I asked God, “What do pastors do about difficult people in the church?”
Never think that you can understand God. You may understand that he loves you. You may understand his Sovereignty. But you and I can never understand the plans he has for our lives, the means by which he causes them to pass, and the difficult journey we are often asked to make. You can love him, worship him, applaud him and tell others about him, but he reserves the right to hold this world – your future and mine – in his hands.
I sat there before my feet could even touch the floor. Later, I played board games on it, read books, and typed on my laptop computer from it. It is where I wrote thank you notes to those rejoicing with me after I married and to those grieving with us after daddy died. When I had children, I brought their highchairs there. It is where we celebrated all of our birthdays.
I have always enjoyed reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, especially when his deputy, Barney, added his unique touch of humor. After Andy died, I started taping all of the Andy Griffith Marathon shows. I don't want to miss a one. It's not just that I lose myself in laughter, but I lose myself in 30 minutes of peddling backward into the simplicity of another time. My mind and body slow down when I walk into Mayberry. There's nothing quite like a visit with Andy on his porch, with Aunt Bee in her kitchen or with Opie as he rides his bike in complete confidence that nothing bad could ever happen on the streets of Mayberry. I loved Barney's favorite expression dealing with life's trials: “Nip it in the bud!”
I went to place flowers on my husband's grave and grabbed an encouraging thought of where Roy is now. Well, of course I knew. However, this reminder was precious in ways that showed me, once again, of God's tender and faithful love. The city had recently placed names on the streets that wind in and around our cemetery, and the name of Roy's road is Genesis.
Most people who read the South Georgia Advocate are United Methodists. While we have our first allegiance to the Triune God, we have found ourselves at home with the United Methodist expression of the Christian faith. The readership ranges from those who “like” to those who “love” The United Methodist Church.
The side rear-view mirror of most cars has a statement on the passenger side that we should heed: Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. When I look out of that mirror, I see vehicles that seem to be a good distance back. But, in actuality, when I turn to look, they are closer than the mirror shows. I think there's a lesson in this.
I can't hold this one in for another year. So, would you stretch Christmas a little further, and indulge me as I share what happened when I brought the story of the Wise Men to our children's sermon this past December?
Now, where in the world was Baby Jesus? Weeks before, I had removed him from sitting on top of my buffet and taken him to church to show the preschoolers. This wasn't just any Baby Jesus. This Baby Jesus was special! He had just enough blue and white to place him into the color scheme I loved. He stayed on my buffet in the kitchen year round, lying in his attached manger and being the focal point for the sheep and camel, shepherds, wise men, Joseph and Mary. If any part of my Christmas creche got lost, surely it didn't need to be Baby Jesus! After all, He is the main character! What is a creche without Baby Jesus?
Do you remember the childhood game where two contenders battled each other until finally one had to say, “I give?” While one was forced to admit defeat because of pain or exhaustion, the other gloated over his win. As we have grown away from childhood, we still recognize the truth of this game. In real life, there are winners and losers. Everybody doesn’t get his own way, and life isn’t always fair. Sometimes the wrong person will win, and sometimes the innocent person will lose.
There was a “too precious” moment at our South Georgia Annual Conference session last week. On Monday afternoon, an adorable child, Xander Griffis, son of Morgans Chapel United Methodist Church’s Rev. Melissa Traver, stood to read the Scripture from John 13: 3-15. If we listened carefully, this child provided a great role model to the church. His example showed us that it really is okay to read Scripture with expression! It even adds something! He carried us through those verses with particular meaning.
Even though all of you know the Genesis story of creation and the beginning of sin, please allow me to take you into God’s heart in perhaps a new way.
I was getting ready to go to work at the church when the phone rang. I answered, and the woman on the other end said, “Is this Mrs. Funk?” I thought it was a telemarketer getting an early morning start.