“I” is for Inspiration

November 19, 2021

I asked a friend what about Thanksgiving inspiring her.  “People, community, come together without having to decorate the house, without having to buy gifts, and it is a buffer before all the tension of the Christmas season.”  Groups gather, watch sports together, eat together, play games together and for a day or at least until stores open for Christmas shopping after dinner, many can lay aside the tensions of work.  My family likes to list the months of the years and remember highlights of each month.  It is amazing how, when we put our heads together, how many good things we can remember. 

         A meal that inspires brings to mind the story of Zacchaeus.  He was a chief tax collector at the time of Jesus so a person despised by many.  Tax collectors were notorious for overcharging and pocketing the surplus as their income.  Zacchaeus heard Jesus was passing and because Zacchaeus was short, he climbed up a tree to see Jesus in the crowd.  Jesus stopped under the tree and told Zacchaeus he would dine with him.  Many were aghast that Jesus would enter the home of a known sinner.  Zacchaeus, though, was so inspired that:

         Luke 19:1-10  Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

Many stories in the New Testament that touch our heart happened at meals: the Last Supper, Mary pouring expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet, and the famous one where Martha looses her cool because Mary is not helping her in the kitchen.

         Meals pull people together as community and inspire sharing, helping, and grow memories.  I pray your Thanksgiving meal will inspire your community of friends in spite the work to prepare.  If someone can not come, perhaps picking up the phone and calling to affirm relationship will inspire them!  Blessings as you plan!

“G” is for Gravy

November 18, 2021

Gravy is a “deal breaker” at Thanksgiving for me.  Season your turkey and put it in the oven and normally it turns out great.  I know only one disaster and that was not the cook’s fault.  Dressing gets perfected over the years and I love a rice dressing.  Pie goes to the pie experts.  But gravy is just a challenge to get ratio of juices, flour, water, salt etc. balanced right and served hot – not store bought.  Yes, my pride is at stake!  So where does gravy come from?

         One of the favorite questions my Kenyan friends would ask of me besides “How many wives did Solomon have?”, “Is birth control a sin?”, was the question “Do Americans drink blood?”  Nomads in the desert, who live off their stock, will bleed their animals during the dry season, mix it with a little milk, and drink for building the blood and strength.  Anglos gagged at the thought and the Kenyans laughed at our ignorance of a tasty health drink but it always seemed to me it was another way to approach gravy.

         Merriam-Webster defines gravy as “ a sauce made from the thickened and seasoned juices of cooked meat” but it can also refer to the additional unexpected benefit from something – once we pay off the house, the rest is gravy, as we have no rent.  We also talk about being on the “gravy train.”

         Looking up the history of gravy I was surprised to see it first appeared in the Middle Ages in French and British cook books.  French tend to call it “sauce” but Brits talk about “gravy.”  So going back to the 14th century, I am not the only one who needed help and instructions!  My friend last week could not stop ooohhhhing about the gravy that came with Kentucky Fried potatoes but which she poured over her biscuits and remembered her Southern influence from her mother.  Gravy is that extra that gets poured on meat, potatoes, rice, biscuits and anything else on the Thanksgiving menu.  Gravy brings extra flavor, juice, and delight to an experience.

         Jesus says, 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)” Jesus’ goal is not just the potatoes or the turkey for our lives but he comes that we may also experience the gravy that comes from his grace and interaction in our experiences.

         As you anticipate Thanksgiving next Thursday, reflect on experiences that were “gravy”, unexpected blessings, in your life.  Perhaps passing a test you thought you’d fail.  Perhaps the dream of a certain house became true or a dreamed of spouse.  I do not think Jesus was talking about just material blessings.  I know he has made my life better as I am gifted with forgiveness, prayer and scripture and the promises of eternity are “gravy.”

“S” is for Sweet and Savory

November 17, 2021

The Thanksgiving feast is a combination of sweet and savory flavors – hopefully balanced.  Pumpkin pie or apple pie is traditional though many families have competitions and favorites.  These are sweets we save room for.  Savory according to the Internet is the opposite, meat and vegetable dishes, even spices like parsley, sage and thyme (Thank you Peter, Paul and Mary!).  Savory can also refer to a person of integrity and moral fortitude.  I didn’t know that.  So when we talk about “less savory actions” we may be referring to something done in the shadows.  Where as someone who is “sweet” we suspect of just saying things to make us happy.

         Life is sweet and savory.  We have good days and bad days, ups and downs.  C.S. Lewis wrote the classic Screwtape Letters where Uncle Screwtape, a greater demon, is writing to his nephew Wormwood, giving advice about dealing with humans.  During a very low time my junior year in college, I opened the book and read Uncle Screwtape’s admonition to his nephew to not think that when a human goes through a rough patch and cries out to God that the person is rejected by God or rejects God.  Do not consider it progress in the war against the Great Enemy, God.  God is happy when a human looking out on a world that seems devoid of God, still cries out to God.  That person is learning to walk without a parent holding his hand.  That person is growing in faith.

         Thanksgiving celebrates the harvest, hopefully plenty (sweet), as we head into winter, a time of dark and unobservable growth (savory).  This Thanksgiving we acknowledge the losses of Covid, the economic inflation we are dealing with and yet each morning the sun rises.  Hopefully our children love us.  Technology allows us to communicate.  So, what else helps you handle the sweet and savory times of life?  The Psalmist shares:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119: 105)”

We have a God who reaches out to us whether we are sweet or savory and provides Scripture, salvation, and Spirit!  Thank you Lord!

“K” is for King

November 16, 2021

There are many “k’s” associated with Thanksgiving: kin ie family, kindness, kissing folks as they arrive and probably more but I thought about kings.  Those first pilgrims traveled into an unknown future because they were fleeing the kingship of King George III.  For some it was a journey to find a place of religious freedom so they could worship God as they saw fit.  For others, I’m sure it was an adventure.  Some came as indentured servants.  Many died in route.  The “Boston Tea Party” that later occurred was symbolic of the tension of a king far away imposing his will on the colonies – taxation without representation!  So, today we do not have a king but a President.  The country the pilgrims came to did not have kings but chiefs, I suspect a similar dynamic, and thus not only ethnic conflict but to some degree the battle over who gets to control of what happens in “their kingdom.”

         Next Thursday we are to go to worship and give thanks for the bounty of this last year.  We might credit our President for some influence although we have been under two battling philosophies.  Many are not looking at bounty now but grieving loss on several fronts.  Others would for sure not think our “king” has much to do with our blessings but our own hard work.  We will feast, give an obligatory prayer if necessary, and shift to the TV and Christmas.  But the question still hangs in the air – on thanksgiving, whom do we acknowledge as the “king” in our life, to whom do we give thanks for our blessings, and to whom we are willing to bend our knee?

         All four gospels tell of the final trial of Jesus before Pilate, the Roman authority.  Pilate is astounded to hear that Jesus is being accused of being the king of the Jews.  He is accused of treason, deserving death.  Caesar who considered himself a god or a god representative anyway, was the ultimate authority all people in his empire owed allegiance to.  Pilate turns to Jesus and asks if he is a “king.”  Jesus answers that his kingdom is not of this world.  Pilate returns to face the crowd.

  • John 19:  “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

         So this thanksgiving, who will you acknowledge as your “king”?  Who is the ultimate authority in your life?  Wow, there is a question worth pondering and what that allegiance implies.  Perhaps take a few minutes and list on a piece of paper five ways that you bow to the “king” in your life, and five benefits of being in that kingdom.  Blessings as you reflect.  But remember, we have representation.  Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father!

“N” is for Neighbor

November 15, 2021

The history of Thanksgiving cannot be told without the role of “neighbor.”  That first meal is iconic because it so embraces the concept of “neighbor” with all the good and bad aspects.  Neighbor often refers to the new and different from “us,” even as the Indigenous Tribes were so different from those strangers on their shores, those Pilgrims.  I know we debate today about some of the ethical ramifications of what unfolded as the years unfolded but that first meal embodies “neighbor.” Those coming to the American borders today are in many ways just as dissimilar to us as we were to the indigenous people then.  It’s part of the American identity.  History will decide if we are a “toss salad” or a “melting pot.”  Neighborliness is not just blessing those that we like but it is also making space for the “other” who is different from us.

         Jesus tells the story to a young lawyer who asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus flips the question back on him.  The man shares the Golden Rule, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  He answers correctly so he continues by asking, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.  A man was beaten up by thieves and left to die.  Three men of his tribe walked on by.  A man from the “other tribe” stopped, helped and cared.  So Jesus asks, “Who was the neighbor?”  The lawyer answered, “The one who showed mercy on him.”

         Thanksgiving is about being a neighbor, about showing mercy to those no matter how different they are from us.  Neighbors don’t see skin color differences, economic differences, age differences, or generational differences. 

         The Gospel of Mark tells it this way, “32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” 

         As we begin to prepare for Thanksgiving let us think of people whom we may not have known well but who blessed us.  Perhaps it was an affirmation from a teacher.  Perhaps a friend called at just the right time.  Perhaps it was the gift of a smile when you were discouraged.  The stranger who stopped and helped you change a tire.  There are about 10 days till Thanksgiving.  See if you can give 10 people you do not know a smile each day and lighten their load.  Blessings.

25th Sunday after Pentecost: Stop, Look, Listen

November 14, 2021

First Reading: Daniel 12:1-3

1“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Psalm: Psalm 16

1Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
  I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.”
2All my delight is in the godly that are in the land,
  upon those who are noble among the people.
3But those who run after other gods
  shall have their troubles multiplied.
4I will not pour out drink offerings to such gods,
  never take their names upon my lips. 
5O Lord, you are my portion | and my cup;
  it is you who uphold my lot.
6My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
  indeed, I have a rich inheritance.
7I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
  my heart teaches me night after night.
8I have set the Lord always before me;
  because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 
9My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
  my body also shall rest in hope.
10For you will not abandon me to the grave,
  nor let your holy one see the pit.
11You will show me the path of life;
  in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are     pleasures forevermore.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25

11Every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. [15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
16“This is the covenant that I will make with them
  after those days, says the Lord:
 I will put my laws in their hearts,
  and I will write them on their minds,”
17he also adds,
 “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.]

  19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Gospel: Mark 13:1-8

1As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
  3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”


Turn to your neighbor and see if you can describe a railroad crossing sign..

What color is it?

Is it round, square, rectangular, circular?

Are there letters on it?

There might be words.  What words do you associate with a railroad crossing sign?

According to the Internet, the sign is rectangular, or round.  It is yellow with a black line around the edge.  There is a circle center to the sign. There is a black crisscross .  There are two big Rs in left and right quadrants.

Under the circle may be the words: STOP AND LOOK BEFORE CROSSING,

“STOP, LOOK both ways, LISTEN” are words our parents taught us when crossing a street and words that help us look at our text today.

LET US PRAY:  Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight for you are my Rock and my Redeemer.


Stop!  Look! Listen!  We are coming to railroad crossing!  Next Sunday, November 21st is Christ the King Sunday and that ends the Pentecost season and year B in the liturgical calendar.  We will change from looking at our faith through the eyes of Mark to looking through the eyes of Luke.  November 28th is the first Sunday of Advent. As we come to the end of the church year, we looked last week at death and resurrection in the raising of Lazarus.  Today’s text attempts to look into the future. The text is called the “Little Apocalypse” because it talks about end times.  Yup, we better Stop, Look, and Listen.  There may be a train coming!

According to the Internet  an anonymous engineer thought about immigrants who did not speak English well and needed a warning at railroad crossings.  Crossbars were put in the shape of an X and the words “stop, look, listen” were posted. Today we have electronic gates and signals to warn us but even as a child I remember being told to take a parent’s hands, stop, look both ways and listen before crossing a street.

         Where are we in this text?  It is the last week of Jesus’ life.  He and the disciples are in Jerusalem and are leaving the Temple. They stop to gaze at the Temple.  It is not the magnificent Temple of Solomon that was destroyed.  This is the temple that was rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah.

Simillarly, our world is not the garden of Eden and life as God planned but we love it. To the disciples the temple they were gazing on was magnificent!  They stopped to admire.  Interestingly Jesus admonishes them because like our parents, he knew the events that were to unfold and the disciples’ misplaced trust.

Why stop?

         We stop before potentially dangerous situations to ponder our options and to assess our situation. We need to learn caution.  Caution does not come naturally.  As children we do not know the safe from the dangerous.  Children chase balls into the street.  Children race to catch the school bus, and may well run in front of a car.  The story is told of the secretary of Winston Churchill, thinking about her roommate she had just left in the ER with a severe asthma attack and due to the deep fog that had settled on London. walked right in front of a bus.  She was distracted. She didn’t stop and look both ways.  Like our sly Fox from last week, we need to learn to sit in front of the cave and proceed with caution.  We hear the stories of youth who like to play chicken with the approaching train and challenge death only to have the car stall or a foot get caught in the tracks. Some actions can have very serious consequences.

         How do we stop?  I would suggest prayer slows us down.

   Perhaps seeking peer advice slows our roll.  We are told we need to learn to distinguish between the urgent and the necessary.  The decisions that must be made right now, now, now are seldom wise.  The salesman who tried to sell us new windows to our house finally said, “This super, duper deal ends if I walk out the door!”  We let him walk.

         So what stops you and calls you to reflect?  The railroad tracks are only one situation that holds potential dangers. For Bethany, it may be the storm clouds gathering and drop of temperature that tells us that winter is coming and it is time to close down the growing season.  Perhaps it is a visit to the doctor and that unwanted diagnosis that is given. Perhaps it is a drop in the stock market.  Maybe Covid.  We learn to STOP because we see railroad tracks ahead, potential danger.

We stop to admire.

         In our text the disciples did not stop because they perceived danger but because they were admiring the Temple.  That which dazzles their eyes, calls to their ears and to their appetites distracts the disciples. Jesus knew the disciples were placing their trust in that which would not last.  The temple would be destroyed. Our culture dazzles us with beauty, health, wealth and fame and we tend to trust these things to guarantee a future.  My teenage son was convinced that if we could buy him Nike tennis shoes, he would be a better basketball player and he would be more noticed!  Judging from all the different types of insurance policies for almost any contingency, we too know that these dazzling aspects of life are valued but also can be wiped out in a moment and fade with time.  Not all that glitters is gold. Jesus responds, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”  Jesus knows the fall of Jerusalem is coming.  Jesus knows that at some point in time he will return and there will be an accounting.  He knows that all people must walk into the cave of death the lion guards, hopefully with him, and nothing this world offers can change that journey.

The disciple engages Jesus, “LOOK. Teacher!”  The group stops to admire the Temple.   I am wondering what Bethany would like Jesus to stop and look at today with them?  Do we want him to look at our accomplishments?  Do we want him to look at our problems?  Perhaps we would like him to fix our environment or stop Covid.  For many seeking refuge, they can only worry about getting across the railroad tracks for they know the train of starvation, of homelessness, of addiction, of abuse is barreling down on them. 

         Perhaps looking at the point of pride, the point of pain, the focus of culture is putting our attention in the wrong direction.  We are not seeing the big picture.  Jesus calls the disciples back to the reality that the things of this world will pass away.  That is very hard to say “AMEN” to.  Empires come and go.  Wealth comes and goes.  Health also.  Children come and grow up.  In the end, what is left?

         “Look both ways” is the advise of parents at the railroad tracks.  We do not know if the train is coming to our town or leaving.  So perhaps the advice to look both directions could be interpreted to mean that when we come to points of reflection, when we stop, we need to look to the past and to the future, both directions.  As the Jews look to the past they continually retell the story of the flight from Egypt and God’s faithfulness in the midst of struggle.  As we look to our past, can we identify God’s hand of deliverance in difficult times?  As we look to the future we can anticipate similar presence.  We look to God’s promises. Reading the Bible tells stories of God’s faithfulness and testimonies tell of how God meets us. We read, listen to others and share because it gives us courage to face the future.

         The disciples ask the next question, “When?”  When will all this take place?  Not only which direction is the train coming from but how far down the tracks is the train?  Maybe we can sneak across or circle around the barrier.  I know I have thought about it.  Jesus does not tell the disciples to listen but he does tell them that there will be many voices to listen to.  Many people will come in God’s name with sermons that can lead us astray.  Many will come claiming to be Jesus or at least speaking in his name.  We are not to be deceived.  We will hear rumors of wars.  There will be national conflicts, environmental problems, and famines.  Hhhmmmm.  Sounds like the evening news minus any mention of God.  Like every generation before us we wonder if the social, environmental, economic, psychological and whatever else problems mean we are in end times.  This was popular talk in the 60s and 70s and is out of vogue now but the signs are still there.  We are broken people living in a broken world that needs a savior.  I should hear a loud “AMEN” to that one!  We are broken people in a broken world!

         Jesus speaks:  DO NOT BE DECEIVED and DO NOT BE ALARMED!

         As we come to discussions of end times our text encourages us not to trust in the things of this world like the Temples built with hands, do not trust that people are truly going to do what only God can do, and we must keep our eyes on him.  He knows the times.  He knows the hours. He knows us.  When difficulties come, we must STOP and take his hand.  Seek his advice.  We must LOOK at his faithfulness in the past and his promises to hold the future.  And we must LISTEN to his word – do not be deceived and do not be alarmed.  This is only the beginning of the birth pangs and he will see us through the delivery to a whole new world where God reigns.  That is a beautiful thought.

Now Thank We All Our God

November 13, 2021

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was the occasion of Catholics and Protestants warring and killing each other, not to mention plague, famine and starvation. The population of the German area went from 16 million to 6 million!!  That was a pandemic with no vaccination, no rich countries to blame, and with refugees fleeing all over Europe.  Eilenberg was a walled city so became an overcrowded place of disease and misery.  Martin Rinckart, author of the hymn of today, was an accomplished Lutheran musician who studied at the University of Leipzig.  At the peak of the war, it is said he did 50 funerals a day!!  This hymn is dated at 1636 and was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth who published it around the 1850s.

         The Reformation hymns put to music theology of the time but the hymn written by Rinckart approached spirituality differently.

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

It is hard to imagine a family spending their resources to help refugees and the ill flooding the streets of their town while the family ate scraps.  But so it was.  I chose the YouTube post and noted that the choir singing is from Cape Town, South Africa, that understands the pain in my lifetime of apartheid and yet they choose this song to sing.  Will we be able to raise our voices, our hearts and our hands and rejoice this Thanks giving?  Good question for reflection.  Please enjoy!

“A” is for Attitude

November 12, 2021

Maya Angelou is famous for her iconic quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

An anonymous person wrote, “It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes us happy.”

The apostle Paul writes from prison in his letter to the Philippians chapter 4, “10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.”

This Thanksgiving time let us monitor our attitudes.  Are we beginning to fret about Christmas and shopping?  Do personal burdens of losses cloud our ability to see blessings?  The purpose of this holiday is that we are to stop work and go to our places of worship and thank our deity for the harvest and for the blessings of this year.  Few people do stop and worship.  Our attitudes are a choice that reflects our values.  Perhaps now, as we enter the Thanksgiving season, it is a good time to check our attitudes.  Paul had learned to be content in jail, in hunger, and in plenty because he focused on God and not on self.  Write the word “attitude” down the side of your paper and try and think of words that start with those letters that you can have an attitude of gratitude about.  Never forget that people will never forget how you made them feel. They’ll forget if the meal is less than perfect but they will remember you!  May you be a blessings this Thanksgiving with your attitude of gratitude.

“H” is for Hands

November 10, 2021

Have you seen those cute elementary or Sunday School projects where the child draws around the fingers on the hand or makes a hand imprint in a piece of clay?  The thumb becomes the head of the turkey and the four fingers become its tail feathers sticking up.  You have a memory gift and Thanksgiving has been celebrated.  Cute!

     Also my memory of Thanksgiving is that it takes lots of hands to put on a big family meal.  One family brings this and another that and the host does the turkey and that does not count all the other contributions.  The men use their hands to clap for football teams.  Us cousins would do the dishes with our hands and then do a family puzzle.  We always played “Button, button, who has the button” as our hands passed a button around under the long dinning table and then guessed who had it. Sometimes hands held cards for bridge or hearts. Hands usually are part of prayer.

         We have many idioms involving hands..  “Many hands make light work.” “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” And then when we want to claim something is beyond us, we say, “My hands are tied.”  Hands are important parts of our body.  We use our hands all the time.

         I love the Isaiah 49: 15,16:

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.

God says we are inscribed on the palms of his hands.  That makes me think of Calvary and the scars of his death on the cross.  His hands are not just the handprints we detect in a sunrise or sunset.  His handprint is seen in the smile and love of that child who makes the Thanksgiving turkey on a piece of clay for us.  His presence is felt in the hands that reach out and love us when we feel unloved.  The ELCA uses as their motto, “God’s work, our hands.”  Hands are important.

         Take time to think of how you use your hands to prepare the Thanksgiving feast, or how you use them to reach out to another.  Remember, love never ties hands but uses them to help others.  Blessings.

“T” is for Turkey

November 9, 2021

The Pilgrims probably did not eat turkey at that famous meal we talk about for Thanksgiving.  And contrary to popular opinion, Benjamin Franklin did not want the turkey to be the national bird.  He wrote a letter to his daughter saying the eagle on the national stamp looked like a turkey. I was surprised to learn both these facts.  Not only was Thanksgiving not originally a prayer day but turkey probably was not eaten.

         When I checked out slang like the comment thrown out, “What a turkey!” I discovered that a turkey is a person often considered a bit dull but then surprises you by coming up with a silly step in a dance entertaining everyone or gobble, gobbling out a response to surprise the listener.  In bowling, three strikes in a row is called “a turkey.”  Here’s the internet definition, “a person or thing of little appeal; dud; loser. a naive, stupid, or inept person. a poor and unsuccessful theatrical production; flop.”

         Pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving by the President of the United States is a tradition that started with Abraham Lincoln when a turkey was sent to the White House.  Fun.

         So how does this tie in with our reflections today.  I suspect many of us have felt like a “turkey,” a person of little appeal, dull, perhaps misunderstood.  Few of us get three strikes in a row bowling.  But the idea of being pardoned from death inspires me.  In Mark 5 there is a story of a synagogue leader who comes to Jesus to plead for the life of his daughter who is on the edge of death.  We do not know her name.  She might be “every person facing death.”  In route to the house another nameless woman who has suffered from bleeding for 12 years sneaks up and touches Jesus’ hem and is healed.  Jesus calls her into voice and in that delay the news comes that the little girl has died.  Jesus goes forward anyway and raises the little girl.  “41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). (Mark 5:41)” The girl is pardoned from death just like the turkey of Thanksgiving.  Both the girl and the woman are no longer dull, uninteresting, invisible people.  They are pardoned from their plight and have a story to tell.  I’m guessing they were super thankful!

         As we pause at Thanksgiving and think over this last year, may we remember the times when we felt like a dull “turkey”, condemned for being who we are.  But perhaps we can identify the hand of God reaching into our lives and giving us a new lease on life.  I know many are sad because Covid claimed the lives of loved ones, because of economic and educational challenges with children but let us ask God to open our eyes to see and remember when we touched his hem or when he touched us and life flowed back.  Suddenly our day became a “three strikes in a row” day.  We can say Thank You Lord!!  Blessings.