Monday, February 28, 2022

Wonderings--February 28

There are times when the lessons that God is attempting to teach us take some time to seep down into our hearts and change our lives. This has been a conclusion that most of us have known for quite some time, and yet, even as we know a thing to be true, we don't fully know why or how to adopt that truth as we strive to be faithful. . . 

The statement that I am going to share with you from James Finley's podcast, Turning to the Mystics, came to me in the middle of October 2021. When I heard his idea presented on the show, I was driving in my truck carrying 11 totes of books. We were making our transition to Bethesda. 

Each trip that we took about 8 hours one-way. Emma and Jennifer were in front of me keeping a nice pace as we drove that morning. By this point I had finished a couple episodes of other shows that I like. I listened to my audiobook about the Enron collapse for a bit. But I felt that I needed some more time with God. 

In the episode of his podcast, James was unpacking how he had come to understand the practice of scripture meditation. His co-host asked if he might provide an example--which he was happy to do. 

Reading out of Luke 22, James spent considerable time just letting the text speak to him. This passage is where Jesus is afraid before his arrest. He is anxious. He is worried. As I listened to James talk about how the text was impacting him, I wondered if God was speaking directly to me. Here is the conclusion that James offered, and I have wrestled with it nearly every day since that warm autumn day as I bought my library to Bethesda: 

"If Jesus was tempted in all ways as I am, and if in this passage Jesus said do not be afraid. . . but he was afraid on this night. . . So does that mean that I'm not to be afraid. . . to be afraid."

That is not a typo. So I would like you to re-read that sentence because it is wordy and complex if you read it quickly. 

Jesus was afraid before his arrest. He said as much. . . I am afraid at times in my life. . . Does his fear have value to me? 

Does it mean that I should not fear when a situation arises in my life where my natural inclination is one of fear and hesitation? But let the fear come because in the 'fear's coming' I can once again be one with Jesus who died for me? 

There are a lot of reasons to be afraid. Some great; some small. Today the bandage was removed from my knee and my first thought when it was time to walk was filled with fear (and rightly so as I am not fully healed). But in my fear, an opportunity existed to notice that God is already in that room with me. He is with me in this as he is in all things. 

James words, which are complex, deep, and rich, have stuck with me every since I heard them that day. I wonder if they can speak to your life today? 

Rev. Derek

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Wondering--February 24

I knew that my recovery from a total knee replacement would take time. I knew that pain would be present, but that each day I would get a bit stronger as I healed. I created a good treatment plan for success that had many contingencies so that I would confront how I might feel each day and not become discouraged or sad. 

But I did not count on having so much time alone. . . 

Sure, I obviously knew that I would be in the house along for about 5 hours per day. I planned to sleep a lot during those times since I know that sleep would help my body recover and heal quicker. But I didn't truly know what was going to happen this week as I was so alone. 

As you know tensions in Ukraine and Russia are rising. As I write this morning I have read reports of Russian troop advancements. I have read about sanctions and military troop movements from NATO allies. Opening my Apple News App I watched silently as the prospect of war grew day by day. . . and nearly hour by hour. 

But sitting here alone, with no one to talk to or help me understand why this is happening is hard. I have been in this same chair for the last 10 days, I've wondered "Now what?" As I read each story. I have tired to pray for peace and pray for cooler heads to prevail. I have asked God to be with leaders in the US and those aboard. And yet, as I pray, and sit here alone, troops move into Ukraine and like you, I don't know what to do. 

Perhaps you have experienced a similar feeling in your life recently. . . Confronted by something and powerless to address it. Those struggles come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of intensity. I wonder if my solution might be something of value to you. . . ?

After reading the last article in the news, I placed by iPhone down, smiled at the dogs who gently snore next to me, I grabbed dad's cane, and I stand. I have been sitting without moving for a little bit now and so it is time for a walk. 

Brittany, my therapist, is working with me to improve my range of motion as I walk. I need to trust my knee and extend and flex it as I walk. I can do this, if I walk very slowly because then I am aware of all the micro-movements in my knee that take place and I can keep everything bending and flexing better when I am slow. So I walk. . . 

Slowly out of the den, into the kitchen, through the dinning room, and into the living room. I return to the den. The whole trip is 40ish steps. Then I go again. . . This time it's a bit faster but I am still aware of each step. This is my routine that I do about 10 times a day. 

As I walk, I don't pretend that the suffering of my world is impacted by my walking, but I know, I feel, that for the moment everything is in God's hands. Like the song says, "He's got the whole world in His hands.' 

I hope for peace. I pray for it. But in the midst of my day, a day when I am alone, I decided to walk. Like I said before, I wonder if my solution might be beneficial to you?  

Rev. Derek

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Wonderings--February 23

Already today I have felt pulled and pushed in many directions. Let me tell you about some of them before I continue. . . 

Shortly after I began to brew a fresh pot of coffee to enjoy on this glorious rainy morning, the phone rang. The installation company who would be setting up our new dishwasher was calling with some questions. Highest on their list was actually finding where the dishwasher was physically! I don't imagine a dishwasher can be installed if it is missing. But they found it and we all good on that front. 

Then as the technician set to the task of preparing for the actual install, some minor issues arose relating to the plumbing. I don't fully grasp what he is saying but I do know that when he says, "wash any dishes you have with any reside on them of any kind again before you eat on them" I get what he is asking. 

But, although this is important information, it's not the end of the world. My stoic conclusion forgets to mention that I had PT today too. 

My nurse modified my treatment plan to slow things down a bit--imagine that, I am pushing too hard and getting sore. She spent more time helping to stretch my leg out and increase my range of motion. She showed me new ways to stretch and we worked on perfecting how I walk. 

Between the two incidents, which occurred simultaneously this morning, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Not upset. . . Just overwhelmed. 

So as I often do in those moments, I grabbed a favorite book of mine and let the Holy Spirit lead. He showed me the words of Anabaptist Michael Sattler. In the 1500s Sattler wrote a hymn entitled "Christ's Disciples." I want to share some of the verse with you because in the midst of a busy morning finding space to hear Sattler's words helped me as I suspect they will help you. 

When Christ with his teaching true 
Had gathered a little flock 
He said that each with patience
Must daily follow him bearing his cross.

And said: you, my beloved disciples, 
Must be ever courageous 
Must love nothing on earth more than me 
And must follow my teaching.

For I am yours and you are mine 
Thus where I am there you shall be, 
And he who abuses you touches My eye, 
Woe to the same on that day. 

Oh Christ, help thou thy people 
Which follows thee in all faithfulness, 
That through the bitter death 
It may be redeemed from all distress.

These are just a few of Sattler's verses and although I was tempted to read them quickly and get back to my list of things to-do, I couldn't. I needed to slow my heart, settle my mind, and breath. Let God feel in me the pressure of my morning without trying to force my way through it. 

This hymn, which Sattler used to help confront his impending martyrdom, can help each of us. For a confession of faith, even a simple idea about our union in and with Christ, can have a profound impact on that which presses upon us. 

I wonder if you would stop today and affirm who Christ is in your life? Perhaps that which seemed too busy, to pressure packed, might open up and become a time of discipleship? 

Rev. Derek

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Wonderings--February 22

As I was considering how to once again speak about my at-home PT and recovery process, I wondered if we fall into the trap of marginalizing what God, through the Bible, calls necessary and normal? Do we run past something that was transformational simply because it was at the same time normal or anticipated or expected? 

If we do, and I think that this happens far more often than we realize, what does the way forward resemble as we reunify our experience and our expectation with God? 

Yesterday I wrote about vulnerability and how I found some though music and my dependence upon God to help me make my leg function more properly. At that time, I shared lyrics from the Christian rock band Skillet. But as I shared their words, I noticed that someone was missing in the story. . .  Let me see if I can fill in some gaps that helped to enrich what was happening.

So as the first song began to beat out a fast cadence I found John's ever-present lead voice singing. Then behind him was Jen, the drummer, offering echoes and additional verses. Together they craft a wonderful combination of words and meanings. John in his gravely-rock voice and Jen in her high-volume delicate voice. Their lyrics are one part affirmation and one part prayer. . . And that's what was missing. 

I could bob my head up and down in time with the music, I could let my heart sing silently each line, but the prayer wasn't, at that time, taking home of my heart as it normally does when I ask Siri to play some Skillet. 

Yet as soon as I was done with PT and safely back under the gentle touch of my ice machine, I could hear in the back of my mind each line of the songs I just heard. They were a prayer offered to God faithfully. In their own way each song said the same thing: 

You are my God. 
You are my savior.
You will save me. 

And yet, outside of my PT time was I willing to consider the emotional impact of these words and make them part of my discipleship? Was something as simple as music that is sung unto God done so because of its transformational power? 

You see I found myself guilty of making worship and prayer the thing that I did when I had my bible open in my lap--something only done when its supposed to be done. Sadly for that time, worship and prayer escaped my grasp as a every-moment thing. It was relegated away from me. And I don't think that this I what God intended for either of us.

Whether we are in need desperately or just trying to figure out how to lift our leg one more time, God is present to help. In my experience God won't reach down and touch that thing immediately. While that does happen it happens far less frequently then we might hope. Instead, what God promises is to with be with. To hold us. To care for us--always and forever. 

I wonder if the simplicity of that message might be helpful for you today as you continue living out the sacred calling of God and the daily grind of life?

Rev. Derek

Monday, February 21, 2022

Wonderings--February 21

Following my total knee replacement, I can confess that I have learned a lot. If you followed along with my daily reports on Facebook then you know already that I offered up: The Bad and The Good each day. They were just a quick glance at what I experienced in the last day that was meaningful to me in some way. 

Those reflections also offered up a slice of hope for me. By focusing on The Good I could quantify each day the small 'wins' that I experienced. Noting The Bad I could see how I was checking off each necessary next step. 

But absent in those daily updates was the theological learning that was taking place in me. Not to worry, I did not shelf the Almighty as I relearned how to bend my knee and endure tremendous pain in doing so. . . Far from it. Instead, held those encounters with my God close at hand, and by doing so, my learning continued long after the initial instance. 

The first lesson was vulnerability. . .

On Wednesday my at-home therapist Brittany told m that PT stood for Pain and Torture and that she would be pushing me hard. You see if she didn't push hard then I would end up with a limp that could not be corrected in just a couple weeks. That was not going to happen to me. I struggled through her routine but I completed it and so I wrongly thought that I could do this. 

Not so fast, my friend. . . The following day as Jennifer sat on the hearth next to my chair and encouraged and pressed me toward success, it wasn't happening. I couldn't do it. I couldn't connect my mind to my quad and make it work. Not even one time. My foot would twitch in rebellion but for that first day it didn't work. 

The emotions were bubbling. The pain increasing. I was not frustrated or angry but something else was happening. Tears flowed down both cheeks as Jennifer continued to press and encourage me. Through a cracked voice I could only must the word, 'can't.' Then I would tuck my face back under my shirt and weep.

In love Jennifer called for Emma while she held my foot in neutral and said, 'I think I broke you dad." She didn't. . . 

From that evening on, I would climb from my recliner to the dinning room chair they brought me for work. As I sat down I would whimper, 'I can't. . . I have to' back and forth as I got ready. 

Finally after 3 days of intense pain I knew what I had to do. Grabbing my iPhone, I slowly shuffled through my music until I found what would help me. I needed to hear reminders of how in my weakness, regardless of how that is defined, God is close at hand. 

Using the words of John Cooper, PT became a time of silent confession to God and worship before Him. Here are some of the lyrics that became prayers for me: 

"I need a Hero to save my life."

"A hero's not afraid to give his life, a hero is going to save me just in time."


"When I need to be saved, you're making' me strong, your'e making me stand.  . .  You (God) make me feel invincible. . .

On and on it would go. Song after song I would quietly sing in my heart to the God who saves me and strengthens me. The tears still fall. The pain is still there but because I allowed myself to engage the spiritual vulnerability, communion was possible for me. 

Now I know you are not likely going to have PT as I do this week. And I know that you probably aren't in physical pain right now. . . But we all need to embrace the vulnerability that comes as we learn how deeply we need God. I am still learning those lessons and later today as I climb into my chair again to make my knee work, Skillet will again be pounding out their music on my speaker and yet my heart will be still because in my vulnerability He is strong.

I wonder, if you can find a similar place in your day to express your vulnerability to God? What might happen and how might it bless you when you need it most? 

Rev. Derek

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Wonderings--February 10

Since yesterday my mind has circled back to that 'the thing I did.' I wrote a letter that served two purposes: support and encouragement. I had the letter proof read before I sent it to his final destination and no changes were made. The content was clear and correctly phrased and formatted. I thought that it was the least that I could do. . . but sometimes that 'least that we can do' becomes more. 

Several hours later I received some feedback from the letter that I sent. I honestly had no expectations for a response as the letter was not written to garner one. I wanted to make sure that I was available should I be needed and sought. But a response happened that supported my first conclusion. 

I received a look. An ever-so light tear. And then it was gone. I have been thinking about that moment since it happened which leads me to today's thought and led me to believe that any tiny gesture that we do to support another person will be used by God for great things. 

In 2013, author George Saunder delivered the commencement address at Syracuse University. In that address he offered these words to the students as they prepared to face their lives outside of the classroom. He said: 

"So here's something I know to be true, although it's a little corny, and I don't quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded. . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."

Stepping out and being present in the life of another person is a courageous act. These gestures can be a simple and silent as writing letter. But we should never forget that our response to the struggles of their lives should mirror God's emotional response to the first sin of humanity. 

In that case God boldly came to us. God choose to leave the perfect Union of heaven and accept a mortal body that would hang on a cross one day. God did not respond gently and mildly to our need--and I do not believe that God ever will. God shows up for us. Right now. In totality. 

So as I think about my letter, yes, it was a small gesture but it was one that confronted the recipient in the place where they were. They suffer. I know this.  They are working hard and trying to adapt daily to an ever-shifting landscape. 

Small gestures are one thing, but I wonder if we could stop seeing them just as tiny things that we do and realize that they are tools that God can use to heal, restore, and support another person? 

I wonder if you have decided to care of another person in the same way? I bet God will use that caring act to help the other person in ways you do not anticipate. 

Rev. Derek

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Wonderings--February 9

I did a thing. . . 

Sometimes the most obvious thing to do, the most needed thing to do, the thing that we are called by God to do, isn't the thing that we choose to do. (Now I know that this sounds like Paul's words in Romans 7, but it is what it is). Let me explain: 

As you know, Covid has brought a great deal of suffering into our community. It has brought uncertainty and frustration in equal parts to us. What seemed solid, foundational, in our lives, became shaky and isolating. Almost overnight we found ourselves living and operating on islands. Separated from the things that we love and the people we needed. Many felt uncared for. Forgotten. Neglected. And this was not our choice. 

We still loved those around us. We cared for them. If asked, we would affirm total solidarity with them. Yet, I wonder if you know of a time recently that you have felt alone and wounded? I wonder if the solid-ness that defined your day normally was replaced by isolation? 

But remember, like I started with, "I did a thing". . . and maybe God is asking you to do the same thing in your own way to your own people? And what was that dramatic, life-altering, amazing thing that I did?. . .  I wrote a letter. That's it. I wrote a letter. 

The words of the letter were not that revelatory. I did not offer any information in the letter that was beyond my sphere of influence. No grand promises were made. No grandstanding or pontificating on the issues of the day. . . There was absolutely nothing false written in that letter. I just said what God says to each of us: 

I am here. 

Perhaps I am not the only person who needs to offer that type of presence?  For whether it is covid, an illness, the presence of grief, the impending end for someone, it does not matter. God is here. God is always here. 

But it is we who forget that word. We forget how closely God draws to us in our times of need. We get so wrapped up in what we are doing and how hard we are working that we can forget the only promise that God makes in the work: "I am with you always, even to the end."

What would happen today, if you took the chance and 'did a thing?' Who might it help? Perhaps they need you right now? 

Rev. Derek

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Wonderings--February 8

While reading the introduction to a new book (Atlas of the Heart) that I am enjoying, I came across the following survey and results that I want to share with you today. This research was conducted over five years and asked respondents to list all of the emotions that they could recognize and name as they were experiencing them. 

(Perhaps take a moment to jot your responses to that question down just to notice in yourself how you might respond. . .)

After compiling thousands of surveys three emotions stood head-and-shoulders above the rest as being common to all responses. Over five years the three emotions that people could recognize as they were experienced were: happy, sad, and angry. 

The supervisor of the survey was shocked! She wondered what it meant that the vastness of human emotions and responses could be, and was, boiled down to three emotions? Are we truly all feeling the same thing? Of all the human emotions that are accessible to us, why do we identify only as mad, sad, or happy? 

Now there is a great deal of room in this conversation to lean back and wonder about the social implication of these results, but I wonder about how the apply them theologically? How do we take the results of this survey and apply them in our lives as Christians as we seek to serve God and live faithfully in our context? 

If the author's conclusion is correct, then it seems from my perspective that you and I have a commonality with our neighbors that might normally go unrecognized. . . 

While we might recognize and accept God as the center of our lives, and even if our neighbor does not, common space is present. We may believe that the scriptures are a true and accurate representation of how God reveals Himself to us through Christ Jesus, and the person next door may disagree with us vehemently. Yet, we each know what it feels like to be happy, sad, and angry. 

We have a commonality with them, and in that commonality, language exists that can help them live faithfully in this world and find God seeking them out. But we must accept this conclusion and choose whether we are going to live into it and serve God or not. 

I wonder where this emotional commonality points you? What does it look like? And how different truly are we in the church from our brethren who do not worship with us? 

Rev. Derek 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Wonderings--February 7

Sometimes when you take a moment, slow down, and notice, you witness something that can help shape your day. When that happens what you witness becomes a "God moment.". . . And God moments can be shared. Let me share the story with you from Sunday worship. . . 

The Sunday service was proceeding normally. Bert, our liturgist, blessed our hearts with an a-cappella opening as part of her welcome. With each line and stanza of the song that she sang, I felt my heart lifting up and a smile coming across my face. God was good and the service was a blessing. 

As we prayed for the needy of our community, God was close at hand. With each shared prayer concern, we noticed how great our God is and we know how great He could become in the lives of other people who need His touch. . . 

And then something small, something most of you didn't notice, happened.

Reagan Hall sat down at the piano to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I imagine she took a deep breath, relaxed, and started playing. . . If you are familiar with the piece you know its pacing and sound. She was doing well. I noticed LaRayne watching proudly from the back row of the choir area, and then it happened. 

Sitting a row in front of LaRayne was Reagan's sister Katie. Head slightly cocked toward her sister, she sat silently listening with her legs crossed. But the thing you didn't see was her hand. Katie had her fist resting on top knee with her thumb sticking up. She was giving her sister, who I imagine was a bit nervous, a silent 'thumbs up' in support. 

She didn't smile. She didn't look anxious herself. Instead Katie sat there offering a tiny little gesture to her sister that said in its own way: "You got this." Indeed she did. 

Reagan finished playing and sat down. The silent "thumbs up" slid away and the service continued onward. There was no acknowledgment of that silent gesture but I imagine, as I bet you do, that it was appreciated. 

We don't always have to make a grand show of support to another person. Instead we just 'show up' and allows God to act. Nothing needed to be said. Nothing was said between the sisters. They were just there to support one another. 

I wonder if today you might be able to offer that same silent support, encouragement, and presence to another person? And I wonder how that might bless them? 


Rev. Derek

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Wonderings--February 3

Do you ever get tempted with the idea that you are too busy for to be faithful? Too busy to practice your faith? And in that confession you become frustrated and upset with yourself and with the life that you are living?  

For many of us we believe that our faith is a private, personal matter. It's no one business by my own--well at least its between God and me. No one should worry about how I manage my faith or how I find the time to be faithful. . . 

Perhaps like me, you have had a busy couple of weeks and you find that the regular activities of the faith, those that you cherish and affirm on Sunday with the Body of Christ, aren't happening as regularly as you'd like. 

Perhaps you mean well. Perhaps you truly love God and would never confess to moving God to a distant second-seat in your life. . . But that happens from time to time. The events of the day taking priority over the devotion we need. And when it does, the response that brings us back into faithfulness feels like an impossibility. It feels like climbing Everest rather than just walking with Jesus along the path of life. 

On my way home from an appointment with Emma's guidance counselor I listened to a new podcast that I have come to appreciate. The host, in her regular gentle tone and timber, confessed that she likes to find space and time to travel to the beach which is near her home. Doing so, she says, is part of her practices of Christian faithfulness. It is part of her devotional time with the Lord that she loves. The 15 or 20 minutes it take her to get to that beach is time when she can contemplate how God is at work in her life. 

Then as she thinks about how God has been close to her this week, and notices the gentle nudges of the Holy Spirit, the two of them (She and God) can talk about how to remedy any shortcomings and grow closer together relationally. . . But this week that has not happened and she confessed this failing on the episode that I listened to. 

She said that she has been trying to get to the beach and yet cannot do it and was becoming quite discouraged and frustrated by her apparent lack of devotion to God. The things that occupied her time were meaningful and worthy, yet something did not feel right because she and God did not walk together this week as they normally did. . . I wonder if you know something that feeling? 

For a few days the host of the show said that she was irritated by this fact and began to judge herself and judge those who were keeping her away from her faithfulness-practices. But then she finally got to take the way. . . and as she took it, God and she spoke again. 

God reminded her that the busy life that she had was part of His plan. He was there. Why did she believe that God would only walk with her as she went to the beach? Why not think that God was close at hand at every interval of life? 

I wonder again if you and I might learn something from her lesson? 

Perhaps through the business of the week, through the pressure and commitments, God might be wondering where you've been? . . . Why did you think that he was only waiting to walk with you toward your own 'private beach?' Maybe God was there in the hectic-ness of life? 


Rev. Derek

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Wonderings--February 2

According to the weather app on my iPhone, today the high temperature will reach 57 degrees. While the walk to the church was cool, I was not discouraged. Sitting now in my office in a short sleeve shirt that JonMark 'passed down' to me, I sip some coffee and know that when I get home the sun will have warmed the area and it will bless my heart. 

Thinking about how it is going to be almost 60 degrees today made me remember my last conversation with JonMark. 

It was very late at night--so late that it was almost early. He said the temperature in his car registered at 1 degree and I knew that the windchill was far worse and had already chilled him to the bone as he walked to his car. He said that he was 'over it' which made my heart smile as I thought about him coming to see us one day and enjoy the warmth of South Carolina. . . family being reunited.  

And then my thoughts drifted to how Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania is supposed to received additional snow tomorrow--a lot of snow if I remember correctly. 

Once again he will have to gather his strength to press on through frigid, dangerous, weather and continue his life. He will wear an extra layer and he will thrive. . . And I know that he will do it with a smile and his gentle grace. 

But how? How will he both practically and emotionally do this? How will he practice resilience in his spirit? And how will we when the events in our days either spiral out of control or press us against an emotional wall that we cannot climb or access? 

Katherine May says: 

"By embracing winter, rather than trying to push it away, [I] have found a way to keep going."

(You can substitute the word 'winter' for anything that you'd like that you struggle with.)

By embracing the challenge, even the feelings of hopelessness that could come with it, and by taking all of that into the presence of God, we keep going. 

Covid may still live next door, and grief may bruise your soul, and hopeless feelings can abound, but so can the chance to embrace the struggle. The choice to embrace it happens because you know that as you embrace a thing  you do so with God embracing it with you. . . You are not alone and so you do not struggle, work, or weep alone. 

I wonder today what thing you could find in your life that you and God could embrace together? And I wonder what might happen when you do? 

Rev. Derek  

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Wonderings--February 1

In God's kingdom there is always the chance to offer healing and support in ways that seems unexpected and unbelievable to the rest of the community at-large. 

That support, which can take on the appearance and forgiveness and/or peace, speaks in our lives with far greater meaning than we might first believe. For much in the kingdom of God that we live into, and are called to share, has a long lasting effect on others as we live out our faith. We are not called to practice a silent, distant, faith, but a dynamic one that challenges others to follow Jesus' example. 

Majorie Thompson tells the following story from the Dakota Sioux Indians. It is a story that illustrates the communal nature and dynamics of forgiveness. She writes: 

"A young man in the tribe has been murdered, and his enraged relatives were gathered to plan revenger. The eldest male in the clan listened to them all out their aggrieved feelings and vindictive intentions, repeating to them what he heard them say. . . Finally, he spoke again to say that there was a better way--a harder but better way. He told them to go home, look over their prized possessions, and bring back the one thing they prized the most.

He said, "The gift you brig shall go to the murderer, for a tone of our sincerity and our purpose. Though he has hurt us, we shall make him. . . [a relative], in place of the one who is not here."

At the appointed time, the murderer was brought into the council tepee and given the peace pipe with these words: 

"Smoke, with these your new kinsmen seated here. For they have chosen to take you to themselves in place of the one who is not here. . . It is their desire that henceforth you shall go in and out among them without fear. By these presents which they have brought here for you, they would have you know that whatever love and compassion they had for him is now yours, forever."

Deeply moved, the slayer began to weep.

We read this story and think that is is incredible in its reach and its welcome. We might even wonder how could we adopt a similar posture and practice in our faith journey. Yet these questions should not dissuade us from living out the posture that we read about knowing that the work will be hard each and every day. 

While God does not often ask each of us to sell all we have and give to the poor or needy, we are called to offer the level of support and welcome that this story speaks about. Knowing that this is challenging attitude to adopt, I wonder what your life and evangelism would shift if you offered a similar and personal degree of care to someone in your community? 

Rev. Derek

I Wonder--November 29

I wonder if you would pray with me for someone you have not met?  Today I had my yearly physical with my doctor and it went very well. Heart...