Thursday, May 17, 2018
When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
Go where your best prayers take you. –Frederick Buechner, writer
Everything is ready for Sunday when our next class of confirmands will stand before God and our church family and declare, for themselves, their faith and belief in Jesus Christ. The Bibles have been inscribed. The order of service is in the bulletin. The certificates are printed. The cakes have been ordered and the decorations for Gage Hall are in my office. That just leaves one last thing … I always write a little personal note to each kiddo for them to find in their Bible.
These take me some time. I journey back in my memories over the past nine months (or longer in some cases) and relive the activities, the stresses, the joys and the laughter that we have shared. And, of course, I always shed a tear or two (or three) as I write each one. My work in this class is done but, like a mother watching her kids leave home, my heart aches just a little bit.
I always pray over each young person and their journey with Christ. Hopefully I will continue to be a part of that journey, but in some cases that doesn’t happen and I know that this will be the end of my time with them. And I pray that they have understood the seeds that I have attempted to plant enough, at least, that when they receive that little shove from the Holy Spirit they will recognize it as such and act.
I have to tell you, one of the reasons I really enjoy teaching these kids is because they help me to keep my faith fresh and renewed. A spade is a spade and they don’t mind telling you exactly that. They haven’t learned, yet, to be wary and tempered in their relationships with each other. They are as they are, in all of their goods and bads.
This class is on the mountaintop right now. They are excited and ready to change the world! They’re struggling a little bit with ‘the rules’ and the religion of faith. They understand Methodists versus Lutherans versus Catholics and that we all believe in the same God and in Jesus Christ, but they’re a little discombulated in all of our “stupid rules.”
I have been challenged many times over this year to explain where “Jesus said” or where “the Bible says”… And in many of those cases I cannot. It doesn’t say that. He didn’t say that.
The religion of our faith is the man-made system we humans have put in place to, hopefully, make our faith-walk a little easier. But sometimes, as has been pointed out to me by these young ‘uns, our rules don’t make much sense and really have very little to do with building a relationship with Christ.
The rules, the religion, are those things that make us Catholic versus Methodist versus Lutheran versus Jewish. Jesus gave us two rules: love God first and then love each other. For the kids, those two things should define everything else and you don’t need 613 rules to live by (Jewish religion), or a Book of Discipline (Methodist).
For them, if you have a decision to make you ask the question, “Does it help us love God?” And if it passes that test then, “Does it help us to love one another?”
Believe me, these kids keep it real for me.
And Max Lucado says it really well today…
The Beggar and the Bread by Max Lucado
A beggar came and sat before me. “I want bread,” he said.
“How wise you are,” I assured him. “Bread is what you need. And you have come to the right bakery.” So I pulled my cookbook down from my shelf and began to tell him all I knew about bread.
I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even me as I cited the measurements and recipe. When I looked up, I was surprised to see he wasn’t smiling. “I just want bread,” he said.
“How wise you are.” I applauded his choice. “Follow me, and I’ll show you our bakery.” Down the hallowed halls I guided him, pausing to point out the rooms where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked.
“No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best part,” I proclaimed as I pushed open two swinging doors. “This is our room of inspiration.” I knew he was moved as we stepped into the auditorium full of stained-glass windows.
The beggar didn’t speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his shoulder, I whispered, “It overwhelms me as well.” I then leaped to the podium and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. “People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.”
By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. I knew what he wanted. “Would you like to hear me?” “
No,” he said, “but I would like some bread.”
“How wise you are,” I replied. And I led him to the front door of the bakery. “What I have to say next is very important,” I told him as we stood outside. “Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don’t serve the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread,” I warned, “but it’s not according to the book.”
The beggar turned and began walking away. “Don’t you want bread?” I asked him.
He stopped, looked back at me, and shrugged, “I guess I lost my appetite.”
I shook my head and returned to my office. “What a shame,” I said to myself. “The world just isn’t hungry for true bread anymore.”
I don’t know what is more incredible: that God packages the bread of life in the wrapper of a country carpenter or that he gives us the keys to the delivery truck. Both moves seem pretty risky. The carpenter did his part, however. And who knows — we may just learn to do ours.
From A Gentle Thunder
These kids love to play various versions of hide and seek. They make up the rules as they start but, as I watch from a good safe distance, I see that there really are just two: there is a home-base you must reach and if you are tagged before you get there you are out. (Hasn’t changed much since I was their age except that I might hear the word ‘zombie’ as they are chasing each other).
But here’s what I have observed…no one is left out. The group makes certain that everyone is involved and all are participating to the best of their ability. If one begins to drop behind, the game is stopped until they can all go again (to the point I was afraid the balcony on our cabin at Mahoney might come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho).
As one of the kids said to me when I suggested a break might be in order, “It’s all for one and one for all.”
I believe that’s somewhere in the Bible and I’m really certain Jesus said that.
Make it a GREAT day!