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Last Sunday, one of our scriptures was from 1 Kings, the story of Elijah. For those of you who don’t remember the specifics about Elijah, he was a prophet of the Lord. He fled into the wilderness where, twice, angels brought him food and water. As a child, I always thought of how much Elijah must mean to God who sent heavenly messengers to care for his servant.

Sunday our pastor challenged us to think a little bit differently about the nature of those angels. Why? Because there is more than one definition for the word angel. The way the word is most often used, angels are winged messengers from God.

But there is another definition and that is a person of virtue and good conduct. What if the angels who found Elijah and gave him food and water weren’t winged messengers but ordinary human beings?

So often the problems that we see around us seem insurmountable – poverty, climate change, the health care crisis, the need for affordable housing. It is tempting to look at these massive problems and wait for equally massive solutions. But what if we were to think of Elijah and the possibility of human angels?

I can’t solve global hunger but I can distribute sack suppers twice a month at my church. These aren’t huge meals – just a grilled hot dog, fruit, chips, and a bottle of water. And we give out from 80 to 100 on a really good night. But that’s 80 to 100 people who have a bit of warm food and a friendly word.

It may not seem significant to those of us who have so much. But to those who have food insecurity or perhaps just need to be seen and blessed, it can make an impact.

What problems exist in your community? Where might you go with angels wings.


My family and I spent a week in West Texas. We were there to bury my father in his hometown. I wasn’t sure what to expect since we no longer have family there. My sister and I hadn’t been back for decades.

In so many ways, this was not the town that I remembered. I grew up visiting a ranch town of adobe and brick buildings. When we ate out, it was Dairy Queen. Local attractions included the college museum and the municipal pool.

Now? Now it is something else entirely. The town has remade itself as an arts community. There is an amazing bookstore, coffee shops, galleries, and restaurants large and small. Reacquainting myself with the town was an amazing adventure. We visited the Museum of the Big Bend which is still at Sul Ross University but in a newer building. Dad would love the new location. We drove half an hour to Ft. Davis to visit the original fort. Dad loved history.

The house as I knew it.

But we also visited my grandparents’ home. It is no longer in the family and feelings about it were mixed. I loved the way the knew owners had reworked the adobe, smoothing hard lines and adding an arch. Yes, I missed the lawn and the massive trees but this is the desert. Zero-scaping makes sense.

The house now.

Not everyone loved the new look. One family member, with gritted teeth, went on about how they had destroyed our grandparents’ home. It was just gone.

To an extent this was a matter of opinion and whether someone preferred one look over another. But it was also a case of acknowledging that none of us own this house. It belongs to someone else. So really it isn’t our business how it looks. It isn’t our circus. These are not our monkeys.

The whole situation left me wondering how often we get worked up when something is really none of our business. Don’t like the dress a female news anchor is wearing? Some people feel the need to share their opinion. Others focus on the weather report. Don’t want your child reading a book? You can find them another book or you can kick up a fuss. Banning is one extreme possibility.

How people worship. What their children learn in school. The pronoun that someone uses.

Whether or not I like the decisions someone else has made, they are all children of God. We share a common kinship, and I have been charged by Christ to lend them a helping hand when they need it. That doesn’t mean they need to do things my way. Fortunately my own concerns involve a very small number of monkeys in an absolutely tiny circus.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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