Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Surprising Text

The Text never ceases to surprise me … the richness of the modest … the little throw-away phrase that would otherwise escape my attention.

God commands Noah to build and ark and take within it every creature, “to keep them alive.”

I think also of how the little story of Jonah ends: “and also many animals” as God expresses her concern about Ninevah.

As I ponder these little words, I think of the Polar Bear, the Peregrine Falcon, the Elephant and the Rhino, the Gorilla and the Lynx, Butterflies and Frogs – “many animals” … “keep them alive.”

After the Ark and the Flood, comes the Tower of Babel – made of hard brick and built to bring fame and recognition. Within these two stories, a contrast: Noah feeding the animals, up close and personal, and the powerful men of Shinar building a tower to make a name for themselves.

Whatever our take of things might be, the Text, in just a few little throw-away verses, gives a high priority to the Animal Kingdom. After all, the Text reminds us that we named all the animals, and to name something is to claim responsibility for it.

It’s said that the Devil is in the details. Maybe it’s not the Devil, maybe it’s God!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Miscellany

Came across this hymn phrase this morning:

Day by day, day by day,
O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day. (St. Richard of Chichester)

And then from the Apostle Paul:

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

Then from Isaiah and Matthew - Isaiah speaks of the Messiah to come, and Matthew writes of Jesus:

He will not break the bruised reed or
snuff the smoldering wick.

Grace ... kindness ... love ... the stuff to keep on keepin' on ... to face today's junk with deep convictions:
1) This is always my Father's world,
2) My heavenly Father is at work in all things for good,
2) I don't have to be perfect - sometimes all I am is a bruised reed and a smoldering wick - I bring so little to the Table, but His grace preserves me in the turmoil,
3) And maybe I will "see thee a little more clearly" today, manage to "love thee more dearly" and even "follow thee more nearly."

Today is Memorial Day - say a prayer for peace, and remember the women and men fallen in battle - it is their day, and for them, no better words then those penned by Lincoln at Gettysburg:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

A blessed and joyous Mother's Day to all our Mothers.

Not the easiest thing in the world, this biz of being a mother ... as far as I can see, having never been one!

Mothers, enjoy the day ... yours is quite an achievement.

Sons and daughters, you wouldn't be here without her!

Remember your mothers ... give thanks for the life they gave to you ... and if you can, take 'em out to eat, give 'em a call ... and say a prayer for them.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Today’s Daily Lectionary includes a reading from Zechariah 4 – densely packed stuff full of complicated imagery – even Zechariah can’t figure it out and has to repeatedly ask, “What does it mean?”

Within this mélange of images, a simple reminder from God: “Those who might have despised the day of small things will rejoice when they see where it’s headed.”

Several weeks ago in a Sunday message, I said, “God is in the details” … at work in ALL things for good, including the tiniest details of every-day life.

Look today at all the small things in your life …
The egg salad sandwich for lunch – crisp lettuce and whole wheat toasted just right ...
The young man clearing the tables – wonder where he lives and what he’s dreaming about …
A stranger’s friendly smile …
The computer on which you’ve just sent an email to a grandchild, or any angry email venting your ire about the war …
The grudge that never seems to go away …
Seeing “Iron Man” in the afternoon all by yourself, with a box of buttered popcorn and a coke …
The woman in the car next to you putting on mascara …
A wad of wet tissues on the coffee table holding your tears …
A fleeting thought of generous emotions for a friend in trouble …
A “Jesus My LORD” prayer hurriedly said in a moment of fear … or a moment of gratitude …
A decision to read the Bible a little more often …
The first page of a new book …
The first day of a new week …
The hymns we sing …
The prayers we read …

A million, billion little things … each one holding a miracle of some sort – a world of wisdom and wonder, mystery and majesty, grace and hope … because “I am with you always.”

God in the details!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Animals, too?

Animals, too?

In the kingdom of God?

You bet.

A friend of mine recently made this post about animals - from the preaching of John Wesley.

Check it out ... this is important.



I was going through a bunch of grapes this morning. Some had to be tossed out, but the bunch was good and the grapes sweet.

Sort of like life.

Some of it has to be tossed out ... but the rest is good.

We can spend a lot of time lamenting the lousy grapes that come our way.

But with the smallest adjustment, we can put our mind and heart on all the rest that's good and sweet.

Be assured: you're a capable person. You've come through a lot, and you'll manage the day, and in the end, you'll be able to breath a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back.

Where will your eyes be today?

Look to Jesus often during the day; you will find a way through whatever lousy grapes come your way, and you will find your life ... and don't forget to pat yourself on the back now and then and remember what a remarkable person you are!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ascension Day

Did you know that today is Ascension Day? It’s never going to make it to the secular calendar – I mean, bunnies and babies are a big hit (Easter and Christmas), but what do you do with the Ascension?

The ascension of Jesus into heaven – seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty who has bequeathed to the Son all authority in heaven and on earth (See Mattthew 28:16-20).

Jesus came to be one with us, so that we could become one with God.
He took upon Himself “our flesh” – the way it is, our hopes and dreams, our sorrows and our griefs … to give us grace that we can live all of it and then some, and still come out on top, on our way to God!

When Jesus ascended, he took us to heaven in His the flesh … as a promise that “all flesh” is headed in the right direction, that just as we are, loved and being made new by the Holy Spirit, we’re going to make it.

His life is our life.
His future is our future.
His grace is our courage to get up in the morning, take a deep breath, face the day and give as much as we can, be of good cheer when the chips are down, hold on to one another, because God is at work, too, in ALL things for good!

Happy Ascension Day!