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.”
So.Much.in.the.World. What ever happened to going steady?
Just the thought of it makes me smile, recalling Happy Days with the Fonz and Richie Cunningham sorting out teenage life at the malt shop. Going steady was what a boy did with a girl before asking her out or to the prom. Of course, after school you’d meet up to walk home together.
It may be old fashioned, but these days, going steady sounds really good to me. As a newly minted graduate, a cocky new employee, or a brand new Mom, I figured I knew what I needed to and what I didn’t know I’d look up, figure out or cross my fingers and fake it. the problem with all that individual effort and aptitude is it sets us on the course of our lives leaning WAYYY back on the boards when the boat takes us on the ride of our lives. When gale force winds blow, sailing solo may be exhilarating, but how long can you do that before capsizing? Then you’d better hope the rescue boats get there before the sharks do.
All it takes is one other sailor to balance the boat to keep things steady. If I start to tip, he brings things back upright. If I slip and scrabble for a hand hold, he grabs it and pulls me back. Even if I fall overboard, he hauls me back aboard. Even with the wind at our back, the ablest sailors need steadying. Life is full of rough waters, and navigating them in a one person ship is asking for trouble. To be sure, the voice of self-sufficiency that soon sounds of panic, angst and fear will always be more than happy to join you on the low side.
When life makes waves, we need someone else, one who can steady us. Yes, there will be days of smooth sailing that we can navigate alone or even invite others along for the “joy” ride. But let’s not let those days fool us. When the chop keeps coming and the waves get really big, we will need steadying. Very likely, the one doing the steadying won’t be there right next to you but may seem very far away. That’s because the further we tip, the more He rights.
Going steady may be old-fashioned, but I’d like to see it make a come-back. Smooth sailing is just not normative to human life these days, and the force of the waves seems to be growing. Everyone needs steadying. Thank goodness for the One who is steadfast in the storm.
Stimulus–response. An amoeba does it. A Venus fly trap does it. A snake does it. We do it.
A tap on the knee and our leg kicks out, all by itself! Automatically, without consulting the rest of us. Even our brain is surprised. Reflexes are part of our programming designed to protect, support and allow us to move even without our permission. A sign we’re alive! Some things are just too important for a committee decision.
This morning I read, “True worship is a response to God’s glory, the evidence of God’s presence and power displayed in our lives…” (Christy Bailey, Devozine magazine)
What if worship was more than a worship service? More than a good sermon? More than a praise song? More than a few bucks in the offering plate? What if worship was stimulus-response, any time, anywhere? What if, when God got my attention I let my reflexes do the responding. What if…
- When God taps me, I respond.
- When God touches my heart, I cry.
- When God tickles me, I giggle.
- When God calls me, I turn.
- When God whistles, I look up.
- When God calls me to dinner, I come to the table.
- When God shows me a miracle, I stand still.
- When God thinks in me, I write.
- When God writes to me, I correspond.
- When God speaks, I listen.
- When God whispers, I lean in.
- When God invites, I accept.
- When God hugs, I sigh.
- When God kisses, I smile.
- When God takes my hand, I squeeze.
- When God opens a door, I walk through.
- When God says, I do.
- When God does, I join in.
- When God sends a sunrise, I applaud.
- When I see God, I point him out.
If God and I have a reflex relationship, there’s no sense beating myself up about a missed opportunity, any more than I’d chastise my leg for not kicking when the doctor tapped my knee with the hammer. And it’d be pretty silly to kick later hoping to get full credit. I would have to be extra careful about responding from fear or anxiety, though. You know what a haunted house can do to your reflexes.
Imagine, something as simple as ‘stimulus-response’ wired in so God and I can connect 24-7.
At 9:35 am God said, “Good morning” in the dazzling rays through my window.
I said, “Good morning, sunshine.” And there was worship on a Wednesday in my kitchen.