Two of Merlyn's daughters,
members of our church, asked me to visit their mom as the end of her five-month
battle with cancer drew near. Merlyn was 72, and her life had not been easy.
She was widowed at 43 and raised her four children by herself.
When I came to see her, she was
alone, lying in bed by the window in the back room of the house. One of her
daughters introduced me and left.
I've been trying to imagine how Jesus felt right after his baptism. The heavens were torn open, the Spirit of God alighted on him in the form of a dove, and that voice from heaven declared, "You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased."
It is impossible, I believe, to have another All Saints Day come and go
without recalling and giving thanks for those saints without
halos—family members, mentors and friends—who were gifts of God to us
and who now worship before the throne. Perhaps the first thing to do on
All Saints Day is to remember them and give thanks to God for their
presence in our lives.
When you think of Jesus’ disciples, who comes to mind? Impulsive Peter and doubting Thomas? Surely. James and John, the Zebedee boys? Of course. Mary Magdalene and some of the other women mentioned in Luke 8:1-3? Yes, if we remember that Luke’s list of Jesus’ followers was much larger and more inclusive that just “the twelve.” But blind Bartimaeus? Hardly.
We can scarcely imagine life without tears. We come into the world crying, and when we are hungry or wet or not held enough—no matter how old we are—we cry. Tears come unbidden to us when we are moved by beauty or by someone’s kindness to us. I often cry when a good book or movie has a sad ending, and I cry at a happy ending too. I even cry at Hallmark TV ads.
A friend heard I was writing about blind Bartimaeus and asked me a
question: “Where do call and healing meet? How do they intersect?” Since
I didn’t really know the answer, I preferred to think of her question
The same Spirit that was upon Jesus, bringing good news to the poor and proclaiming release to the captive, is found among Christians today who have a heart for prisoners and their families. Led by two members with such a heart, our church began a ministry to prisoners.
What did they expect when they set off with Jesus that afternoon? An intimate conversation among the four of them? A chance to talk Jesus out of that strange, scary stuff he had been saying about suffering and dying, about saving or losing their lives?
I do not have a green thumb. I don’t speak to my plants. Instead I make them grab their throats, gasping for water, before I recognize their parched condition. Then I drench and almost drown them. This is no way to treat any living thing, plant or otherwise. Plants treated this unkindly are spindly and weak, anemic, with no strong root system.
Keeping score and getting even—that’s what enemies do. Time after time the Tutsis and then the Hutus have waited their turn to get even with each other in Rwanda. In the last outbreak of violence, loyalty to tribe even outweighed allegiance to religious vows for some clergy.
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