Growing up my grandmother and mother both told me “don’t point fingers!” It was hard to understand at an early age just exactly what they were trying to teach me. And no, I didn’t learn after the first warning!! Many times, my hand was slapped when I continued to point because I didn’t heed the teaching point, no pun intended.
As I grew, I realized pointing a finger toward another was an outward sign of disrespect and in some cases aggression. A finger “poked” to the chest on the playground was just a way to either silence a classmate or to invoke a physical response. Regardless of the reason for the “poking”, it made both individuals appear less respectful to others.
In our world today there is a lot of finger pointing. We can open the paper or watch the news broadcast and hear about one country blaming another for violating their coastline or their airspace. Tensions then escalate and the verbal finger pointing turns to physical finger pointing, and the whole world hopes the finger pointing doesn’t turn into a “finger poking.” We all hold our breath in hopes cooler heads will prevail, whether between the two countries or with the help of a third party.
We seem to have a lot of finger pointing in our nation’s Capitol these days, both verbal and physical. One side of the aisle points an accusatory finger at the other, and it even occurs between the different branches of our government. Whether it is to draw attention away from one’s own actions, or to bring attention to another’s actions, the same disrespectful behavior initiates the controversial rhetoric – a finger point! If my grandmother was alive today, she would be doing a lot of hand slapping!!!
Finger pointing is not new to our times nor our society. In Chapter 3 of Acts, Peter and John stand before a gathering of people in a place called Solomon’s Colonnade, a place not far from the temple, and a place where Jews and Gentile alike could gather together. Peter had just healed a man who was born lame. The lame man was a beggar, and expected money but Peter and John had none. Peter told the man to stand up and walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to which the man did. His leaping and praising caused quite a stir inside the temple. This didn’t set well with the religious establishment of the day.
Peter and John moved from the temple to the Colonnade, where he was able to address Jew and Gentile alike. Peter begins to speak boldly to everyone, and it appears he places blame for the crucifixion on the Jewish people – but that’s not the case. Peter calls them “friends” and acknowledges their actions were out of an ignorance of the prophets and Jesus’ own teaching. He called all to come together, repent, and turn to God.
Peter’s message is still very true today. We need to stop the finger pointing in every aspect of our lives, and find ways to call each other “friend”, repent of our disrespectful ways, and let the presence of God guide our actions toward one another and in our worship to Him!
Twenty years might not seem like a lot in terms of church birthdays. Take for instance the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico which is somewhere around 400 years old. Some could argue that the oldest church is somewhere in modern day Israel, having been established immediately following the death of Christ, which would place it in round figures, around 2000 years old. Be mindful that no such church building exist today, only a mention in the Bible of a remnant of Jesus’ followers who had gathered somewhere around Jerusalem. (Acts 2)
So twenty years is a drop in the bucket when it comes to church age. But for those of us at the Mountainside United Methodist Church it is a milestone.
A Google search reminds us that the Romans created the idea of “milestones”. Long before the signs heading out of town indicating the distance to the next crossroads or the next community, there were stone markers the Romans placed at certain distances on a road to indicate how far a traveler had gone.
And now, thousands of years later, this practice is observed on interstate highways by those small green number signs (stones) every mile.
A milestone is the marking of a significant event in the life of individuals, families, organizations, and even churches. These events are to be remembered and honored.
On Sunday, April 7 the Mountainside United Methodist Church will observe and celebrate a significant milestone – 20 years of ministry in Hot Springs Village. It’s a BIG deal and hears why.
20 years of supporting local missions
20 years of providing biblical instruction to children and youth
20 years of offering comfort and hope during times of grief and illness
20 years of helping families “Start Over”
20 years of providing a place to worship God
You are invited to help us celebrate this MILESTONE on April 7 at 9:30. The founding pastor, Rev. Lyndol Loyd, will be retuning to bring the morning message.
There will be a reception following the Worship Service. When you stop and think about it, this could be a milestone in your life!
-Dr. Walter (Bubba) Smith
“You want me to write a weekly article for the newsletter, and the newspaper? What? Are you kidding me?” I’m pretty sure I said those words out loud when I was informed of this expectation. While I have written many things for a number of church newsletters, the focus was always informative in nature, I wouldn’t say they were ever inspiring or thought-provoking. Knowing that the audience was going to be much bigger concerned me a bit. What could I ever say that would cause anyone to stop and read my article. Surely they would just skim right on by my headline.
Here I am nearly 4 years down the road with well over 100 plus articles. At some point along the way I began to see task of writing something weekly as a spiritual discipline. Every week has become a practice in paying attention to the everydayness of my life, being ever mindful of God’s presence all around me. The time I spend writing has become an opportunity for me to take an experience and transform it into something meaningful, giving space for God to speak. What I have discovered over time is that I am more keenly aware of how the most insignificant moments can bring significant spiritual insight.
As I consider this new chapter in my life, I challenge myself to keep up the practice. While I won’t be in an environment that expects me to produce such each week, I will be in a place where I can continue to make an impact through my experiences. Perhaps these last few years learning this practice of crafting a meaningful thought in 500 words or less has been preparation for what lies ahead. Certainly the affirmation I have received has encouraged me to press on with my writing. One friend upon learning of my departure gifted me with a journal and simply said, “keep writing.”
So here is what I leave you with…we all have a story to tell. We all have something to share. And we are all gifted in varying ways to tell that story. When I consider the trivial things I feel I have written and the kind notes, comments, how someone was moved by what I wrote…I’m convinced we all have something to share. And in a world that is so flooded with negativity, criticism, and opinions, the good stories need to be told. The true evidence of God’s love and presence need to have a light shined upon it. And even the least of these need to know that they matter.
So thank you Mountainside UMC for providing the space for me to share, and to the Hot Springs Village Community for reading my words. I am forever grateful. I will keep on writing, sharing my journey in this life, trusting that somewhere and somehow it will make a difference.
Miracles are an interesting thing to consider. There are lots of varying options about miracles, as to their existence or even their validity. I think it is a matter of how one looks at things. It’s always that half full or half empty point of view.
Recently a friend shared with me about a bible study she is doing. It’s all about the miracles of Jesus, and how in our desperate moments we can discover God. The author shares how that miracles come when we are desperate. This holds some truth when you consider the first miracle we have recorded of Jesus. It was at the Wedding of Cana, when Jesus mother is insistent that Jesus do something when they ran out of wine, or when Mary and Martha are distraught that their brother Lazarus has died, or the man who was blind and made to see. In each case, desperation was present.
I can remember when my girls were young and they were dead set on doing something themselves, regardless of my offer to help. I would consent to let them try, but would always promise that my help was available. Usually after many failed attempts, they would come seeking my help or ask my advice and I would happily give assistance. I know I did this to my mom countless times, because I was at best “hard-headed.”
Not much has changed when it comes to our relationship with God. We may know full well that God is our help and strength, our teacher and guide…but we have this stubborn streak in us that wants to do things on our own. Sometimes things work out okay, and other times not so much. It’s in those desperate times that we can see how God is ever-present in all that we do.
We tend to make life really hard. We over think things, make it far more complicated, and burden it with need to be independent and self-reliant. However, that is not how we are created. So desperate times call for desperate measures…and many times that is in the form of a miracle, however big or small it may be. It reminds us of the evidence of God and our need to rely on God for everything. We were never created to be alone, to forge through life with others around us, and we were most especially not created to be without God at the center of our lives.
I love cardinals, I’ve probably spoke of it before. Currently if you follow me on Facebook, you will even see that my page has an awesome picture of a row a cardinal all lined up on a fence. Over the last few years, these beautiful birds have played a role of spiritual significance for me. Many who know this often share with me pictures and quotes concerning the cardinal.
Recently a friend shared with me a post from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Many of you may have her devotional book or get her daily post as well. The image was of a plump red cardinal sitting on an icy limb with this quote, “be willing to go out on a limb with me…if that’s where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be.”
As I make a transition in my life, the quote couldn’t be timelier. There are days when I seem to be on the verge of overwhelming tears. I start feeling incapable and question myself when things seem uncertain. Quickly I remind myself that I must move forward without fear…with a confidence that God has and is calling me to a new place, a new way of ministry, a new and exciting opportunity to change lives.
Being out on the limb can also feel lonely, especially when no one knows or understand what you are doing, or even why. I’ve realized that for much of my adult life I have only taken risk that were a sure thing or stepped out when I knew that the cost to fail were minimal. I’ve always seemed to have a plan B. For me to have complete faith and trust in God’s call, this time there is no plan B. And what I’ve learned is it’s about God’s plan, and not mine.
The safest place to be is where God is leading, however great or small that may seem to you. Even the smallest steps can bring to us reassurance that we can trust where God may be leading. Being out on the limb requires us to stay alert, be ever aware and mindful of the many things that can try and break that limb.
In those moments when I feel tears starting to well, I must ask myself, why? Are they tears of joy, or tears of anxiety or fear? When I know them to be tears that want to derail me from God’s plan, I must remain steadfast in knowing that God’s love and grace far outweigh any inadequacy I may feel. I must hear my own words in my head, “God doesn’t call the equipped, but rather he equips the called.” And I must remember that even if I am out on a limb, that I am never alone because Christ is communicating with me all the while I hold His hand in trusting dependence.