A pondering from the Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Chew

Preachers often begin their sermons with these words. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable to you, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

How much time do you spend thinking about/meditating upon the words you read or hear and the realities in the world? Do you accept what others tell you, or do you think about, chew on, what you have heard or seen? (False truths is a phrase which has become common lingo).

Recently, I learned about a prehistoric sea dragon, the ichthyosaur, a kind of fish lizard with characteristics of both reptile and mammal. Its 200 million year remains were found on the Jurassic Coast of England. Of course, its amazing age is surpassed by God, who was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Nevertheless, I was awed by this discovery. Sea dragons don’t chew, rather they use their teeth as a kind of cage to snap around its prey and swallow it whole.

Much more current, my cousin sent me an email about tigers whose tongues are so rough that they can lick the paint off buildings and strip the skin from the bones of an animal. The roars from their throats send fear-quaking chills down to the depths of their prey’s beings. Because tigers are carnivores, they only have 500 taste buds compared to humans who have about 9000. Seems to me that they miss a lot of joy. They can even eat rotting meat without any ill effects.

As I thought about mouths, chewing and swallowing, the image of a two-way street came to mind; one direction goes in, the beginning of the digestive system to feed the body and delight the taste, and/or to take a gulp of air. In the other direction things come out of a mouth; sounds and words, a primary form of communication, breath, and saliva. Creation itself was spoken into being by God in Genesis, “God said, let there be light…”, and the apple became the first well known food and bite.

The need to be fed by food is universal, and as animals we also need to be fed by affirmation and love. Without both foods, we wither away. The more we chew on things, the better we understand and are able to take delight. Our mouths and chewing are powerful gifts to be used with care. A rough word or comment can cause hurt, stripping away our esteem to the bone. Swallowing whole can be dangerous. We are called to respond to the world as well as loving the Lord with all our hearts, minds, and souls. 

It is not only a preacher who ought chew upon, remember, and use these words from Psalm 19:14, as their mantras. Each one of us might use the words to be better Christians, better people.

To God be the glory!

Amen.

A pondering from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Time

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up…”  (Eccl 3:1-3).

Perhaps, more than any other time of the year, springtime reminds us of the cycle of life. The Dictionary defines time as “a system that measures duration.”   As we look out our windows, we see winter’s brown grass now green, the empty limbs of winter’s bushes and trees now showing green sprouts and there is an occasional pink, purple, red, white, or yellow blossom. Springtime birds have arrived with song in the air. Death is replaced by new life. Joy is in the air, a hint of time to come.

In fact, for us as Christian people, we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, His death giving life, not just for a duration of time or season, but for eternity/forever. “I am the resurrection and I am the life,” says the Lord (Jn 11:25). 

There’s a wonderful story about the time of Winston Churchill’s funeral, which he had a hand in planning. At the close of the service, a single trumpeter stood at the west end of St. Paul’s Abbey in England, where the sun sets, and played “Taps,” the song that signals dusk, the close of the day.  At the final note, there was complete, total silence, the end of a full life. 

Then, to everyone’s surprise, another trumpeter arose at the at the east end of The Abbey that faced the rising sun and played “Reveille,” the song that marks the beginning of a new day. The word translates, “Wake up.”

Life and death are not the only points of time. May I suggest that each day offers the opportunity to die to our old way of sin and rise to newness of life. Each minute gives us the chance of receiving new life. One of the gifts that Jesus offers us is the occasion to practice resurrection here and now.  We can move from the empty tomb and darkness to new and surprising life and meet Jesus right this minute!

“So friends, every day do something that won’t compute.

Love the Lord. Love the world.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it…

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.

Practice resurrection.”      …all the time.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

To God be the glory! Christ is Risen!

Amen.

 

 

 

 

A pondering from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Hunger

“Because of body’s hunger are we born,

And by contriving hunger are we fed;

Because of hunger is our work well done,

As so are songs well sung, and things well said.”

Sehnsucht by Anna Wickham

God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Nearly as omnipresent is hunger. A newborn of any species arrives with an almost clean slate. Just about everything must be learned; sounds, thinking, muscle control, smells, the list is exhaustive. Hunger is a major exception. Anyone who has been around a newborn knows that the first expression of hunger is rooting for a food source. If it is not found, the distress/cry follows. The dictionary defines hunger as a desire, a yearning, a craving, a longing, a wanting, usually for or after something. 

 Because we recently went to NC to visit my Mother, and had two cancelled flights, we found ourselves in a hotel room one morning waiting for a next day afternoon flight. We did something we rarely do, turned on the TV. We found a nature program which was focused on The King of the Jungle, lions. We learned many things about the species, but the thing which has stuck in my mind is that a hungry lion, after a kill, can consume 60 pounds of meat in one sitting. I can’t even imagine a stomach large enough to contain 60 pounds, let alone a digestive system that could manage 60 pounds at one time. The image is one of satiation. The King of the Jungle was laid out flat.

The program made me think about hunger in general. Of course, we all hunger for food. However, as the quotation above suggests, we hunger for all sorts of other things, like success, fame, money, power, and love. In order to live, we must eat. In order to be fulfilled, love is essential. Without love, species die. (“...hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them” Ps 107:5). Without love, I am nothing (I Cor. 13:2).

As Christian people, we are blessed to have love as the cornerstone of our beliefs. We are in Eastertide, the season of the year that we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus because of his unquenched love for each one of us and the promise of eternal life. Like food which we need daily, we need to be reminded of love again and again. 

 Paul tells us, “In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:10-14). And finally, we are reminded about The King/God/sacrificial loving Lamb of all things, not laid out flat, but Resurrected. “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:16-17). Love reigns.

 To God be the glory. Alleluia! Amen.