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Jan 27 21

Listen to the grass, growing

by davesandel

Wednesday, January 27, 2021            (today’s lectionary)

Listen to the grass, growing

In our wanderings Monday we found new growth everywhere. Now as January turns over its last leaves, the Texas hill country begins to bloom. Under the live oak trees soft green shoots rise into the sun through dead brown grass. As a small tribe, Miles and Jasper and Margaret and I traveled across the street to our own Hundred Acre Wood. Under Grace 360’s four live oak trees we settled down for a bit of picnic with an apple, strawberry spinach smoothies, three kinds of chips and a tall container full of fresh water.

We too shoot up like young trees with our own new growth. Jesus said we would. And we are.

Some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, then sixty, then a hundredfold … the mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.

This growth does not take to privacy, keeping to itself. It needs time to absorb the sun, but it also needs space to spread. A hundred follows on sixty, which follows on thirty, and all of this takes time. In our moments we at last encounter eternity.

Jesus began to teach beside the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around him. Jesus got into a boat on the sea, sat down, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the shore. Then he taught them at length, in parables.

He might have been teaching in the spring. Galilean farmers left their fields to hear the words of the master. He promised to heal them, and feed them, and his words sparkled in the nnonday sun. Hearing Jesus speak they took heart, they leaped for joy, they held their children close and knew how much they all were loved. The priesthood of all believers is what Peter called the church, and our priesthood is led by the “Priest Forever,” begotten like the dew. We are the bride, and Jesus is the bridegroom.

The Lord said to my Lord, “Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. Before the daystar, and like the dew, I have begotten you. You are a priest forever.” Because of you, their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.

Is this Wednesday? Is this another day to encounter eternity? Just a few miles away on the river, my friend’s wife has a new lung cancer, and they are remembering God’s surprises over and over in their lives. How will things go this time? They have grown into yields of thirty and sixty, and now they call on God’s promise for a hundred. How will the harvest look?

Richard Rohr wrote on Monday of our growth as we move across the street, over the sea, into the clouds through the years of our lives: “When we are able to move beyond the small or “false self”—at the right time and in the right way—it will feel precisely as if we have lost nothing.”

Miles told us that he was afraid and I said, “You don’t look scared, Miles.” And he said, “That’s because it’s in my mind that I’m afraid.”

Precisely.

(Hebrews 10, Psalm 110, Mark 4)

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Jan 26 21

Three questions to live by

by davesandel

Tuesday, January 26, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops

Three questions to live by

Elsewhere Paul wrote, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.”

And in another place he wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul pursued truth in doctrine and truth in relationships. He sought to be true to his companions and true to himself. God his Father always treated him with grace and mercy, and as Paul could receive those gifts, they brought him peace.

Paul an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God for the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear child …

What say you, Timothy? How are things between you and Paul? That man can be quite abrasive at times. How do you know he loves you as the Lord does?

When I was just a wee little lad, Paul said to me, “Always ask yourself three questions about everything you have a mind to do: 1. What is it? 2. Is it safe? and 3. What can I do with it?

Margaret asks those questions with Miles and Jasper every day we are together. What is it? It’s a serving spoon! Is it safe? Unless you hit each other on the head. What can I do with it? Let me count the ways. You can bang on the floor, you can try to eat soup with it, you can stir the fruit salad, you can look at yourself in its mirror … what can YOU do with it?

I don’t think of Paul caring for two very young boys, not for long anyway. Timothy and Titus were adolescents or even older when he met them. God had found his way into their hearts and minds. But the questions still pertained. Sometimes they were the only thing they remembered, because Paul could get a little wordy sometimes.

Paul a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones and the recognition of religious truth, in the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began, who indeed at the proper time revealed his word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted by the command of God our savior … to Titus my true child in our common faith, grace and peace to from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

Only 89 words, and all of them dripping rich with meaning, but forgive Titus for losing track halfway through. Three simple questions to sift decisions could be very welcome. What is it? Is it safe? What can you do with it?

It’s a simple way to sift the Gospel, these three questions: It’s Good news. It’s not just safe, it’s necessary and brings new life. And I can receive it, rejoice in it and share it with everyone I meet in one way or another, especially with family.

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom … Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

(2 Timothy 1, Titus 1, Psalm 96, Matthew 11, Mark 3)

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Jan 25 21

My story, our story, The Story

by davesandel

Monday, January 25, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

My story, our story, The Story

Richard Rohr’s “domes” cover Paul ­– they cover all of us. My story is encompassed in our story, and our story is contained within The Story. It was true for Paul, and it’s true for you and me.

Get up and go, and there you will be told about everything you are appointed to do. I could see nothing because of the brightness of the light, so I was led there by the hands of my companions.

Sandy dust blew through my scarf, and the heat caught up with us just after sunrise. This desert welcomed no one. We rode a horse, a mule, with nary a camel in the group, headed for Damascus. Saul was talking to himself as usual, not to us. Was he praying? Was he crazy? We didn’t know, although we had our ideas. I couldn’t help but admire his persistence, but he acted as much like a fanatic as anyone I’ve known.

Saul didn’t notice the weather. He didn’t really notice us, either. We traveled, ate and slept together. We protected God’s reputation and proclaimed the truth of the Torah, the truth of the Prophets, the truth of the Psalms. And we waited for the Messiah. We were in no hurry, we didn’t expect much to happen in our lifetimes. Nothing much has happened for a few hundred years.

A dust devil spun around Saul’s horse, and Saul fell awkwardly onto the sand. We could see a bright light beyond the early morning sun, like a sudden aura around Saul. Saul spoke, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. Then he was listening. Saul rarely listened. I watched his face change. I heard him ask, “What shall I do, sir?”

You will be his witness to all you have seen and heard. But I will show you what you have to suffer for my name. I chose you from the world to go and bear fruit that will last.

The aura around Saul faded. The sand settled. Saul lay silent on his back. “I can’t see,” he said. Then he told us to help him get to Damascus. We ate there, but he did not. We drank there, but he did not. We found the man he asked for, and after three days we took him there. The man named Ananias touched his eyes and said, “Saul, my brother, regain your sight.”

These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages, they will pick up serpents with their hands. If they drink any poison it will not harm them, and when they lay hands on the sick, the sick will recover.

I thought of Job’s words and I thought Saul must be praying them too. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Our lives were changing faster than I could breathe. God’s touch, his words, his bright light transformed Saul completely. And whats more, I was finally sure he wasn’t crazy. His silence, his prayers and confident smiles broke all the old stories into bits and pieces. Jesus was alive, and Saul was not going to let any of us forget it. God surrounded our story with His Story. I was caught up, like Saul, in the eternal, immortal presence of Abba Father. Jesus would be our guide. And we would be his people.

Your kindness toward me is steadfast and your faithfulness endures for all generations.

(Acts 22, Acts 9, Psalm 117, John 15, Mark 16)

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Jan 24 21

Follow the red rooster

by davesandel

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 24, 2021              (today’s lectionary)

Sunday of the Word of God

Follow the red rooster

Now Nineveh was an enormously large city, it took three days to get through it. Jonah began his journey through the city and walked only a single day announcing, “Forty more days and Nineveh shall be destroyed!”

Austin is twenty times larger than Champaign-Urbana, so I think it qualifies as an enormously large city. I remember my now passed-on friend John Auten, who walked through Champaign and its outskirts praying aloud for the people of the neighborhood. He took a bus sometimes, got rides, carried his own lunch and water, and spent day after day praying for the people. John knew God loved them, whether he did or not. I imagine him walking in Austin.

John had spent some of his days homeless, and other of his days working as a community college vice president, attorney, and accountant for Motel 6. He was a pastor in Maui, Santa Barbara and Champaign. He organized tennis tournaments for older folks, several weekend conferences for men and hosted a weekly radio show on WEFT. One week he interviewed a Lutheran counselor from Decatur who worked for Carle and me about being Christian counselors in secular and Christian environments.

Brothers and sisters, time is running out. The world in its present form is passing away. The kingdom of God is at hand!

We met John at a Vineyard small group in 1991. About that same time a sandwich board preacher walked and hollered behind the U of I student union on the Quad. He was not allowed a megaphone, but his voice carried. I worked with students as a campus minister, and I was embarrassed. His message was angry, carelessly simple, and punitive. Watching him I thought of Hazel Motes, Flannery O’Connor’s crazy preacher creation in her novel Wise Blood. The sandwich man didn’t listen to anyone, he just walked around and hollered. I think he thought he was praying, like my friend John, except I always felt God’s presence around John.

Course I could have been wrong. Reading Flannery O’Connor, I know how wacky anyone can become when they take to listening to the voices inside themselves. God’s voice can sound all right to me, but crazy to you. Over the years I think my own words have mellowed. I don’t feel as much like challenging people as I once did.

Teach me your ways, guide me in your paths, show me your truth, for you are God my savior. In your kindness, remember me, O Lord.

Yesterday morning on NPR, Scott Simon’s opinion piece on our new president, Joe Biden, included “the hope that the Americans who elected him may have a new appreciation for experience, and the way personal loss can stretch and strengthen a human heart.”

Jonah’s anger at the Ninevites surprised me. He wanted God to smite them, wipe them off the face of the earth, but God “had compassion on them.” Still, I have spent enough time in downtown Austin to realize I might not be so far off thinking like Jonah after all.

One April day before Jasper was born, we took Miles for a train trip and visited Austin Fire Station #1, then ate snacks on a park bench. A man who said he’d been up all night came and sat with us. A red rooster perched on his shoulder, and they talked to each other. We didn’t get a word in edgewise. I thought maybe God would wipe him away, even though I had no business thinking like that.

Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew. “Come after me,” he said. Then he saw James and his brother John. And he called them also. “I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus said. And they abandoned their nets and followed him.

In Austin many men and women have settled in tents under highway overpasses. Sometimes they have a dog, and maybe a recliner, although they must have trouble finding water. When Jesus walks through Austin, I am sure he sometimes talks to them. “Follow me,” he might say. “Come with me through this enormously large city and speak the words I give you.” Some of them will listen in the morning, but by evening they probably have been arrested and put away for a time.

Jesus calls me to listen slowly, watch without judgment, be curious and awakened when I meet his other children. What are my experiences for, except to learn the art of loving them, in Nineveh, Champaign-Urbana, Austin, and even, God assures me, in Washington DC?

(Jonah 3, Psalm 25, 1 Corinthians 7, Mark 1)

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Jan 23 21

Healing in the tabernacle

by davesandel

Saturday, January 23, 2021                (today’s lectionary)

Healing in the tabernacle

All you peoples, clap your hands. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph. Sing praise to God, sing praise!

When Miles and Jasper arrive in the morning, we get into a circle and sing a simple song. Yesterday we sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This is one of our favorite songs. Then we count together through the days of the month up till now, and Jasper or Miles puts a sticker on this particular day that the Lord has made.

Finally Miles picks one of two clipboards and brings it to the circle. One clipboard has pictures of exercises and stretches, the other is a list of the names of God. This time he chose the names of God list, and the name for the day was El Shaddai, which means “God Almighty.”

A tabernacle was constructed, the outer one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of offering. This is called the Holy Place. Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies.

After circle we plan something to do, but usually the plan changes several times. But the last couple of days with the boys have been marked by tools and fixing things, and yesterday … building the beginnings of their castle, their tent, their tabernacle. We bought a small upright freezer and kept the box. Tomorrow we’re hoping to cut out a couple of windows and make a door. There is plenty of room in there for them to play, eat, take naps, and pray. I bet there is even enough room in there for Jesus.

Jesus came with the disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.

Can you imagine a hole cut in the roof of the house of Jasper and Miles? They look up and see four men lowering a stretcher into the inner sanctum of their tabernacle. What should they do? Make way for Jesus! But it was bad enough that Jesus healed on the sabbath; will he heal now even in their tabernacle?

How can Jesus not heal, right here and right now? Earlier in the morning, we held hands and prayed for their mom and her fellow teacher, and Miles prayed for … what did he say? “For Mamo and healing for everybody.”

Miles and Jasper settle down, and they pretend to go to sleep. But while the lullaby music plays, there is a light glowing in the back of their tent. I am sure it’s Jesus, shining heaven’s light into their lives.

The Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, will cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

(Hebrews 9, Psalm 47, Acts 16, Mark 3)

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Jan 22 21

Life together

by davesandel

Friday, January 22, 2022                     (today’s lectionary)

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Life together

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted, and they came to him.

Father Brad Karelious traveled to Germany in 1980, planning to visit churches and campus ministries in both East and West. What he found surprised him. In the midst of oppressive East German anti-Christian policies, with little money dedicated to renovation or even keeping the doors open, the Church flourished. Many students waited outside church doors until they could get in. Their excitement to see an American from California knew no bounds, and questions were honest, skeptical and curious. The students wanted to know more about everything, especially about the Bible and about Jesus. But one student summed up their difficult situation, “When I graduate, I will have to make a decision. If I want to have a good position, I cannot be a visible active Christian.” Still, this student would not give up the joyful habit of meeting together to spur each other on to love and good deeds.

In West Germany, on the other hand, few people of any age attended church. Sermons were mostly philosophical lectures rather than exhortations. Pastors had well-stocked libraries and were paid handsomely out of the 9% give to the church from every tax bill paid by every West German. Since this took the place of personal giving, very few parishioners tithed. Personal sacrifice seemed minimal, and personal commitment seemed the same.

Kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven.

As you know, in our culture (not just American) we grow up and away from each other very quickly. From conception we crave touch and affection from others, and only in small ways must that craving be curbed. But we curb it instead in big ways and tall ways, and so in just a few years we have turned away from each other and toward ourselves.

Karelious wrote that “the church is most strongly felt in a situation that is a struggle for survival, where the cost of discipleship is experienced with intensity.” When there is persecution from the outside, those inside come together, hold hands, and curl up together to stay warm and perhaps even safe. Instead of turning away from each other, they pray and touch, touch and pray. Our need for touch never goes away.

This is the covenant I will establish, says the Lord. All shall know me from least to greatest. I will put my laws in your minds and I will write them upon your hearts. I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And I will forgive your wrongdoing and remember your sins no more.

I accept your gift, Lord, but then it isn’t long until I take your gift for granted, and it isn’t long again before I simply stop listening to your law, whether in my mind or written on my heart. My evildoing increases, and soon the consequence of my sin wrecks my life.

Show us, O Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation.

Thank you, God, for remembering my sins no more. Hold me, soften my self-protective crust, renew my desire to touch and be touched, to love and be loved. Change my heart, O God.

(Hebrews 8, Psalm 85, Mark 3)

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Jan 21 21

Cinema paradiso

by davesandel

Thursday, January 21, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Cinema paradiso

During her childhood in Ohio, my friend Mary spent many weekend days and evenings at the theater. At the turn of the century her grandfather owned and operated a carnival picture booth, a “peep show.” The calliope played, celluloid rolled and the movies fascinated the folks and developed into a career for Mary’s father. He turned his dad’s carnival booth into the local movie theater. For Mary and her siblings, their personal reserved loge seats in the balcony provided them many afternoons of excitement and delight.

Her family’s home life was turbulent. Mom and Dad often didn’t get along. When they could, the kids got away, sometimes to the theater, sometimes to the church. Mary nearly became a nun. She dedicated her life to God. Over decades she has served quietly, using her gifts of creative writing, editing, praying, and especially of the gift of welcoming to enrich parish life in Urbana.

I have not restrained my lips. Here I am, Lord, come to do your will.

I think of young Salvatore in his Sicilian village during World War II, adopted by the projectionist at Cinema Paradiso and every day discovering both challenge and escape in the movies. There are many days I crave a corner seat, a back row seat deep in the balcony where I can curl up forever, watching film after film, losing myself in them, crying with joy at redemption in the end, angry at the careless violence of thoughtless men or women, ready to run with joy around the field of mountain flowers with Maria, my mind held hostage by the deductions of Sherlock Holmes, and on and on and on.

Like mine, I imagine Mary’s mind circles back to memories of sanctuary, to her personal, reserved seat in the throne room of God, masquerading momentarily as a theater, or a church, or a bedroom corner kept for prayer. God might be just barely visible through the cloud of unknowing, but we glimpse enough to know that we are loved.

Year follows year of quiet service by men and women like Mary Lou or my friend Charlene, like so many many many men and women, unremarked upon by anyone other than their friends. Still, their friends speak volumes. Their gift to us comes through their prayers. They guide us through the cloud by their often silent example. They welcome us to sanctuary and open every door. They grab our hands and guide us forward. “Come and meet Jesus!” they call out to us.

Jesus had cured many and as a result, those with diseases pressed upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”

The projectionist sets up the next reel of our movie as this one comes to an end. The picture flickers in the darkness, and in that moment between reels we hear the tick-tick-tick of the machine before the music kicks up again. I sit with my friend Mary, who has welcomed me to her family’s loge, and together we watch – fascinated, curious, hopeful, sometimes frightened, always reverent. Outside the hot midwestern afternoon sun bakes the street, but inside we rest, surrounded by the ice-cold comfort of air conditioning. We don’t need to leave, not yet, not for awhile. The movie isn’t over yet. Some say it’s just beginning.

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light.

(Hebrews 7, Psalm 40, 2 Timothy 1, Mark 3)

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Jan 20 21

Inauguration day

by davesandel

Wednesday, January 20, 2021            (today’s lectionary)

Inauguration day

The scepter of your power the Lord will stretch forth from Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies. Yours is princely power in the day of your birth; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you … Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people, and Jesus said, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath, to save life rather than to destroy it?” His adversaries remained silent.

 Since George Washington, every elected president has repeated these words: I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Forty-five presidents have repeated these words 72 times.

Mostly, these presidents swore on the Bible. And they chose verses that meant something to them … Franklin Roosevelt used the same verses from 1 Corinthians 13 at each of his four inaugurations:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

In the midst of an unpopular war, Richard Nixon chose Isaiah 2:4 in 1969 and 1973:

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Ronald Reagan used his mother’s oft-used Bible, and rested his hand on powerful words from II Chronicles 7, words also held dear by Dwight D. Eisenhower:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.

At Bill Clinton’s second inauguration he opened the Bible to Isaiah 58:12:

Thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.

At George W. Bush’s second inauguration, he also chose Isaiah’s words from chapter 40:

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Not every president called on God for peace. Rutherford B. Hayes (nicknamed Rutherfraud Hayes after a vicious, contested election) sought vindication and revenge with words from Psalm 118:

They compassed me about bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

And Andrew Johnson, in the hours after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, held his hand over lurid and vengeful words from Ezekiel 36:

As for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.

Those sentiments were a far cry from Lincoln’s own inaugural words, “With malice toward none … let us bind up the nation’s wounds … and cherish a just, lasting peace among ourselves.”

What words will be under Joe Biden’s hand today?

As we wait to see, here’s a word for Mr. Biden from one of my favorite blogger-poets, John Blase:

What would I say to you, Joe (can I call you Joe?) …

Gosh Joe, while I’m thrilled to see that you are a pal

to poets and dogs and those who tend the White House

grounds, I want to make this one plea: be our President.

Yes, be our friend, but be that something more America

the beautiful is aching for—a symbol conspicuously good.

I realize this is quite the tall order, but you aspired to the

highest office, you made the choice to run and won. So run.

Run our country at a wise man’s pace. We’ve raced reckless,

gassed on boast and swagger and contempt from both sides.

Slow us down to the self-government of being not only keeper

of our brother but our sister and our neighbor and mother Earth.

Rest your hand on the old Book and swear—be our President.

Like all days since the start of time, this is a day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

(Hebrews 7, Psalm 110, Matthew 4, Mark 3)

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Jan 19 21

Haiku for every day of December

by davesandel

Tuesday, January 19, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

 Haiku for every day of December

 Tuesday, December 1

Just some short trips to

Austin, those audio books!

Back and forth I go

 

December 2

Road weary driver

Gone for Austin once again

Semi truck respect

 

December 3

drive down concrete road

bisects rich loam and red clay

ignore tomorrow

 

December 4

We have had no snow

Only winds that blow and blow

Thank you Lord, for this

 

December 5

One more arrival

Big hugs from Miles, Jasper

Strong family ties

 

Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, 2020

Sun shines on exas

Darkness falls on Arkansas

Jesus holds us all

 

December 7

Remember, Andi?

You played your flute for Grandpa

See how he loved you

 

December 8

Share our common life

Humble turn toward our source

Hear the God in us

 

December 9

To be listened to

By my friends who listen to

Nectar from our God

 

December 10

Day before the day

Why am I so darn afraid?

Leave God to his work

 

December 11

Heart cath miracle?

Will new life rise in my heart

God renews my strength

 

December 12

Did I do too much?

Today my recovery

Went so quickly!

 

Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2020

Celebrate quiet

light pink candle all alone

Lord have mercy on us

 

December 14

Chris will be 40

Springfield songs, feast, drive with kids

Share some great stories

 

December 15

Mice are cold outside

Come in: eat, drink, be merry

Hard to share our home

 

December 16

Happy Dr. Deem

Thinks my heart will be just fine

But he has shingles!

 

December 17

I am so happy!

Our chickens get country home

But I will miss them!

 

December 18

Packing for Austin

Fill Prius for me, Marg flies

Take one step … again

 

December 19

Gifts, pizza, laughter

Marc and Chris have both grown up

Share Christmas right now

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2020

We leave tomorrow

Won’t be back for quite awhile

Thanks, Marc, being here

 

December 21

How many watched tonight?

Christmas Star, its light so bright

Look up toward Jesus

 

December 22

Wearing masks, big hugs

Miles sees his first big screen:

The Star, Christmas joy

 

December 23

Soon I must let go

Christmas won’t last forever

Hold the baby now

 

December 24

We walked across street

Church has never been closer

Just part of God’s gift

 

December 25

The first time for us

Early on Christmas morning

Grandkid gifts, such joy

 

December 26

Just like newlyweds

Setting up our brand new home

Shop until we drop

 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sixty eight degrees

December farmer’s market

Could get used to this!

 

December 28

Austin’s Trail of Lights

Each tree in blazing color

Sweet to see with kids

 

December 29

Cold in USA

Snow, wind, ice, don’t be afraid

Tell the homeless that

 

December 30

Be warm and well fed

That’s easy for me to say

Curling up cozy

 

December 31

This is the last hour

Of the last day of the year

Marked by co-vid fears

 

(Hebrews 6, Psalm 111, Ephesians 1, Mark 2)

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Jan 18 21

Kindness Day

by davesandel

Monday, January 18, 2021 (today’s lectionary)

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kindness Day

Brothers and sisters, every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God. But he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.

On January 15, 1929 Michael King, Jr. was born. His dad became enamored with Martin Luther and both their names. Martin Luther King grew up as a brilliant 5’7” black man. People said he was short, but my dad was 5’7” tall, and I never thought he was short.

The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

His reputation as a womanizer was seriously exaggerated by J. Edgar Hoover, who was also certain he was a Communist. He was arrested more than 30 times, often (always?) on trumped up charges. He was stabbed in the chest ten years before his assassination in Memphis, and the doctor said even one sneeze that day probably would have killed him.

He learned obedience from what he suffered. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God.

Those ten years of life God granted him until 1968 were years of powerful non-violence and firm kindness toward powerful people and poor people. Dr. King bridged gaps between rich and poor, white and black, men and women. In 1983 Ronald Reagan, a white conservative Republican president, inaugurated the holiday we celebrate today. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson, a white southern Democrat president, listened to King speak in public and in private, then forced a landmark Civil Rights Voting Act through Congress.

No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the wine will burst the skins and both wine and skins are ruined.

Margaret wanted Miles to understand why today is a holiday. She didn’t want to talk much about Dr. King’s death, or his persecution while he was alive, or even about his insistence on equality for black children, men and women. She wanted Miles to understand Dr. King’s kindness, his determination to meet anything and everything with non-violence, in other words, with kindness.

So for Miles, Margaret described Martin Luther King as a minister of kindness, and this holiday, the third Monday in January, as Kindness Day. I think that’s cool. No wonder Margaret won awards in Louisville when she interned as a teacher there. This is not so much a day to rekindle or remember old anger as it is be grateful for the goodness and kindness God sends to us through each other. If you want to know more about that, just ask Miles.

Abraham Lincoln’s words as he began his presidency in 1861 break our hearts because they were ignored, then hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed and maimed, and the United States was never really united again. But … as Jesus inspired Gandhi in India and then Dr. King in the USA to stand their ground, Lincoln’s words gather strength and inspire us to rise up and turn toward each other rather than away in firmness, not anger, resting in the endless and absolute love of God:

We are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over our broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

(Hebrews 5, Psalm 110, Hebrews 4, Mark 2)

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