Monthly Archives: November 2010

“THANKS BE TO GOD”

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians/5-18.International Standard Version (©2008)

When I was a young minister, it was my good fortune to be befriended by a frail, elderly little old lady. She was feisty as a bantam rooster and tougher than a railroad spike. When I first became pastor in her community she quickly let me know something had hurt and angered her and just by default I sort of became a target of her wrath. I hadn’t been there long when she “flogged me.” When I found out what had triggered her defensive rage, we got some guys in the Church and fixed it for her. From that time, until the day she died, she became one of the dearest, most treasured friends and most faithful supporters I ever had. She made a confession of faith in Christ and joined the church I was serving. When her health began failing, and she was quite fragile and in declining health, we visited often. Always, when I was leaving, we’d join hands and I’d pray for her. That continued after I left the Church and until my last visit with her in the hospital. After the “amen,” she always added: “Thanks be to God.”

At the time I was unaware that statement was part of some church liturgy, but it also was an expression of her attitude of gratitude. When she died she’d requested me to deliver the temporary “goodbye” and this was the topic of my address: “Thanks be to God.” For what? For everything. EVERYTHING. “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above…” These days I’m thinking about some of the things for which I’m grateful. One of them, for example, is the brave, unselfish men and women who are serving or have served in the defense of America.   I thank God for them. . . but I also thank them.  Willing to die for us, we owe them our undying gratitude.

With Veteran’s day at hand, I believe it’s appropriate to express thanksgiving and pay tribute to everyone of them, including those who’re serving now. None of us who has not served in such a capacity can understand the great risks and sacrifices endured by those who served (or are serving) and their families. That was brought home to me forcefully again as I just completed a magnificent book, The War to End All Wars. It also came to me as I read a friend’s beautiful tribute to her brother, killed years ago in Viet Nam. His Name Was Donn is a very worthwhile read. . . But brace yourself. It hurts, and every correspondence I’ve had with Dr. Evelyn Sweet-Hurd (the author) has revealed the lasting pain his loss caused her family. Pray for or veterans and those serving now. Pray also for their loved ones, “they also serve who only stand and wait.”

While I realize this isn’t exactly a “Scripture study,” it does seem to me a privilege and a duty to say this. After I’d posted these comments on my facebook, my son (Paul Timothy who is a vet. And also a very thoughtful, sensitive guy,) commented: “Even some of us who have served cannot understand. I think Veterans’ Day’s proximity to Thanksgiving is appropriate. A song a friend introduced to me a couple of years ago http://www.youtube.com/wat\ch?v=Pf29IIQuqYk”

Wouldn’t this be a good time for you show your gratitude and thank someone in the military for your freedom. If you don’t know anyone, this would be a good time for you to enlarge the circle of your friends and lengthen your prayer list. Still I’m thinking about the Incarnation of Christ and will probably dwell on that for the next few posts. Bless all you veterans and those with whom and for whom you serve!

donkimrey

WONDERFUL, WONDER-FULL WORDS

“The glory of the Lord shone round about them… good tidings of great Joy … unto you is born a Savior which is Christ, the Lord…Peace, Good will toward men…” Luke 2:

There are some concepts used in Scripture which are not just difficult for us to understand. They’re nearly impossible. We don’t really have anything in our current frame of reference which can shed a lot of light. Even when we try, how could we ever adequately describe a breathtaking, beautiful sunset to a person who’s never seen anything but the back of his eyelids? How would you try to describe the most beautiful music you ever heard to someone who’s never heard or spoken a word! How could anyone ever share anything which they’ve never experienced?

Before you look up the words in your dictionary (or your Bible dictionary) and as you approach the day we’ve set aside to remember the birth of Christ, would you spend a bit of time and try to help give these words the worth they deserve? Do you have any way to express the same ideas in perhaps a different way so it becomes fresh and new and has the impact on you as it had on those who first encountered the angels, the shepherds, the magi, Mary, Joseph, and the little baby sleeping soundly in a feed trough?

MESSIAH
KING
LORD
CHRIST
SAVIOR
GLORY
JOY

As I’ve been thinking again about the meaning of Christmas, above are some words which appear in the old, old story. The task I’ve set for myself is trying to mine some treasure in this venture. For my own benefit first, but I’ll obviously share anything I discover which has value and hope you’ll give me the benefit of your own insight into these concepts. What ideas do those words above bring to your mind?

In addition to trying to grasp the significance of the terms used, I’ve been considering the approach each of the writer of the four Gospel accounts takes: Their potential, primary audience, how they introduced Jesus to history, and their unique perspective of this eternal event. The entire “cast of characters” in this great drama. And, although I’d never really considered Paul’s contribution to our bank of knowledge about the Incarnation, I’ve been thinking about how he weighs in on such a profound idea.

My effort has been very rewarding. I feel we’ve gotten so accustomed to the idea of Christmas that there’s a danger of missing out entirely on the meaning of the Incarnation. Our vision has become so lame and tame. So blemished and blurred and tarnished. So superficial. We wear some words out. We just don’t understand them, and seldom take time or make effort to understand.

I’ve been asking: “Where’s the electricity? The excitement? Where’s the drama?” Our vision is so sanitized and sterilized, but the real event has the smell of the barnyard and human sweat and fear. Where’s the thunder and lightning? Where are the heart throbs and the gasps of awe and amazed wonder? Where’s the glory? The great joy?

Before the red and green rush comes hurtling at you and greedy merchandizing overwhelms you, will you take a bit of time and think with me in preparation for the Eternal Event?

How would you define those words in the context where we’ll find them couched as we read again about Christ’s birth? May I hear from you?

God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey