My aunt died a few weeks ago. She was a good woman, and I loved her dearly. We decided to take flowers to her gravestone in memory of her for Memorial Day.
The cemetery is located in a small southeastern Missouri town, a very poor community with many rundown buildings. Nevertheless, the cemetery was very pretty, already showing a wide display of flowers distributed around the grave stones in anticipation of Memorial Day. There’s something to be said for people who remember their loved ones. And maybe even their not so loved ones.
After placing the flowers on the gravestones (My parents are buried there too.), we spent some time just exploring the cemetery. The oldest gravestone we found was of a child who died in 1867. Some stones looked older but had weathered to the point we could not read the etchings.
There was a certain sadness in that for me.
Time eventually even erases the marks in stone we make in an effort to remember people who once experienced life.
Looking out over the cemetery, I could see in my mind the layer of caskets beneath the surface of the ground following the contour of the land like a vein of ore waiting to be mined. The value of this vein is not in the materials making up the caskets, substantial even though that might be. Rather, the value resides in the caskets and their contents as markers of prior lives God has not forgotten over time. There is no weathering of God’s memory.
Atheists would say this is a religious pipe dream.
I’m glad I’m not an atheist.
I have hope, a strong conviction, from what I have learned from the Bible.
Pentecost is about a harvest season, not of grain or even of valuable ore, but of people. Walking around in that cemetery I could almost feel the waiting, the listening for the call from Christ to come forth.
John 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
One of the messages of Pentecost is to remember we are workers in a harvest season. In the not too distant future, this particular harvest will end.
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We are planning to observe Pentecost on Sunday, May 31st at 11 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall in Washington, MO. This is our first meeting in many weeks, and we will not have a potluck this time. You are welcome to bring your own snacks/drinks if you so desire.
We do plan to follow the guidelines on social distancing. If all goes well, we may return to our regular sabbath schedule at the Opera House in June.
I know some of you have plans to meet elsewhere, and that is fine. Please feel free to observe Pentecost wherever you so desire. Regardless, may we all enjoy the Holy Day!
It is hard to believe that song was first recorded some 65 years ago. Jerry Lee Lewis was not the first to record it, but his version in a 1957 release event climbed to #1 on the Billboard R & B chart and on the country charts and made Lewis a celebrity.
“I ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ going on.”
In the last four months the world has experienced a whole lot of shaking going on. The health, economic and social shakings from the COVID-19 pandemic have been severe. Many sources claim there’s a lot of faking of information in attempts to move forward various agendas.
The truth is hard to come by oftentimes in this world; we rarely, if ever, get an accurate total picture. Nevertheless, some things are telling. Funeral homes in hard hit areas overflowing with bodies waiting to be cremated. Refrigerated body storage facilities parked on some hospital lots. The desperate pleas for respirator devices which marked early attempts to treat sick people with low O2 levels.
I think most of us, maybe not all, can at least agree this is not your average flu season.
But agreement beyond that has been difficult to come by. Many kinds of allegations have been made. My inbox has been inundated with multiple warnings of the plots “really” behind the COVID-19 actions, both governmental and private.
All of this has resulted in much conflict between people: the left vs. the right; citizens for/against government policies to deal with the outbreak; churches for obeying/not obeying government guidelines for meeting/not meeting, and so on and on.
Lots of animosity.
Stress does that type of thing.
There’s a saying which goes something like this: “When you get shaken, what’s really in you spills out.” That’s my paraphrase of it. Until something unbalances a person they can hide what’s in their cup. No more hiding though when the contents slosh out.
I do know for sure none of this has caught God by surprise. In fact, Isaiah 45:7 quotes the LORD, “I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (KJV). This verse is an example of parallelism in Hebrew scripture - light vs. darkness, peace vs. (not moral evil) calamity.
God Himself says He creates calamity, trouble.
Deuteronomy 8 gives some insight. Even though God brought Israel out of Egypt as His chosen people, not everything seemed rosy to Israel in the wilderness.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 - And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (KJV)
Difficulties humble us and prove what is in our hearts. Our words, choices, and actions declare what is really in us.
We have been shaken out of our prior lives and routines. Things will never be just like they were even when a “new normal” does come.
Romans 8:28 is a favorite scripture: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV)
There is evil in this world manifested at both the physical and spiritual levels.
They mean it for destruction, but God means it for good.
There may still be some flare ups over the next few weeks of COVID-19 panic/disruptions/disagreements, but it is likely the worst of this particular challenge is in the rear view mirror. At least for the summer. Hopefully.
We all should take some time to meditate on what spilled out of us during this time of shaking.
As Jesus indicated in Matthew 24, these birth pangs will precede His return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth. Stronger contractions, birth pangs, are coming in the future. That’s how the birthing process normally goes, right? The wise see, learn, and prepare.
This is from Marvin Olasky’s page in World magazine, April 11, 2020, page 72:
A Duty to Protect
Some Christians have said things like: Let’s continue to meet. God will protect us. Here’s what John Calvin wrote in his Insitutes of the Christian Religion (Book 1, Chapter 17): “For he who has set limits to our life has at the same time entrusted to us its care. He has provided means and helps to preserve it . . . Thus if the Lord has committed to us the protection of our life, our duty is to protect it; if he offers helps, to use them; if he forewarns us of dangers, not to plunge headlong; if he makes remedies available, not to neglect them.”
What’s the practical application? One Sunday in 1862 pastor and soldier Robert L. Dabney preached a sermon on God’s “special providence,” nothing that in a recent battle “every shot and shell and bullet was directed by the God of battles.” Not much later Dabney found himself under fire and took cover behind a large gate post. A nearby officer kidded him: “If the God of battles directs every shot, why do you want to put a gate-post between you and a special providence?” Dabney replied, “Just here the gate-post is the special providence.”
That story ends with a touch of humor, but the following is only tragic:
Richmond Pastor Who Defied Social Distancing Orders Dies of COVID-19
Anne Stych April 14, 2020, Ministry Watch, (https://ministrywatch.com/richmond-pastor-who-defied-social-distancing-orders-dies-of-covid-19/).
A Richmond evangelical preacher who told his congregation “God is larger than this dreaded virus” after defying state social distancing recommendations has died of COVID-19.
Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, 66, died April 11. The church announced the pastor’s death in a video on its Facebook page that was posted on Easter Sunday.
Bryan Nevers, a church elder, said in the video that funeral arrangements will be announced in the next few days and that they will adhere to Virginia’s quarantine guidelines.
Glenn continued to hold services at Richmond’s New Deliverance Evangelistic Church even after the spreading coronavirus threat led government officials to warn against gatherings of 10 or more people, preaching to 185 congregants March 18, per The Washington Post, and saying at a March 22 service he would continue “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” the New York Post reported.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” he said at the later service, repeating the statement for emphasis.
Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam had closed non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people on March 17 in response to the spreading pandemic. Northam expanded the mandate to a stay-at-home order March 30.
Glenn’s wife, Mother Marcietia Glenn, 65, also has tested positive for the virus, according to their daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, who urged people to “understand the severity and the seriousness of this, because people are saying it’s not just about us, it’s about everyone around us.”
That last sentence is worth re-reading. For those not concerned about self, there is still the possibility of passing this virus along to others. A substantial percent of people pass this virus along while not showing or developing symptoms.
At least for the present, consider social distancing and diligent hygiene as providences of God.