Sunday Chronicles #68, Nov. 19, 2017
Greetings from Springfield, MO on an awesomely gorgeous Sunday afternoon. After chapel, I backed the Lincoln into the driveway on my first try! It’s not exactly straight, but all four wheels are on the concrete, so I’m counting it a success. Most of the leaves are down now and visible across the creek in some undergrowth is a small tree with bright red leaves. I’m guessing it’s a persimmon, and I’d like to go investigate, but since I’d have to wade the creek, and there’s no one here to fish me out if I fell in, I decided I’d best be satisfied with guessing.
Our chaplain continued his series in Mark’s Gospel, speaking today from Mk. 2:13-17 where Jesus calls Matthew to follow Him. When Matthew responded favorably, Jesus and His disciples went to Mathew’s house for a meal. Jesus’ acceptance of Matthew brought intense criticism from the scribes and Pharisees. To them Matthew was a traitor – he was collecting taxes for the Imperial Roman government which the Jews hated. Even worse, Rome allowed tax collectors to charge more than what the government required and keep the extra for their wages. (Remember Zacchaeus? Lu. 19:1-10). Thus, most tax collectors became wealthy while taxpayers suffered. (I’ll resist pointing out similar flaws in our tax code. You can fill them in.)
Chaplain challenged us to follow Jesus in looking for and accepting those who need God’s love. Through the years I’ve tried to do that, but I can tell you that when you do, some “religious” people (modern Pharisees) will lead critical attacks on you. Keep your focus on pleasing God and your heart free from any hate toward those who attack you, and God will see you through. Once when we were pastoring, I invited a woman to sing a duet with me whose personal life didn’t please some of the “saints.” Yes, she had made some bad choices, but she had repented and was sincerely trying to make corrections. If only perfect Christians qualified to sing praise to God, there would be no songs! Matthew had a soiled history, but He accepted Jesus’ invitation. Isn’t that what all of us did?
This week we have Thanksgiving. I’ve been told that after the death of someone you love, the first holidays are the hardest. Today I’m learning that’s true. Grief has puzzled me; just when I think it’s getting better, it rolls in like a fog. A friend sent me a quote that has helped explain some of what I feel. I don’t know the original author, but here’s the thought: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
Thank you for your prayers and the love so many of you have extended to me. This week the dizzy spells have been much lighter and less frequent. I’m trusting that they will totally disappear. We still have no idea what causes them. Arthritis in my hips and knees make getting around harder. Melinda took me to Evangel University Friday night to see their musical production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” We borrowed a wheelchair from Maranatha to help get me from the parking lot to the auditorium, but it was still quite a task. I can see that my going out anywhere this winter will be restricted. Jon, Amy, Andrew, Elizabeth, and Melinda will be here for Thanksgiving. Join us in giving thanks to God by reaching out to those who need to know His love. Perhaps you know a “Matthew” who is waiting for an invitation to follow Jesus. God has abundantly blessed us by giving us His Son as our Savior. We can follow His example by reaching out to someone needing to be loved. Peace, jwb