By Garrett Vickrey
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for moustaches. Or to be more precise. I am thankful that I am not growing a moustache at this time.
This past Sunday in worship we celebrated all the things that we are thankful for and thanked God for the many blessings in our lives. At the Thanksgiving Dinner last Wednesday everyone wrote down things that they are thankful for on orange and yellow die-cut leaves. Sunday morning our “thankful-leaves” were displayed on our Thanksgiving Tree in the sanctuary.
On one particular orange leaf someone had written that they were thankful for moustaches. And the leaf even had a moustache drawn on it. This reminded me that this Thanksgiving I am thankful to not have a moustache.
Unlike one of my mentors who, upon graduating from seminary and accepting his first pastorate, grew a moustache to look older and more sophisticated. I have not done so. I have committed to the clean shaven, baby faced look for better or worse. Probably worse since I’m a pastor, and most examples of leaders in the bible had significant beards! Facial hair seems to be biblical.
I tried a moustache for a few years. It was for a cause. For two consecutive Novembers I participated in “MOVEMBER” (see more here:http://us.movember.com). Movember is a movement sweeping the nation where men grow moustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health. My Movember team, “The Holy Mo’s”, raised money for researching prostate cancer.
It was a good cause and a lot of fun. But, my moustache was itchy and it looked terrible. It was patchy (to say the least), and I spent most of the month looking like I was trying to grow a moustache as opposed to actually having a moustache. Did I mention it was itchy?
What in your life are you thankful to have “shaved off” or let go of? We have to start somewhere in giving thanks. Start small. Give thanks for moustaches or shaved moustaches. Give thanks for phases of life you’ve grown out of. Give thanks for reminders of how God has been with you in the past. Give thanks for a day when your knee doesn’t hurt. Find a way to start giving thanks.
Grateful living is healthy living. So even if you are stuffing yourself with turkey and (well…) stuffing this Thanksgiving remember to give thanks. It won’t offset excess calories but it could lead to an excess of gratefulness. And that just might lighten your heart, and open you to receive more of the good gifts God wants to give us.
Donate to the Holy Mo’s Today at http://us.movember.com/
By Bob Flynn
I marvel at the gospel writers who were writing about what they believed was a time like no other time when the sublime walked among them, talked to them, ate with them, yet was beyond anything they could understand. No matter how much inspiration and insight into holy matters God gives you, you can only express it in the ordinary limited language that you and your audience understand.
How would you describe the birth of such a person? If I could I would want to write the story the way Luke wrote it, knowing that was also the way others wrote about the birth of their gods. The Hindu god Vishnu descended into the womb of Devaki and was reborn as her son, Krishna. Did Nicodemus know that story? Buddha chose who his mother would be. He entered her womb from the side in the shape of an elephant.
Islamic literature, including the Koran, contains several miraculous births, including that of Jesus. Sufism states that the poet Kabir was born of a virgin widow who was a Hindu. The Egyptian god Horus, was created by parthenogenesis, asexual reproduction in which embryos occur without fertilization. The word comes from two Greek words, partheno “virgin” and genesis meaning “birth.”
Greek and Roman mythology tells of many gods born of a god and a woman including Perseus, Ion, Romulus, Asclepius, Helen and Leda. Alexander the Great and Caesar Augustus claimed to be born of god and woman. How many ways can you write about a unique birth when unique has no good synonyms but only descriptions such as “the only one.” And unique permits no modifiers. But my intent would be the same as Luke’s and theirs.
How would you describe the resurrected Jesus walking among them, and then leaving this world? It would depend on your intent, what you wanted the story to say and how to say it in the simple language of people who fished, farmed, and herded animals, most of whom couldn’t read and didn’t know the words used in the royal courts. The Gospel writers’ first audience believed the world was flat, heaven was above and hell was below. Wouldn’t you write that Jesus ascended into heaven, although Bishop Spong has pointed out that if Jesus ascended at the speed of light he would not yet have escaped our galaxy?
The first audience knew there were three dimensions. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that Einstein pointed out that there was a fourth dimension: space/time. Now physicists believe there are 14 dimensions. That’s further than my imagination can stretch, although I know that some creatures see or hear dimensions that most humans don’t. Scientists with powerful instruments see and hear things of which most of us have little understanding. They also declare the existence of things they can’t see because they have to exist in order for our understanding of the universe to work. Are they real?
They walk by faith, and so do we.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear… but seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:22, 31.
I cannot recall when or why started liking to watch movies portraying spiders but the contradictory aspect of this is that, I do not enjoy being in the company of any.
During a summer, I watered the grass almost every night extending the hose under a tree. I had done that for years but this particular evening, something stuck to my face, it was a spider web. Walking back with the intention of taking it down, I discovered, in the center of it, a beautiful one-inch reddish spider and pointed the hose nozzle slowly towards it to see if its builder would go away, but then, I observed an amazing thing. The spider crawled up and pulled the entire web up so I could walk under the tree without being bothered by it. “Smart creature” I thought and continued watering.
For the next several weeks, the routine of sprinkling a few drops into the spider web was repeated with the same results. Unfortunately, the hose nozzle broke and after installing a new one, forgot to adjust its pressure and instead of a few drops landing on the web, a huge mass of water went out tearing it apart and knocking down my “little friend” several feet away. I immediately stopped the water, got a lantern and went looking for it being careful of not stepping on it but, could not find it and did not water that evening with the hope the spider would find its way back to the tree and would see it again the next day, but, that never happened. Feeling so sad, I could not understand why cared this little insect and thought about our heavenly father caring each of us, little creatures inside a huge universe, every day of our lives.
By Edgar Twedt
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do well anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
These words were penned by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and they hold profound insights for all of us. In essence we should not worry about what others think and say. No matter what others may say or how they act we should always keep these things in the forefront of our lives: forgiveness, kindness, honesty, happiness, doing well, and giving our best. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s deepest insight is that this way of living is first and foremost between us and God, and never between us and “them.” This way of living is what God wants for all of us. When we get this clear in our minds and in our words and actions our lives move closer to what the Scriptures call Kingdom living. AND when we realize it’s between and God and us, it draws us closer to God, which is exactly where we want to be.