Shine

On the Monday following Easter weekend, and upon Karl’s insistence, Ted went out for coffee and a talk. The old German parishioner had sensed that Ted was tired and a little discouraged. Perhaps a lot discouraged.

“Zo da message yestaday had been goot, ant hit all da main points. But vat’s up Ted? You sheem down.”

Ted really trusted this old fellow. There had been prayer vigils and many house visitations together. He was tired. He felt that so often the people of the church just needed to be weaned off his supply. Did they spend their own time and quiet moments in the means of Grace? Prayer. Scripture. Heartfelt discussion. And don’t forget simply waiting upon God for His input.

He felt that he would burst if he had to attend one more fellowship meal or social night.

Sometimes he would breeze by a broadcast of one of the American mega-churches on television. They had the numbers, the happy faces, the publishing and recording branches. But you know it was largely ear-tickling and he knew it.

Forget the infatuation with the do’s and dont’s of Christian Living. Let’s just draw closer to Jesus and His Gospels, and receive as if by absorption, His life, love and sense of mission to lost, hurting ones. When might the River flow with Ted’s bunch? And where were the youth? And where were the anxious new faces on any Sunday morning? And where the brokenness in the flock?

Ted really didn’t know where to begin, but he took a stab at it.

…Forty-five minutes later Karl put his withered old carpenter’s hand on the Pastor’s on the coffee table.

“Zo, mein friend. Rezolve dat it ishn’t up to you. No, you are not anybotty’s canal horse here. Ztay close to da Mashta. Shine. In da goot report tank God. In da bat report pray to God. Use da name ov Jesus mit joy and fear, often use it. Ant da people vill draw closer. Ant da people vill pick up da reins. Amen.”

Among the Hogs

prayer in rain

Came to myself

And the sight was not pretty

Came to myself

In a mud-spattered mess.

Father had rendered

My share in the family

Knowing full well

That it scarcely could bless.

Friends had been fast

As I opened the purse-strings

Life had seemed sweet

In the dark rooms of sin

Wine is a mocker

And strong drink is raging

Feeling a king-pin

I sauntered right in.

Now I am working

A stranger’s foul homestead

Feeding his swine

This, a Jew’s strangest thought

Missing my Father

And joys at the Home-Farm

Cursed this condition

My own lusts had wrought.

Might I go back

And appeal now for mercy?

Yes, it seems wiser

Than all else around

Sensing a hope

That defies all description:

Dead might be raised

And the lost might be found.

 

Note: In my estimation the story of the Prodigal Son is the best in all of human invention. But of course it is Jesus’ story and transcends the images of limited, sinful scribes. A young man comes to himself; stops at “Wit’s End Corner” and sees the wreckage. He finds out that his Father/God loves to restore broken things; loves to hear the words “I am so sorry. You were right all along. Please forgive me Father.”

I don’t care where we are in our Christian walk, there is always one more thing for which we must repent. If you visit a church and over the front door see a sign which reads “Got-It-All-Together Assembly”, turn around (repent) and flee that place as if it held the plague. Better you kneel alone in a quiet room with Bible opened. And do real business and see real truth and gain real currency for use in a fallen world reeling from pain, unbelief and self-will…Doug

Like a Dog in the Park

Don’s wife had asked him how the Men’s Study Group had gone. She knew that they had just polished off the final chapter in some topical book. Job, she thought. He had come home week after week for ten weeks, saying very little.

Don was now being called upon to summarize, and he was finding it difficult. Being with the guys was always good, but it seemed that there was never any room in the evening for spontaneity. The role of facilitator was passed around from chapter to chapter, but the underlying agenda was always to get through the assigned pages. His attention had been drifting this time around and he found that he could not accurately report to Becky, although she was truly interested. Some author that everybody said was good, but still second-hand information when compared to the Book of books.

Why did they persist in doing this? Running to some study guide with one man’s spin on things? Considering that in this fashion they were “doing their duty”? Was this truly fellowship? Two weeks ago it had seemed that it was on the tip of Brad’s tongue to let go with some personal problem. Something was eating at him. His face said that he was elsewhere. But there was that chapter to get through. The opportunity was lost.

Don was starting to suspect that the problem went beyond the Men’s Group at Crosspoints. It also put off the main body of the church from real engagement, real burden bearing, real examination of the scriptures. This was nothing like the thrill in his early years of faith when he had gobbled up the wonderfully consistent message of hope and of calling from Genesis to Revelation. Largely in his private time. Light gained which would never be forgotten. A true meeting with God, His thoughts and loving kindness. A true brotherly spirit with Jesus.

The next day at work, Don found himself musing on this predicament. Then suddenly, a recollection of something his father had said. Dad had been quite an exercise enthusiast, but eventually tired of the regimen. He said that he had come to know the total number of ceramic tiles in the bottom of the YMCA pool; the number of cracks in the sidewalk jogging around the downtown park. Then he got hold of a book from the military on aerobic exercise. The writer said that a work-out program should be as spontaneous and varied as the wanderings of a big dog in the park. Watch the animal. He will run uphill; sprint downhill; stop for a sniff at a tree; look overhead at some mocking crows; lope at an easy jog across the large playing field; walk while curiously examining some children at play on the swings; stop and catch his breath.

Could one’s faith walk possibly take on such a fresh approach? Could one’s willingness to go with the flow of the moment open up new opportunities in fellowship, in community, in fulfilling the Great Commission? Ask the Holy Spirit for refreshment, for guidance, for Jesus in the midst?

Something was wrong. He would have to take the risk and tell the guys.

Interstate

Ten-thirty PM and Rick was tired as he rolled into the gaudy and glaring service centre. Roads here in Indiana were very well kept and the “bears” didn’t seem to make a nuisance of themselves. Cruisers in these parts usually meant help and not harassment. Couldn’t say the same for the Home State.

Left her idling and stepped down for the prudent walk-about. Some funny noises from the back left had him a little concerned.

Concerned! That was an under-statement these days. A blizzard and a white-out had put him in the ditch up in Wisconsin six weeks ago. Insurance adjustment on the damage proved a real battle of second-guessing and pencil-sharpening. That didn’t mean that the payments had stopped; that the Boss or Dispatcher had shown any significant compassion or patience. And Rachel was showing the signs of stress while trying valiantly to bring in some sunshine.

He would have to phone her inside before taking some dinner. Wedding anniversary was only 3 days away. He just had to be home. There was one more leg and shipment on the inbound. Hopefully no complications or last minute changes. Last year he had been deep in the South picking up a load of fruit and had missed their day.

Now circuiting the truck with tire iron and checking inflation. He didn’t realize that he had picked the darkest corner of the lot. Probably just tended away from the glare.

Suddenly a tap on the shoulder from behind, and unexpected words “Hi Fella”. He whirled around and almost unintentionally swung out with his piece of steel. But NO…it was just a young girl in a short red skirt with a questionable smile on her face.

The smile got larger and she pointed over to three vans to the rear and right of his trailer about ninety feet. Two had doors closed but interior lights on. The third was dark. She pointed over with her thumb to that third one and muttered “Wanna play?”

Rick just stood there mute with a sense of the muscles in his face tightening and a lump in his throat. It seemed that he was thinking much too long about this. “Things have been rough Buddy. Who would know?”

And then one of the 2 occupied vans opened and a big man stumbled out giggling in a way that would certainly embarrass him in a fitter frame of mind.

Rick finally spoke. “No little girl…too much of the good back at home. But then I don’t suppose you know much about home. I’m sorry for that. Do you know that I just about clocked you with this piece of steel?”

Ralph Cranston

Today while pumping gas very early in the morning, Hilary and I watched a bus driver wait at the corner through an entire street light exchange while an intending passenger ran to catch up. Deathly cold. The runner poorly dressed for the weather. Hoping not to have to wait another 30 minutes for the next ride. Chalk one up for the driver!

It got me thinking about our transit drivers. For many years I had to take the bus. I watched these men and women perform many roles as goodwill ambassadors for the City, patient listeners to the hurting and extra eyes and helps for the police. Their role is much more than the advertised standard.

Next in my stream of consciuosness was an image of Jackie Gleason playing the TV comedy role of Ralph Cranston in the pioneer series “The Honeymooners”. He portrayed a City bus driver. Heavy, grumpy, seemingly impatient, but underneath carrying a heart of gold toward his wife Alice and apartment neighbours Ed and Trixie Norton.

Once in a short radio biography I learned something significant about Gleason. His Father skipped town and the family. Consequently, in many respects young Jackie took up the fatherly role in a struggling family. Next came the music and then the television and acting.

It was insisted by Gleason that the series would portray many simple examples of conflict, but that no episode would ever conclude without reconciliation, forgiveness, a hug and “Alice, you’re the greatest”. This was Jackie’s testimonial to the riches of marriage and the wisdom of ‘never letting the sun go down on your wrath’.

Bravo, “Ralphie Baby”.

*Take a Hike!

No let me change that. Take a trip. The Way. Through mountains, meditation, nationalities, naturalities, moments and memories. See how a Father and Son remain, and how others might just join the family:

One of the best films I have ever experienced about the Human Family under God and His ubiquitous Cross. I didn’t watch it. I EXPERIENCED IT. Ashes, grasses, mountain passes, peoples, marches, steeples, nothingness, everything, loyalties, incense, repentance, Providence and coastal GLORY.

Forty days for the shooting of this film. Often a Biblical time-frame for the processing of great revelation!

Do yourself a favour…very early in 2014.

(* lose your self-importance and join in.)

Petition to One Loved and Doubting

he will come across the impossible to you

You have seen so much of the twisted charismatic that now you can hardly bear to hear the name Jesus. Pity, that imbalance, presumption and wishful thinking seen in others should cause you to doubt the Greatest Friend and Hope.

If only you could separate Him from the misrepresentation and confusion. You have told me that you will not pour yourself into the mould and terms of reference of others who claim the one Way, the one Truth, the one Life. Rather you expect Him to provide you with your own revelation. That is quite proper Friend. Only move yourself to ASK. You must ask, seek, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

You say that you have heard so much Bible talk and insistence upon signs and wonders and the imminent Second Coming, that the Good Book is now a closed book.

Do this for me, would you? For you, most importantly. Allow the historian and physician Luke to speak into your life. Boldly and expectantly read his Gospel and the Acts of Apostles. For the time being, just Luke. As you progress, take whatever time seems right and manageable. Pray in all sincerity for some personal revelation and threshold into the Greatest Story Ever Told. You will not be left disappointed. You will be changed. You will see light cast upon one of the greatest promises ever recorded in the English language:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37: 4 )

But there must also be a warning, and I give it in the way of a brief parable:

A peasant was talking over the back fence to his neighbour, “Wife and I were at market yesterday and saw her cousin from two shires over. He said that he had enjoyed a brief visit with the King, and it had not been all that bad. We talked this over on our way home. She really wants this. I guess I could cooperate…But he knows where I live, and presently I am very busy with the crops and all. He will have to come here wearing something appropriate to meet me in my field, and share my lunch at regular hour. If he is really all that good he will oblige, like any other decent neighbour.”

The King never came.

Words of Sir Lionel Luckhoo*

A BLADE OF GRASS

Gather all the scientists of the world and ask them to produce one single blade of grass. They could not. To go through a garden to see flowers in full bloom is to be conscious of the existence and the presence of God. The feel of the presence is something tangible and real. It is not blind acceptance, but man as a being with perception would know, if he does not blind himself, that there is God. Let me put it this way. Man with all the progress he has made deems and regards himself as super, omniscient, and says that everything follows a natural sequences. “There is no God,” he is sometimes emboldened to say, yet place that same man away from the material, in a garden, a field, on top of a mountain or at sea, place him by himself, permit him to know himself and he will admit a consciousness of the Presence of the Omnipotent.

KAIETEUR

In the land of Guyana, there is a fall called Kaieteur, five times the height of Niagara. The waters from the Potaro River are slow moving but they gather momentum as they reach the brink of the fall and then they billow out with the foam moving out reluctantly into outer space while the water tumbles over in a suicidal leap. The sun, striking the sprays, the droplets of water, produces a series of vivid owe-inspiring and inspiring rainbows. To stand on the lip of this fall with millions of gallons of water pouring vertically for a drop of more than 800 feet is a sight of supreme grandeur. To me, it places man in his correct perspective, an insignificant, pigmy-like creature by the side of nature’s tremendous creation. It brings home to man the presence and the feel that there is a God and that we are merely tiny creatures who sometimes assume for ourselves the toga of being Man-Almighty. I wish it were possible for all the world to go and witness Kaieteur. The Spiritual aeration is tremendous. Beyond words. It is scenes like this which compel us to feel and to accept.

*Taken from Wikipedia
Luckhoo’s grandfather, Moses Luckhoo, was one of many Indians brought to Guyana as indentured labourers in the sugar cane industry in the mid-19th century. In 1899 Sir Lionel’s father, Edward Alfred Luckhoo, became the first Indian solicitor of Guyana.

Luckhoo was born in New Amsterdam, British Guiana, and was one of three sons and two daughters born into a prominent family of lawyers. His mother was Evelyn Maude Mungal-Singh, and his sisters were Ena Luckhoo and Renee Luckhoo. His two brothers, Edward Victor Luckhoo and Claude Lloyd Luckhoo, became Queen’s Counsels.

He was educated at Queen’s College, Georgetown, Guyana. Then he began studying medicine at St. Thomas’ Hospital in England but quickly felt squeamish about surgical procedures. He shifted over to legal studies and was called to the English bar in the Middle Temple in 1940. At the same time that Allied troops were evacuating from Dunkirk in World War II, Luckhoo left England for his homeland. He entered into a solicitor’s practice with one of his brothers in the firm Luckhoo and Luckhoo.

He maintained his private legal practice spanning most of the years from 1940 to 1985, and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1954. His reputation earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of Records (1990) where he is dubbed the world’s “most successful lawyer”. The record is for obtaining as a defence trial lawyer 245 successive murder acquittals. In a few instances his clients were found guilty in jury trials, but were acquitted in appeal cases.

Bad Samaritan Law

Nothing says that I

Must help that man

Stuck in the snow

Staunch his bleeding, call a cab

Not a damn law, no!

 

If I choose to render help

And lean on common sense

And things run foul

And harm still comes

Will I have good defense?

 

Better leave the boy

I think, to pine

And thirst and fail

I can’t be sued or spanked or charged

Or find myself in Jail.

 

But do I only answer

To that cop and court downtown?

Or do the words of

Matthew twenty-five

Still bring me down?

Renal Failure

Took a session
Again this morning
Twice weekly.
Have to do it, they say
Or I die
Used to think I was made
Of pretty good stuff.
Shakes you up to realize
All is not well inside
And critically so.
Really has put a kink in my life.
But I put in the time
Let my mind wander
To other topics
Or just “veg”.
Read a little something.
Seems to help and refresh
In a strange sort of way.
Sometimes even get to meet
An interesting new face.
And it doesn’t go on for ever
Thankfully
See, it’s already time to wrap up.
Just let a few of these people
Go on ahead of me
And then I’ll be at the front door…
“Oh Father Evans
Good to see you
Really enjoyed your homily
This morning.”
(Shake the bloke’s hand.
Down the steps and home safe.
Until next time
St. Anthony’s.)