Make Ready a People

Make Ready a People

One of my mentors in ministry was a baby whisperer. John Fuhrmeister loved babies, and they loved him in return. John had a distinctive way of handling babies. He would jostle them around lightly in his arms, turning them so that he could look fully into their faces and then commune with them. If they were happy and cooing when he got them, they relaxed into concentrated bliss in his arms. If was handed a screaming mass of fury, in his hands, they settled and became composed. The first time John attempted to pass me a newly baptized infant, you would have thought someone had asked me to accept a hand grenade that had the pin pulled out. I suspect I recoiled. I could count on one hand the number of babies I had held until that day. Babies seemed outrageously fragile and demanding creatures. I didn’t even know how to put my arms in place to hold a wobbly head and expected that at any moment a baby could leap out of my untutored grasp. But, under John’s tutelage, I held that infant child and – as we are – I was transfixed with awe. I looked into that tiny face and wondered “Who will this child be?” To look into the newly forming expression of an infant and to hold their little bodies seems to be the very definition of hope. Look into the faces of mothers and fathers as they look into the face of their newborn infant and you see people filled with hope. Hope and fear. Fear of what might go wrong, what might...
We can’t get it from someone else.  But we should share it.

We can’t get it from someone else. But we should share it.

It’s a scene familiar in any household with small children. A tired but revved up little person, unable to stop themselves from chatter and activity, let’s out a persistent plea for attention. An exhausted, multi-tasking parent, almost at the end of the rope is trying to hang onto a vestige of self-control. My sister was the small child, petulant and out of sorts. My mother was trying to accomplish some necessary piece of work without unnecessary distraction. Trying to set appropriate boundaries, my mother says she told my sister: “I just want a little peace and quiet.” My sister promptly burst into tears and cried, “I want a piece of quiet, too.” We all want a piece of piece. We all know how my mother felt. We all want peace. And we all tend to act like my sister. We may be older and somewhat subtler, but we can be suitably outraged when someone doesn’t provide us with a piece of the peace we want. The prophet Isaiah speaks to a nation that has been acting like an unruly, demanding toddler who does not know how to settle its own body or mind. Or perhaps he speaks to twin toddlers – Israel and Judah. Like a toddler, or a teenager or like most of us, what Israel and Judah would cry that one or the other had more of what they both wanted. It’s time for the people of God to grow up. The prophet Isaiah perhaps perceives some righteous eye-rolling from a beleaguered God and a weary sigh. God, Yahweh, creator of all, has cared for Israel and...
God’s House is a House of Love. Live in It. Build It.

God’s House is a House of Love. Live in It. Build It.

Last Sunday, at just about this time, a house of God in a little town in Texas was torn apart by a spray of gunfire. We have, regrettably become familiar with feeling unsafe in public spaces. But it can feel all the more grievous when the caustic combination of mental illness, domestic abuse and access to semi-automatic weapons explode in a church. The response among some churches has been to call for battening down the hatches, locking the doors of the church, or even meeting weapons with weapons. It is reasonable and right to take measures to keep a gathering safe. At Faith, we have many of precautions in place and consult with the local security, especially at times of greater risk. What we cannot forget in the midst of our fear, is that this church – each church – is ultimately God’s house. Our decisions about what we do here, the risks we take, the precautions we create are made because this is the house of our God, and our God has built a house of love. The prophet Amos reminds us – our God calls us to choose love. To choose love – even over perfect safety or retribution. Janet Reno, who served as United States Attorney General for eight years, grew up in a house built by love. At a high school graduation ceremony, Reno said that when she was a girl, her mother looked around at her growing family, and she looked around at their tiny home. She saw her husband working from dawn to night to earn enough money to support the family. She...

I was doing some research that I thought might help us understand what generous giving looked like in different generations. Then, I ran into the story of Sunshine Oelfke. Sunshine is five years old and lives in Michigan with her grandmother because her mother is addicted to drugs and has been in and out of prison. One day early this month, Sunshine’s grandmother, Jackie, noticed that Sunshine had emptied her piggy bank out onto the floor. She had made stacks of nickels, pennies, and dimes. And then Sunshine stuffed some coins and some crinkled dollar bills into a plastic baggie and put it in her backpack. “Nobody messes with the piggy bank,” Jackie says, so she asked Sunshine what she was doing with the money. “I’m going to take it for milk money,” Sunshine explained. “I’m taking it for my friend Layla. She doesn’t get milk. Her mom doesn’t have milk money, and I do.” So that day grandmother and granddaughter went to the kindergarten teacher at Birchview Elementary. It turned out about half of the twenty children in Sunshine’s class don’t get milk each day because it costs $0.45 a carton. Sunshine gave her teacher the $30 she had saved and a few days later happily told her grandmother: Guess what! My whole class got milk today. Now Layla has milk money.” Jackie was moved by the statistics about the children in the classroom and her granddaughter’s generosity, so she created a Go Fund Me Page. As of this morning, it’s raised over $12000. That’s enough for milk for all of Sunshine’s friends class of 2030 for the...