Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It Makes we Wonder

It Makes me Wonder

The Centennial Trail is just a short walk from where I live. When my wife and I walk together we see awesome sites and we are filled with wonder over what God has created. God has filled are world with beauty and it fills me with joy.
Life is not always beautiful, especially when we are hurt or disappointed. The miracle of life is beyond my comprehension. God has put all of our parts together, and they work together to be a human being. When I grow weary I think about that.
God created each of us and the scriptures tell us that God said, "It is good." Wow!
They also say that God knew us when we were in our mother's womb. I ended up leaving my mother's womb at nine pounds and fifteen ounces. Women know that giving birth to such a big baby is hard and painful work. Yet, nothing is more exciting than the birth of a child.
One author wrote, "God leaves his fingerprints on our living souls." None of us are accidents. God knew us before we were born. Every one of us is a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God. It doesn't matter how things turned out at our birth.
I have great compassion for parents who struggle with children that were born with physical problems. God does not love any of those children less. God cherishes each of his children and each life is sacred in his eyes.
My sister Joan dated a man whose son had a mental handicap. He always greeted her with a hug and his presence helped her to see God's love. I have been honored to be the pastor in weddings for mentally handicapped people. It was obvious that they loved each other.
A nun at a Catholic hospital asked me to come and baptize a dead baby. The mother requested that, and the nun knew I would help. My tradition was to place a red rose on the alter to celebrate the gift of life, and a white rose to affirm a that a person had gone on to be held in Jesus loving arms. The mother handed her child to me. There were two flowers on our table, a red rose and a white rose, and a potter's hand made baptismal bowl. I read the whole infant baptismal ritual, and the mother responded to the questions. I placed the baptismal water on the baby's head. There was a large scar there from the autopsy. Death and darkness left the room as God accepted the child into his arms. We could all feel God's presence and the mother found peace in God. I was filled with wonder and awe over what God did. The mother looked into my eyes and said, "Thank you."
The denomination that I serve baptizes infants. Some feel that baptism must be by immersion because it represents the death and resurrection of Christ. I don't deny that , nor do I choose to argue over the meaning of the sacrament. I do know that infants were baptized during the first three centuries of the Christian church. Baptism is a sacrament, a rite of inclusion and we ask the Holy Spirit be a part of it, and do what human words and will can not do. When we baptize an infant or a child, or an adult, we ask God to accept this person and be present to help him or her draw close to Jesus Christ. The body of Christ, present during the baptism, makes a vow to God that they will accept the person and demonstrate Christ's love. Adult's are at an age that they can choose Christ, but children may also choose to accept Christ.
I will leave the theologians to debate the issue and continue to offer God's sacrament of baptism to infants. Paul baptized his jailer's whole family.
I am filled with awe and wonder over the power and presence of God in the sacrament of baptism. It is one of God's wonderful gifts to us.
In the normal day to day events of our lives, our souls hunger for us to open our eyes. and fill them with awe and wonder over what God has done and is doing.
In each of those moments we feed our soul, and we are transformed by the love of God.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Our Inner Child
I met a man who was rich enough to buy what ever he wanted. He showed me the $60,000 boatthat he bought a few years back and told me that he didn't have time to use it, that he had neverbeen out in his boat. He showed me his beautiful home and confessed that he didn't spend muchtime there with his wife and children. He made a lot of money, but his job took up most of his time. He belonged to a church, but most Sundays he was working.

It was evident that his wife and children loved him, and they wanted to spend time with them. He felt that that was impossible because he needed his job to give them a very nice home and lots of expensive stuff that they enjoyed. The truth is that he was trapped in the all American stress for success track. Everyone saw him as a winner and yet he had lost all of the important things in life.

I met a woman that spent several years with a company moving from one job to the next. Each new position demanded more of her time. Just after she got the job she had dreamed of, she had a baby. She decided that it was important to spend time with her husband and her child.
She performed well on her job, but her supervisor wasn't satisfied. He made it clear to her that her job required more than forty hours a week. She would have to work some nights and weekends to keep up with her clients and all of her paper work. Her reply was "I have a family and I need to spend time with them." She stood firm on her position and a few months later she lost her job.

I suppose that my ink drawing looks strange to you. Two men are wearing pajamas, "jamies," with bunnies and teddy bears. Their pajamas represent their inner child, a part of them that is nurtured by having fun and playing. It may sound cliche, but families that play together stay together. It's difficult for each of us to take care of our inner child because with live in a stress for success society.

There are many wonderful benefits from taking care of our inner child. We will be healthy and we will live longer. Stress is a key ingredient in most illnesses. It breaks down our immune systems and we feel tired and sick. Play actually frees our minds to solve problems and it releases our creative energy. Play not only reduces our stress it releases endorphins and we arel happy. Play helps to prevent depression. Often when we play, we laugh and giggle together. Norman Mailer proved that laughter can cure illness,

He was far away from home and he was very sick. The doctors kept him in the hospital and constantly interrupted him with tests, but they didn't have any success. He had them stop the tests and treatments and watched many funny movies. His inner child emerged and released him from his illness. Soon, he left the hospital healthy and happy.

I would like to reveal a well kept secret, "God likes to laugh and have fun." I would be barred from most churches if I told them that they were too serious and solemn. I am not denying that we need to deal with our sins, but at the end of the week our worship service should give us some healing and hope. Instead, we may hear sermons which make us feel awful.

I gave a sermon at a church and used a Power Point presentation to celebrate God's love and God's desire for us to have wonderful peace and joy. The many scriptures came with beautiful pictures. I watched people weep with joy and relief. God touched the inner child that he created in each of them.

A man in that church told me that I presented a sermon for fourth graders and the people needed more. I should have hugged him and said, "WOW!!!!" It took me a long time to see that what he intended to be a scolding was really an affirmation of my success. Jesus said, "Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the kingdom of God." He also said, "Let the children come to me!" Have we forgotten that we are the children of God?

If we take playing and having fun seriously, some one will be sure to say, "Grow up!" Our answer is simple. We know how to take responsibility and we have an excellent work ethic, but God also wants us to have fun and laugh. I take that seriously because my life depends on that.
David wrote psalms, but he also knew how to dance. He danced when his son Absalom died and his world came crashing down on him. I believe that God danced with him in his time of grief. When we are very sad we lose the rhythm of life and we need to find it again. "Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning."


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Man in the Mirror

I am getting ready to do two things: make picture boxes to hang on the living room wall, and make scrapbooks for my children so that they can look at the changes in their lives and looks.
Each photograph has captured memories. My ink drawing allows me to see myself in perspective. The mirror seems to be magical in some ways, but it also becomes an appropriate metaphor for our lives.

The man outside the mirror is looking at the image of the physical person that he once was, thin and hansom. When I look through my collection of pictures I see how my body looked and various stages of my life. When I look at my body I see that I am not the physical man that I used to be,

What I can't see in the mirror are the changes inside of me. I lost my job at Daybreak on the fourteenth day of February 2009. I spent my last year there teaching students who abused drugs or alcohol or both. They came to live in the inpatient treatment center for an average of forty five days. They came because their addiction was ruining their lives, because the drugs and/or alcohol had changed both their physical bodies and the persons inside them.

Many of them had been abused physically, sexually, or verbally or all those ways. Drugs ans/or alcohol eased their pain, but their addiction took control of their lives, took away all of the good things that they should have enjoyed as they grew up. In that sense they stopped developing when they started taking drugs, Their chronological age may have been sixteen, but their developmental age might be twelve or ten, or even eight years old. Their behavior matched their developmental age. Most of them had a problem with anger and a lot of pain.

I was verbally abused by my stepfather throughout my high school and college years, and even after I got married and left home. Three other things affected the man inside me. My parents were divorced when I was eleven years old. My mother remarried when I was thirteen and I had to leave the my home in Tacoma, leave all of my friends, and move to Bellevue. My father died of cancer, Hogkins disease, when I was fifteen. I was angry with my parents because they got divorced, even though they still loved each other. I was angry with my mother because she got married again two years after the divorce and my stepfather wouldn't allow me to take my dog, Taffy, with me, and Taffy was put to sleep, died. I was angry with God because God let my father die. I was angry the man inside me was wounded and full of pain.

It took me many years to heal and to understand the man inside my body. Some of the wounds were very painful to deal with and it took along time to find the courage with face them and find a healing, I had good days and bad days and it seemed that I had no control over them It took time to discover how much that God loves me.

The man inside of me had to deal with the fear that the people he loved would abandon him. They proved that I was wrong by standing with me, and loving me. Love is the most important ingredient in healing. They gave me the hope and courage to continue my healing journey, and most of all that were willing to forgive me,

The physical man that I am has been affected by age, and that part of me wasn't happy about growing old. The man inside me has grown and changed and he is a much better person. Most of my days are good days, but occasionally I feel sadness and shame.

All things are possible if we have patience, faith, hope, love and the courage to persevere. There are no instant healings or quick fixes. We have to choose our healing everyday. It's hard, painful work, but it's worth it.

Blessings for you as you continue your journey,