Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Miracle Reminders

I wrote earlier that our bible study had challenged its own members and the congregation to FILL the harvest altar, as a mission miracle.  This is the harvest altar on the Sunday we collected food.

The whole project served to remind me of a few things:

  1. That people are willing to give.  They are generous.  They want to give.  They (and I) just need to be asked, and need to understand the good that will come of their giving.  Otherwise, we forget.
  2. That miracles can be ordinary actions of ordinary people, moved by God (hence the miracle) to change the world.  We should never forget that.
  3. That this is church. This is what we are to be about.  

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

False Kindness

We traveled a lot (for us) in October.  I can't remember if we were coming or going, but we were standing in line at the airport when I overheard a passenger in line behind me say to her friend, "I show false kindness all the time." The two women seemed to be speaking of kindness with contempt. "They call it kindness because they don't know other word to use."

I wonder about that.  Is false kindness false? Or is it kindness?  Or, is it only the layer we project to hide our thoughts?

Kindness is defined as, "the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate."  The Bible calls kindness one of the gifts of the spirit. Psalm 145:9 says, "The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he had made."  I think kindness may be part of how we show love to each other.

I don't always feel like being kind.  And I'm not always kind, but there are times when I act with kindness, in love, even when I don't feel like it.  I think that's still kindness.

So when is kindness "false?" Is it when we act out of selfish motivations or with when "kindness" is only the layer we hide behind when we are truly being hurtful? Is it when we are inauthentic? Is it when we the person we are standing with thinks, "If smiles could kill, I would be a goner?" When do we cross the line from kindness when we don't feel like it to kindness that is not kind at all?


Monday, November 23, 2015

Do we listen?

We have a dog.  She is a beagle, and her name is Molly.  She is quite possibly the sweetest animal I have ever known. We met her when she was about two weeks old; she joined our family at six weeks old, and has been here ever since.  She is beloved.

Molly is not without flaws, and one of them is that she pretends, when it suits her, that she does not understand English.  She can't fool me; I know she understands me when I speak.  I say, "Back," and she turns around and walks the other way.  I say, "Let's go downstairs," and she runs full speed down the stairs.  If I say, "Treat," well, you can imagine her reaction.  But when it's time for bed, and I say, "Let's go upstairs," she just stares at me as if I am speaking Portuguese or Cat.

She knows my voice, she understands the words, but she doesn't like them.  So she ignores me.

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. Like any seeker of knowledge, I googled it this evening. The Feast of Christ the King was established in 1925 by Pope Pious XI.  He wrote in December of that year that even though World War I was over, there was still no true peace. He believed that true peace could only be found in the recognition of the Christ as King.

John 18:37, from this Sunday's lectionary, says, "Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

"Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Do we listen to Christ's voice?  Or are we as stubborn as our family's beagle, ignoring words we understand but choose not to obey?  When Christ says to feed the poor, do we?  When he says, "Forgive that person so many times that you can't keep count," do we? When he says that the most important action we can do with our lives is to love God and love each other, do we?

Or do we stare at our savior as if we don't understand him at all because it's not the words we want to hear?

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Expecting a Miracle

In Bible Study last Sunday, Steve was teaching. He asked the question, "What ideas do you have that could be seeds for a mission miracle?"

It seems like I immediately thought of our harvest altar, and I asked the group, "What would happen if we as a church brought in so much food for the harvest altar that we overwhelmed our local food pantry?  What if it took multiple cars to get the food to the pantry from the church?  How many people could we feed?"

So, our group is extending a challenge to the church to do just that.  As I was driving home that evening, I was thinking about how to phrase the email to send out our challenge.  I thought about the people of the congregation - some of them are older, and wouldn't be able to carry in larger quantities of food.  I thought about stationing people in the parking lot to help them, and then I thought that would be foolish.  People are going to ignore the challenge, aren't going to bring in the food, and we'll just be standing in the parking lot, waiting for nothing.

Except that I believe this is from God.  And if I believe this is from God, shouldn't I act like it?  Shouldn't I expect it to work?  Shouldn't I plan for its success.

So the email I sent out told everyone that there would be people in the parking lot to help, and I invited members of our Sunday school to join Steve and me as we act foolish, waiting around for a miracle.

We'll see what happens.

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