Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cups plus Waves equal Grace

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night; instead, it was a bright and windy cold morning. Nina and I offered coffee, tea, and prayer for commuters from 7 to 9 a.m. this Wednesday. As usual there were not many takers of the coffee or tea. And many probably didn’t realize that they were takers of the offer for prayer. As we waved, with many returning our waves, we offered greetings and silent prayers for those passing by. I have to say that I had two favorite return waves. The first was a man holding and talking on a cell phone. He waved his pinky finger at me. The second was a young girl riding with a man I assumed was her dad. She waved at me while their car was several places back in line at the light. As the line started moving, I waved again and she gave me a big grin and another wave.

I am fairly sure that I speak for Nina as well as myself when I say that we felt the presence of God’s grace this morning. Early on, Brenda, a woman we have met in previous years, stopped by for prayer and a coffee. Then came Joyce who drove past us and then made a turn down the street to come back by. She was going to visit a friend in DC who has just been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Then Larry walked by with a cane. He was on his way to physical therapy and felt that coffee might help him with his focus. He has been out of work for three months.

Suddenly in the midst of the two packed lanes of traffic, a car wouldn’t start up once the light turned green. On the way to a doctor’s appointment for her sick son, her car ran out of gas. Of course, cars were pulling out around her and traffic was building up. We blocked the traffic, and with the help of a fellow driver, we helped her coast across the two lanes and into our parking lot. The doctor’s office is kitty-cornered from our lot. While she took her bundled up kids to keep the appointment, Nina drove to get her a gallon of gas in properly designated container.

Yes, there are people who drive past so quickly that they don’t seem to see us, as well as the drivers who determinedly keep their eyes straight ahead even when stopped right next to us. As a rule, people acknowledge our greeting, some getting a pleasant kick from it. Instead of being invisible tucked behind the trees, the derelict Miller House, and our large parking lot, Christ Crossman becomes a presence of God’s grace even for those who do not stop.

If you are interested in waving and offering coffee, along with mostly silent and some spoken prayers, let Nina or me know. The more often we have folks out there, the more people will begin to look for us, and that’s what relationship with God is like. The more people see God at work, the more they begin to look for the signs and then the more they than can see.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Don't Harvest to the Edge of the Field

Who would expect that a sermon on the Leviticus admonition not to harvest all the way to the edge of the field could give insight on how we work! Well, Maggie’s sermon—and her example about how she “harvested” all the work and did not leave work for a co-worker—certainly convicted me. I know that it is better to share the work and to include others in the process, but sometimes it becomes easier to do it myself.

And if Maggie’s sermonic nudge wasn’t enough, this week on Facebook a Christ Crossman ex pat living in TX posted a quote from Baden Powell: “When you want a thing done, ‘Don’t do it yourself’ is a good motto for Scoutmasters.”  

The harvesting all the way to the edge in terms of work is not intentional, but it does tend to creep up. I remember at one church I served, I recognized that a second worship service was needed. I was given approval by the PTB to begin the earlier service provided that it not cost the church anything extra. I managed to do it. Here at Christ Crossman, as we have moved to include more technology in what we do, especially in worship, I have taken those tasks on myself—not because I wanted to do them all, but because everyone else was already wearing so many hats, I couldn’t bring myself to add work to their plates.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had some advice for God’s chosen, somewhat reluctant leader. Instead of handling all the people’s problems himself, he should appoint leaders to handle most issues, bringing only the most serious for Moses to deal with.

Responding to Maggie’s implied question of how am I not giving someone the opportunity to serve and to work with a purpose, I first say, “Oh, my. Mea culpa.” Forgive my thoughtlessness, O Lord. Forgive my arrogance, O church.

Exodus 18:23

 If you do this and God directs you, then you will be able to endure. And all these people will be able to go back to their homes much happier.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Relentlessly Kind

Like many of us, I was raised with the admonition, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I have been silent in this venue for a bit.  Being silent, however, can sometimes be construed as giving silent agreement to words or actions that may be unjust, harmful, or demeaning. How do we navigate this divisive time in our world when it seems that it is now okay to say anything about anyone whether or not it is true, helpful, or insightful?

This week I saw a video[1] of Lady Gaga who, I am learning, speaks and acts from a deep center of faith and commitment to justice. Along with the Dalai Lama, she talked of how important it is for us to be “relentlessly kind.” Instead of “pointing fingers at where we think the bad guys are,” we need to forget the labels and act out of our common humanity with kindness.  This is not the same thing as allowing injustice or hatred to go unchallenged. It does mean to remember that we are all children of God whether we agree or not. As Willimon writes in Fear of the Other, “The Other may be regarded by us as Other, but is never an Other to God. The Other may be an enemy to the United States, but God is not an enemy to the Other. The Other may hate us or God, but God loves the Other.”[2]

Where and how can I act with relentless kindness today, tomorrow, and every day henceforth?

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

[2] Willimon, William H. (2016-04-05). Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love (Kindle Locations 831-833). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.