Becoming an Antique

Do you do it yourself?

Or

Does it happen to you?

Or both?

Is it good? Or bad?

Does it add value? Or does it make you worth less (not worthless, but worth less = that space is important.)

Becoming an antique

What does it do?

If you are a car it adds value

If you are a house, it adds value – unless you are in really bad shape

But in the America of last year, what did it mean to become an antique?

Something to be put on a shelf and occasionally dusted?

Something to be sold to someone who knows value?

When I was in college, I worked at a used furniture store. Someone gave us a dining room table that was antiqued aqua blue.

Think about it. Imagine that sitting in your mother in law’s dining room.

But there was an older gentleman who came in once a week, always looking for the “special” pieces.

He watched this odd duck, this horrendously obtuse and disruptive piece of furniture.

Every two weeks, the price went down. Until we hit that magic number. He said to me, “Tom, it’s time, I’ll take it.”

And the Ugly Duckling found a home.

He brought her home and said to her, “Now don’t you worry, I’ll take good care of you.” He kept her warm and dry and he began the rebuilding process.

Layer after layer after layer of this aqua blue followed by green and purple, it really made him wonder about her history. But he couldn’t know, so he accepted her as she was.

Finally after 7 layers of paint were removed, he sat back and watched her. And took it all in. He looked at the signs of how well she was made and saw that she was solid mahogany.

That old horrendously colored table became an antique that was worth 30 times what she was purchased for.

Becoming an antique – I think we all need to reevaluate what we think of antiques and how we value them.

Tom

Isolation 2.05 It was more

Palm Sunday – without going to church.

Palm Sunday – with none of the normal traditions

Today was Sunday but it didn’t feel like it. Isolation 2.05 makes the normal traditions hard. But that’s okay because it isn’t really the traditions that matter.

It’s the history of this day that matters. Today marks the day that Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In less than a week, the crowds that originally cheered him will wanted to kill him. That’s what Palm Sunday remembers.

In many ways, the world has been turned upside down. Schools are closed, offices are closed, roads are empty, unemployment lines and hospitals are over crowded. Churches aren’t meeting, and those that are meeting are seeing their pastors arrested for violating executive orders by the governors of the their respective state.

And interesting thing is happening – churches are saying, “we are not a building, we are more.”

More what?

• more about people who care about their neighbors.

• More about being people who admit we don’t know and can’t do it all ourselves.

• More about people who care for people in need.

• More about people who are looking for more, not for themselves but for those who have less.

And so, while gathering as a group of believers didn’t happen in a building, all across this country, all across this world, Christians were gathering online.

And Palm Sunday was remembered.

And God saw His people gathering in new and different ways in spite of the virus.

And He was pleased.

TJV

Hmmm….

You know, one of the things I really like is when you can read the Bible in a different version and the change of the words even just slightly produces a thought or a moment that makes you think harder or differently about your life, the Bible, the World or something totally different.

Acts 18:1-8 is one of those sort of packages for me.  Packages?

Yes, when I read Acts 18:1-8 today three things jumped out at me:

  • When Paul got to Corinth, he stayed with displaced people.  But they are Jewish just like he was.
  • Even in Paul’s life, there is a time where he had to “do something else” to make a living while still doing ministry.  The start of his efforts in Corinth were not self sustaining.
  • Paul’s greatest success in ministry in Corinth happened not to “his own” people, but happened with people from other nations.

Hmmmm….

TJV

Seeing God in the Cafeteria

(Note, this actually happened on May 30 – it’s just taken me a few days to get it to the point of feeling it is ready to share). A few weeks ago, I wrote about a concert that the Potter’s House Gospel Choir gave. It gave me hope. You can read that here.

This morning, I saw something else.

I saw promise.

I saw promises made and promises that came true.

Come with me.

It’s about 7:10 and the principal and a few other staff are putting the finishing touch on lining up chairs in the cafeteria. There’s a great big circle of chairs.

Hmmm, this doesn’t look like the prayer services that I’ve been at before.

A few of the seniors come in, a few parents do as well. No one is quite sure what to do. But the kids know and they start sitting down in the circle of chairs.

Before long all of the chairs are filled by students. Around the circle, parents and teachers are just kind of wandering, talking amongst themselves. Sharing relief that their student made it, sharing the happiness of an accomplishment, sharing stories of growth (and stories of white water rafting and baseball games at 2:00 in the morning in the Indianapolis airport).

Little by little over the next 10 to 15 minutes, people drift in. And then all of the chairs are full and the principal welcomes all of us to a time of prayer. He opens with a prayer and then says that for the next 30 minutes or so, it’s time to pray for the seniors.

And then it happened.

It started with just a few quiet prayers. And it grew.

And it grew.

Parents praying for their own kids.

Parents praying for their kids friends.

Parents praying for the kids of their friends.

Teachers praying for every student.

Teachers from the middle school came over to pray for these “their” students.

Administrators praying over every student individually.

Prayers of thanks for what God has done for them. And through them.

Prayers of support as they venture into the “unknown.”

Giving thanks and celebrating God’s promises kept.

Claiming God’s promises into the future.

And you could feel the atmosphere shift in the cafeteria. It wasn’t the lunch room at school.

It was a place of worship. And God was doing something special.

He was saying, “These are my children. I’ve got them.”

“I promise.”

Just as the parents were feeling the emotions of a milestone, whether easy or hard, God was saying, “Have hope for the future. I’ve got them.”

Just as the seniors were feeling the mixed emotions that come at a time like this, God was saying, “Have hope, my child, I’ve got you. Trust me and hold on to my promises”

I’ve seen hope and I’ve seen promise.

And I see a class of high school graduates who have both and have them for such a time as this.

God is good, all the time.

TV

It started with a piece of tape.

And then another, and another and another. And then the next roll. And the next….

A view from upstairs and you can see what it is. The chairs are all gone and the tape marks the outline of where the congregation normally sits.

Why?  Because Good Friday isn’t comfortable.

Then came the musicians.

Plugging in cords. Setting up microphones. Tuning the cello and the guitars.

Hey, you see those two over there? What are they doing? I don’t know.

They move from place to place around the room. Soon it’s obvious what they are doing.

They are praying. They are praying for the worshippers that will soon be coming in. .

Every one of them.

The pastors and musicians gather for prayer as people start wandering in. Some of the elderly sit in a row of chairs around the back. Everyone else sits on the floor.

Just enough light shows to help people pick out spots on the floor. Families sit in groups. Parents tell their little ones why it’s dark and why they are sitting on the floor.

Some are very comfortable on the floor, many are not. But more and more people are coming in.

It’s quiet, unusually quiet. Reflective, somber, anticipatory.

And more people come in. The ushers keep busy trying to find a place for them.

They succeed even as the empty spots get smaller and smaller. They ask and people gladly move closer together.

The minister spoke in the dark. Words of reverence and hope. Words of redemption. Words of awareness.

The music joined in – many of the musicians were playing from their heart and soul – and without any written music. The music wove itself throughout the room, turning people’s hearts to Jesus and to Good Friday.

“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that would be a present far too small.” A heartfelt admission that we are more broken than we think we are and more loved than we could ever imagine.

The seven stations of the cross – followed by a candle being extinguished. The darkness grows.

Judas betrays Jesus. The darkness grows.

Peter denies Jesus. The darkness grows.

The thief begs for salvation. The darkness grows.

Every step of the way, the darkness grows.

“Father into thy hands, I commit my spirit.

It’s late on Friday and a wise man and a believer worked with the Mary’s and get him down and buried him.

It’s Friday – but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday – but Sunday’s coming.

The pastors jointly said, “May the Lord Bless you, may the Lord make his face to shine on and keep you. Go forth in the knowledge it is currently Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

Sunday is coming and God is so so good.

Tom