Watch

“Therefore, keep watch…” Matthew 24:36 (NIV)

Watch

Watch

This is Rascal.

He is the youngest cat in the Sears home.

Sometimes, well, we wonder about his sanity.

Other times, I think about the family he is with and realize he just fits in nicely.

Rascal likes to watch for water.  He will come running if you turn on the sink.  Truthfully, there is some debate (in our household and apparently among cat owners on the internet) as to whether or not cats can see water.  My personal opinion of Rascal is that he cannot see it.  He hears it.  He occasionally sees the rippling of the water in the sink.  But running water seems to be beyond his vision.  He can poise himself on the side of the sink and get drenched when you turn on the water.  It’s quite a sight actually.  Cat shaking and meowing at something he can’t quite figure out.

It doesn’t stop him from watching for it, though.  Once that faucet is on or the ice dispenser makes a sound, he is all over that sink – waiting and watching.

I know that the Kingdom of God is often out of my line of vision.  I know where it should be – with the people of God, with the poor, with those who are in need of any help.  But at times I just can’t see it.  I might notice the ripples around it but it is just as likely to knock me flat on my behind before I know its there.  I look a lot like my wet cat at those moments – shaking my head and making weird noises about something I quite understand.

But I do watch.  I just pray that I have the attention and tenacity of my cat.  (Without the “distraction disorder” he also has…If something shiny goes by him while he is watching for water, he is off on a new chase!)

Alas, though, I am often distracted as well.  I know that this week, a plugged up shower/tub, a problem with a car and a couple other little things have kept me from probably seeing the great and awesome power of God in the world.

But I will keep watching.  Maybe one day I will do it with feline determination!

Bound

"Friar Folk" Ordination Gift

“Friar Folk” Ordination Gift

These little guys have been hanging around my desk for quite some time now.  “Word” (the little guy with the book), “Sacrament” (yeah, with the wine bottle and bread) and “Order”, (the guy in the dark brown robe and the puzzled look toward the sky) were all given to me on the occasion of my ordination by one of my sponsors, Rev. Judy Fisher.  She is even responsible for naming these Friar Folk for me and explaining that the best thing she could think of for ordering the life of the church was a whole lot of prayer.  That’s probably why I have, through the years, purchased the other two praying Friars, appropriately named “Uh-Oh” and “What-do-I-do-now, God?”

Whenever I look at any of my Friar Folk – and yes, there are more of them – I am reminded that I am connected not only to God through my ordination but to many other sisters and brothers in this “order” we call Elders.  I am bound to them by something more than mere words that I said in my vows. I am bound to them by more than just words that appear on any page.

I am bound by God to be in covenant with these brothers and sisters by the very Word of God.

Our denomination has been going through a whole lot of upheaval lately.  I could describe it in detail but that’s not necessary and it really isn’t helpful.  The fact of the matter is that those of us who are “bound” together find ourselves disagreeing with one another.  Some think one way…some think another.  Some are even willing to call the others “wrong”.  (As an aside, I do not have a Friar Folk name “Wrong” or “Right” for that matter.)

I think about my ordination often  and I think about the problems we as Elders are having with one another.  I am glad I have these three guys and their friends around to remind me that I am bound to others.  I also have a great group of Elders that I am in a Covenant Group with that are always there to remind me of the tie we have.  And yeah, sometimes it even gags us!

I don’t have all the answers to what we are facing together but this much I know…I do not have to be “right” about anything.  And you, my sister or brother, do not have to be “wrong.”

There is something bigger than what we can know, understand and figure out that holds us together.  We are bound…Thank God…we are bound to one another.

Go!

“Baptizing a baby is the most dangerous and reckless act a set of parents can do with a child. If this child is one that you want, you need to stay as far away from the baptismal font as possible.”

I have said these words a couple dozen times in the last twenty some years of being a pastor.  I said them with all seriousness because I truly believe them.  We think as parents that we can look out for our children, do what is best for our children, and perhaps even plan and work towards a good future for our children.

And then, in Baptism, we go and give them to God!

Sure, we promise to do all we can to bring them up in the faith.  (Yet another dangerous act!) Yes, we do this partially out of cultural significance – at least in the church culture.  But sometimes we don’t think completely about what we are doing.  That’s why I make the statement that I do.

Hammock from Nicaragua

Hammock from Nicaragua

This hammock is “resting” in our garage for the winter.  It had spent the summer in our backyard on a stand that I had to move about 37 times when I was mowing the grass.  (Our house does not have a “lawn”.  I don’t do lawns.  I am lucky to say that most of the yard is grass, thank you, very much.)  It did get used quite a bit by different members of the household, but truth be told, I probably used it more than it’s owner – my daughter.

I spent many an afternoon laying in the hammock and just thinking.  I don’t sleep well in it so I rest…and when I rest, I think.  And some of my thoughts were about the very strings that were holding me up off the ground and giving me the rest that I needed at the moment.

Most would not think of a hammock as something associated with the word “Go.”  Stranger still might be the connection between “go,” “hammock” and “baptism.”  But because some words leave a lasting sticky residue in your mouth, I have no trouble at all with the connection.

This hammock from Nicaragua returned with my now senior in high school daughter when she returned from a mission trip in December and January of 2012.  I worried a lot while she was gone.  I marked the passing of her sixteenth birthday without her while she was away.  I prayed a lot while she was gone.  She turned off her phone when she arrived in Managua because she wanted to totally immerse herself in her work and I didn’t here from her directly for over two weeks.  Like I said, I prayed a lot while she was gone.

She did come home and she brought this great “‘restful” gift with her.

But the fact of the matter is that whenever I see that hammock…whenever I am attempting to rest in its web of strings, I remember that my wife and I stood before a congregation, let our District Superintendent sprinkle water on her head and let God claim her as one of God’s own.  Even then I knew how dangerous an act that was but I thought I could control things better.

Alas, God said, “Go.”

And I am blessed because my daughter listened.  Grayer…but blessed.