My precious Daddy died in 2008, after several years of living with dementia, the last 18 months or so unable to identify me as his daughter. This piece by Martin Copenhaver is a poignant reminder of my time with my Dad and God’s faithfulness even when our bodies have failed us.
“I remember the first time my grandmother was not able to recognize me. I was in high school at the time. The look on her face revealed that she had no idea who had just walked into her room.
Source: Martin Copenhaver – Remember Me? A devotional on Isaiah 49:14-18 – Day1.org
Many, if not most, churches have Ushers. We may have different views about what they do, how they do it and why. And, we sometimes ponder, do Ushers usher or do they ush?* Whatever the answer, in this episode of Chuck Knows Church, we discover more than we bargain for!
While the Bible doesn’t mention the word usher, the word doorkeeper has a similar connotation for ushers are also doorkeepers. In 1 Chronicles 23:5, King David assigned four thousand doorkeepers to the temple Solomon would build. Psalm 84:10 says “Better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.” And, 2 Kings 22:4 ”Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people.” So, ushering has a long and varied history, even before Christ came. Stand tall ushers and usher well. You have a reputation to keep!
*Dictionary.com says Ushers usher.
Often in my day to day work as a pastor or even in my personal life, there come moments when God speaks through the everyday-ness of life. For several weeks, I have been part of the team leading classes for our students who are to be confirmed. This past weekend, not only did we have our weekend retreat but also two of our students were baptized in our local Lake Gertrude. Then today, I come upon the story in my Bible reading, Mark 5:21-43, about Jairus, a synagogue leader whose daughter is dying. When Jesus arrives with the man, they are told she is already dead yet Jesus tells them to believe, that she is only asleep. As I read these verses: “He (Jesus) took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old),” in a flash I saw how Jesus will raise each of our confirmands into life as this Sunday one more is baptized and the rest confirm their baptismal vows and together they fulfill their desire to be Jesus followers as part of their local church. For all my intent to speak of the vine and the branches passage from John this Confirmation Sunday, this passage captured me, perhaps because of the young girl who was the age of many of our students. This Sunday, I pray the students hear Jesus say clearly, “Get up!” Get up and follow me, get up and love your neighbor, get up and serve the poor, get up and visit the sick, get up and do justice for your community and most of all, get up and live in me!
The parsonage (house) provided by First Mount Dora sits on a hill at the end of a short street with a cul de sac. At the bottom of the hill is Lake Gertrude, a lovely spring fed lake. My route to the church takes me along the lake for a half mile or so. I slow down at two spots each time I drive the road, at the approach to a curve and at a speed bump. I’m so thankful for those spots. Over the past several months, at each spot, I look out on the lake, view the character of the lake and of the light, be it sun or stars. Sometimes smooth as a mirror, other times blanketed with fog and often somewhere in between. Seeing the water and the light every day and following their respective characters as they change gives me joy. I have no idea why since I was afraid of water until I learned to swim three years ago. Something about the lake simply makes me joyful.
Some days I wonder whether God looks at us that way. Does he pause to see us as we work or worship? Does he smile simply because we are here? Does he watch in wonder as we live as who we are? I hope so since that might mean that looking at us gives him joy. Until I had children, I had envisioned him sitting in judgmental disappointment at all the ways we find to wander away from him. As a Mom, though, I know my children could still give me joy even when I shook my head in disbelief at their antics of disobedience. So, I now think of God watching us like the father he is and Christ watching as the brother he is while the Holy Spirit keeps inviting us closer to all three persons of the Trinity.
Just a little reminder to donate today to The Advance of the United Methodist Church. Matched dollar for dollar up to one million dollars, your donation can go further today than any other day of the year. Not sure what I’m talking about? See my post last week, Be the Change. Visit www.umcmission.org today, select the mission(s) you want to support and make your donation. Remember: be the change.
For years, I have heard that phrase “Be the change you want to be,” encouraging us to change and others will follow. When we apply that to our Christian faith, we have to step up to a new intentionality from worship to study to giving to our behavior with others. As we gather around this country to observe Thanksgiving Day, consider whether you might be the change by accepting my invitation to help the United Methodist Advance. The Advance is a central conduit for funds and volunteers for the huge variety of Mission projects throughout the world related to the United Methodist Church. Donations made on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, will be matched dollar for dollar up to $1,000,000. Yes, that’s right one million dollars. So, mark your calendar and on December 2nd, make a donation and take part in the mission(s) of your choice anywhere in the world at www.umcmission.org/give. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you. Just, be the change.
My friend, Jan L. Richardson, is a singularly talented clergywoman. An amazing artist and writer*, Jan captures the heart of the gospel in a way no one else does. She offers online studies during Advent and Lent. Her new study, Illuminated: An Online Journey into the Heart of Christmas begins November 30, 2014. Registration is open now at ILLUMINATED 2014. A wonderful multi-media experience, Jan’s online studies appeal to everyone but perhaps most particularly to all those who have too much to do and too little time do it. I know I appreciate the opportunity to delve into her studies to the level comfortable for me. Give it a try for your Advent devotion this year. You’ll be glad you did.
*See Jan’s many books here.
Last year about this time, I posted a commentary about Halloween. Take a moment to read it so what follows makes sense.
I stayed home on Halloween night last year, not only to give out candy but also to meet more of my neighbors. It was great seeing all the little ones’ costumes and chatting with their parents. When one little boy stopped by we started talking immediately as I leaned over to put the candy in his bag. In a pause, his mom said, “Is your name Kim?” I stood up to find one of the women who were baristas at my local Starbucks! We laughed at the fact that we both had lived there for years and only now knew we were neighbors. Suddenly, I knew not only my neighbor, but a woman who used to be a simply a nice barista was now a friend. I invited her to an event at church, we exchanged cards and cookies at Christmas and chatted about kids and school and work. We regularly saw each other around the neighborhood. I met her mom and dad and she met some of my kids. And, now that I live elsewhere, I miss seeing she and her son. And when I first went to the Starbucks that I now frequent, it was sad not to see her there. I still stop by to say, “Hi!” when I’m back in Valrico and we catch up on family and such.
All this from staying home to hand out candy, meet my neighbors and share a bit of hospitality with them. Jesus taught us a bit about hospitality. He welcomed us after all. And, in case you are wondering, I’ll be home this year, too. I still haven’t met all my neighbors and I can’t wait to open my door to strangers and when they leave close it behind them as newfound friends.
Go to this link to see what United Methodists are helping make happen in Africa:
This is so very exciting to me given my visit to Zimbabwe in 2003. Ever since, all of Africa has been close to my heart. The people there have such a yearning for the Word of God and pastors can hardly be trained quickly enough. I remember how expensive the books for seminary were and how heavy, too! Now, you can make books and bibles available to pastors training in Africa by your donation through the link in the article. And, whether or not you give, please pray for the pastors and the people of Africa.