Why People Look For God Anywhere But Church

Yesterday I had the interior of my 2007 Toyota Camry detailed at our Toyota dealership. They did a superb job considering that we had transported our three dogs to the Veterinarian and to the dog groomers for ten years in it. Many cigars and pipes have been enjoyed by me in the confines of the Camry. Since I have given up cigars and pipes…accept on the rare occasion…I thought that it was hight time to let the professionals have a go at my old faithful automobile. They also changed the oil and were to repair the air conditioner…but that was not to be as the labor alone was twelve hours…or a bill of $1,745.23. The kind attendant told me that I could go to Auto Zone and that they could sell me, the replacement for freon, and an adapter to facilitate charging my air conditioner myself. This I did today and the nicest young woman showed me how the product was to be used and where to attach the adapter.

Many people have said to me that they are turned off by the Bible because so much hate has been perpetrated in the name of the Book. Groups who claim to be representing Christ… preach a gospel of exclusion and hate for those who do not believe their narrow doctrine and dogma. It has been said that some churches believe in a god that hates all of the same people that they do. One of the saddest commentaries that I have heard in history is that when two countries are at war…the one that won is the one that God favored. I would ask that since we lost in Vietnam…did God favor the North Vietnamese? When we landed in the New World of North America and there was a rush for ‘Free Land’ how was it free when Native Americans had been living on it for generations? How is the Anglo Saxon white race superior and therefore heirs to the Earth that god has given them…when Jesus was Jewish? How would we be the sovereign protectors of what it means to be American when none of us came from here…unless you are Native American?

When we define our faith according to who we do not let in to the fold to participate…who would want it? Suffering abounds in our land and is magnified by many of us standing at the door of the church to perform a total bodily inspection to ensure that a prospective member fits the concrete and rod-iron form that we have constructed for them to wear.

Jesus message was of inclusion and love and forgiveness. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.’ Luke 4:18. KJV

Humans have warped the good news of he scripture. the Bible is a group of stories that are written by men and inspired by God. At times what they wrote was inspired by the culture and geographic area in which they lived. When someone is kind to me…I see God. The wonderful fellow who came to pick up my Aerator sewer pump that went out Easter Sunday and returned and installed it the next day and stuck the bill on my front door. It gives me a warm feeling to be trusted. When I was a child trust was a common commodity. Now it is as rare as the biblical ‘gold of Ophir.’ For my 32 year and 2 months and 3 week career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…my word was my bond. I believed everything that my colleagues told me, unless I had substantial evidence not to, and I never lied to them. During my youth in Eldorado, Illinois we had seven little family owned grocery markets. You could walk to the market and easily walk back home. Not everyone had a car. Many Eldorado residents worked in the coal mines before the mines paid good money. Many had retail positions or worked at the lumber yard. The markets conducted their business on the honor system. People would purchase the groceries that they needed and pay some on their ‘Due Bill’ each week or month. We watched President Kennedy on TV…tell us that we were going to land on the Moon before the end of the 1960’s…and we believed him…and we did. Our love of story and of movies, which is nothing but story on the silver screen, and in those days our supreme love of books and reading kept us entertained and our minds enlightened. We did not believe, wholesale, in Live Action Role Playing and conspiracy theories that threatened to destroy our democracy. When I was a boy we read our Bibles and most of us were members of one church or another. We believed that, ‘Jesus loves the little children…all the little of the world…Red Yellow Black and White…All are precious in his sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world.’ In some ways we had little…in other ways we were rich beyond measure…

‘Happy Trails To You’

Once again we have received another lovely day in Little Egypt. The temperature is 79 degrees with a wind of 20 miles per hour. I think that it must be the warmest day this year. Campus was resplendent with purple flowering trees. MJ and I agree that we both hear Parker, our recently deceased Black Lab, and I attest that I hear her more than once a night…padding around the house. When our Boston Terriers passed away, Wallace two years ago next month and Brody in January, we were devastated…but there is something about loosing the last of the trio that hit us especially hard.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had a popular television show when I was a child. Roy and Dale were a singing cowboy and cow girl. The program ran during much of the 1950’s and had a total of 100 episodes. There were also Roy Rogers clothes and lunchboxes and books. Last Saturday I purchased a Roy Rogers book. When I was a youngster I was mesmerized by these hardcover books that were written for children. Roy’s horse was named Trigger, the Golden Palomino and his dog was Bullet, the Wonder Dog. The show’s theme song was, ‘Happy Trails To You.’

Spring is a busier time than winter for many of us. Indeed we have been hibernating for over a year now. One thing that I have learned after being a homeowner for over 40 years is that every time I look up…there is another repair or improvement needed. When you are done with one there will be two coming down the road to replace it. The mysterious riddle is exemplified when you consider that every physical thing that you see will one day be overcome by time and return to dust and the dust to molecules…and it is said that molecules never die… Or as the television show Saturday Night Live had a segment for a few years…’Deep Thoughts By Jack Handy.’

April is upon upon us with the promise off new life and hope and vitality of purpose and a vision for our happy future. Life really is what we make of it. We can let our circumstances beat us and crosses that we bear…become to heavy to lift… Or, we can awake to the panoply of possibilities that are before us and rejoice in the hope that is in the eyes of our family and friends and those who we assist on the…’Happy Trails to you…

Until We Meet Again…’

And…Now What? — The Jazz Man

My happiness is complete as I am back on the writing porch. Few home improvements have afforded me more joy than the screened in magnificent porch that my friend, Jim Calloway, built for us in the beginning days of my retirement…2011. Twenty-eleven seems like yesterday…but it has been 10 years. Someone asked me if others […]

And…Now What? — The Jazz Man

Renewal

Easter has dawned in a glorious manner. It is 63 degrees and the sun is shinning and the birds are singing. Spring has awakened from the slumber of winter and nature’s renewed life is evident everywhere that you look. I think what I appreciate most about Easter is the hope of renewed life. No matter how desperate and discouraging and depressing the frigid cold and ice of winter may have left us…we know spring is coming around the corner. Although our shared Pandemic has been cruel and the dark tunnel that we have all been in has seemed endless…there is light flickering at the end of it.

Many have asked how can you believe in Christ whom you have not seen. What is this thing that you call faith? Pope Francis says that you can see the face of Christ when you peer into the face of the poor. The Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene, after speaking to the angels that were in Jesus empty tomb, turns and sees the resurrected Christ but does not recognize him, and mistakes him for the Gardner. She did not know him until he spoke her name. Often we do not recognize Christ…until he speaks our name.

MJ hid our Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies this morning. I do not mean just for Aaron and Jonathon…but BJ as well! Spirits were high as we enjoyed Zoom Church and then traveled the short distance to Walkers Bluff Legends Restaurant. Even now as I put the finishing touches on this blog the sun is setting with a peaceful glow of better days ahead. It is mowing time once again and my neighbor is doing so right now. I am happy to be here for another Easter and laugh with my loved ones and eat a chocolate bunnies ear…and think about the miracle of the resurrection and the mystery of faith…and of seeing Jesus Face…and of hearing him say my name…

A Mysterious Process that Hurts Like Heaven

A great Easter blog from Jonathon Brooks.

jonathonbrooks

Faith is mysterious. I grew up being taught about Christ and the Bible and not understanding any of it until I was seventeen years of age. The Christian faith will make a man out of a boy. As a teenager the Holy Bible taught me to take a difficult look at who I was becoming. I did not like what I saw in the mirror. I lost my smile once upon a sad time in my life; I smiled brighter than ever when I found it again.

It annoys me whenever preachers or so-called wise men speak as if a life of faith is simple or easy to live. Jesus himself described throughout the gospels a narrow and difficult path that was the equivalent of following him. It was hard for me to decide to follow Jesus. The process of being born again hurt like heaven.

Easter is coming around…

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‘At Noon Darkness Fell Across The Whole Land Until Three O’clock’ — The Jazz Man

‘As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall, but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When […]

‘At Noon Darkness Fell Across The Whole Land Until Three O’clock’ — The Jazz Man

Maundy Thursday

‘Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the Christian Holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.’ Wikipedia

Feet are a rather personal appendage of our bodies. It is somewhat of a rarity to see each others feet. However this was not the case in the sandal wearing times of Jesus. Many churches practice foot washing as a physical manifestation of humility and servitude to their brothers and sisters. When you wash someones feet you experience a bonding that you do not receive from a handshake.

‘When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me. They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me Lord?’ Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. But woe to the man who betrays the son of man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’ Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’ Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness o sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’ Matthew 26: 20 – 30 KJV

My first purchase when I worked for Downs Furniture Store in Elkville, Illinois in 1975…was a lovely painting of the Last Supper. My boss, David, was a kind man and he allowed me to buy items on a payment plan and at his cost. I looked at the magnificent depiction of Leonardo DaVinci’s masterpiece and pondered the love and suffering of Christ. Jesus knew what was ahead but his disciples did not have a clue. I think that we are in the same situation in our day…Christ understands what the end is from the beginning…but we ‘Look through a glass…darkly.’

Uniqueness In The Midst Of Mediocrity

I have noticed that I tend to give a weather report at the beginning of many of my blogs. Well, today it is 52 degrees with a chill factor of 46. An 18 degree drop from yesterday. In the world of winter it is warm and in the world of spring it is chilly. Such is life.

One of my favorite things about my church, First Presbyterian Church @ Carbondale, Illinois, is their out reach to and acceptance of…all people. Acceptance is not so easy to find. It is easy to seek to talk like our colleagues or faith community. It is easy to ‘ape’ or pattern our conduct and clothing and political affiliations to fit into the wooden constructed form, similar to a concrete form, that our peer group expects.

Humbled and proud would best describe my feelings at being afforded the opportunity to reach out to the disabled community. The precious staff that we were able to hire into our department were some of the finest employees that we had during my 32 + year career. Their dedication to the success of Building Services and the advancement of Southern Illinois University…was herculean.

When I speak to someone who has a different opinion than what is accepted as the norm…I learn to see things in a new way and from a different point of view. The accepted geographical knowledge of Christopher Columbus time was that the world was flat…there are still people that believe that this is true…but Columbus proved that the earth was round…as well as satellite photos.

When I was a child it was widely assumed that the earth was the only planet in our galaxy that had intelligent life on it. Flying saucers and UFO’s were relegated to the comic books and science fiction novels. Now a high percentage of humanity believe that UFO’s are real.

Black people…are people. Not better not worse than white people…but equal. African Americans have been instrumental in much of my career and I am once again…humbled and honored by their friendship.

Gay people are people. Not better not worse than straight people…but equal. MJ and I have some wonderful Gay friends that are some of the sweetest people that we have ever known.

Christ came to those who had no voice in his day…and he spoke for them. He came to those who had no place in society…and he said stand by me…we are in this together.

‘And The Common People Heard Him Gladly’ — The Jazz Man

Windy is the watchword for this Tuesday. Walking in 24 mile per hour wind will take your hat right off of your head unless you have a Tilley Hat that has the famous wind strap…that you can place under your chin. As I watch and listen to the George Floyd murder trial I am struck, […]

‘And The Common People Heard Him Gladly’ — The Jazz Man

Holy Week

It is a lovely 64 degrees with 15 mile per hour wind in my neck of the woods. We had a great Zoom church service yesterday, celebrating Palm Sunday. Pastor Kerry mentoned that many churches have little observance of Easter other than Palm Sunday and then a week later Easter. Actually, each day of this week is a member of Holy Week and has a title:

Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday)

Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday

Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday)

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

Holy Saturday (Black Saturday)

Easter Vigil

Easter Day

What did Jesus do during Holy Week?

Day 1: Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday…

Day 2: On Monday Jesus clears the temple.

Day 3: Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives.

Day 4: Holy Wednesday.

Day 5: Passover and the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.

So, this week is full of significance for the christian community. As I reflect on the Easters of my youth I recall that all that I was aware of was Easter Day. Until the age of 12 I did not attend church on a regular basis and knew little more than Christ resurrected on Easter and the Bunny hid Easter eggs. It also seemed to me that the Bunny got more television coverage than Jesus. There was no special Easter dinner or new clothes…but I did notice the beautiful photos in magazines of families all decked out in their Easter Bonnets. Pastor Kerry noted that Easter did not hold the significance or time dedicated to it as in years gone by…in the church. Not long ago the church was at the center of our society and much of life was planned around its calendar. On more than one commemorative plaque at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale it would is proudly noted regarding past presidents of the University that they were christian. At one time our church had over 700 members. Yet…those days seemed to have slipped though our grasp for the expediency of sports and beach time. Barbecue and basketball and picnics on the green…and just some down time…have become our sanctuary on Sunday morning. We tell ourselves that we worship God in our hearts and in our spirits and we contribute to charity. Yet the homeless surround our favorite restaurants and sleep rough along Pennsylvania Avenue in sight of the White House. There are now so many mass shootings that they often do not make the nightly news. We know that our society is ill…but we search blindly for the cure to our malady. Five-hundred and fifty million of our citizens have died during our Pandemic…and yet we have relegated this life taking virus to the political/religious hydra headed monster that suffices for religious understanding and education.

No water for the thirsty if they are in a voting line in Georgia…it is illegal… Do you ever remember water…being illegal?

‘For I was hungry , and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:’ Matthew 25:35. KJV