Monthly Archives: February 2019

Another Snowy Sunday

It snowed nine or ten inches between 9 p.m. Saturday and mid-day Sunday.

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Since snow-covered, slippery roads have veto power over (nearly) every voluntary activity, my husband and I missed gathering with other Christians to worship God for the second week in a row.  We’re the type that rarely miss church.  Missing two Sundays in a row is highly uncharacteristic, nearly unthinkable!  God doesn’t mind; but it makes my week feel odd.

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Our driveway Sunday morning after a bit of shoveling on my part an hour or so earlier; before the professionals arrived.

A week ago we held our own little worship service.  We sang a few songs from Taizé, read John’s favorite scripture (Matthew 6:25-31), prayed, and sang some more.

This Sunday we listened to Iowa Public Radio and worked on a puzzle while waiting for our out-of-town weekend guests.  It had just begun snowing when they headed to the hotel late Saturday; we were hoping they’d safely return to our home Sunday.  (They did.)

Whether heading to church or staying home, It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders has become one of my must-listen-to Sunday programs.  Sam and his guests help me hear the week’s news from a perspective outside my every day experience.  It has the feel of chatting with friends and leaves me feeling both encouraged and challenged (much like a good sermon).  I can’t tell you what I heard yesterday but I’m sure it fed my spirit (also like a good sermon).

Be safe, friends, wherever you are whether or not there’s snow on the ground.  And may you hear something today that feeds your spirit.

Teressa

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Tuesday Photo Challenge: Crawl

My imagination must have been napping when I read Frank’s photo challenge earlier this week.  Nothing came to mind for the prompt “crawl.”  He had a photo of a snake. Since I’m not a fan of snakes, I knew I wouldn’t go that direction!

An idea crept up on me earlier today.  Crawling through photo file folders, I found a few not-so-creepy-crawlies on flowers.  Bugs don’t creep me out like snakes do.  And most of the bugs that have appeared in my pictures fly as well as crawl.

Here are three photos of Japanese beetles on flowers and one image of damage done.  All were taken in early July 2011 when the beetles invaded our flower beds, voraciously eating their way through foliage.

IMG_1426One Japanese beetle crawling on a single zinnia doesn’t look too destructive.

IMG_1474One cosmos with seven – or more – Japanese beetles doing their thing.

IMG_1488Japanese beetles are certainly crawling all over the marigolds, but are they feasting?

Zinnia foliageShredded leaves tell the tale of the beetles’ visit.

Love Never Ends

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Love never ends.   – 1 Corinthians 13:8a NRSV

I suspect, but am not certain, that every time I’ve read 1 Corinthians 13 at a wedding I’ve skipped from the “love never ends” of verse 8 to the “and now faith, hope and love abide” of verse 13.

At the same time I teach that we should wonder what a preacher is leaving out when omitting part of the text.

If you’re curious, here it is:

Love never ends.  But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.  Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.   – 1 Corinthians 13:8-1 NRSV

Love – God’s love, the love we see most fully in the face of Jesus – Love makes all things complete.  As we mature in love, we become more whole.  As we grow in love’s ways, we more clearly reflect the One in whose image we are created.

Here’s the thing:  we need one another to get there.  Love does not flourish in isolation.  Love thrives in relationship – with God, with friend/family/neighbor/stranger, with creation.  We each know in part; we need each other to begin to know in whole.

In the simplicity and the complexity of living with one another on this planet we call home, may you know Love and be an expression of Love.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV

Love does not … Love does …

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Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – 1 Corinthians 13:5b-8a  NRSV

Love insists that every way be loving.  A person acting with love – living love’s way – will not insist on his or her own way.  Usually.  Particularly when the other options available are expressions of love.  But sometimes love means speaking up or speaking out or speaking against a way that is not loving.

Love does not believe all things.  Especially if we are talking about believing everything you hear or everything you read.  Real love believes the best about another, looks for the good, seeks out the inspiring.  True love harbors doubts about second-hand stories and rumors that in any way disparage another; love grieves when such stories and rumors are accurate.

Even if we are talking about believing as giving our heart to and orienting our lives toward, then love still does not believe all things.  Love believes – sets its heart on and orients its life toward – all things life giving.

When one is treated without love in the name of love – say, being beaten or belittled or isolated or controlled – love does not bear it or endure it or simply hope for better.  Love leaves.

When you share life – in all its glorious messiness – with one who truly supports you and wants only the best for you, who would do anything to see you smile or hear you laugh, who can sit in the silence with you when there are no words and share your tears in the midst of the heart-wrenching, then love does indeed bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.  Whether parent or partner or friend, that kind of love that never ends.

May you love and be loved in all ways life giving.

Love is …. love is not …

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.   – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a NRSV

Yes, this is the beginning of a Biblical text used at many, many Christian weddings.

But it’s not just for two consenting adults who are freely making vows to mutually support and encourage and care for one another through the valleys and peaks of life.

This text is for everyone.  (Paul probably borrowed it from his culture and adapted it for the church.)

Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action.  Love is how we treat one another.

We all live in relationship to other human beings every day of our lives.  Friends.  Family.  Neighbors.  Strangers.  Colleagues.  Coaches.  Teammates.  Employers.  Employees.  Customers.  Caregivers.  Care receivers.  Teachers.  Students.  Fill in the blank:  _____________ .  People just like us – even when they seem as different as can be imagined.

We are all called to be patient and kind.  Patient with ourselves; patient with others.  Kind to ourselves; kind to others.  That’s what love is.  It’s what love does.

Sounds so simple.  Yet can be so hard.  Particularly in a culture that seems to admire and even celebrate hurry-up, get-it-done, look-out-for-oneself, take-advantage-of-everyone, what’s-in-it-for-me attitudes and actions.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

At the same time, none of us are called to be envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.  Not envious about what another has or has accomplished.  Not boastful of our own or a loved one’s accomplishments.  Not arrogant about whatever or however we might think we are superior.  Not rude – ever.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

May it be so in my life.

 

 

Without Love

“If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing.

“If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CEB

Did you read the text above?  Really read it?

The guy sitting next to me at church Saturday evening harumphed – an audible, derisive sort of scoff – at the truth of it.  He was genuinely surprised to hear this sort of thing coming from the Bible.

It’s great imagery.

Say what I will but words without love are just noise.  And it’s not just about the tone or the sincerity; it’s about being truly genuine and coming from a place of deep compassion for the persons – every single one of them, friend and foe alike – who will hear what I say.

Look into the future if that’s your thing but if you don’t see through eyes of love you might as well be blind.

If my generosity isn’t fueled by love, I’m not being generous.  I’d add that if there strings attached, it’s neither generous nor a gift.

The apostle Paul – formerly known as Saul, now known as St. Paul – is writing to a church divided and is calling for unity.  The body of Christ – the sum total of all the followers of Jesus – is ONE.  It’s made of many parts, all equally good, all absolutely necessary, each with different gifts.  To treat any individual as less than, to ignore or dismiss another, is simply not the way of Christ.

How we treat each other – within the church or not, Christian or not, matters.

It’s something to consider.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark