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When I saw this quote, I thought of our Christmas Eve service.  We ened the service with each person holding a lit candle.  The ushers turn off the lights but the space isn’t dark.  Instead it glows in the warmth of candle light.  The pastor sends us on our way with a simple direction – carry Christ’s light with us out into the world.

This morning I saw just how easy it is to share this light with others.  A young man walked into the local diner. He wore worn jeans, a faded shirt and taped work boots.  It would be easy to judge.

A man walked up to him and asked about his trade.  The young man lit up and told him about his landscaping work.  Then he posted about it and thanked this man and his parents for respecting him working with his hands.

Someone passed a light to him and he passed it on.  Christ’s light and love moved from one to another and through the community.

As you move through your day, periodically hold up your candle.  Look a those around you in the Love and Light of Christ.  Then find an opportunity to share this light.  Many tiny flames can push back the darkness.

–SueBE

As usual, we were waiting for one last person to show up for Bible study.  After all, someone is always going to be the last one there.  One of the women was running late but we had unlocked the door for her.  Then another woman’s phone rang.  She answered, said a few words and hung up.

“She’s in the parking lot but there is another car there.”  Apparently, someone had parked beside the condos next door.  He was standing outside his car, changing his shirt.  “That’s suspicious.”

Unfortunately, everyone looked at me.  I say unfortunately because I was sincerely underwhelmed.  The condos are right next door.  People park on one side of our lot and then walk the 20 or so feet to someone’s patio door.  It happens all the time.  Changing his shirt didn’t even phase me.  What if he was going to his Mom’s for dinner but had just gotten off work.  He wanted to wear a clean shirt.

Or he could have been meeting a condo owner to give them an estimate for a new kitchen.  He didn’t want to go in wearing a coffee stained shirt.

To quote Captain American, I can do this all day.  There are so many innocent explanations.

Until someone gives me a rock solid reason to question their motivations, I try not to be suspicious.  Instead, when I look at them, I try to see a Child of God, a mother’s son, a daughter’s father, a bearer of God’s light.

And I also try to remember the several dozen times in the past week that I’ve done something that could look “off” if someone was determined to see it that way.

–SueBE

I popped by a community forum this morning.  One of the messages caught my attention.  “Truck or Treats are killing regular trick-or-treating.  Prove me wrong.”

So I responded.  “We had about 200 kids.”  Someone else responded that they had 300 or more kids.  Others had only 20 or 30.

But what caught my attention?  People heard what they wanted to hear.  People who don’t want to give out candy noted the people who had no visitors.  They complained about rude teens.  The death of community spirit and trust between neighbors.

With 200 kids and parents tromping across my porch, I had plenty of people to observe.  This was the friendliest, most polite year yet.  “Thank you.”  “Have a great Halloween.”  One little guy wasn’t sure what to say but he gamely repeated everything his dad said.  That was fortunately because I’m really bad at understanding toddlers.

Most kids had costumes.  Some did not.  Many were from the apartments about a mile away.  Section 8 kids.

See what I did there.  I could go for the negative. I could look for what Mary Oliver calls “the flawed blossoms.”

Or, I could look for the light.  These are God’s children.  He loves them just as he loves me.

It was a great night.  And I’m not just saying that because I ate 2 tiny Almond Joy.

–SueBE

I know Ruth and Lori are well aware of this particular aspect of my personality.  Tell me something is impossible and watch me try to find a way to make it happen.  Back door, loop-hole, overlooked clause or inventiveness, I am going to work to find a way especially if it means helping someone. It’s how I’m wired.

Personally, I consider it a God-given talent although I’m sure there are at least a dozen people who would disagree.  But really?  It is something I see in Christ’s ministry as well.

Eat with the outcast?  Lord, you can’t do that!

Pass me the olives.

Heal the unclean.  Jesus, what are you thinking?

You believed and you are healed.

Non-Jews.  Those who collaborated with the Romans (ie tax collectors). Even women (gasp!).  Christ brought them all forward into this ministry.  He even found ways to use Roman tradition against the Romans.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m Christ-like.  I’m far too hot-tempered to believe that.  But in God’s image?  I’m not a particularly crisp or clear copy, but I try and I try to see it in others even when it seems all but impossible.

–SueBE

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”  ~Bryan Stevenson

I don’t generally retype the quote but this one?  It is just that important.

We are all more than the worst thing.  Each and every one of us.  We are all, after all, children of God.

But pay close attention to how we talk and think about each other.  He’s a good kid.  Sure, he totalled his dad’s car, but it was a mistake.  We all make them.

That one? That one over there is bad through and through.  He’s Gran loves him?  Grandmother’s love everyone.  He is bad.  If he hadn’t just robbed that convenience store, the cops wouldn’t have shot him.

There are far too many conversations like this each and every day.  I’m not saying the good kid who makes a mistake should get slammed but I am saying that really?  We are all children of God.

We do good things.  But we also fall short each and every day.  Just like Grandmother’s God loves us all.  And that’s a good thing.  Maybe just maybe we could try to spot that God-light in each other and look on it with love.

Because really?  Each of us is more…

–SueBE

 

stainlessAs much as I enjoy using things with a “past,” like my grandfather’s magnifying glass, I have to admit that my grandmother’s silver chest remained in a basement closet, ignored.  I told myself it was because on those special occasions when I might bring out the good silver, I just don’t have time to polish it.

That isn’t the whole truth.

Part of it is also how her silver came to me after she died.  As is so often the case, we were cleaning things out and sorting. Who would get the silver?  The china?  The crystal?  Where is her dinner ring?

A female relative popped the chest open, then she pursed her lips. “You take it.  We don’t want it.  It’s just plate.”

As much as I wanted it, simply because it had belonged to my grandmother, now it somehow felt like it was worth less.  I was getting the discards.

Today, I was getting something else out of the closet and pulled down the chest.  Laying it on the freezer, I opened it up, amazed at the lack of tarnish.  I’m still not sure how it kept its polish because it’s been down there for over 5 years, but just seeing it made me smile.  At first I thought that we both had it wrong and that it might be stainless, but then I saw the label inside the chest.  Community Plate.

It might be plate, but it isn’t worth less.  Why?  Because as soon as I opened the chest, I remembered Christmas dinner, Easter, birthdays, the table always set with this flatware.  I remembered the love with which my grandmother opened up her home.

My grandmother was a deeply devote woman who made room in her day for her family, her friends, and prayer.  She often reminded me, that we are all forgiven, even the people who annoy me.  We have all been cleansed because of Christ.

I need to remember this as I go about my day, so that I don’t harshly judge the driver who ignores my right-of-way or the teens whose conversation is too loud in church.  I need to remember this as I remember the boy who bullied my son and the relative who only let me have something precious because she didn’t want it.

We have all been cleansed.  Because of Him, we are all stainless even when we aspire to be silver.

–SueBE

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