The Divine Vitality That Produces and Restores Life

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Apr 232006

The cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows, and the crimes of humanity, all lie in the one word ‘love’. It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life. –Lydia Maria Child

It’s hard to find anything to question to disagree on with this quote by Child. It goes back to second greatest commandment of Christianity, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As I’ve said before, we could throw out the entire Bible, and just try to follow those to greatest commandments, and not only would we be occupied for our entire life, but the world would be a much better place for everyone.

How much easier it is to face any hardship when someone who loves us is there by our sides.

Choose The Way Of Life

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Apr 182006

Choose the way of life. Choose the way of love. Choose the way of caring…Choose the way of goodness. It’s up to you. It’s your choice. –Leo Buscaglia

I was first introduced to Leo Buscaglia through his book Bus Nine to Paradise. Buscaglia died in 1998. Buscaglia had a wonderful way of calling you to just enjoy life…to look for and find happiness by sharing the small moments with others. His belief was that your happiness and peace in life was a matter of you simply choosing to be happy or loving.

I remember hearing an audio by him, and he talks about taking time to play in the leaves. He relates a story of visiting a Monastery. The monks had given him a gift of some of the wine and cheese they made. He’d also picked up leaves from around the place. He was one of the few people on a long flight returning home, so he spread the leaves in one of the rows, got out the cheese and wine, and invited the flight attendants to share it all with him.

I think as adults we often get so wrapped up in the business of living out our hectic and complicated lives that we forget it is possible to just chose to be happy.

Who Stole Jesus?

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Apr 162006

It is Easter. Last year I wrote a reflection on Holy Week, and decided I wanted to write something this week. The thoughts for this reflection come from the topics that will be discussed today in the Sunday School class I’m leading on the Social Principles of the Methodist Church.

John 20: 10-15 — Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

You see He died day before yesterday. We placed him in a snug comfortable tomb. We put him where we could find him.

Mary was in deep grief and loss. Her future hopes were dashed. Her emotions were raw. Like the other follower’s of Jesus, she was scared and uncertain about the future.

She went to find the remains of her Lord to care for Him as He had cared for her. She knew it was over when He had been pulled from the garden and taken from judge to judge, handled by hateful hands and discarded as just another expendable religious fanatic.

And on this morning of all mornings Mary needed Him to be where He was supposed to be. Where was He? Who took Him, and how could she get him back? Could it be that her need to find Jesus where she left Him hindered her from seeing where He was?

Can our need to keep Jesus where we need him blind us to where Jesus is moving today? Can our need to confine Jesus keep us from participating in the real power of his resurrection? Do we waste our time by looking in a graveyard for a living, dancing, glorified Jesus?

Now let’s not think little of Mary. She represents many that are loyal, vigilant, and faithful to attending a graveyard where Jesus used to be and asking, “Where have they taken him?”

Someone said, “We’ve got Him. He’s over here behind stained glass and in the vaulted ceilings of mighty Gothic cathedrals. He flies in buttresses. He resides in shrines and holy places, in relics and shrouds. He whispers a lot.

“No, we’ve got him!”

Jesus is walking among things political and national. Jesus is the man. Proposition J. He is a plank on our platform. We put him back on the Supreme Court! He is on the banner that goes before us in war…He supports preemptive strikes! He is here with us on the right. We sealed Him up in our positions, our rallies and our mass mailings. We’ve got him, we’ve dressed Him up in prejudice. Made Him hate the poor, the immigrant, and Mickey Mouse. He speaks very little…we talk for Him.?

And I hear a voice from the left, “We really do have Jesus, but we’ve stripped Him of most of His power, His glory and His mystery. We made Jesus another great teacher, you know like Ghandi, or Martin, or Nelson. We made Jesus more manageable. We’ve got Him under control.

It did not dawn on Mary that nobody took Jesus. She did not realize Jesus got up and got out of there Himself. The living Christ does not dwell long where death is the lifestyle. She didn’t know that Jesus had come forth to usher in a new and living way.

Mary couldn’t imagine the full scope of his power and influence, that He could steal victory from his own death-that death had been turned into life.

There are those of us who would prefer a dead Christ in His place to a living one outside of our control. There are those who can only recognize Christ in certain forms and under certain circumstances.

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Thanks And Giving

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Nov 272005

Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home. -Wilbur D. Nesbit

I suppose it is almost obligatory to write something about Thanksgiving around this time. Like many of you, I traveled over the holiday. I drove up to Kings Mountain, NC Tuesday to spend the holiday with my mother and sisters. We returned to Tampa Friday in an effort to miss traffic.

This is a time of reflecting and “giving thanks” for our blessings and one of the things I’m most thankful for is that my immediate family remains intact, and that I still have a home and hometown to which I can return. The parents’ of an old high school friend of mine died some years ago. He now lives in Asheville, NC and his sister in Charlotte. He made a comment a few years ago about how sad he was that for the first time, he really had no reason to go to Kings Mountain for the holidays. Because of the tight relationship I have with my family, and the love for the small town in which I grew up, I thought that was very poignant, and that is not a feeling I want to experience any time soon. So I’m thankful for home and family.

Thursday night, Lay and I went out riding around, and I pointed out so many of the local landmarks that were part of my growing up years. Being that it’s a small town, I could tell him who (at least) used to live in nearly every house in town. Not coming from a small town, he doesn’t have the same frame of reference to understand that, for all the drawbacks of growing up in small town, there are many benefits to knowing nearly everyone in town.

With a twelve-hour drive home, I had ample time to reflect on Thanksgiving and what this time of year means. I personally have had an OK year. There are things in my life that I wish were different, but on the whole, I am very blessed. So it seems almost curmudgeonly to think about what a bad year it’s been from a societal perspective.

The first thing that leaps to mind is the storms of the Gulf Coast and destruction they wrought. Then there is my disagreement with the federal government position on so many social issues from Gay rights to funding for social programs…and there is the on-going conflict in Iraq.

But for all of that, most of us in America have much for which to be thankful, especially if you consider our situations as compared to so many around the world and here too.

So I think the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is the easy part. It’s the “giving” part that is often a little more difficult.

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