Monday, January 23, 2017

The Inaugural Bizarre

People buzzed about the book table like bees around a hive. From where I sat, near the side door, it looked like the bizarre was a huge success.
I watched folks walking by, checking out table after table of everything from handcrafted walking sticks, jewelry and cards to homemade bakery goods, sloppy-joes and ice cream bars.
Most folks found something to buy—that they didn’t need—usually food.
I could see the flat screen TV mounted on a wall behind the bakery tables. It was clear across the room, but I could tell it was showing the beginnings of the Presidential Inauguration.  
Somebody stopped by and bought a book, we chatted a bit, and I tried to stay focused but my eyes kept wandering over to the television set.
Laughter erupted and music started playing and all at once a line of people marched in dressed like, well, picture The Hee-Haw band. Bib overalls and bare feet, a metal garbage can and a moonshine jug were just a few of the instruments that made up the rag-tag Whispering Pines Fun Band.
They paraded along singing and smiling, having a great time, acting plumb stupid.   
The lady next to me had two tables filled with all kinds of jewelry and an assortment of beautiful stones; one of which, she said, “Keeps people from being crabby.” She gave me one.
A hundred bobbing heads milled about between me and the TV, but I could see it was getting close for the inauguration to begin.
Every now and then the booming voice of the park manager would echo from every speaker, one was directly over my head. He’d say stuff like: “Hurry and get your tickets our next drawing’s in five minutes.” Or… “Stop by our sponsor’s booth in the next ten minutes and get…” Or like a game show host, “The next person who brings me a finger nail clippers wins a…”  
A lady stopped in front of my table and the booming game show voice didn’t seem to bother her a bit. She read the scrolling Power Point presentation for one of my books. When I spoke, she didn’t seem to notice at first, but then she motioned with her hands telling me she was deaf. We communicated with what little sign language I had. She typed her name into her phone and held it out, motioning for me to speak into it.
I did. It wrote what I said. We chatted back and forth like that for a good little bit.    
After she left, I could see the inauguration was getting close, real close, President Trump was on the screen.
Someone else was talking to me, I tried to pay attention, really, I did, but my eyes kept wandering back to that screen. Finally, they noticed my divided attention and looked toward the screen. “You think he’ll do us any good?”
I just smiled and said, “I’ve been praying he would.”
I left the book table unattended and made my way to a chair near the bakery tables. The television volume was on, but with all the chatter it was hard to make out what was being said. Folks continued buying and selling, talking and laughing and doing what they’d come to do—have fun.
A moment later president Trump stood with his left hand on two Bibles; one given to him by his mother and the other had belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
The chatter quieted, a gentle rain started to fall in Washington DC and he uttered The Oath of Presidents to be:
"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. So help me God."
A record number of prayers were prayed.
As the National Anthem was played the folks continued to mingle, eat and drink, but a remnant gathered; huddled in a ragged sort of horse shoe, around the front of the bakery tables. We stood, hats off, hands over our heart and sixteen year old, Jackie Evancho, brought grown men and war heroes to tears.
The president began his Inaugural Address, one of the shortest ever…during which time our game show host grabbed the microphone which sat fifteen feet to the left of the TV and announced something like basement bottom dollar brownies and sloppy-joes being half off.  
At first that got under my skin and respect for the man hit bottom dollar, but then, something happened.
My eyes bounced back and forth between two men behind a microphone; The President of the United States and the game show host.
As I looked him in the eye, he nodded and lifted a little smile.
I didn’t want to smile. The badder angels urged me to shout, “Turn off the mic sit down and shut up.” But, better angels bit my tongue.  And before I had time to get all riled up in my own self-righteousness, I heard the President, quote Psalm 133:1 "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
I was glad he used the translation that says, “God’s people” instead of “brethren” for that would’ve set off a firestorm of its own.
Then, The President said it was time to remember what soldiers will never forget, “we all bleed the same red blood” and all of us share the same night sky and are "infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator"
It gave me pause.
I remembered my new found friend, how the best communication I’d had all day was with her who was deaf and mute. I only half listened to everyone else, but with her, of necessity, I paid attention.
Perhaps, if all the world were deaf and mute, we’d pay attention more and communicate better.   
I looked at the man who moments before had irritated me so, and paid attention, put myself in his shoes.
I thought of how he had a job to do, and he was doing it well. He had an agenda to follow and a responsibility to keep the event rolling, to entertain folks—be the game show host.
To his credit he said he had waited until “after the speech” referring to The Oath, but at that very moment, he was interrupting the Inaugural Address of the President…must not have been paying attention.
Nevertheless, in that moment of shoe swapping, of paying attention, my disgust lifted and peace settled.
I nodded back and returned the smile.
And just like that, all the folks around me talking and laughing and shuffling about were no longer noisy distractions, with irritating differences, but intriguingly unique, brothers and sisters infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If Creation were a symphony, you would be the crescendo

And God said, Let us make man in our image… 
This is at a climactic point in the creation week, the crescendo. If this were a symphony, the Conductor would have both hands raised high, after swinging them wildly for six refrains.
It started In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and, were it a symphony, a drum solo would roll, loud and strong and slow…and then it would lead an orchestra including the heavens and the earth in perfect harmony…
But then, the raspy beat of a snare drum would sound; lucifer—thinking he should be heard above all the others—would pound, proud and hard, until a third of the angels would march to the beat of his drum…
Then all goes black.  
And the earth is without form and void, and the only sound is that of a snake slithering through the black waters of the deep.
But God shows up, and moves upon the face of the waters.
And speaks up
And just to be sure we never forget, and always find hope, no matter how dark a world we find ourselves in, His first words ever recorded for us to hear are “Let there be light.” Those words echo through the ages to this very day, separating light from dark.  …I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)…and the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5)…so, let your light so shine (Mt. 5:16)

And there was light and it was good…and it still is. 

And then, for the next six days He worked. As a Master Builder, forming and shaping, building and making; line upon line, precept upon precept. The light, the sky, the sea, the land…

The more He goes, the louder it grows.

Light appears, the sky is blowing and waves are rolling

The grass and plants and trees rustle and sway in the breeze

Then fish are jumping, dolphins are laughing, whales are rolling, birds are singing, eagles are soaring

Soon lions are roaring, horse’s hooves are drumming, moneys are dancing and elephants are trumpeting…all creation declaring His glory.

That’s good, that’s good, that’s good, He says…

But then, all creation falls silent, when the words that change the world, fall from His lips…

Let Us make man in Our image.

And isn’t the way Pure Love goes?

Prepare a house, a home, build a nursery, a garden, a cradle, a manger, an Eden…and then step back, look at one another and say…

Let’s, make a child…he will have your eyes…and he’ll have your smile…

But why would He do such a thing?

Yet, even still,
He Who spoke into the darkness “Let there be light,”
pierced the darkness of a virgin’s womb,
as the Light of the world.
He wasn’t satisfied to set things in motion and watch from afar…No. He stepped up and in, as if to say, “Let Me show you how it’s done”
It started when He said, “Let us make man in Our image” and ended the day He said, “It is finished” …and the veil in the temple was ripped in twain, the letter of divorce was torn asunder, the guilty verdict was pardoned and the death penalty was paid. The dividing wall shattered. The door swung open and the wedding bells rang for whosoever will, be a bride to the Prince, and a child of the King.
 My favorite line in my ancestral tree is the very top one, it’s awesome, and it’s actually recorded in the Bible in Luke 3:38  “…and Adam was the son of God.”
It’s not only the best line in my tree…but yours too. We all have that same line.

In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.

That is the personification of creative and poetic, perfection.

 We are all created in the image of Him who is perfect without spot or blemish or weakness or bad habit, but eternally perfectly beautifully good. That is Who we’re created after, that is Who is at the top of our family tree.

 When you look in the mirror, do you see the Family resemblance? Do you see His spark of unapproachable everlasting light shining through your eyes, sparking from your smile? Do you feel His DNA surging through your veins?

Or, do you see the graying, aging, sinking, sagging, weary, blemished, bruised and broken?

If the answer is the latter, don’t feel bad, that can change in the time it takes to make a decision.

(2 Cor. 3:17-18)…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror)  the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

That’s what we’ve been talking about in our little Whispering Pines Village Bible study. If you're in the neighborhood, we'll save you a seat. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

The difference

You’re watching a movie about a baseball team. They’re the small town underdogs. They’re in a new arena. They’re nervous. They’re making errors, dropping the ball, the fans are booing, they just can’t get in the groove…but then it happens.
Someone in the stands gets up.
They start to clap, quiet and slow, at first. But little by little they continue, louder and louder.
And then, someone else joins in. And then another, and another and...
Down on the field the pitcher lifts his eyes from out of the dirt. He hears the clap instead of the jeer. He wipes the sweat, and a tear, from his brow and lays a fast ball straight across the plate.
“STRIKE THREE” the umpire yells.
The crowd stands to their feet, their hands in the air, as one voice, they cheer.
The pitcher slaps his glove. His eyes focus. The music starts. The team hunkers. They step into the zone and begin to play as one.
Yesterday, I witnessed that.
Didn’t expect it when we left for church
We sat near the back, in our usual place. After the hymns were sung, the pastor walked to his place up front.
He talked about a book he’d just read. “It was a real page turner,” he said.
 He’d picked it up one morning, and was so compelled to know what happened next; he read and read, until he turned the last page that evening.
He said it was scripturally sound, carried a message and made you feel like you were in the story.
He rambled on a little more saying things every author wishes he could hear about something he’d written.
And then it happened.
He held up the book, it was familiar, real familiar, and asked me to stand. “Whatever, the price of, The Voice—” he said— “you should figure in a box of tissues—because you’re going to need it"
I stood, glanced at the congregation looking at me, felt my face turn red, nodded to the preacher and sat back down.
To this moment, I’m not sure why, but first one, then another, then a whole church full of folks started clapping.
I didn’t expect that, not any of it. But, the timing was perfect.
Just when it appears no one hears. When jumping-in with both feet doesn’t even seem to make a ripple.
In a moment when giving it all, isn’t enough; but dropping the ball, making errors and strike outs there’s plenty…  
Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone stands and starts to clap.
Someone pats you on the back, sends you a card, gives you a call...asks you to stand.
It makes a difference, and it’s huge.
You’ll never know how much so, until the day you walk the streets of gold and someone grabs your hand, smiles and says, “You don’t know me, but I’m here today, because of your kindness way back when…Thank you.”
 Weary not in well doing, for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not Galations 6:9

Humble thanks to you dear friend, your encouragement has blessed time and again. 
To you, wise Pastor, your timing was God led.
And especially to You, Lord Jesus, to You I bow.