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Father’s Day in Lincoln

by davesandel on June 23rd, 2020

June 22, 2020               (today’s lectionary)

Father’s Day in Lincoln

Father’s Day in Lincoln was wonderful. We spent two hours sitting outside with Steve and Villy and Stella Cone, under a tree and on the porch at Mom’s house, surrounded by the nature of farm, with plenty to talk about, many opportunities to rejoice.

Then we met Chris and Melissa, Jack and Aly at the Dairy Queen in Lincoln, got blizzards mostly and went to Kickapoo Park to eat them. Found a picnic table in the shade. I was surprised there were not more people there. Driving around we did find one large party at a shelter, no one wearing masks. I am confused by that. We didn’t wear masks either, though.

After that we got to see Mom at Grace Point, the rehab center at Christian Nursing Home. Two of the staff were generous and allowed us to spend 15 minutes with Mom outside with no previous notice, state mandated plexiglas shield between us. We brought her a jar of peaches and some ginger ale. She’s eating well, walking a little, and says she feels pretty good. Her smile was a lovely sight to see. Perhaps she’ll be able to leave soon, go to Mary Kay’s for a couple of weeks, and then come back to her own home. That would be the best.

While she’s gone, John and a plumber have replaced all the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. The faucets were there for three months or more, but there was no time when Mom could be without water. Now she’s not there.

We also cleaned up things a little, and took food which she will not be eating before it goes bad.

Drove home, tired at last. It was a great day.

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I don’t know the stories in the Old Testament much beyond the Sunday School favorites. Elijah and Elisha, David and Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, sure. But here is Shalmaneser and Hoshea. A deportation I’ve never heard of to Halah and the cities of the Medes.

One thing I did know is that the Bible collects stories of the sinning of the Israelites and sets them high on the shelf of history. God’s warnings, through “every prophet and seer,” went unheeded.

They were as stiff-necked as their fathers. Don’t trust anyone over thirty. Don’t learn from them, either. The sins of the fathers are visited on the third and fourth generations.

Life sucks, and then you die.

That we can still entertain hope in the future is a miracle in itself. God, you are good. You do not forsake us. Your mercy endures forever.

The stories (whether in the Bible or in the news) are one thing, but the people of our everyday lives are another. I think that’s where hope comes from. So many good people, in church, in the grocery store, on the sidewalk. Just try talking to them now and then. I am sure things were no different in Israel three thousand years ago.

So I’m thinking the bible stories are similar to today’s headlines. Mostly they are about the politics and the wars, the men and women leading the people, rather than the people themselves. But I wasn’t there, and I can’t tell for sure. Just who is the stiff-necked “they?”

They rejected his statutes

Until the lord put them out of his sight.

The divided kingdom (with Judah and Benjamin in the south and the other ten tribes in the north) mirrored King Solomon’s moral deterioration. What a mess that trickled down.

We have done this, Lord, to ourselves.

Help us with your right hand, rally us!

Your hand has rocked the country

We have broken apart

Repair the cracks, our world is teetering on the edge

Worthless is the help of men, O God

You are our only hope

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. “The word of God is living and effective.” How is that? Living? “The word of God can discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

There is much going on inside me that I would prefer not to be read by God.

Is that so, David? What, pray tell, are you imagining that I should not see?

Really, Lord, all it takes is for you to ask, and I feel so free to say. I don’t feel afraid in your presence. Did the Israelites feel afraid? If so, what was wrong inside them?

You know at least something about the “shadow and the light.” What lives in the shadow needs to be brought into the light. The problem comes when it is NOT.

So this “fear” thing I talk so much about is not real, but only seems real when I hide. It’s a mirage. It’s a phantom. It does not exist. At least not in our relationship, Lord. But I have trouble pushing that onto the relationships I have with people.

Yes. Even in Eden your people had trouble with that. But I will just keep asking simple questions, and hoping you can ask them of each other. Like “where are you” and “who told you.”

Ask other people simple questions. Keep my mind clear of what I think they’ll say. Be still and listen.

Jesus tells me not to judge others, and that will remove the fear of being judged. That makes total sense, right? The soap opera in my mind of what other people are thinking, especially about me, is unnecessary and untrue. Stop that! When I stop that, when I stop wondering how badly they think of me, for example, I find there’s new room for generosity and gratitude.

God’s grace extended. Notice my own faults, no one else’s. Projection is real. And Eugene Peterson says, “That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.”

When I stop comparing, then fear fades away, away, and away.

(2nd Kings 17, Psalm 60, Hebrews 4, Matthew 7)

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