Five Minute Friday — Worth

Happy Five Minute Friday time! I know it’s Saturday, but I was on the road all day yesterday. I could have carved out a few minutes earlier {hanging my head in shame} in the day but rather took the time to recuperate from the journey and pick up some essentials like food and supplies. And, if it’s any consolation, although I didn’t peck the keys until now, I did manage to write a mental draft {a little bit different from the final product} Friday. That has to count for something.

I don’t have to tell you the drill — I’ve done that many times over — but there is something different. The link is now on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. I hope to see some of you there.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much value FMF has for me. I’ve asked you to join in [you really, really should]. It’s quick. It’s easy {okay, sometimes not always}. It’s challenging. And it’s oh so rewarding. But don’t take my word for it. Here is what Lauren has to say, taken from snippets in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Don’t listen to me. Listen to her.

“FMF has been a consistent community of encouraging writers. Each week I look forward to the positive words and inspirational perspectives each contributor brings.”

I hope you find the time to join our special group. In the meantime, the prompt word is WORTH. The time has been set for five minutes, so I guess we should GO...

My daughters had the unenviable job of cleaning out my office of over 20 years. Why? Because they had their mommy’s genes — take no prisoners.

I did give them specific instructions about what HAD to be kept, but otherwise, I sequestered myself in the next room. I figured if I didn’t know what was being tossed, I probably would never miss it.I could hear them snickering as they uncovered papers and documents dating from the beginning of the millennia. Every once in a while I would hear them say, “Dad. Dad. Dad.”

When it was over — okay three quarters over since they couldn’t through the whole room — they asked my why I kept some of that stuff. Like a percentage wheel — which they had no idea what it was — or notes from a meeting in 1994.

Well, they may not have any relevance today, but there was a time they had worth. I needed it for something, although quite honestly, I can’t remember why I keep notes from last year let alone 23 years ago. Even as they made their way to the recycle bin, they still had worth … even if just as recyclable trash.

The same is true for people. … STOP

We all have worth … some more, some less, some relevant, some rooted in days gone by. We have this worth not because of us, but because our Maker created us. We have worth to Him. Our friends have worth. Our enemies have worth. Even the vilest people in the world have worth in God’s eyes. We certainly may not see it, but our God sure does.

And I think it pains Him when we refuse to see worth in ourselves and others. I can only imagine Him cringing as the rhetoric and disrespect today swirl into a cesspool of derisiveness. I can see Him close His eyes in disbelief as we shrug off those “not the same as us.” You see, despite our differences, we are the same, created in the same image of a loving Father. We have worth … just like things have worth. He designed it that way.

When you’re feeling worthless or, perhaps more important, when you view others as worthless, remember the penny you found on the street. It may be scuffed, it may be caked in dirt and who knows what. It may not even look like a penny anymore. But it still worth one cent … as intended.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Perfection is overrated. It’s okay to struggle, fail, fall, get up and move on.

Posted in children, encouragement, enemies, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, God, Life, love, Memories, relationships, self worth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Expect

Another Friday. Another Five Minute Friday post.

Sometimes the prompt easily triggers the mind. Other times, it’s more of a struggle. That was this week.

I don’t have to tell you the drill — I’ve done that many times over — but there is something different. The link is now on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. I hope to see some of you there.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much value FMF has for me. I’ve asked you to join in [you really, really should]. It’s quick. It’s easy {okay, sometimes not always}. It’s challenging. And it’s oh so rewarding. But don’t take my word for it. Here is what Kelly has to say, taken from snippets in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Don’t listen to me. Listen to her.

“I happened across FMF and started participating on a whim, just f initially. or the fun of it. But looking back, it became more meaningful than I may have realized initially. Sometimes the word for a particular week just fit into what God was teaching me lately, and sometimes I would read others’ posts and find they were very similar to my own. In short, FMF meant I was not alone. It was a weekly reminder God will never leave or forsake us, and also He surrounds us with people to share life with.”

The timer is set. The prompt is EXPECT. It’s time to GO…

I really had trouble with the prompt word. Expect is a verb. But it can be passive or active.

We’ve all experienced the question, “What do you expect …?” as a salary? as your obligations? for the future?

But we also can use it differently, like “I expect…” pointing to a future event. So it could be either our active thought or more probative.

I’m not sure which way the neurons will go with this, primarily because I try not to have high expectations. I’m more reactive. When asked how much I expected as a salary, my answer would be what are you offering? I do not like to make demands. I do not like to dip in expectations.

I look forward to each new day, but I don’t expect it to go on forever. I know there will be a day when I’ll meet my Maker. Of that I’m sure, and I don’t have an expectation for that face-to-Face meeting, … STOP

… I have a promise. I know — and I expect I will tell my Savior — I don’t deserve eternal salvation. I deserve eternal damnation. But I’ve been promised I have been forgiven! I don’t expect to be welcomed … I know I will be welcomed in heaven.  I don’t expect the Book of Life to be a clean slate … I know it’s a totally blank page.

Well, that’s the train track of thought my mind followed this week. What do you expect… either today, over the next few years or eternity?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: True happiness isn’t about having a perfect life … it’s about finding that place in your heart where all the crazy meshes.

 

 

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I Did It!

Some people will read this and shrug, “So.” Other will read this, purse their face into a perplexed look, perhaps scratch their head and comment, “Why?” But those who know me will smile and simply say, “Joe has his wanderlust on.”

What I did, what I accomplished was to visit every county in Maine. Not just drive through them, but intentionally picked a location and spent time there.

In one way, it’s not such a great accomplishment. After all, there are only 16 counties in Maine. The grand design was to make the pilgrimage in 16 months — one per month. Because of schedules, it took more like 20 months. But I did do it!

Maine is a complicated state. There really is only one main road, a lot of Maine roads but mostly back roads and two lane highways to get you around the 35,385 square miles contained in its borders. It is the easternmost state in the contiguous United State and northernmost east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways. And I’ve seen them all.

It took 3,096 linear miles, but I visited Auburn/Lewiston in  Androscoggin County for photo ops of the bridge separating the two towns and dinner at Mac’s Downeast Seafood; Allagash in frosty Aroostook County because — just because — with an afternoon dessert at Two Rivers Lunch; Portland in Cumberland County for a downtown and waterfront stroll and lunch at DiMillo’s on the Water (floating restaurant); Weld in Franklin County for a hike toward Tumbledown Lake (never made it to the lake, only about halfway up the trail and skipped dinner); Hancock in Hancock County to visit Frenchman Bay Conservancy and the reversing falls with dinner at the Salt Box; State Capitol Augusta in Kennebec County for a stroll along the riverfront watching the sturgeon jumping out of the Kennebec River and working up an appetite with a visit to Old Fort Western before chowing down at Riverfront Barbeque and Grille; Port Clyde in Knox County  for  visit to the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum and dinner at the Yardbird Canteen; Southport in Lincoln County for a coastal experience and dinner at Robinson’s Wharf; to a little town in the western foothills of Maine called Dixfield in Oxford County where I walked across the bridge and along the Androscoggin River bank on both sides before settling for dinner at the quirky Front Door Cafe; Lincoln in Penobscot County in November, which was gearing up for its annual Festival of Lights Parade, part of the Lincoln Tree Lighting event, with fish and chips at Gillmor’s Restaurant; Guilford/Abbott in Piscataquis County [my home county] where I stopped at a little park and boat launch to wander and wonder at the rolling Piscataquis River despite a misty morning and picked up a meatball parmigiana sandwich and an overfilled raspberry croissant from Abbott Village Bakery and Cafe to bring back to my apartment; Hockomoc Bay in Sagadahoc County with a serendipitous lunch at Ship’s Chow Hall; Rockwood in Somerset County where I spent some time on the edge of the lake, just watching the snowmobilers dashing on the frozen pond, the fishermen with their poles dunked through a hole in the ice, the fishing huts, some skaters near the shore and even an impromptu hockey game capped with an enjoyable dinner at The Birches, punctuated by the sound of snowmobiles on the lake [very dangerous after dark, I am told], the crackling and smell of wood in the fireplaces and and the chatter from the lounge; Belfast in Waldo County, a quaint little town with an expansive harbor at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River off Penobscot Bay with linner [between lunch and dinner] at local favorite Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House; Lubec, easternmost town in the country in Washington County, just for the sunrise where the sun first shines its light in the United States and breakfast at Helen’s Restaurant in neighboring Machias; and finally Cape Neddick, Nubble Lighthouse and dinner at Fox’s Lobster House in York C ounty.

Yeah, I’ve seen Maine bathed in summer sunshine, bundled in winter white, covered with budding green in spring and vibrantly dressed in fall classic splendor. Each venture was an adventure. Each stop was special.

My only problem now is what quest I should take up next.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Listen when God whispers words of change in your ear. He loves us just as we are, but too much to leave us that way.

 

 

Posted in food, Friends, Humor, Life, love, Maine, mobility, observations, relationships, seasons, songs, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Five Minute Friday — Future

What! It’s Friday? And I’m working on Five Minute Friday?

It’s definitely time to look up!

Seriously, I have always had the desire to put the words on paper (okay, the screen). Blame it on busyness, schedules or — okay — procrastination, more often than not the assignment shifts to Saturday. But I’m here today, as I usually  am every week. And I do it because I believe in it and the community.

I don’t have to tell you the drill — I’ve done that many times over — but there is something different. The link is now on Facebook at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com. I hope to see some of you there.

As I’ve been doing, here’s Kim’s take on the value of the exercise, taken from snippets found in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat as an added inducement to join in.

“FMF has been a desperately-needed community to me when I had none in my real life. I have made friendships there I know will only deepen over time. My FMF family has cheered me on when I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile to say and they’ve prayed with me when things went wrong in my life. I have tried to do the same for them. FMF is not just about the writing — it’s about relationships we form while we are writing.”

Kim is so right. FMF is way more than just writing. It’s extending our family and our outreach.

So, it’s time to set the timer for five minutes, settle down and ponder on the prompt, FUTURE. GO …

I don’t dwell on the future very much. I don’t dwell on the past very much, either. I’m more a Que Sera, Sera type of guy quite content in living in the moment.

The truth is if Marty McFly and Doc Brown showed up with their DeLorean, I wouldn’t really know what buttons to push … and not because I’m technologically challenged.

There are some thing I would like to know beforehand … but I honestly can’t say what they are right now. I suppose I would like to know what heaven is like, but then again, while in our earthly future, it’s infinite in the next realm. I suppose it would be helpful to know in advance what pitfalls are ahead, although that might ruin some of the surprise — good or bad.

There are some things I might want to do over … but honestly they are few in number. I marvel at the successes I’ve had and I’ve learned from the mistakes [I am well schooled]. That’s about the best I can say.

Although I can eat better, exercise more or take better care of myself, I can’t add one single second to my days. I have little control over the future and I cannot change the past. But I do have today, this moment in time. I think I’d rather concentrate my efforts on that. … STOP

… Wow. Friday and five minutes flat. Definitely, I would start looking up!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: God, I ask You to protect me and my family as we go out to tackle this world today. Amen

Posted in encouragement, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, Humor, love, relationships, time | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Reflections from the Road

Anyone who knows me — or follows me — knows I spend a lot of time on the road. I don’t know if it’s a sad thing or an accomplishment, but I actually choose most of my miles. I don’t have to drive for a living, although for most of my adult life I’ve tended to live on the outskirts of civilization, necessitating longer-than-average commutes.

And I enjoy this time in my own private cockpit. It gives me a chance to let those pesky neurons out of the pen and let them roam free … instilling me with absolutely useless information. I thought I would share some of my reflections from the road.

For whatever reason, I have developed a fascination for those idiot lights on mirrors — you know, the ones that tell you when someone is in your blind spot. Whisking down the freeway I would see where and when I got into that “blind spot”. Of course that led me to wonder whether they actually did any good.

I’m sure they do, but like any other driver’s aid, you have to pay attention to them. I can tell you from experience, not all drivers pay attention to the light on either side of the vehicle. A few times, I found myself needing to brake to allow some dude with fancier-than-mine wheels and up-to-date gizmos to change lanes without looking. It’s a good thing I learned to watch front tires as I pass or am being passed on the road…

Speaking of mirrors, most trucks have vertical mirrors. Most cars have square-to-horizontal side mirrors. Except for Infinity. They have vertical side mirrors. That’s a fact. I polled cars for about 150 miles on one trip to verify. Hey, I warned you about useless information! …

I haven’t figured out how my maps app can start with an ETA to my destination and watch it change as I motor down the road. It’s especially disconcerting when I consistently run about 5-10 mph higher than the posted limit with no tolls, stops or slowdowns. Hmmm …

Americans don’t like Canada. Even in my rural New York neck of the woods, there are always cars with Canadian plates. On my first trip through Canada from Eustice, ME, to Thousand Islands, NY, I saw just two vehicles with American plates — a pickup from Tennessee and visitors from New Jersey.  Okay three. I was behind another New Yorker at customs. On my last trip, I saw zero … zilch … nada … none. I would have thought for sure there would be some visitors from neighboring states — Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or New York…

Speaking of Canada, here’s a tip. Pay by credit card whenever you can. Our northern neighbors like to think a US $20 is the same as a Canadian $20. Credit card companies make the conversion…

There are more antennas than satellite dishes in Canada …

It’s also difficult to — what word am I looking for — overhear, yeah, overhear a conversation at a grub stop, especially in Quebec. They speak French. Hello!! At the table next to me recently was a family — mom, dad and teenage brother and sister chowing down. Except for merci! and a s’il vous plaît, the only other thing I — uh — overheard (saw) was a universal single digit hand salute by sister to brother…

Oh, I got another one. It happened in Canada, but it could have been anywhere — like the local Walmart. While having lunch, a young girl attempted to park her car. She passed a guy backing out and he waited for her to pass since there was a space two slots down. So he starts to back up … as she comes to a stop before pulling in. He almost hits her. She backs up to get in the slot directly behind the guy. And he waits — as she backs in once, pulls forward to straighten out, backs in again, pulls forward because she wasn’t straight enough, backs in a third time, inexplicably pulls forward again (I think her passenger didn’t have enough room to get out) and inches to the left, backs in, pulls forward to straighten out, backs in, pulls forward again and finally parks the little Ford Focus. I managed to eat half my Papa Burger and onion rings and take a couple of swigs of my frosted root beer watching the entertainment.

But it gets better. Our guy also waited, presumably without a burger, onion rings and a drink. As girl and boyfriend(?) walked toward the restaurant, our guy simply pulls forward and exits the parking lot…

Cows are just as stupid in Canada as they are in the U.S. In western Quebec, Bessie was standing in a muddy stream chewing on some shoreline grass. It must have been some special grass because her friends were making their way to the stream bed…

Man, do I love driving! That’s entertainment!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. — Lee Iococca

 

 

 

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Five Minute Friday — Visit

Sometimes I feel like the Little Engine That Could … I think I can … I think I can … I think I can … Only in my case it’s  more like Good intentions …Good intentions … Good intentions. Just like the Little Engine who ultimately could, I can say my good intentions end with results.

Of course I’m talking about Five Minute Saturday — er, Friday on Saturday. I had the best intentions of getting my focused writing in yesterday, but my non-drowsy antihistamine knocked me for a loop. I prepared to carve out my five minutes of writing by taking a five minute nap … that morphed into three and a half hours and sapped me of the energy to walk over to the computer. I reasoned some fresh air and dinner might motivate me, but no, a brisk walk and a full belly made me head right for the recliner where I indulged in watching Sum of All Fears for the umpteenth time and slipped into dozeland somewhere midway through Sue Thomas, F.B.I Eye.

But all is good. My active dream life seeded serious ideas for this week’s assignment. Five Minute Friday is moving from Kate’s place  (http://katemotaung.com/2017/05/25/five-minute-friday-visit/) to Facebook starting next week (www.fiveminutefriday.com) and Kate tied in the prompt word — VISIT — with the announcement.

I encourage you to visit, join in and comment. And, as I’ve been doing, here’s Heather’s take on the value of the exercise, taken from snippets found in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat as an added inducement to join in.

“I am so excited about this book! What an exciting idea! I have had so much fun and have loved doing these prompts. I was part of a writing group for a year and got so much great feedback and wrote so much. It was after three babies in four years and it helped me to get back into my writing. Never thought I could do it. Then I moved from Las Vegas to Iowa and my group couldn’t come with me. Too bad! I came across Lisa’s blog [Lisa-Jo Baker, the founder of Five Minute Friday] after searching for some prompts and writing again has been so therapeutic. I just read back through my blog because I was looking for a prompt to send in [for the book] and I was so surprised at how much I had written. My husband even asked me whose blog I was checking out and I said “Mine!” and he was so proud. Thanks for posting and for all your work. It has made a big difference fir me.”

That’s a common theme. Five Minute Friday is sooo much more than just an exercise in writing. It’s family communicating. It’s friends communicating. It’s strangers-soon-to-be-friends communicating.

So, with that, we’ll set the timer for five minutes. Let’s GO…

I’ve actually been waiting for this prompt for a few weeks. It all started when I visited my home town of Paterson, NJ. Admittedly, it was a short trip for a funeral, but I always felt Paterson was “home.” I was comfortable in the city I called home for a quarter of my life.

This time was different. It didn’t feel like home. I wasn’t scared or bewildered on how much it had changed from my youth. But it just didn’t feel like home anymore. In fact, instead of wandering around, I focused on the staples — The Great Falls, Garrett Mountain (technically not in Paterson), Pennington Park riverfront. And as I was driving back to Maine, it struck me, I was more of a visitor than a native. I didn’t have to see my boyhood and early-married homes. I didn’t have to pass by my first job site. I didn’t have to wander through the various sections of the city. I didn’t have to visit my elementary or high school. I didn’t have to go to my boyhood hangouts. I didn’t have to re-live those early days.

As I’ve thought about it further, on another plane, life is that way too. As I approach the winter of my life, I can look back at the spring, summer and fall, but I don’t have to cling to those times. I can appreciate them, but I don’t have to re-live them. They were stepping stones to now, to the way life is now. I was and am just and a visitor on this planet we call earth on the way to a different experience, a different realm. All the good and all the bad I experienced have helped me forge forward to the day I reside in a far better place. And in that realm I can comfortably look back as a … STOP

visitor going through my memory scrapbook.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

Posted in communication, Faith, family, Five Minute Friday, Friends, growing old, Life, love, Memories, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Memorial Day

I was supposed to fill the pulpit at West Fayette Presbyterian next weekend, but when I found out my daughter would be in town from Ohio, I made some quick adjustments and switched pulpit supplies to fill in this week instead. I mean, after all, how often do you get a chance to preach to your adult children?

And it was extra special because my other local daughter also decided to show up!

They heard the message, but as I often do, I thought I would share it with my other, extended family. I hope it brings a positive message, but, more important, bring glory to God.

So, here goes … straight from the pulpits to your eyes.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Next week, we will be celebrating — and commemorating — Memorial Day. It’s a time set aside to remember those who served in the military and made the sacrifice.

It all started right here in Waterloo (NY) when Henry Welles, a local druggist, mentioned at a social function in 1865, while it was good to honor the living heroes of the Civil War, it was also important to remember the dead of that war by decorating their graves.

It didn’t take legs until the next summer when Welles passed along his thoughts to General John Murray, then the Seneca County Clerk, a Civil War hero and known as a “man of action.” Murray quickly developed a plan, a committee was formed and plans were made to close all business May 5, 1866 and devote the day to honoring the dead.

The citizens of the town embraced the idea. Women met and prepared wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. The village was decorated with flags at half mast, evergreen boughs and black streamers. Civic groups joined a procession to each of the village’s three cemeteries, led by veterans marching to martial music. There were services at the cemeteries, including speeches by General Murray and a local clergyman.

The ceremonies were repeated the following year, and then moved to May 30 in 1868 in accordance with General Order No. 11 from General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Over the years, the commemoration was expanded to include not just Civil War casualties, but veterans of each and every conflict. It was the said the formal, dignified manner in which Waterloo observed the day created the pattern for future Memorial Day observances across the country.

On Memorial Day 1965, Congressman Samuel Stratton made a speech at Maple Grove Cemetery in which he said he would encourage Congressional recognition of Waterloo as being the birthplace of the holiday. It easily went through the legislative process with President Lyndon Johnson signing a Presidential Proclamation designating Waterloo as Birthplace of Memorial Day May 26, 1966.

What does that have to do with our readings today?

Not much … and everything.

The lectionary convolutes the readings this week. Our Gospel reading (John 17-1-11) actually takes place well before the events in our first reading from Acts (Acts 1:6-14) and our second reading from 1 Peter (1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11). In fact the Gospel account is from the Last Supper.

Here Jesus acknowledges His time is at hand. Here He prays to the Father for protection for the men gathered at the table. …the words You gave to Me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth I came from You … they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them in Your name that You have given Me, so they may be one, as We are one.

It all started right there. The Son brings the trinitarian nature of God to the front. He explains in detail how He and the Father are One and calling on the Spirit to be with the apostles as they move to spread the Good News.

It’s our Christian commemoration. It’s our Christian Memorial Day.

Shortly after this prayer Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice … the sacrifice for you … the sacrifice for me. He was the bridge re-connecting us to God and everlasting glory.

John repeatedly emphasizes that connection. People were created for a relationship with God, although we don’t always recognize that. God’s presence is hidden until God chooses to reveal it. Jesus is telling his merry men this is the time for the revelation.

The crucifixion completes Jesus’ work of glorifying God on earth. By His resurrection and ascension — we’ll get to that in a minute — Jesus returns to the heavenly glory God prepared for Him in love, and Jesus prays His followers will one day join Him in the Father’s presence to share in this glory and love (17:5, 24-26).

I wasn’t there at the Last Supper, despite charges I may be old enough. But I suspect this prayer — this huge prayer — was missed by Jesus’ boys. Some of them were bickering on who was the “favorite” — what family hasn’t experienced that. Judas skipped out a little early — perhaps before the prayer — to carry out the betrayal. Peter was too busy defending himself when Jesus told him he would deny Him three times.

I could see them scratching their collective heads the next day as Jesus hung on the cross. They had seen the miracles — from water into wine to raising Lazarus from the grave and hundreds of healings in between — but their eyes remained closed. Hmmm. Sound familiar today?

That brings us to our reading from Acts. … You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When He had said this, as they were watching, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While He was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

Didn’t get it again! Where did He go? Is this when Jesus restores Israel?

I’m just speculating, but maybe they were thinking, here we go again. First He dies, then He returns to us, now He disappears again. Obviously they were still looking through secular eyes. I can only imagine these blue collar workers — none of them were theologians or preachers or teachers — scurrying back to safety of the upper chamber. At least we’re told they devoted themselves to prayer. At least they were trying to make sense of all this. At least they supported each other.

By the way, we celebrate this event as Ascension Day — 40 days after Easter. According to my calculations — and the liturgical calendar — that will be Thursday (May 25). And still today, are we thinking here we go again? First we lament Jesus’ death, then we celebrate His resurrection and now He ascends out of this world. Are we looking through secular eyes?

Except for our Mennonite friends, very few of us recognize Ascension Day as a lynchpin of our faith. Yet, do we devote ourselves to prayer as we try to make sense of it?

I can’t speak for you, but I confess it’s just another Thursday for me.

Jesus’ promises in this text affirm His ascension is not the end of the story. His departure initiates the next chapter in the story of God’s salvation.

Of course, our enlightenment (hopefully) will come on Pentecost in a couple of weeks (June 4). That’s when our merry band of apostles were enlightened by the Spirit. And as I’ve stated previously, the work of the apostles extends to all believers. And just what was expected of the Spirit-endowed apostles? What is expected of us as Christ followers?

To be witnesses for Jesus.

That brings us to our second reading. 1 Peter tells us that road is not easy. In fact, it is downright hard. It cost some of the apostles their lives. It cost thousands their lives as witnesses for Christ. It could cost us, hopefully not our lives, but by being scoffed and ridiculed for our beliefs.

But 1 Peter puts it in perspective. Do not be surprised … rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so you may also be glad and shout for joy when His glory is revealed…

It brings in the glory Jesus was talking about way back at the Last Supper. That’s what He was praying for. Give these guys … give you and me … the power to share the glory of God.

Ethicist Dr. Miguel de la Torre pointed out, “The early churches were persecuted not for what they believed but for what they did. They preached a message of liberation. To preach good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, sight for those blinded and liberation to the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19) is to reject conformity with the prevailing power structures.”

Contemporary churches — or at least God honoring, Bible believing churches — are also being persecuted not for what we believe but for what we do. We preach good news. We preach liberation. We reject conformity. We see with “different” eyes … and it’s not a revolution against the world — this world — but a harbinger of another world, a spiritual world. De la Torre suggests contemporary churches might become more relevant if they again focused on “orthopraxis (correct action)” rather than “orthodoxy (correct doctrine)”

1 Peter reminds us since Christ suffered, Christ-believers can expect to suffer as well. Part of our responsibilities as Christ-believers are to be in solidarity with others who suffer in the world because of Christ, and to resist the devil, which, as the strong metaphor of the prowling lion represents well, will not rest until it finds someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

We may not face the trials of the early Christians, but we face our own, contemporary trials. And since the devil is not resting, neither should Christ-believers.

So, how does all this relate to Memorial Day. It is right to remember and honor those who served and died. That’s the mortal realm. How much more should we remember and honor those early followers? That’s the spiritual realm.

God had faith in a rag tag bunch of misfits — Abraham … Moses … Eli … Jeremiah … Jonah … Hosea … Mary Magdalene … Paul (when he was Saul). Jesus chose 12 … headstrong Peter … temper tantrum prone John and James … tax collector Matthew … nationalists Judas and Jude … fishermen.

God has faith in you. God has faith in me. Warts and all. With all our baggage. We’re all in this together. Your joys are my joys. My tribulations are your tribulations. We’re called to support each other through the good times and the hard times. And we’re called to share our incredible blessing — the known love of God for us.

We are all inter-connected — the apostles, the faith community through the ages, the Union and Confederate soldiers, our friends and enemies — through the love of God, the example of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.

It reminds me of a story that keeps getting hits on my blog. Ironically, I can’t take credit for it. It was passed to me — and shared with family, friends and on my blog — from actsweb.org originally published in The Daily Hug, http://www.2nspireyou.com/.

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? he thought. But he was aghast to discover it was a mouse trap!

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, “There is a mouse trap in the house. There is a mouse trap in the house.”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mouse trap in the house.”

“I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray; be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, “Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap. Am I in grave danger? Duh?”

So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer’s mouse trap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

His wife’s sickness continued so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well. In fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it does not concern you, remember, when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We ARE all inter-connected!

And the faithful say, Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Lord the day ahead will be full of distractions. In the midst of it all help me to always be aware of You by my side.

 

 

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