Saturday, June 15, 2013
I was given the chance to read Psalm 133 in church last week. It is the unity Psalm that was sung as the Jewish people ascended to Jerusalem for the great worship festivals. This ascent acted out the life lived upward toward God and ultimately discovered in Jesus Christ.
It is ironic that I should be reading this Psalm since I am not a particularly good unity dweller. I tend to see the negative, sense the strain in a relationship, talk about what could have been better and notice the slight. In good Pharisee fashion I insist that every person be as I am, at the same stage with the same stories as mine.
I am at the same time on a transforming journey. Because of the cross I have been redeemed and am being redeemed. The Christ-life that has been imputed is spacious, abundant, full, glorious and vastly different than my fleshly inclinations.
We all tend toward this polarized tension as we live together in community. While we wish to interact with perfect people in perfect ways, we instead have to deal with imperfect people….like ourselves.
We sit beside the person in worship who annoys us with their loud talkativeness and the one whose pain creates a walled distance. We pray with the person who never seems satisfied and another who is overly opinionated about some obscure point. We care for our town with the person who parents their children differently and one whose immaturity gets under our skin.
Unity finds its greatest realization in imperfection. Unity with the easy is one thing but unity with the difficult is another. Imperfection heightens the need for us to live out love, compassion and humility with one another. Incapable of sustaining a superficial relationship we delve into supportive bond fostered by the Spirit.
Such unity is fragrant and attractive. It’s as invigorating as a grand ceremony to anoint a High Priest that unites an entire nation in worship. It’s as refreshing as grass drinking in the morning dew at the summit of a mountain peak.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Flurry of Celebration - A Photo Journal
Maria kicked off the activities on May 3rd with a celebration of her 18th birthday. It’s hard for us to fathom that we have two adult children.
Adri came up for a visit from Houston just to join in on the festivities for Maria. ;-)
Christina had her 15th birthday on May 22nd along with Chelsea….whose 7th birthday is on the same day.
Maria graduated from high school and was honored with a diploma and a little reception at Coffee Books and Beans.
Christina’s year long voice training culminated in a recital. She sang an Italian piece entitled O del mio docle ardor.
Daniel placed first in his division and third overall in a 5K race on June 1st. Photographer dad was at the finish line to capture the action.
Diana and I returned to Mt. Airy to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary at the Sabota Bed & Breakfast.
We spent our honeymoon night in Mount Airy on the way to Myrtle Beach.
Mount Airy is also the birthplace of Andy Griffith and the model for Mayberry. The squad car was parked at Wally’s Service Station when we stopped by.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Wedding Album Memories
I guess I’m one of those people who would grab their photo albums if ever called to escape with their life. These days photos are necessary prompts to a faulty memory.
This morning I pulled up a chair at the kitchen table and reminisced while pouring over our wedding album. Stories and details came flooding back…or not. I was struck with some of the little details that came to mind and some of the important details have been forgotten.
Photo #19 – It is the recessional and I have the silliest grin on my face. Little did I know what I was getting into…how much growing we would both need to do and what a treasure had come into my life.
Photo #22 – The three tiered cake was decorated in pastels of pink, peach and blue. Afterwards we would freeze individual slices and eat a piece at our anniversary for the next ten years. Only an electrical outage stopped the tradition.
Photo #23 – I notice for the first time that we are holding hands as we lift punch cups and steal a kiss.
Photo #27 – My pastor from Tennessee and Diana’s dad officiated the wedding. Just as the ceremony was concluding the fire alarm went off. In good fire alarm fashion everyone remain seated. We owe this memory to Mike and Lisa’s daughter who reached from her mother’s arms to pull the alarm.
Photo #30 – Diana was a radiant and beautiful June bride.
Photo #33 & 34 – Parents, grandparents, and a great grandmother witnessed our vows before God in this holy, mystical union. We have a rich and godly heritage.
Photo #55 – Bird seed flies all around as we make a dash for the car. I later discovered it in the pockets of my jacket while on the way to a Bed & Breakfast in Mount Airy. Some of those seeds still remain in my pocket.
Today we celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Monday, May 27, 2013
In Other Words
I have come to the discovery that I like…words. This will come as a shock and surprise to more than a half dozen English teachers I have frustrated over the years. This word interest must have come from my grandfather who enjoyed crossword puzzles, Scrabble and his unabridged Webster’s dictionary. He commanded a large repertoire of word definitions and their etymological roots. I on the other hand prefer word play, the turn of a phrase and creative expressions.
Words paint pictures and articulate ideas. They parse nuanced meaning and convey emotion. They are inspired and inspirational.
At their most basic level words are used for communication – to teach algebra, give directions, sell tomatoes and buy insurance. At a much deeper and personal level words are used for communion – to develop trust, nurture intimacies, express love and give affirmation.
Poets, song writers and novelists have been conferred the guardianship of imaginative word use. Maybe it would be more precise to say that guardianship has been abandoned to them. William Safford was once asked in a interview, ‘When did you decide to become a poet?’ He responded that the question was put wrongly: ‘Everyone is born a poet –a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is why did other people stop?”
Of all people we have reason not to abandon a romance with words. After all the total package of the gospel is best given in a way that captures the heart. God’s plan for human flourishing is best wrapped in a way that engages the mind. The biblical narrative arc of redemption and restoration is best told when it captures the imagination. In other words we have an adventure to convey, wonder to express and an epic to tell.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Sin's Impact on the Social Fabric
My typical consideration of sin centers around the individual. This is in keeping with my western civilization mindset where the individual trumps the collective group. The separation it inflicts between the person and God, the individual consequence it brings or how a person can be restored is how the furniture in my mind is arranged. Seldom is its consequence on the society as a whole considered. The following are additional thoughts from last week’s post by Tim Keller:
“Sin does not only have an internal impact on us but also a devastation effect on the social fabric….human society is deeply fragmented when anything but God is our deepest love.
“If our highest goal is the good of our family, then…we will tend to care less for other families. If our highest goal is the good of our nation, tribe, race, then we will tend to be racist or nationalistic. If our ultimate goal in life is our own individual happiness, then we will put our own economic power interests ahead of those of others. Only if God is our…ultimate good and life center will we find our heart drawn out not only to people of all families, races and classes, but to the whole world in general.
“How does this destruction of social relationships flow from the internal effects of sin? If we get our very identity, our sense of worth, from our political position, then politics is not only really about politics, it is about us. Through our cause we are getting a self, our worth. That means we must despise and demonize the opposition. If we get our identity from ethnicity or socioeconomic status, then we have to feel superior to those of other classes and races. If you are profoundly proud of being an open-minded, tolerant soul, you will be extremely indignant toward people you think are bigots. If you are a moral person, you will feel very superior to people you think are licentious. And so on.
“There is no way out of this conundrum. The more we love and identify deeply with our family, our class, our race, or our religion, the harder it is to not feel superior or even hostile to other religions, races, etc. So racism, classism, and sexism are not matters of ignorance or a lack of education…it is far harder than we think to have a self-identity that doesn’t lead to exclusion. The real culture war is taking place inside our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them.”