Category Archives: People

Love is …. love is not …

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.   – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a NRSV

Yes, this is the beginning of a Biblical text used at many, many Christian weddings.

But it’s not just for two consenting adults who are freely making vows to mutually support and encourage and care for one another through the valleys and peaks of life.

This text is for everyone.  (Paul probably borrowed it from his culture and adapted it for the church.)

Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action.  Love is how we treat one another.

We all live in relationship to other human beings every day of our lives.  Friends.  Family.  Neighbors.  Strangers.  Colleagues.  Coaches.  Teammates.  Employers.  Employees.  Customers.  Caregivers.  Care receivers.  Teachers.  Students.  Fill in the blank:  _____________ .  People just like us – even when they seem as different as can be imagined.

We are all called to be patient and kind.  Patient with ourselves; patient with others.  Kind to ourselves; kind to others.  That’s what love is.  It’s what love does.

Sounds so simple.  Yet can be so hard.  Particularly in a culture that seems to admire and even celebrate hurry-up, get-it-done, look-out-for-oneself, take-advantage-of-everyone, what’s-in-it-for-me attitudes and actions.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

At the same time, none of us are called to be envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.  Not envious about what another has or has accomplished.  Not boastful of our own or a loved one’s accomplishments.  Not arrogant about whatever or however we might think we are superior.  Not rude – ever.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

May it be so in my life.

 

 

Without Love

“If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal.

“If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing.

“If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CEB

Did you read the text above?  Really read it?

The guy sitting next to me at church Saturday evening harumphed – an audible, derisive sort of scoff – at the truth of it.  He was genuinely surprised to hear this sort of thing coming from the Bible.

It’s great imagery.

Say what I will but words without love are just noise.  And it’s not just about the tone or the sincerity; it’s about being truly genuine and coming from a place of deep compassion for the persons – every single one of them, friend and foe alike – who will hear what I say.

Look into the future if that’s your thing but if you don’t see through eyes of love you might as well be blind.

If my generosity isn’t fueled by love, I’m not being generous.  I’d add that if there strings attached, it’s neither generous nor a gift.

The apostle Paul – formerly known as Saul, now known as St. Paul – is writing to a church divided and is calling for unity.  The body of Christ – the sum total of all the followers of Jesus – is ONE.  It’s made of many parts, all equally good, all absolutely necessary, each with different gifts.  To treat any individual as less than, to ignore or dismiss another, is simply not the way of Christ.

How we treat each other – within the church or not, Christian or not, matters.

It’s something to consider.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

Shelter from the Cold

We have a resident rabbit.  Or maybe it’s a bunny (is there a difference?).  Long ears; fluffy little white tail.  I startled him (her?) the other night when I peered out the window to see how much snow had fallen.

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Rabbit hole (lower left); he lives under the sidewalk leading to our front door. Photo: TLClark, 1/29/19.

With snow on the ground, it’s easy to see where the bunny has been and where he takes shelter.

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Bunny tracks heading to/from shelter.  Photo:  TLClark, 1/29/19.

Record low temperatures and even colder wind chills are in the weather forecast.  We are being advised to take shelter.  Stay out of the wind, out of the cold.  Stay home if possible.

It is not possible, of course, for so many.  Police, firefighters, EMTs.  Doctors, nurses, aides, janitors, cooks, and all who keep a hospital humming.  Road crews.  Utility workers.  Staffs of nursing home, care centers, and homeless shelters.  Those who must go to work or go without pay.  Those who must go to work or face losing their job.

Schools – including universities – are closed.  Some small business owners are opting to shut their doors for a day or more.

Other businesses will be open and are likely to have customers.  Gas stations.  Grocery stores.  Pharmacies.  Medical clinics.  Some (most?) eating establishments.

The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life.  The Lord will protect you on your journeys – whether going or coming – from now until forever from now.    – Psalm 121:7-8 CEB

Guide us all, O God, with your wisdom that we might make good and sound decisions about our coming and going in dangerous weather.  Shield from harm all who serve to keep others safe.  Amen.

God delights in YOU

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Pictures of my parents (center) and my grandparents. Photo: TLClark.

It’s Monday morning and, as is often the case, a snippet from Sunday worship lingers with me.  This week it’s from the sermon.  The Rev. David Sickelka emphatically said “God delights in YOU.”

For YHWH will take delight in you … as a newly married couple rejoice over each other, so will YHWH rejoice over you.  – from Isaiah 62:4-5 The Inclusive Bible

You.  Same as everyone else.  Loved in all your particularity.

You.  Beloved of God.  Delighted in by God.

When you look in a mirror, do you see a beloved child of God?

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Mirrors.  Photo: TLClark.

 

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

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This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

“The Wonderer” (3rd stanza)

This is the third of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here.

Now, the third stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

What of the wonder of my Heart,
That plays so faithfully its part?
I hear it running sound and sweet;
It does not seem to miss a beat;
Between the cradle and the grave
It never falters, stanch and brave.
Alas! I wish I had the art
To tell the wonder of my Heart.

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Hearts at Faith United Church of Christ, February 2013. Photo: TLClark

The wonder of my Heart.  And your heart, too, for that matter.  Working unceasingly.  Beating dozens and dozens of time per minute, every minute of every hour of every day.  Moving blood – nutrients for life – throughout our bodies.

The wonder of big-hearted people.  Loving and generous and kind.  Forgiving and welcoming and encouraging.  Remembering all that is good.  Sharing nutrients for life throughout our communities.

The paper hearts pictured were part of the children’s message one Sunday in early February six years ago.  The scripture for the day was the great love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  I invited everyone in the congregation that day – young and old alike – to write something about love on a paper heart.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  – I Corinthians 13:4-8a  NRSV

img_2601What is written on your heart today?

“The Wonderer” (2nd stanza)

This is the second of what I imagine to be several posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  You can read the whole poem hereThe first stanza and my first post is here.

Here’s the second stanza:

Then there’s the wonder of my Eyes,
Where hills and houses, seas and skies,
In waves of light converge and pass,
And print themselves as on a glass.
Line, form and color live in me;
I am the Beauty that I see;
Ah! I could write a book of size
About the wonder of my Eyes.

“The wonder of my Eyes.”  Being able to see.

The wonder of my mind’s eye.  Being able to see more than what is seen by the eye.

Looking.  Really seeing.  Appreciating the work of light, the wonder of how light works, the color and design that light reveals. 

And also imagining something more.  Envisioning something, as yet, unseen.

Look around – with your eyes or your mind’s eye.  What do you see?  Possibility?  Hope?  Beauty?  Love?

I have seven nephews and nieces (below).  Each unique and wonderful, seeing the world through their own eyes.  Each with his or her own particular personality and primary interests.  Each growing and learning and exploring the world.  Each beautiful (though the boys may prefer I say handsome).  Each loved – and loving – beyond measure.

eyes - noaheyes - megeyes - lexieyes - kylieeyes - haydeneyes - bryceeyes - ben

The eyes have it!

Or, in the picture below, his eyes say it.  It’s my favorite selfie with my beloved.  I just see love as he looks at me and, since his cancer diagnosis, I am beyond happy he is still around!

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August 2017. Photo: TLClark.