HATE

Hate has always been easy, Love well that’s a different story.

“It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.”

Thomas Jefferson

We are fast approaching the anniversary of 9/11, the 10-year anniversary in fact.  This will and has been played up in the news.  While it is important to remember we must also be careful to not allow our emotions to carry us to places we should not go. 

We have been involved in two wars, searched the world in massive manhunts, imprisoned hundreds without due process, it has been alleged that we (the American people) have participated in torture to extract information, and worst of all acted out of hate against those we don’t understand.  Those of you who read the above sentence may question my resolve or my patriotism.  Let me reassure you that both are very much intact, but as a believer in Jesus and a follower of Christ I am compelled to seek a better way than hate.

I have read on several occasions “Foxes Book of Martyrs”, and I was always in awe of the power that hate, and ignorance generated in the events of man.  The enemies of Western Civilization have and are using Faith, religion, as justification to commit unbelievable acts of cruelty.  Their modern-day logic is no different than that which was used throughout history in man’s endeavor to Manipulate God.  Their argument’s weakness screams out, but is ignored, God’s very nature will not allow Him to be manipulated.  His strength does not need our efforts to prove His power, and His truth will stand against all other’s apologetics.

Jesus declared that all law (commandments) is based on two moral hinge pins – the love of God supremely and the love of our fellow man.  While I’m sure that even Islam’s fanatics would agree with the first part of that statement as would all Christians the second part may give pause.  Jesus also compels his followers to love their enemies.  This was and is a radical concept.  It flies in the face of human nature.  But it embraces the nature of God as described in the scriptures.  It is difficult to accept that the God I love and believe loves me also loves those who hate me and mine with the same passion and compassion as me.  I compare it to siblings questioning their parent’s love, (mom always loved you more) and the truth is – love offers no comparison.

We must provide due vigilance in the days ahead based upon the events of history, but let it be directed not only by desire of self-preservation, but by our love for those who attack us.  That we may prevent them from adding burdens of guilt upon their souls.  Grace is God’s method to win over those who act in hate toward Him, why should we behave any differently?

The above was actually pinned eleven years ago while we in America were still fighting in the Middle East, I can’t help but to see parallels with today’s current events…domestic terrorism, political discourse, neighbor against neighbor, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Why can’t we give love a chance?

QUINCEANERA

It is a wonder to me how God chooses to stretch us to become more than we were. This morning I was allowed the wonderful privilege of officiating at a Quinceanera service for a young lady that had attended our church several years ago. The Quinceanera is basically a Hispanic cultural event which most Anglos and protestants are ignorant of. It is most like a debutant party, but more serious. It is the celebration of a young girl’s fifteenth birthday and the entering into the steps of womanhood, a coming of age.

The first stage of the celebration is a worship service, most often a Catholic Mass, but being protestant that wasn’t going to happen. The mother and father had come to me and asked if they could use the church for this stage of the celebration of their daughter’s Quinceanera. Which the church was more than happy to allow. They then asked if I would officiate the service at the church. Did I mention that I had no real idea of what a Quinceanera is or that I don’t speak a word of Spanish? Yet they insisted that I officiate. Don’t get me wrong I fully recognized the great honor they were bestowing on me, but I thought someone who fully understood the language and the tradition could do a better job. In the end I agreed to attempt to do the service. Fortunately, at the time of the request the actual service was several months in the future, allowing me time to research and come up with a program.

After my acceptance no Hispanic person was safe, as I asked any that I knew or saw what was a Quinceanera? And what was expected during the worship service? Most were amused at my attempts to pronounce the word, Quinceanera. Ah, what do you expect from a man of the South? I butcher the Queens English, let alone Spanish. Their amusement didn’t help a lot with preparing to officiate at this important service in the life of young girl who was becoming a woman. In the end, I thank the Lord for the internet. I finally started to find some information that would allow me to put together a program that I prayed would honor God, respect the family’s needs, and be of benefit to all that attended the service.

I was astonished to discover all the symbols and adornments that went along with this type of service. One could go for a long time, speaking of their inclusion in the service and their symbolism in the young lady’s life. No, I didn’t include all of them in the service. I also discovered the service could be extremely liturgical, and while I could see the value of some liturgical elements, I wanted a homily that would speak to the heart of the young lady, as well as to the hearts of all that attended the service. I intend to put a copy of the service in this BLOG, so you’ll be able to judge whether I succeeded in hitting a balance. I will remove the name of the young lady, as I haven’t asked her permission.

PROCESSIONAL

Entrance of respondent and the Quinceanera party congregation standing

WELCOME

Respondent and I on behalf of our church, her parents, family, and friends welcome you on this day of celebration of life, this acceptance of the duties and responsibilities that life carries, the exhortation to live life, having love as its foundation.

To live means to grow and to grow means to gain maturity. A mature person is capable of making decisions, to make commitments and to be faithful to them; although at times it is difficult to fulfill them. With your fifteen years come the roses and the thorns, the challenges, and with the challenges the opportunity to strengthen your spirit and your faith in this new stage of life.

As we enter into this celebration let us ask God’s blessing on what is being done this day:

Dear heavenly Father, God of all ages, we ask for your presence at this ceremony.

We ask that you bless this young one from now on and give wisdom and understanding to her father and mother so that they can guide, instruct, and support her in this new stage of her life. Amen.

READING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE

This passage assures of God’s providence, His protection, and His presence in our lives.

PSALMS 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

READING OF NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE

This reading gives us purpose in living.

1JOHN 4:7-11

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

COMMENTS

Child, I have always considered it a privilege and an honor to have been a small part of your life. I praise God and thank your parents for allowing me that privilege. I have been witness to the innocent beauty of a child who was adorned by a smile that so graced those whom it so brightly shined upon. I saw a child who was privileged to be embraced by the love of her father, mother, and yes, even her siblings, extended family, and friends. That love is evidenced by those in attendance here today.

As a father of two daughters, I am well aware of the desire of a young child to quickly leave the adornments of childhood and take upon themselves the adornments of an adult. Today as you stand on the cusp of adult womanhood, we too, celebrate your coming of age. But I would be remiss if I did not remind you of those adornments that God so desires that you embrace and carry throughout your life, adornments that He has given to womanhood since the creation.

I want you to know, as well as every woman here today, how awesome God thinks you are. Listen to what an unknown author wrote about the very heart of God and what God would say to each of you on this day. God would say, “When I created the Heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being. When I created man, I formed him and breathed life into his nostrils. But you, woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate. I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you.

Man was put to sleep so that he could not interfere with the creativity.

From one bone I fashioned you. I chose the bone that protects man’s life. I chose the rib., which protects his heart and lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do. Around this one bone I shaped you. I modeled you. I created you perfectly and beautifully. Your characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile. You provide protection for the most delicate organ in man, his heart. His heart is the center of his being; his lungs hold the breath of life. The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart. Support man as the rib cage supports the body.

You were not taken from his feet, to be under him, nor were you taken from his head, to be above him, but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.

You are my perfect angel. You are my beautiful little girl. You have grown to be a splendid woman of excellence, and my eyes fill when I see the virtue in your heart.

Your eyes – don’t change them. Your lips – how lovely when they part in prayer. Your nose so perfect in form, your hands so gentle to touch. I’ve caressed your face in your deepest sleep; I’ve held your heart close to mine.

Of all that lives and breathes, you are the most like me. Adam walked with me in the cool of the day and yet he was lonely. He could not see me or touch me, He could only feel me. So everything I wanted Adam to share and experience with me, I fashioned in you: my holiness, my strength, my purity, my love, my protection and support.

You are special because you are the extension of me. Man represents my image, woman, my emotions. Together you represent the totality of God.

So man – treat woman well. Love her, respect her, for she is fragile. In hurting her, you hurt me. What you do to her, you do to me. In crushing her, you only damage your own heart, the heart of your father, and the heart of her father.

Woman, support man. In humility, show him the power of emotion I have given you. In gentle quietness show your strength. In love, show him that you are the rib that protects his inner self.”

These characteristics and adornments are what God desires of you and when you embrace them God’s blessings will be yours.

THE ADORNMENT GIFTS

the Bible, God’s word, a guide to all who seek to live a righteous life.

The necklace the symbol of faith, a token to remind you to trust

the ring and the bracelet, symbols to remind you of the never-ending circle of life, the never-ending cycle of womanhood, and of the future contributions you shall give.

music softly playing

are you ready to make your commitment?

she responds: yes

Minister: Young one since childhood you have been instructed in the faith and teachings of Christians. You know of the new life in Jesus Christ. Today in front of this altar do you renew your faith and commitment to Him, dedicating your life to Him voluntarily and with conviction, to renounce sin and accept the future, with its challenges and responsibilities, according to God’s commandments?

she responds: yes

Minister: Do you believe in Almighty God, creator of Heaven and earth?

she responds: yes

Minister: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered, was buried, rose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God?

she responds: yes

Minister: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the universal church, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the dead?

She responds: yes

She will now offer to God her prayer of dedication?

Prayer of dedication the by respondent: “I offer you, O Lord, my youth, what I am and what I will be. Guide my steps and actions, and my thoughts. Give me understanding and wisdom so that I can understand and fulfill your commandments. Bless me with your grace and presence every day of my life, through your son Jesus Christ, my redeemer. Amen.”

if she prefers the minister can offer the prayer; “She offers you, O Lord, her youth, what she is and what she will be. Guide her steps and actions, and her thoughts. Give her understanding and wisdom so that she can understand and fulfill your commandments. Bless her with your grace and presence every day of her life, through your son Jesus Christ, her redeemer.”

LIGHTING OF DEDICATION CANDLE BY respondent

Prayer of Commitment: I ask that all who can stand please do so that we as a congregation may offer up a prayer…”Dear heavenly Father, we commit ourselves to be a guide for this one and we ask Almighty God, you pour grace and blessing on her and all of us now and forever. Amen.”

announcements: the festivities will continue in Greensboro… from 3 pm until 6 pm.

benediction: May God bless you with His protection and continued growth in faith, charity, and love through Christ our Savior. Amen!

Recessional: congregation standing as the Quinceanera party exit with music

After the service I spoke with the folks that attended, many of whom I have had contact through and have shared worship experiences. It was good to see folks that I consider friends. That is a simple reflection on how God removes obstacles such as language and culture to allow us to come together to share love with one another. Ain’t it a wonder?

Bully

I have often wondered if evil men know that they are evil? Does a bully recognize that he’s a bully? What games of rationalization do they play to justify the evil they do? Can they even define the word itself? Can I? I sat before my monitor with tears falling from my eyes and watched an explosion that took the lives of a mother and her two children. That met my definition of evil, not just something bad, but something so wicked and devilish the human conscience must condemn the one who perpetrated the act. What is taking place in Ukraine this day cannot be allowed to stand with any justification. It is as evil as the Soviet induced Ukrainian Holodomor of the 1930s.

In the ’30s, 1931-1933, between 7,000,000 and 10.000,000 Ukrainians starved to death through a deliberate program of genocide enacted upon them by Stalin and his regime. This was what has become known as Holodomor, literally translated as, death by starvation. A man-made famine and refusal to allow international humanitarian aid to assist the peoples of Ukraine was genocide and evil. Just as evil as this current interjection of Russian might on a sovereign, democratic nation. Each death, both Ukarinian and Russian is a nail in the reputation of Valdmir Putin as an evil man who history will place alongside other modern evil leaders: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Amin. Their evil so over-shadows any good that they did for their people that humanity cannot embrace them as having redeeming qualities. Putin’s bust is now prominently placed beside them.

I wish I knew how to end this evil we know as war, whatever the name one uses for it, it is still war. I suspect that in the end nations are like individuals and a bully ultimately has to be called out for the bullying to end. That’s the paradox, hating the bullying and the cost that would stop the bully allows the bully to continue his actions. In the ’60s two superpowers stood toe to toe in a confrontation that very nearly caused a nuclear war, with both sides declaring their willingness to go there, but both praying we wouldn’t. I hope Putin is bluffing on using a nuclear option, but it really isn’t feasible for the rest of the world to buckle to his threats. A bully won’t stop until he’s stopped.

I don’t have an answer that is without cost, but I read a couple of Psalms that I think reflect my prayers for the nation of Ukraine, Psalms 31 & 91. God embrace the nation of Ukraine and deliver her from the evil designs of those who would harm her and Lord may the world know peace.

PSTD

Forty-seven years to carry tragedy in a secret poke while being exposed to life and expected to smile…to be happy…to embrace the new normal…to be able to share some secret on living is a burden, obligation, blessing, and foolishness. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my life’s contact with the impossible event to accept. You left. Nothing has ever been the same.

PSTD isn’t just a military, natural disaster event, sometimes it’s just living day to day with an unexpected, undesired event entering into that day to day. When that explosion enters, one is left to find some meaning to that thing; a means to continue to live a life with purpose. You did that to me. Your leaving required me to grow-up, to finally be an adult (whatever that means). It also left me to learn to live with a pain, a longing that I can’t describe to anyone, so I had to learn to carry that in secret. I had to learn to play those mind games that project public meanings to your leaving so that others can accept the event and to finally let you publicly fade in their memory…that they can treat me as normal and allows me to embrace others.

It has been proposed by Katherine Kubler-Ross that they’re steps to grieving that we go through that lead to a healing, a returning to normal living. Those steps are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Who am I to argue with these steps? I have walked those paths. The immediate after mat of your leaving was shock that you could leave, a shock that effected my ability to function. But I did. Anger, absolutely, I embraced it with a vengeance. I railed against God, I saw others through that anger. It was months before I released that anger, and for what it’s worth I forgave God for allowing you to leave, for taking you, for refusing to bargain. The grey winter skies of depression set-in and through the years still slips in, not as often, but still. Acceptance is a confusing term. I quickly came to accept that I couldn’t change the fact of your leaving, and that you’re not going to return during my lifetime. But I will never accept that your being is gone…you walk within me, you step in stride quietly impacting my way of interacting with the world.

Tears still fill my eyes and as strange as it may sound, I’m grateful that they do. Are they a sign of a disorder? Evidence of a lack normalcy. No, to me they say I am normal, that life’s value is in the living, and that our relationship was valuable. If time could be turned back, I’d still embrace you and the pain would be worth the price. Thank you for being a part of my life.

STEPCHILD

Something to reflect on: Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, was willing to have Jesus as his adopted son. He provided him with protection, met his physical needs, and raised him with love. The doctrine of adoption taught in the Epistles (letters recorded in the New Testament) reflect the idea that adoption by God of all who accept Christ are as true sons of the living God. Joseph did not use the qualifier of adopted or step-son, but always claimed Jesus as his son. God does the same…we are adopted as His children, but He declares us as full sons and joint heirs with Christ. Love in its purity knows no limits!

FEAR OF CHANGE

fear of change

Read “Waiting on the World to Change”. by John Mayer

Change is a frightening thing; it gives rise to all kind of questions.  Perhaps the largest is what does the future hold?  Most of us are more comfortable with the status quo, but change is going to come.  A little over 100 years ago Jules Verne wrote a book titled “Around the world in Eighty Days” whose premise was that it was considered impossible to do.  It can be done in hours today.  Edison invented the incandescent light bulb, Bell the telephone, Marconi the radio, Ford the assembly line, and the Wrights flew.  Each of these changes has brought about tremendous change in the way lives are lived.  Information is now seconds away instead of weeks or months; decisions are made quickly without time for reflection in some cases.  The world has become a much smaller place than it was just 40 years ago.  Cultures are now able to rub against each other much more easily than in the past.  World economy is impacting local economies as never before.

In our culture we find future affected by our present.  The loss of a job, a marriage, the death of a loved one, how to grow beyond our past.  

God wants us to embrace change, to work to better what we have and to overcome FEAR. 

 I.  Stand firm

Ex. 14:13-14  God will fight for you; you need only to be still

be still and know that I am God (Ps. 46:10)

II. Take the next step

Ex. 14:15-16  Move on ( the parting of the Red Sea)

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and light for my path (Ps. 119:105)  

illustration of steering a car.  The idea of inertia 

III.  Don’t Deify Fear

courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to admit its existence and to move to action anyway

Nehemiah admitting his fear to the king. (Neh.2:2b-3)

Nehemiah’s request of God (Neh. 1:11)

The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid. (Ps 27:1).

IV.  Stay away from the what “Ifs”

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Ps. 51:2).

V.  Step out boldly

trust God  story of Miriam and the baby Moses

VI.  Ride the Roller Coaster

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt6:34)

  my fear of roller coasters, of flying.  enjoy life today!!!  

enjoy life today

HIKING WHILE LOST

took ROCA’s youth to Thornburgh Farm today.  Planned on walking to Robbin’s Branch.  That would have been about 8 miles round trip.  Unfortunately we got off the marked trail and wandered through the wilderness for 2 1/2 hours.  The kids did great.  I don’t know if they knew I didn’t know where I was, but they followed along with confidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I went places I had never been before.  We found an old shaft that was about 30 to 45 feet deep.  It had a box spring covering the opening, which was about 3 feet across.  I don’t know if it was an old well or the shaft of an old gold mine.  We did end up on Robbin branch-not the trail, but the branch.

I didn’t know where we were, but I knew that we came in from the north, Lassiter Mill Road would be to the west, Birkhead Mountain Trail was to our east, and south would ultimately hit High Pine Road.  The problem was time-I didn’t want to be out in the forest with a group of teens after dark.  After two hours being off trail I chose to head North.  Yes, I carried a compass.  It was a good thing too, I felt like we were moving in a southern direction, the compass said north.  I trusted the compass.  We hit the marked Robbin Branch trail and headed back to the farm.

We met one lone hunter while in the woods, and two hikers entering as we reached the farm.

Photo by Supushpitha Atapattu on Pexels.com

 

I thought about that compass as we walked out.  It reminded me of the Spirit of God.  So often we feel like we are moving in the wrong direction and should head another way.  But the Spirit always points true North, we just have stay on course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

TO RECONCILE

a couple of light thoughts that came my way while doing research for this sermon. “Even duck tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound”

This one hit real close to home. “I may get up early and go jogging; I may also win the lottery. The odds are about the same for both.”

And no neither of those two things have anything to do with what we are going to be talking about.

Several years ago I tackled reading what is considered by many as one of the top 10 novels of the 19th century, Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. It was a massive undertaking. The protagonist of the novel is Jean Valjean, a poor man, who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family. He’s caught, convicted, and sentenced to four years hard labor. He attempts escape several times and as a result he ends up serving 19 years before he is paroled. Those 19 years turned Jean into a very hardened criminal, one that none in the prison would confront. With his release came papers that declared him a paroled criminal and none would hire him and no landlord would allow him a place for shelter. He was a resident of the streets, and this made him even more hardened and bitter. Then he met bishop Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel and his daughter, who offered Jean a meal and shelter in their home.

After their meal the bishop and daughter retired for the night and while they slept, Jean rose from his bed, searched, found the bishop’s silver, stole it, and fled into the night. He was captured with the silver and returned to the bishop’s home by his capturers. As the police officers listened the bishop reproved Jean. He asked why hadn’t he also taken the silver candlesticks that he had given as well as the silver? Jean was dumb founded by the bishop’s behavior toward him, this was something totally foreign to his life experiences. The police accepted the bishop’s story that the silver was a gift and released Jean. Bishop Myriel’s only request in giving Jean the silver candlesticks was that Jean would use the money from their sale to work toward becoming a good man.

The rest of the book deals with Jean’s attempts, his setbacks, his influence in the lives of others, and ultimately his contentment with his life as he lay dying.

The books of Philemon and Colossians seem to embrace Victor’s novel or maybe better his novel seems to embrace these two books especially Philemon. In Philemon we are introduced to Onesimus (one who is profitable), a servant (slave) of Philemon, who has fled Colosse after a falling out with his master and probably theft of Philemon’s property. Onesimus finds his way to Rome where he meets Paul, who introduces to the teachings of Jesus and Onesimus becomes a believer and disciple of Paul.

We have little to flesh out Philemon and Onesimus lives together, just what little is written here. We don’t know how Philemon treated Onesimus before he fled, we don’t know how Onesimus rationalized his theft and fleeing, but we can easily surmise they’re some hard feelings and some unfinished business between the two men.

In our Christian jargon we use several different terms that are paramount in the Christian’s life: rejection, intercession, forgiveness, reconciliation, restitution, redemption. We rejected God’s claim over us and live our lives on our on terms causing enmity between God and self. This enmity remained until one interceded on our behalf. We find forgiveness through the intercessory work of Christ, and we find reconciliation (which means to become friends again) when see our lives as God sees them and accept His offered forgiveness. Our redemption (to buy back) and restitution is paid by the one who intercedes for us. We are not only bought back, but we are adopted children of the most High God. Ephesian 1:5, “In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…” “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.” Romans 8:14,15

One can’t help but to see parallels of the salvation experience with all that Paul wrote to Philemon. In verses 4 through 7 Paul writes of the character of Philemon, of his prayers for him, his love toward Jesus and all the saints, the fact that all that Philemon has that is good in him is from Christ Jesus. Paul intercedes on behalf of Onesimus, one who was begotten while Paul was in prison. The willingness of Paul to make restitution to Philemon for anything owed him by Onesimus. Paul’s desire that Philemon not only receive Onesimus back, but that he receive him as Philemon would receive Paul, himself. Not as a servant, but a brother. The entire letter is reminding Philemon of the one who had interceded for him, and the desire for a reconciliation to take place between Philemon and Onesimus.

This book shows us the things that reconcile us to God, but it is also a primer for how we are to be reconciled with each other. None of us escape without some of relationships being strained or broken. When it’s someone that is truly important to you how can you be reconciled?

They’re four types of reconciliation that can take place in our day to day lives; and we have been given the obligation of the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18. In the ministry of reconciliation we must be ever mindful that first and foremost is the need to reconcile with God through Christ, but we also need to remember that Paul admonish us to live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:8.


Everyone’s reconciliation story is different, but everyone can reconcile in one of four ways:

1 Deep, mutual healing. The first is the one we long for the most in which both people grow and change, and there is a deep healing in the relationship. When this happens, amazing transformations can occur. When this kind of reconciliation occurs, it’s a gift to be cherished.

2 Shifting your expectations. In this type of reconciliation, one person changes his or her expectations of the other person, and the relationship opens up, whether or not the other person makes significant changes.

3 Agreeing to disagree. In this instance, two people have dramatically different versions of past history–like whether or not abuse occurred–and rather than each trying to convince the other that he or she is right, they agree to disagree. They try to find common ground that isn’t connected to the dispute as a way to forge a new relationship.

4 Inner resolution. The final kind of reconciliation is the inner path we travel when direct reconciliation with the other person is impossible. The other person may be dead or may be too drunk, too damaged, or too hostile to make reconciliation possible. The other person may have slammed the door in your face and isn’t about to open it anytime soon. Or you attempt reconciliation, and your efforts fail. In these instances, our task is to grieve for the relationship…” Laura Davis, Coming Together After Falling Apart

The first three are bi-lateral, meaning at least two are coming together, the last is unilateral, meaning only one is involved in the process. One has given up on becoming friends again and one is grieving and reconciling self to the loss.

Feelings may be so strong, that like Onesimus and Philemon, an intercessor, a go between, a Paul will be necessary to get the process of reconciliation to begin. But life is too short, friends too few, and family too precious, to allow a breech to rob us our relationships with each other. Our ego, our pride builds the walls that keep us separated, for reconciliation to take place humility is required. “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Mt. 5:5.

Being a Child of God is a glorious thing, but it is also a demanding thing. God ask us to look upon each other as brothers, family. And He expects us to mend fences when we offend or we are offended…that’s action, not just words. He doesn’t just look upon Jesus as the only one who intercedes, but he expects us to be peacemakers too. Mt 5:9. I wish I could say I always do this, am always trying to reconcile with those that I have offended, but in all honesty I can’t. When I refuse to at least try to reconcile with those I’ve offended or I refuse to attempt to help others reconcile I lose God’s blessings on my life. And yes, if I do these things there may be a cost, but like Jean Valjean at the end of my life what price is contentment?

Oh, in case you’re wondering how things turned out between Philemon and Onesimus, rumor has it that things turned out just fine. Onesimus, the slave, became the bishop of the church at Ephesus.

A WALK IN THE WOODS

Certainly hope Bill Bryson doesn’t mind if I borrow the title.  Went back to the farm and walked the trails.  This time I took Deet,(spray to keep ticks at bay), and a pack of foodstuff with a two liter pouch of water.  I had planned to walk the same trails as those I did earlier this year, but that’s not how it turned out.

I got to the park area around 10:30AM and started getting ready for my hike.  There was only one other vehicle and its owner came up while I was packing up to go.  He was smart he was carrying a water pack instead of a backpack like mine.  We spoke and I was on my way.  First stop was the grape arbor at the old farm house, scuppernongs are ripe this time of year and they are really sweet.  I planned on an easy pace and still hoping to be back in a couple of hours.

Reached the creek in about 5 minutes, crossed the foot bridge and started up the trail.  It was a cool morning with the sun shining brightly.  I walked for about 10 minutes and realized I had not turned on my heart monitor, pedometer.  I figure I lost a 1,000 steps by my mistake.  The trail was at an upgrade and  even at a easy pace I was breathing hard.  The only sound I was hearing was me sucking in air.  Checked my heart rate, it was at 80% of the maximum of 163 beats per minute.  I’ve discovered that whenever I’m at 70% or greater I start breathing heavily through my mouth.

I decide I need a walking stick.  I picked up a likely candidate, broke it off to the proper length and it helps.  It is a great aid in knocking down spider webs that are across the trail.  The only problem was the roughness of the bark.  I pulled out my knife and scrapped off the bark and knobs that lined the stick.  I finally got it were it was comfortable to hold.

I reached the first fork in the trail.  I could go right on the Robbin’s Branch Trail or go left to reach the Birkhead Mountain Trail.  I went right.  I figured I was about two miles from the Hannah Creek Trailhead.  I stopped at campsite and ate an apple and rested.  Got back on the trail and nothing exciting took place and I reached another fork in the trail, right to continue on to the trailhead or left to follow the Hannah Creek Trail.  It has been 30 years since I walked the Hannah Creek.  I didn’t feel tired, so I went left.  The trail post said 1.5 miles to Hannah Creek.  That was a long 1.5 miles.

I ran into another fork in the trail, right to the go to the creek or left to travel on Birkhead Mt. Trail.  I had to make a decision of whether to turn around and go back the way I had come or take the Birkhead trail back to where it intersected with Robbin Branch.  The Birkhead trailhead was about 6 miles from where I was and by the map it looked as if the intersection was about 3 miles.  I chose to walk the Birkhead.  The trail seemed to go straight up.  After reaching campsite 5 I checked the pedometer and it showed a little over 10,000steps had been recorded.  When I reached the trail intersection it was recording a little over 13,000steps.  I met three people on Birkhead.  The first was a man around 40 who was walking with no supplies or water.  I thought about him for a while, wondering what would possess a person to walk for miles in the woods without carrying water.  I met a couple as I reached the intersection.  A teenager and I assume his mother.  They were carrying a water bottle and knapsack.  They had hiked in from the Tot Hill trailhead.  They wanted to know what lay ahead on the trail and if they were close to the top.  I laughed and told them that another two hundred yards and it would be down hill all the way to Hannah Creek, but it would be tough climb back up to were they where.  They decided to turn around and head back to Tot Hill.  I took a left onto Robbin Branch.  This was the prettiest part of my hike.

I walked down to the branch around another 2,000 steps and reached a fern covered flat that just looked so cool.  I would like to go back and camp there sometime.  The bad thing about this trail it was backtracking in its direction and I was heading southeast instead of northwest toward the trailhead where I was parked.  I was tired by this time.  I finally reached the fork in the trail that going left would lead to Hannah Creek Trailhead or right to Thornburgh Farm Trailhead.  Guess which way I went.  My pedometer was reading about 15,500steps.

I guessed that it would take another 3,000 steps to get back.  I checked the pedometer again after walking for about what I thought was a mile and none of the steps had been recorded, I must have turned off  the pedometer function of my monitor.  Frustration!  Turned it back on and recorded the rest of hike.  I ended up recording 18,000 steps or ten miles, but I figure two miles of the hike weren’t recorded.  I, according to the heart monitor had burned 1,200 calories.

Both feet and knees were in pain.  Once again the old man had over done it.  I don’t care, for about 6 hours I was young once more, and the feeling was worth the price.

must give a disclaimer, this walk took place seven years ago. I now have a new knee and should do the walk again.

SEPARATION

It is my personal opinion that there is an innate danger when religious authority embraces secular politics to give legitimacy to reprehensible policies…to bend the knee to demagoguery. I seriously doubt many of my Christian brethren would disagree with the gist of that opinion, but I also doubt if many will agree that is what has and is being done. They are only so many plays in the playbook of politics and for that matter…religion. If one looks through the prism of history one will see the usage of the same politics, secular and religious is being done, just different players on the field.

I find this to be a very unsettling quote: “Though it had many Catholic leaders (including Hitler), the Nazi Party relied heavily on Protestant support. Protestants had given the Party its principal backing during the years leading up to 1933 at a level disproportionate to their national majority.[25] Evangelical youth was especially pro-Nazi. It has been estimated that as many as 90 percent of Protestant university theologians supported the Party. Indeed, the participation of so many respected Protestants gave an early, comforting air of legitimacy to the often-thuggish Party. So did the frequent sight of Sturmabteilung (S.A.) units marching in uniform to church.” from The Great Scandal: Christianitys-role-in-the-rise-of-the-Nazi/

The Concordat was a classic political kickback scheme. The church supported the new dictatorship by endorsing the end of democracy and free speech (the fourth estate, free press was attacked and destroyed). In addition it bound its bishops to Hitler’s Reich by means of a loyalty oath. In exchange the church received enormous tax income and protection for church privileges. Religious instruction and prayer in school were reinstated. Criticism of the church was forbidden. Of course, nothing in the Concordat protected the rights of non-Catholics.

Most extraordinary and telling is the Rosenstrasse incident.[43] Some 30,000 Jews lived openly in Germany as the spouses of Christians. Nine in ten such marriages remained intact despite ceaseless harassment. Oriented toward family values as they were, the Nazis could not decide how to handle these Jews without violating the sanctity of marriage. Early in 1943, Goebbels, then in charge of Berlin, decided it was time to cleanse the capital by rounding up these last Jews. Hitler agreed. Some 2,000 Jewish men from mixed marriages were seized and taken to a large downtown building on the Rosenstrasse, from which they would be deported to the camps.

For a week their Gentile wives stood in the winter cold, chanting “We want our husbands back!” Ordinary Germans sometimes joined them. All told, the protests involved about 6,000 people. They continued in the face of S.S. and Gestapo threats, even threats to use machine guns. They continued though British bombers pounded the city by night. But the Nazis dared not fire upon these defenseless, unorganized Aryan women. Berliners saw the protests directly. Foreign diplomats spread word of it to the world press. The British Broadcasting Company broadcast the story back into Germany.

What was the outcome of Nazi Germany’s only mass demonstration to save Jews? The 2,000 Jewish husbands were released with Hitler’s approval (even in a dictatorship when the people hold the leadership accountable morality can win). Two dozen who had already been sent to Auschwitz were returned. Jewish-Christian couples continued to live openly and survived the war. They would comprise the great majority of German Jewish survivors.

Goebbels later commented to an associate that the regime relented “in order to eliminate the protest from the world, so that others didn’t begin to do the same.” Sadly, this strategy was successful: during the rest of the war, no similar action would ever be taken in defense of Jews in general.

When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, with the slogan ‘Wipe out the shame of Versailles’, Niemoller was wholly in agreement. (this slogan sounds a lot like “Make America Great again” my comment.) Niemoller is best known for this quote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

One can only surmise he came to understand the foolishness of accepting at face value everything that was promised.

Bonhoeffer was one of the first Christians in the Confessing Church to recognize clearly the significance of the ‘Jewish question’ in Nazi Germany. As early as spring 1933 he pointed out that the Jews were becoming victims of the state’s policies – but his was a lone voice. He saw that the age-old policy of confrontation, which Christians had practised towards the Jews from the Church Fathers through to Luther and later, had made Christians in Germany passive, blind and indifferent to the fate of the Jews. (is there a parallel to Moslem issues today)

Bonhoeffer wanted to awaken the church to the fact that a monstrous injustice was being done to the Jews, and that the place of Christians was alongside their persecuted Jewish brothers. He challenged Christians to regard the Jews as the ‘neighbour fallen among thieves’, as in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. He saw that the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, is part of the Christian Bible too; that Christians and Jews believe in the same God; that the Bible concept of’the people of God’ refers to both. But he could not persuade the Confessing Church to make a public statement on behalf of the Jews. As the Second World War progressed, the growing persecution of the Confessing Church by the Nazi authorities crippled the church’s ability to help others. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-9/christians-against-nazis-german-confessing-church.html Leonore Siegele-Wenschkewitz

Our present day evangelical community seems willing to get in bed with any politician that publicly oppose abortion, regardless of any other moral failures. I question if my Lord wouldn’t use the analogy of “whited sepulchers” in speaking of our present day evangelical leaders? I believe what seems pure to them today will weigh down the balance scales of justice and honesty when future historians look back on our time; just as we now see the foolishness of most German religious leaders of the 1930’s and 40’s. For the Church (universal) to meet her Lord’s Great Commission she must keep herself separate from worldly blemish, and she must realize that a true theocracy will only come about when her Lord returns. To try to impose any other form as a theocracy is only forcing a form of tyranny on society.