A Time Of Renewal
There is a hint of sweetness in the air. The trees on the SIUC Campus are budding and some blooming. Aaron and Jonathon and I get our second vaccine this week. We are feeling somewhat excited about the return of a new normal to our lives. I enjoyed watching the squirrels this morning on campus as they played and frisked and chased each other across the lawns and up the trees.
Easter is coming. This was a holiday that did not have so much significance to me when I was a youth. Now it is one of my favorites. The loveliness of the story of Christ…. captivated my heart when I was 12 years old. Please do not be fooled by the virulent violent rhetoric that has seem’s to surround the christian experience. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but should have eternal life.’ John 3:16. KJVCaptivated
God loves those that society shuns. He loves people like me…that no one targeted for success… ‘Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the Scribes and the Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him Master, this woman was taken in adultery, but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8: 1-11. KJV
Easter is a time of renewal for our human family. The horrors of our 2020/2021 Pandemic are lifting…and we see with tear filled eyes the value of each other and out mutual need for our neighbors help and assistance. The followers of Christ are not concerned about their fellow human family members political affiliation. They are concerned about helping the poorest among them…and those who the elite have shunned and marginalized and forgotten…
Have you ever asked yourself…What was Jesus writing in the sand…
Why Do We Attend Church?
The wind is whistling through the willows in Little Egypt. Although it is 63 degrees the 25 to 40 mile per hour gusts create a chill in the air. After much moaning and maneuvers Aaron and Jonathon and I finally disassembled and removed all of the old treadmill…to make room for the new one that is arriving tomorrow. Our trash removal company has removed all of it from our front yard by the road…and we are joyful that it is gone without incident. A church friend of mine is missing in action. This person has encouraged me on several occasions through the years…and I have had numerous enlightening conversations with him…and I feel that I have failed him in some way…
I began attending a little non-denominational church in Elkville, Illinois in 1969. My mom and I had seen a lot of sad times…and church made me exceedingly happy. The uplifting songs and the inspiring sermons and the fellowship of others who cared about my welfare was like an oasis in the desert. Church should, ideally, be a drawing to all ages and races and ethnicities. Sadly this is not often true. As a lad of 12 years old I began to make it my practice to greet every member of our congregation each time that I was in the sanctuary. People attend church where they feel wanted and are appreciated and loved. I also developed quite a love for the Bible and read it on a daily basis. It was my practice, in my early days, of marking my Bible with colored pens in the attempt to make it a hybrid study Bible. My pastor at that time worked to develop my love for the scriptures and encouraged me in speaking publicly in our services…from time to time. I have always been a reluctant speaker. In school or in church or in my career…preferring to listen than talk…I learn so much more!
A plan for church worship that reaches out to the community that it ministers to…must include music and sermons that all ages can connect too. If we fail to have a message for humanity…whatever their age or station in life…we have failed to fulfill Christ’s admonishment to us. ‘And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ Mark 16:15. KJV
I was the youngest person in my first church. I was similar to the Corona Virus in one aspect…I was Novel. Throughout my life I have had an affinity for those who were older than me. As a boy I was told that I was young numerically but that I had an old soul. I determined, early in my life, that I did not want to hurt anyone…I wanted to help people. This philosophy guided me during my 25 years of management/administration at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I have had to make hard decisions regrading personnel on many occasions…but it was not before I had a detailed soul search to determined that I had done everything in my power to facilitate their success.
We live in a lonely world. Most people that we are acquainted with are lonely at least some of the time. Our social universe is incased in our smart telephones and our lap tops and our computers and our iPads…but we are suffering starvation when it comes to connecting to another human being that cares about us and understands us and desires the best for our future. In the days of Jesus the christian church was persecuted and the government crucified our Savior. To be a member of the early church took moxie! It was neither politically popular or expedient or the thing to do to aid career advancement. ‘When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Matthew 27:24. KJV
The Time of Planting
I saw some new buds on the trees at Campus. Spring is on our horizon. I receive my next jab or my second vaccination on March 18…and I am in good spirits. Easter is coming and I am in the Bible Mood. I am always ready to purchase more Bibles at Eastertide. I often think of the painting of Christ that I had as a youth in my bedroom. He was depicted as sitting on a mountain top and over looking Jerusalem. The look in his eyes depicted to me the love and suffering of Jesus. It has been an interesting and enlightening experience to be a follower of Christ since 1969. I was pulled toward christianity for several years before I officially became a christian. I remember being fascinated by the denominational programs on Sunday morning television. Most were Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterian half hour dramas that portrayed common life happenings contained in the christian walk. It was manifestly apparent to me that the Bible and the faith of Jesus was real and had a substance that touched my young heart. I recall enjoying the Bible Story Books that were often found in doctor’s offices in the 1960’s. The illustrations were excellent and the simple renditions of the stories of the Bible were easy for a child to understand. When I. became an adult and a married man with two young sons…I purchased tbis same Bible Story multi-volume set and it is on our bookshelf to this day.
More often than not the decision to follow Christ is an intensely personal and quiet decision. It is not about the fire and brimstone or the TV preachers over the top rhetoric that is designed to illicit money from the honest hearted viewing public. The calling to follow Christ is a still small voice… Bells do not ring and magnificent tapestries of heavenly visions do not appear. You simply know what you know… Christianity sticks with you like a second skin. When you desire to be negative and depressed and relish the miserable manner that you have been treated…it pulls you back and constrains you from your darkest thoughts.
Peace of mind is of paramount importance. From the day that I accepted Christ and his mission on earth…I have never doubted that I am doing what is right for me. I am often mistaken for a preacher or a pastor…but I am neither. But the teachings of Jesus is vital to my daily life. When I am pulled to stray from the teachings of my youth…I am constrained and hoisted back to the center of my purpose and life. I learned that while Jesus accepted me…he loves and accepts all that are interested in his acceptance. I was a bit of an outcast and a bit of a loner and a bit of the outsider…and Christ said that he was interested in my group of nerds and non-conformist and transgender as well as LGBTFQ and lonely and marginalized members of his family…
I have always loved all members of my human family. I accept those who are different from me….and I hope that they accept me. When we arrive at St. Peter’s gate and we proclaim our works for Christ and our love of his gospel…and our steadfast adherence to his teachings found in the Bible…may we not hang our heads in shame when he says, ‘I never knew you.’
‘Not everyone the saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my father that is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’
16 More Days!
Jonathon and I were out and about today when a gentleman of some seniority, or my age, called out to us, ’16 more days,’ and we shook our head vigorously to signify our mutual agreement…to what we did not readily understand… Probably because the Announcer could see the blank look in our eyes as we purposefully agreed with him, when he said that in 16 days we would witness the first day of spring. We were relieved that we had not agreed to indiscretion or insurrection. It is another lovely day in Little Egypt. The remembrance of the 9 or 10 inches of snow that we received 2 weeks ago…is growing dim. I walked 15 thousand steps yesterday. Five thousand more than my daily goal…much of them occurring while I waited for our new daybed to be delivered. Some days are just better days for walking than others.
As regarding our 2020/2021 Pandemic…we are not out of the woods yet…but we have turned a significant corner toward our new normal. There is a bit of a lightness of being that permeates the air and inspires the heart of our human family who has been afraid and secluded for so long. President Biden says that there will be enough vaccine for every adult in the United States by the end of May. Facebook shows me, and millions of other users, memories from postings that occurred in years gone by. I had a Facebook memory that was a photo of a spring blooming tree on the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…4 years ago. The blooms were a brilliant pink and rose and it dawned on me our trees in Southern Illinois are blooming later in the year than they once did.
Jonathon found some of our many old photos and shared them with MJ and I. There was Aaron and Jonathon as little kids and me with coal black hair and a ‘Tom Selleck full Mustache!’ I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready of whatever life threw at me! At the time of the photo I was the assistant superintendent of Building Services at the University and I had a lot of responsibility and little authority….which creates an abundance of stress. I wanted a nicer and a larger home for MJ and our boys. I desired to make a difference for the School that had been so good to me.
My friend and the former University Chancellor, Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger, said that she had observed that I was constantly endeavoring to make Building Services better. She also said, in a recommendation letter for me…that. ‘Jay has created a house for all peoples.’ I was so touched by her kind words and I wondered how she understood my primary mission as a manager/administrator for the Housekeeping department. Academics speak of full immersion in their discipline…this was my practice for my entire 32 year and 2 months and 3 week career at SIUC. I wanted to be a part of the enrollment and retention solution that plagued our campus;. I loved being a kitchen cabinet member of both chancellors and president of the University. Money was never my driving motivator… Loyalty to the institution that had given me so much and speaking truth to power and having them value my input…was a great motivator for my success and satisfaction during my career.
Twenty years now you will look back on the Kodachrome of your life in 2021 and remember almost only good times. That is the manner in which we humans memories function. We forget the sour and remember the sweet. The sweet is all around you…take a taste…
Accepting Others…Without An Agenda
The Daybed has arrived. Parker took one look at it and attempted to get on it. She is very pleased that her human family has purchased her a luxurious bed. We did not tell her that it was not for her. It is 64 degrees and sunny. Spring has come to Carbondale. One of the young men that was carrying in the mattress for the bed…hit our family portraits that are on the hallway wall adjacent to the bedroom the Daybed was placed in. He made no comment…while the lead delivery person attempted to set the paintings right…but was unable to do so. He laughed nervously. I was taken aback to my furniture delivery days, when I was no older than the delivery men in my house. I was the helper and worked with the store’s owner. We were extremely careful…and rarely if ever…knocked into walls or portraits or furniture. At times to not do so required herculean and time consuming efforts on our part.
It is easy to fall into the trap of expecting others to act in a situation as you believe that you would respond to under identical circumstances. How often have we been judgmental when one of our colleagues or friends or family do not seem to conduct themselves in the manner that we expected. We witness people who’s life experiences have left them down on their luck…and we wonder what character flaw caused them to be in such dire circumstances. A trusted ally and friend and fellow congregant leaves our church and we place our personal template on their actions and their life to determine why they are acting in the manner that they are. We wonder why more of our church family are not actively engaged in the missions of our church when the needs are in front of their eyes…yet we fail to ask them if they would help us in a worthy endeavor.
Judgment is easy…understanding is hard. When I was preparing to retire from my 32 + year career with Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, my Director Phil Gatton, wanted me to train my replacement for a period of 2 months prior to my leaving. I worked diligently to show my replacement my methodologies and protocols for management of our multi-million dollar operation. However, as I told a person at that time, it would be impossible for me to impart many of the attributes that are endemic to my personality and that served me well in critical negotiations with University Administration. In fact…I said that if my replacement would try to emulate my management style in toto that they might be in danger of being fired or at the least receiving results that were not desired.
We are as different as snowflakes…and we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ Each of us are special and unique. There is only one of you!
A Change In Attitude
Many happenings in my long life have resulted in me changing my attitude. As a child I had developed a dark attitude due to my mom and dad divorcing when I was 5 years old. I felt emboldened and secure in this rationale reaction to what life had handed me. My mother was extremely unhappy and wept often. Her palatable feelings that she had ruined my life by her actions surrounding the dissolution of our happy home were unfounded but created a visible emotional wall that I felt I must react to. Later, I willfully made the decision that I would seek the sunny side of life and the positive and the fulfilling and eschew the natural negative.
Later in life I became convinced that I would settle for a passable employment and not set my sites to high due to my lack of education and my mom’s admonition that I should study to be a barber or be happy to dig ditches for the rest of my life. I quickly discovered that neither of those options were appropriate for me and that I had a plethora of opportunities in front of me…if I chose to avail myself of their availability.
A Covid vaccine will change your attitude. Suddenly you can see the forest for the trees. Your future becomes unobscured and the ability to move forward with your life is in HD Resonance. We are turning the corner and we will be able to return to a new normal that will be cognizant and contain the emotional depth of our pandemic experience…and we will move forward into our future…arm in arm and with the indisputable understanding that we are all brothers and sisters in the same family…