A love like no other
Sometimes there is a friend, early on, say, in high school, who writes in your yearbook.
Pages and pages, continued here and then over there, with a message that defies time and space.
Dispensing with the cursory, superficial gibberish, this friend heads straight for the truth with words so profound that, at 17 years old, you actually transcribe them so you can call on them again and again. Each time you do, they speak something new.
They planted a seed in me then, and now they reverberate through the ages. It’s as if Jesus Himself spoke to me through this friend.
Today, I have a special prayer for you: I hope that you find fulfillment, and that you are at peace with yourself and God. Because that is what I think is most important, what gives meaning and direction. His love is so great, Dear One, that the very thought of someone who loves me that much, in spite of the cursory lip service and lack of time I give Him makes me cry almost in shame and in joy.
There are so many pressures. After all, you will only be happy if you get straight A’s, hit .400, play at every game, go to every party, attend every Prom, lose 10 pounds, get accepted to five colleges, win a scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, and more or less win honor and glory in every endeavor.
But you don’t have to. Even if you hit .155 or sit in McDonald’s on Homecoming night, or fail every class, God loves you and is proud of you anyway. And that alone is enough to give you courage to stay up an extra hour studying, or keep running for office, or whatever. Someone who loves you so totally deserves never to be let down.
All of my love.
Imagine. A love like this
Come hungry. Really? It seems everyone is stuffed to the gills these days. Whoever would want a Thanksgiving turkey?
I had a delicious and delightful lunch with old high school friends this week. It was coordinated by a friend who is a Muslim, whose family emigrated here from Pakistan in 1958. (I didn’t know this about her when we were in high school, but now I do.) I had contacted her about “things Muslim” in my sports writing about Ramadan and the World Cup athletes and more recently about quotes I heard bandied about in anti-Muslim rhetoric. What I have learned about me is, I do better when I “seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”
This was alive and well among these friends, nerds all, of a sort: male and female, married and not, widowed and not, children and none. Employed, retired, stay at home, volunteer. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, agnostic … quite diverse, except for our ages. We were once classmates and, now take an interest in what was important and meaningful to the other. Conversation is lively and relationship comes alive. Current events are front and center, honesty and forthrightness abounding. I just love these people. I was hungry for their company.
Afterward, I joined my Muslim friend at a gathering of community leaders, religious leaders and citizens in Montgomery County where I felt more companionship than I sometimes feel among “my own kind” these days. As some leading Christians claim that God put Donald Trump in office, the dissension in our own ranks is palpable. I keep asking, how could people following the same Lord be headed in such different directions?
Then I see this Amazon commercial and think, that is simply genius. How can anyone disagree with that? Yet, one commenter did, saying, “Supporting magical thinking, regardless of what you call your imaginary friend, is still harmful to humanity and the planet at large. Theism is a form of mental illness that needs treatment … cult… addict … delusion,” Seventy people gave her the thumbs up. The originator of the post replied frankly but politely and got many more thumbs ups. Still, I am shocked at this viewpoint I did not know even existed, let alone had a healthy following. Where did this distrust and hatred of God come from?
These times have been allowed by God (if we believe in a sovereign God). I don’t think He wanted this for us, but this is what we have chosen for ourselves. As Dusty Baker, manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, said (and I heard prophetically) about removing his starting pitcher from a game, “I didn’t take him out. He took himself out.”
We are a people who hunger and thirst for God, yet we come to the table so full we don’t want Thanksgiving. God will not force feed us, and He would have every right to excuse us. But, in His great mercy, He invites us to sit and eat among those who disagree and with those who are disagreeable to teach us how to pitch in such a way that we can go the whole 9 innings, and one day pitch the perfect game that He catches.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wendy, the Kinesthetic Christian
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Turning water to scotch
So what if Jesus turned water to wine. I turn water to coffee every morning!
Okay. Irreverent, I know. But true confession. That’s what I was thinking this morning as I scooped that delightfully fragrant, just ground lusciousness, into the filter and then poured the clear fresh water into the reservoir from my pitcher. Flip a switch and a heavenly smelling brew filters into my pot. What’s so miraculous about that?
Nothing. Except maybe that I am thinking about Jesus’ miracles and the washing of baptismal waters when I am making my morning coffee. Those poor grounds are baptized every morning. By my hands. Then I drink up what gives me pleasure and energy for the start of my day. I can even return to the pot for my refill.
I have done this hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. Always the same, or at least always the same proportions. Grind. Measure. Pour. Drink. I make a bit more now that my kids are joining me for a cup or two. If company is coming, I may even need to make a second pot. For me, coffee spells welcome. Come sit a spell.
But it better be bold. Who has time for this wimpy “blond” brew? Well, except if you want to eek just a bit more coffee – one more cup – from that pot that has run dry. No sense making a whole ‘nother pot. We make what my mom first termed “Scotch.” This is a small second batch, weaker than the first but serviceable, made by pouring a reduced volume of water through the already spent grounds. There’s still some zing to them; we just make them good to the last drop.
“Have you made scotch yet, Mom?!” rings out from my kids when the hour is late and they still have some studying to do. But we humans tend to stretch things a bit.
Christ didn’t need to. The baptism He offers is once for all. It never loses its power, and doesn’t need to be repeated. My poor imitation with the coffee has to happen again and again. Every morning and some days more than once. God knows I need the reminder… I did this for you… but rejuvenation is new everyday.
Jesus did not turn water to scotch. He turned water into the very best wine. And then, I imagine, He joined everyone on the dance floor. Because after dinner coffee would be way too tame for what He came to celebrate.