Monday, November 13, 2017

Everyday Jesus

The people described in the Gospels were ordinary folks going about their everyday lives, until they met Jesus. Some were people of influence, some average, some insignificant and nameless—but not to him.

Their interactions are intriguing to me. What were they thinking and feeling when their lives intersected with his? What were their worries, hopes and expectations? Some experienced wondrous events. Others had the opportunity to speak with him face-to-face. What did they ask him? How did he respond?

It’s easy for me to imagine these conversations. People haven’t really changed.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Lawyer

Based on Luke 11:37–53

Like most other lawyers, he enjoyed engaging in lively discussions and debates. But disrespect was something he simply could not abide.

The dinner conversation started off innocuously. Then one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to join them. To his surprise, Jesus agreed. However, he did not partake in the customary ceremonial washing before the meal. This raised a few eyebrows.

At first Jesus attempted to address the Pharisees’ unease.

His insights were intriguing. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus questioned the reasons behind the Pharisees’ rules and regulations. Ceremonial washing was not prescribed in Scripture, he observed, but rather a tradition they carried out.7

The outward washing symbolized their need to be clean and set apart. It reflected their desire to be holy. But Jesus claimed the inner man was more important.

If he’d made his case simply and respectfully, the subject probably would have ended with polite discourse. But that was not Jesus’ way. Instead he painted one of his infamous word pictures.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sara's Story

My story goes hand in hand with that of my friend Amy Arnold. We met when I was four and she was five, lived next door to each other, and grew up together. We were more like sisters, played like sisters ... fought like sisters. At dinner time, we’d find out whose mom was making the better meal and then eat at that house. We communicated at night with flashlights out our windows. She taught me how to drive, and found my first waitressing job. Several years after we graduated from high-school, Amy and her mom moved to California.
In May of 2012 I received a phone call from a mutual friend that Amy had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Amy was in pain, tired, and unable to make phone calls to let her friends know about it. The cancer had spread significantly through her pancreas and liver. The doctors said it was untreatable, and it sounded like she didn’t have much time left.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"Let Go and Let God"

“Let go and let God.” My friend Amy used to quote this phrase quite a bit during our Bible studies together as we were both going through cancer treatments.

Cancer brings so many fears and worries. We not only worry about the deadly cancer cells invading and attacking our bodies, but we also have the strange and strong medications with their harsh side effects reeking damage on our insides.

We have responsibilities that we still try to maintain with some semblance of normalcy. How do we pay our bills? If we have jobs those become a worry too. Can we still work? Do we have the energy? Will my job hold my position after the required few months? If not, then how will I keep my health insurance? How will I pay for it? What about my family? Who will take care of them? Will I be able to make dinner? What about cleaning the house? Who will drive my kids to soccer practice?

Then there are the medical bills. Cancer is not cheap.  And there are social obligations. Will I be able to go to my friend’s wedding? Do I drop out of my reading club? Do I stop teaching Sunday School? There are future hopes and dreams, changed, challenged. Will I reach that peak I have been striving for? Will I be able to see my niece graduate? Will I ever see the Grand Canyon? Or travel to Europe? Will I be able to enjoy retirement with my husband? How much time do I have left? Do I need to see a lawyer to verify my final wishes?

“Let go.” What does it mean? How is that possible?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Looking Down

Based on Luke 19:1–10

     “Hey Zacchaeus, how’s the weather down there?” The kids giggled as they ran away. Another short joke. He’d heard them all a thousand times. Children should treat adults with more respect. Especially successful businessmen, like himself. But these little monsters probably took their cues from their parents. Everyone turned up their noses at tax collectors. Most adults spat out the job title like a curse word.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Laughter in the Doctor's Office

I was sitting in the oncology waiting room for a follow-up visit after surgery. I hadn’t started chemotherapy or radiation yet, and was waiting to meet with the doctor to get clearance to begin treatment. It was a small waiting room and everyone looked very serious--cancer is serious business. We were mostly avoiding eye contact with each other as if in the hallway waiting to meet our elementary school principal, knowing we were in big trouble.
     In the middle of this bleakness my brother whispered in my ear, “You can have my hair.” What? “You can have my hair. When you lose yours, you can have mine.” I looked at his golden head. He was wearing his long hair in a very nice style fresh from Los Angeles. I pictured myself for a moment with his hair, my face with his flowing locks. Then we both cracked up.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Am I Prejudice?

In 1994, somewhere between five hundred thousand and one million people were murdered in Rwanda during the genocide against the Tutsi people. I was twenty-four years old. I heard the stories on the news. I prayed for them. But I felt distant from their circumstances.
Years later I met a missionary who had lived in Rwanda. During that tragic season in Rwanda’s history, she and her family and a small group of expatriates were holed up in a government building protected by the French military. As they waited for evacuation, a few Tutsi waited with them.
The building was on a hill.
As they waited they heard chanting. It started low at first, and then grew louder. A guttural, tribal war cry. The missionary shuddered as she remembered the sound. A group of Hutu armed with machetes was making its way up the hill, killing all the Tutsi in its path.
Weeks before, the Hutu and Tutsi worshipped together in the same small church. But that day, neighbors were murdering neighbors.