Monthly Archives: July 2018

Fragments

“When they were satisfied, Jesus told the disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.'”  – John 6:12  NRSV

Communion Bread

Communion Bread – Before Worship.  Photo: TLClark.

 

Five loaves and two fish.  About five thousand ate as much as they wanted.  All four gospel accounts* agree there were twelve baskets full of left-overs.

But only in the Gospel according to John does Jesus direct the disciples to gather the fragments so none will be lost.

 

Fragments.  The parts we call left over.  Extra bits we try to hide.  Pieces we are tempted to toss out.  “Gather them up,” Jesus says.  Gather up the all the parts of your life that make you you.  Not just the happy, pleasing, joyful fragments.  Gather up the broken, the hurting, the fragile.  Not to discard or to be rid of.  But to let Jesus mend or heal or restore or purify.  Jesus wants all of it.  Jesus wants all of you.  For you are valued more than you can imagine – at least 12 times more!

So none will be lost.  No one.  Not you.  Not me.  Not friend, family, neighbor, stranger, enemy.  Jesus intends that not a single, solitary soul be lost.

“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. …”  – John 10:16 NRSV

Jesus has more than one fold!  Jesus’ followers are not all alike.  Some call on Jesus by another name.  God’s people come in an amazing array of endless variety.  Look at the crowd on the hillside:  5000 people who were each there for their own reasons.  Sinners and saints, skeptics and believers.  ALL were fed.  None are to be lost.

*The Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle story told by all four gospel writers.  See Matthew 14:31-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-14.

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Think on These Things

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   – Philippians 4:8 NRSV

It’s been one of those weeks – months actually – where all the news is bad or sad,  discouraging or disheartening.  Probably not all the news, but it has felt that way.  I could make an extensive list.  But I won’t.  Some stories are widely known.  Some are not mine to tell.

As central Iowans dealt with flash floods three weeks ago and tornadoes three days ago, the wisdom of Mister Rogers ran through my mind:  “Look for the helpers.”  Notice the neighbors, the friends, and the strangers who show up to lend a hand hauling debris, who bring food and water, who share tears and prayers.  Agents of God’s steadfast love and mercy (whether they know it or not), they are out there everywhere.

Awake in the night, lamenting over the messiness and brokenness in the ordinary lives of people I know and love, the words of Philippians floated through my mind:  “whatsoever things are true … pure … honest … just … lovely … of good report … think on these things” (the King James Version memorized in my childhood).  “Take account of these” a footnote in the New Revised Standard Version reads.  (Compare different English translations here: Phil. 4:8.)

Holy One, when the news seems all bad all the time, help me look for the helpers.  Help me focus on you and your word.  Amen.

 

Blog School Days 4-7

Day 4:  Identify Your Audience

Help, please!

Day 5:  Love Your Theme

The “theme” is the basic look of the blog/website.  WordPress has hundreds to choose from – different fonts for text, different layouts for pictures, more different options than I can wrap my head around.  I’ve spent time trying out different themes.  And have settled back on the one I chose when I started.  Maybe I’m just boring.

Day 6:  Make an irresistible “About” Page

Somewhere along the way of playing with themes, I managed to lose my “About” page.  While poking around for this assignment I found it, restored it, and edited it.  It’s still not irresistible.  Maybe I’ll come back to it sooner rather than later.

Day 7:  Add a Custom Header Image

I changed my header image just a few hours before getting the assignment!  I think it’s set up to randomly display a series of photos I took at Missouri Botanical Gardens five or more years ago.  But I have no idea how often the image will change – assuming it does change.  At any rate you’ll see a portion of a flower!

Where God Lives

“You are awesome, O God, in Your holy places.”  – Psalm 68:36 JPS

Sitting on the chancel steps with the children, I asked them about where they live – in a house or an apartment or somewhere else?  There were a few giggles; Gracie, age 3, told me she lives in her house with her brother and mom and dad.  Her grandparents live on a farm in a house – not in the barn.

We noted some people live in tents and some don’t have homes.  We talked about how Joppa builds Tiny Homes for the homeless.  (The kids at Ankeny UCC take up a weekly coin collection during the offertory; in July this year it is designated for Joppa.)

We named places where some of God’s other creatures live:  nests (birds), hives (bees), dens (bears), shells (snails).  One child pointed out that rabbits just dig a hole in the ground.

Then I wondered where God lives.  “In heaven” was the first quick reply.  “Up in the clouds” was the next answer.  A third child just gave me a puzzled look.  Gracie whispered “in my heart.”

Jesus lives with us, in our hearts.  That means God is with us wherever we are.  And wherever we are, we are with God.

Mom Doc

Thinking of you.

Smart.  Kind.  Compassionate.

Loving your patients through their pregnancies.

Welcoming every newborn with tears of your own.

Wanting what is best for mom and baby.

Willing to work – and always working – to sharpen your skills.

Praying for you.

Courage.  Wisdom.  Strength.

May your answers bring healing.

Third Assignment

The assignment on day 3 of Blogging University is to “Visit the Neighbors.”  In other words, I am supposed to go snooping around the blogosphere to find a blogger (or five) to follow.

Finding a new – at least new to you – blog is a simple search.  Simple, that it, if you can figure out what keyword to use.  There are more possibilities than the day is long: faith, Christianity, religion, mathematics, clergywomen, quilting.  More entries show up than you can imagine.  And before you know it you’ve wasted an hour or found a new source of inspiration.