Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dogs and God

Sometimes, animals come into shelters profoundly traumatized. They are victims of human mistreatment, or bad circumstances, or both. They have not been loved, or touched. Some animals used in labs have never been outside, or touched the grass. Fighting dogs have been pitted against each other, beaten, forced to rape or be raped, and rarely hear an unconditional word of love or acceptance. Mill animals are isolated, never interacted with and continuously bred...

So they come to the shelters--the abused, the ignored, the conditionally loved, the hurt. Dogs especially wear their emotions on their proverbial sleeves, their faces and bodies reflecting the fear they feel. Cats retreat into inaction or anger, or are over the top in their reactions, making them tough to handle.

Some, amazingly, come around quickly. They realize that their world has improved and the people in it care about them for who they are now. They respond with love, amazing their rescuers with the ability to love in spite of what has happened to them.

Others take longer. The wounds are deeper, or their intrinsic make up makes it harder for them to learn to trust humans again. They hold back, afraid that their world will revert to the darkness they had known for most of their lives.

It so reminds me of people, with their spiritual needs and wounds. We want to trust. We want to love, but we are afraid. We are afraid of the hurt that we could encounter by risking a connection. We are not trusting the intentions of those around us,. In spite of everything we know, we don't trust God and His love. We don't see God having our best in His plans, or see the love of the Cross. Our pain gets in the way.

When an animal at the shelter, after lots of unconditional attention, faithfulness to meeting needs, and just plain love, gets it, and you see the fear recede and the genuine character of the pet come forth, it always is rewarding.

It reminds this Christian of what happens to the soul that trusts and yields to God....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In It But NOT Of It

Here it is, in a nut shell, credit to John Meunier---from this article in the New York Times about gay marriage and the United Methodist Church. Check this highlighted quote:

Randall Miller, assistant professor of ethics at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, is chairman of the commission that organizes the United Methodists’ quadrennial General Conference in April, when bishops and other delegates from around the world will gather in Florida to consider proposed changes to church doctrine, including eliminating the condemnations of homosexuality.

“The United Methodist Church is a great bellwether of where opinions are going in the general society on the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion,” said Mr. Miller, who will also lead the Northern California delegation to the conference. “Moving the United Methodist Church step by step, and removing these barriers, is a greater step in making the larger society more inclusive.”

A bellwether of society?
How about being in the world but not of it?
How about a living sacrifice?
How about being set apart?
If the church is just like everything else in society, what good is it?
Not very salty.

My God is NOT mushy. Neither is His doctrine. Sorry, still one of those stubborn evangelicals.

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Well today is Ash Wednesday--the beginning of Lent, the season that draws the Christian community towards Easter. I have not thought very much about sin for a while--I have been more into the acceptance and love of God. I need very little help to find myself missing the mark, although I immediately confessed to sloth on the confession sheet at church tonight.

It has been a while since I have blogged here--I am not sure why. In general I am taking less time blogging. Some of that is that old devil Facebook and some of that is just not taking time to seek out time on line (and frankly some of it is my old and busted keyboard--the lack of "h" and "g" is a real pain!). I have recommitted myself to the doctrine of getting at least one thing done every day. This means getting a better handle on sleep habits and getting up in the morning. I think that I need to be up by 0900, and if that means that I find some stupid brainless thing to do, then so be it. In addition, I now have more time commitments. Wayside, KCPP, a Monday class for two more weeks, CR.... I have thought about this and if I ever had a regular scheduled job I would have to get used to not being quite so flexible.

One thing I have been thinking about is the parallel between God's grace and what happens with some animals at Wayside Waifs and other shelters/rescues. Very often the animals are not lovable, but undergo a does that transformation come about? I want to develop that idea at some point.

Enjoy the liturgical purple, folks!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Well, I went to a funeral tonight at the church I used to attend.

Everyone was older. Really. Now how did that happen? (Insert crazed laughter here.)

It was pretty hard to tell how the church was doing from the crowd that was there since it included relations of the deceased. There were people there who wanted me back. I wondered again if that was where I was supposed to be.

In some ways I see it, but in others I don't. When you are single it is hard to fit in a small church unless you are young. I know also I would miss the richness of the worship experience that the big church gives me. Pastor Eric is an excellent preacher--sometimes I ache for people like him--people who are of obvious talent but don't seem to be rewarded for their labors.

At least on earth. After all, weren't we reminding ourselves that it is not all about what happens here?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Advent Over--Keep Christmas All Year

Advent is over. The time of anticipation of the Incarnation has passed and the Savior has come.

Our sermon this Christmas eve was challenging the idea of putting away Christmas. Instead of putting away the powerful Incarnational God, embrace Him all year.

Pastor Hamilton told several stories, but my favorite was this one, about Healing House. About how Bobbi Jo found the transforming power of God, and upon release from prison just could not find a good spot to land to make the transition from criminal to citizen. At about that time, she came into an inheritance, and used it to buy and rehab an old building in the Gladstone/NE area of KCMO. Since that modest beginning, over 6 buildings are involved, and about 120 women and 30 men are ministered to in the name of Christ.
They do not forget their roots, or from where they have come: On holidays, like Christmas and Easter, they put together little ditty bags of essentials and give them to people still poor and out on the streets. Christmas 2010, a group were out doing this, driving one of the ministries full size vans around to various places known to be gathering areas for the homeless and down and out. After a bit, they needed gas and stopped at a c-store to get it. While they were fueling up, a KCPD patrol car stopped nearby. One cop got out to see what was what with this van load of mostly women running around during the holiday. When he got near the van, he looked inside, and his eyes widened. "You," he said, pointing at one woman, "We thought you were dead!" He looked some more: "And you too. We thought you were dead too!" He went back to the police car and got his partner: "You have to see this!" The two officers marveled at the transformations before them that day.
You see, when we become Christians we become new. The old has gone, the new has come! said Paul in Corinthians. This is not the kind of God we put in a box and take out only once or twice a year now is it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Wish

I was just reading my friend John's latest blog post about Christmas--he talked about not fretting quite so much over traditions and letting togetherness be the major theme of the holiday celebration. Activities together like dinner, and seeing a movie--spending time as a family together after all the razzle dazzle is done.
Here is my Christmas wish: that families be conscious of those who for whatever reason are not able to be with their families, whether the distance is physical or from family dysfunction. Yes, I know that Christmas is a big family holiday, and it is important to spend time together as a family, but if a family knows a single who will be alone, why not make that person a part of your celebration? Christmas day can be a very long day if you are alone, what with everything closed. After the family phone call, which may or may not be rewarding, that makes 15 hours and 30 minutes of the wake time of December 25 to deal with.
Trust me, that is a long time.