Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

I have a calendar next to the computer where I write these thoughts. It's one of those "bible quote" a day things. It's not necessarily related to the liturgical year in the church, but the quotes usually have a way of working into my thoughts as my day goes on.

The verse today is from Psalm 4, verse 8 to be exact. They use the NIV version of the bible and it says, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

On this Memorial Day of 2010, I could wax eloquent on the sure thought that many who died for their country are sleeping safely either on these shores or across the seas. But the verse has poignancy for me today because it would have been my father's 86th birthday. He was a veteran, so I guess this qualifies as the patriotic portion of the post. I didn't know him as a soldier, though, so I can't relate stories of his bravery, or lack of it. His heroics or lack of that either. I can relate that he was a good provider, a steadfast "head of house", a man who modeled charity for others. He didn't always model charity at home, but then most of us have lapses for those we love the most simply because they're always there.

In thinking of my father on this day, looking at that verse I am comforted in the notion that he sleeps in peace and safety. Because he was in the Lord. He isn't sleeping in peace and safety because of his love for his family or his wife--although that was commendable. And not even because when he was laid off of one job and searched for another until he found one, thereby making sure we were provided for--which was also laudable. It was because he was in the Lord. He believed in the Lord. I never had a conversation with him about his faith, sad as that is to relate. But he attended church pretty regularly. He was an usher many times, he counted the offering, he was a church council member. Through his quiet witness, he showed his children his faith. And so on this, his birthday, I am reminded of his reserved belief, I rest assured that he is dwelling in safety.

I hope your Memorial Day is filled with love, laughter and the assurance that those you love who dwell in the Lord, will be peaceful and safe.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Wish For a Pony

When I was little, I remember my sister wishing fervently for a pony. She loved horses of any kind. She had a ceramic horse collection. She had pictures plastered over the ceiling and walls of our room. She loved horses! But in all the time she wished (every birthday candle I'm sure was dedicated to the proposition that a horse was in the works), I don't believe she ever prayed for one. In fact, I remember feeling that certain things just weren't "prayed for" as far as my mother was concerned. You could pray over someone getting better, or for God to watch out for someone, or even for help with a test. But the idea of praying for something material was a no-no. I don't remember her exactly telling us that, but I recall us praying vehemently for an increase in allowance and having her scowl over the top of her glasses as the request was being made. We probably amended the request by saying, "so we can give more money to the poor." She probably rolled her eyes at that, sensing our less than sincere overtones ringing hollowly.

And now I am an adult. And I began to wonder, is it okay to pray for material things? In a country as blessed as ours, with so many things at our disposal, is it wrong to want more money? More clothes? A bigger house? If we scale it down to those who don't have as much, is it wrong to pray for clothes that don't have holes in them? Or a roof over your head? Or any money at all to buy food or clothes or any shelter at all? And if those requests aren't met, is that because they were for material things and not "other worldly" or more global things like ending poverty or the beauty pageants favorite--world peace?

If you believe that God listens to each and every one of us and sees our needs and knows us so well, how could it be wrong to pray for anything? I think the distinction comes when other factors are considered. If you are praying for a horse to win at the Kentucky Derby after you have spent your grocery money at the betting window, although I am sure God hears that fervent request, I'm not sure answering it by winning is going to be the thing that helps you along the road to being his follower. Of course, I'm judging here, and no one is qualified to do that but God. But it seems to me if our life's work is to be God's children, his hands and feet, winning the Kentucky Derby instead of buying bread and milk for your family is not the way to spread the word. But what about the people who pray and seriously to win the lottery so they can "give more money to the poor?" Or give it to the church? Or really want to try and accomplish world peace and know it comes at a price that some money might help to accomplish? I suppose you can justify anything if you want it bad enough. But it seems to me, unlike my mother, praying to win the lottery isn't really a bad thing, if you want to give that money away to others who need it. It wouldn't hurt if you got to keep some in the long run. But maybe that's what the good Lord in his infinite wisdom is trying to teach you by not answering that particular prayer.

It's one of those things I'm gonna have to ask him when I see him. That and why we couldn't have a pony.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Will They Know You Are Christian?

So I'm wondering about how we show our Christianity to the world without blasting their eardrums out of their heads. I read something the other day that said the song, "And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love," was too successful. That people started using that to sing around campfires instead of Kumbaya. So many people used it that it became trite and people made fun of its relevance.

I also remember reading the Harry Potter books and the one thing that worked for Harry above all others was Love. His ability to love, which the evil Lord Voldemort was unable to do. Maybe there's something to that, then. That love is the answer, no matter what the question. Jesus gave us instructions to love our neighbors as ourselves. Not the smushy, gooey love, but the real honest to goodness, caring about how you are thing. Are we too self-absorbed these days to do that? I don't know, honestly. I sometimes don't like myself enough to even think of the other guy. If I can't love myself, what does that say about the ability to care for another.

But see the whole love thing is complicated by the "I'm-the-one-doing-the-loving" idea. And I think this is where most of the idea that Jesus was trying to impart falls through. See, I think the love we are to have for ourselves and our neighbor is given to us from God. It isn't something I do. It is something done for me, with me, but not by me. It is not ME doing the loving, it's God's love coming through me. I'm the conduit, not the generator (if I can use those electric terms). And so if it's not generated by me, then I can simply ask God to work through me and BINGO I'm not responsible for holding back, or deciding who gets it and who doesn't. If I let go and let God as the old saying goes, then anything is possible, even loving the neighbor, Lord Voldemort, or the neighbor who blows leaves during the dinner hour. Because God is doing the loving not me, I can be the person, or conduit that I am meant to be. I got thinking about an old saying and it's this:

The love in your heart
Wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love 'til
You give it away.

And that pretty much sums up what it means to be a Christian, I think.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The World and All There is

The weather is glorious today. Sunny with a light breeze. I'm not a pollen sufferer so perhaps I'm optimistic that everyone feels such a beautiful day as today affirms our Maker's handiwork. On days like today I'm struck with the absolute magnificence of creation. The taller trees bowing down their large heads in the wind, the smaller trees bending over more obediently to their maker's breath. The sun illuminating the smallest leaf, the most delicate flower, the most industrious anthill. The air is sweet and light, not bloated and heavy as it will be in August or late July. Our fellow humans are walking their dogs, exercising, laughing, quietly strolling, communing as it were with our Lord. Oh, they may not call it that. It may not even be a conscious decision on their part. But make no mistake, every deep breath of this beautiful day, there is an unspoken prayer of thanks underneath.

Thanks be to God for days like today!