Joy

I've always had problems with the idea of the "power of positive thinking." Yes, I do believe that the choice to have a positive attitude can make a difference in how we react to life and to how much we are open to the good which can come from anything. I've always worried, though, that the concept of powerful positive thinking could lead people to the idea that we can control what happens to us through positive thinking.

We are a society which believes that we have control. We value control; we covet control. We are very quick to believe that we can control our circumstances, and quick to grab hold of that positive thinking can be a way to control our lives.

I disagree.

I do believe that a positive attitude can make us more open to the work and presence of God in lives. I do think it makes a difference.

But today I read a passage from the Nouwen book Here and Now. He is talking about joy. Joy is a relationship with God. It is closeness to God. I have considered before that even the saddest circumstance can be a source of joy.

Nouwen talks about choosing joy; that we can choose to be joyful, even in the worst circumstances. Maybe I knew that, but I stopped what I was doing today to consider it. We can choose joy.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beach sky


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Strength

Our Sunday school lesson today was based on Judges 6. In verses 11-18, Gideon is speaking with God. The Israelites are being oppressed by the Midianites, so much so that Gideon is threshing beating out wheat in a wine press so that the Midianites wouldn't see the floating chaff and know where he was.

Gideon asks God why the Lord has "cast them off." Marv's point (who taught Sunday school today) was that this was a question many of us ask. Why do bad things happen to good people? How do we know when God is with us?

He said many interesting things -- the whole lesson was great -- but one of them was that the curriculum stated that Gideon's strength was in his questions. God tells him to go this might and deliver Israel. This might, according to the material, was his willingness to question.

So often some of us are afraid to question God. It all reminded me of Job, who was desperate to question God. How do we know that is OK to do? I think Job is a great example of that. God answers him. He doesn't really answer his questions, but he comes forth and encounters Job. And he rewards Job.

Our strength is in the fact that we are willing to converse with God -- to build a relationship with God. Our strength is in the knowledge that God is with us.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Community seen in music

I was part of a team meeting for an Emmaus walk today. Part of the agenda was singing. The music team decided to end this section of the agenda with the song Sanctuary, but the keyboardist didn't have the music for it. She said, "Wait just a minute." I don't know what to call what she did, but she fiddled around for just a minute on the keyboard, playing chords, and then said, "OK," while the song leader nodded. Somehow, she had discovered the song on her keyboard (no written music), and she started playing it.

So we sang it through once, and then, at a whisper from the song leader, the keyboardist played the beginning chords of the song as we started through it again, and then she stopped, while we sang a cappella.

It was beautiful, the voices combining together, singing as one.

As I think about it, I think the experience says something about community.
  1. One or two people with talents and gifts, when they share them, can lead the community to do something we could never have done without their gifts.
  2. As the keyboardist dropped out, she humbled herself to the leadership of the song leader. In her silence on her instrument, she allowed beauty to spring forth without her. There are times when our silence -- our withdrawal -- is what the community needs
  3. As a community, we can create something beautiful just by listening to each other -- the timing, the notes -- we just followed each other.
  4. Together we can create worship and praise of God.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 11, 2009


I just finished listening to the audio version of the book Watchers by Dean Koontz. I've read it before -- a long time ago -- but I couldn't remember the origin of the name of the book. Then I read this passage:

We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guardians against the darkness. You've taught me that we're all needed, even those who sometimes think we're worthless, plain and dull. If we love and allow ourselves to be loved...well, a person who loves is the most precious thing in the world, worth all the fortunes that ever were. That what you've taught me, fur face, and because of you I'll never be the same.

(By the way, fur face is a dog.)

Watchers. We are all watchers, watching over each other. Loving each other and allowing ourselves to be loved. We are guardians of each other against the darkness.

I like the image, and I think it might be a perspective on "love one another" that could help us to understand it better.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

No Children

As I sit to write each evening, there are times when I know what is on my mind, and there are other times that I cruise through my Bloglines account (blogs listed in the left hand column), taking a peek at new posts, to see what might be brought to mind.

That's what I did this evening, checking out the United Methodist Reporter Blog. Check out this article. It's a about a (non-United Methodist) church -- a larger one of about 3,400 attendees at worship each week, that has a sign outside the Sanctuary which reads, "No Children Under 2 Years of Age Allowed in the Sanctuary."

Hmmm. Leaving aside the obvious (they don't allow babies into the Sanctuary for worship? What?), and setting aside our (my) obvious judgement against such a practice, think about your own church for a moment. While there may not be signs like this, are there other ones? Ones that are not so obvious, but which still say to people, "You are not welcome here"?

Walk around your church like a visitor, and see what you think. Ask a friend, who does not attend your church to walk around with you, and look at the church through his/her eyes. I might like to try that exercise.

If I can keep my children quiet.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Picture and Quote

I've been working on the computer all evening, putting together an PowerPoint presentation, and I'm tired of looking at the screen.


A picture and a quote:

"...God is not interested in your "spiritual life." God is just interested in your life. He intends to redeem it."

"But God is determined to overcome the defacing of his image in us. His plan is not simply to repair most of our brokenness. He wants to make us new creatures. So the story of the human race is not just one of universal disappointment, but one of inextinguishable hope."

Both quotes are from The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Telling the Truth

I am the "editor" of the monthly newsletter for our local Emmaus community. For this month's newsletter, a guest writer, at my request, submitted a testimonial concerning sponsorship. He spoke about how sponsorship has been a blessing, but he also shared the idea that it is a responsibility.

I like this approach. I think it's important to explain to people how their "yes" to a question is a commitment -- and what is involved in that commitment. Too often, I think, we "sugar coat" requests in the hope that we will be more likely to hear "yes" to the "will you...?" question.

As I thought about that today, I became convinced that an honest assessment and description of the responsibilities of a commitment is what people are searching for. I think we sell people short; we underestimate their desire to make a real and lasting contribution to causes and calls that are close to their hearts. Why do we avoid telling people how important their contributions can be? Why do we assume they don't want to work or to have responsibility? Why do we try to "save them" from the joy of real work for the kingdom of God?

And then I ran across this post on a blog called United Methodeviations. I can't explain how much I resent some of the attitudes expressed by the ministers in this post. Go read it and see what you think.


Monday, September 07, 2009


I haven't done a Friday Five in a while (and why is it that I rarely do them on Friday?), so here is one from last week.

What / who gives you energy?
  1. Is there a person who encourages and uplifts you, whose company you seek when you are feeling low?Steve often says that something isn't real until he tells me about it; I would say the same thing about him. In addition, he and I are friends with another couple. They encourage and uplift us, and we often seek their company.
  2. How about a piece of music that either invigorates or relaxes you? If I turn to music, it is often for invigoration rather than relaxation. Driving in the evening, with the windows down, and with upbeat music -- Christian or not -- is my idea of an energizing adventure with music.
  3. Which book of the Bible do you most readily turn to for refreshment and encouragement? Is there a particular story that brings you hope? I like Philippians for its sense of joy, and I like Esther and Ruth as stories, especially to teach.
  4. A bracing walk or a cosy fireside? A fire will put me to sleep; a walk will do the opposite, so it depends on whether I want to sleep or wake up.
  5. Are you feeling refreshed and restored at the moment or in need of recharging? I've worked hard today, shopping, cooking and cleaning, so recharging sounds good. Just sitting on the couch, knitting or doing nothing sounds pretty good to me.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Agape of Cards

My mother-in-law, who passed away a couple of weeks ago, used to send cards. I may have mentioned that before. If you knew Judy, and if she knew your birthday, she sent you a card.

She would send thank you cards that mentioned everything about a gift you had given her, and why it was special. She would even thank you for the card that came with the gift.

She may have never called it a ministry, but it was.

I was reading the United Methodist Reporter today. Sue Banker, a member of First United Methodist Church in Ankeny, Iowa, recently wrote a book called "Mailbox Ministry." She talks about how a church can start a card ministry.

Recently, a United Methodist in Charleston donated a piece of framed art to the Conference's office suite. It is a Celtic knot design, made of strips of get well cards she received when she was ill. The cards are cut into strips and woven, and then trimmed to make the design. She has left pieces of verses visible in the art work, and she can point out which card is from our bishop.

She has taken the agape of cards she received, and, using her gifts, has woven and cut them into a beautiful piece of art. Beautiful agape made into beautiful art.

We may not always display the cards we receive, but they are agape, and they are beautiful to behold.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Wilmington Churches


Friday, September 04, 2009


The weight of the day
Fell upon his shoulders.
The heaviness of unending questions,
of hypocritical indignation,
of blind misunderstanding,
felt like lead in his heart.
How could children of God
misunderstand their Father so much?
How could the One who loved them,
without hesitation,
without question,
in spite of their sins,
be, for them, such a stranger?
How could love, offered so freely,
be rejected, be ignored,
be used as a weapon?
He was always surprised by their sin,
and the weight of it
stole his breath at times.

He entered the house of a friend,
seeking solitude.
The room was quiet, cool.
Dust danced on the air in the fading sunlight
as he stood, his head bowed,
his spirit searching for the air his Father would provide.
He wanted nothing except the quiet to reach out,
and to touch the healing presence of the divine.
For a few moments,
for just a handfull of heartbeats,
to be alone.

It was not to be.
A woman found him in this sanctuary,
and sought his help,
when he had no help to give.
He remembered all of those who made demands
on his time
on his effort
on his will,
and he found he could not answer another one.
He felt like there was just not enough left
to respond to even one more request.

But her faith was more than enough.
It echoed off the rough hewn walls.
It danced through the silence of the room,
echoing, strengthening, never giving up.
She asked for the crumbs,
for the leftovers,
for just a small amount of what he had to offer.
Her love of her daughter
gave her persistance.
Her desperation
gave her confidence.
Her faith was more than enough
to remind him.
To renew him.
To breath the energy of life back into him.

That evening, the silence was not what he needed.
The fading sunshine,
the quiet of dusk,
and the solitude of prayer
did not answer his need.
That evening, the faith of another
as it danced through the room,
growing and building,
was the presence of God.
His father reached him through the life of this woman.
Resurrection came again,
through the love of another.

Mark 7:24-30

Image: Sunrise on the way to work this morning.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pain and joy

Linda left a comment on yesterday's post. Near the end of her comment, she reminded us that "healing comes from God."

That's an aspect of the image of Noah's callused hand that I missed. Healing.

Calluses are formed by repeated friction in the same spot. Too much friction in too short a time will form a blister. A callus is formed over time as the skin becomes thickened. In a way it is protection against the repeated potential of injury.
Our hearts are hardened, protected from injury, just as Noah's hand did because of repeated work. It's a protective mechanism, but it's not the most healthy way to protect our hearts. God heals our calluses, opening us up to both pain and joy.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Noah's hand

Think for a moment of an image of Noah, standing on the ark. He's holding out his hand for the dove. His hand is covered in callouses and is trembling in hope and anticipation as the dove drops an olive branch into it.

Think about Noah. He's been obedient to God, listening to God's very strange call upon his life. He has witnessed rain, torrential downpours and storms, floods that destroyed everything he has ever known except what is held safe in the ark.

The Bible tells how many days it has been, but for Noah, I wonder if the time in the ark seemed like forever. I wonder if there were times when hope seemed dead, along with almost everything else he had known.

I wonder if he has moments of intense and unspeakable gratitude for God's favor that saved him and his family?

What does that calloused hand, reaching for the olive branch tell us about Noah? About his relationship with God? About God Himself?

The hand is open and reaching for the gift of new life. It is not clenched at Noah's side in anger. It is not holding onto something else, unwilling to receive the gift the dove brings. There must be hope in that hand, to reach for the gift.

The first time Noah sent a bird, a raven, the bird returned with nothing. The first trip the dove made had the same negative result, and yet Noah had sent the bird again. Sometimes we must be tenacious as we search for good news.

The hand is calloused. Think of all of the hard work Noah has done --building an ark, gathering and caring for the animals, protecting and nurturing his family. Discipleship is not easy; it is work, and Noah's hand shows it.

Then hand is held out in anticipation and trust. Noah hasn't lost his trust of God, even through all of what has happened.

Our God, Noah's God, is trustworthy. He is honest. He keeps his promises.

May it be that we would listen, trust and obey as Noah did, for our God is the same as his.

Image from Hermanolean Clip Art.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thinking about callouses

Tired this evening, so I leave you with an image of the sky from last weekend and a quote to consider.

From The Yellow Leaves by Frederick Buechner:

Listen not just to the words, but to the silences between the words, and watch not just the drama unfolding on the stage but the faces all around you watching it unfold. Years later when preaching a sermon about Noah, it was less the great flood that I tried to describe than the calloused palm of Noah's hand as he reached out to take the returning dove...

I'm intrigued by the image of Noah's hand reaching for the dove. What would that tell us about God? About Noah's relationship with him? About what we are to do in life?

I'll think about that tomorrow, and hopefully follow up with a blog post.