Sunday mornings (not to mention some Saturdays and Wednesdays) are amazing! I feel privileged to worship with all of the churches in the South District. It is common for God not to tell me where I’m going until Saturday, and I don’t tell until I arrive at the church. This last Sunday I worshipped with our church family at the UMC of the Good Shepherd in Kearny. I like how every single church family has their own personality, and their own way of leading worship. What a beautiful blessing that we are free to openly worship together! Do we ever take blessings for granted?
The beauty I experienced driving home from Kearny was mesmerizing! At any time of the year I enjoy our Arizona scenery, but on Sunday the wildflowers were on full display. As the sun brightened, the colors flashed. Going to the church I only had time for a five-minute stop. Going home, I had four extended stops to take pictures. As I drove, I kept involuntarily exclaiming about the grandness of God’s artistry. Although I saw many cars, it struck me that I didn’t see anyone else taking pictures. I’m hopeful that everyone was enjoying the flowers as much as I was.
I wonder, though, how often do we get in such a hurry to travel through life that we miss the beauty surrounding us? I’m frequently guilty of getting so focused on my destination, that I don’t fully experience the journey. Every day God adds some beauty into our lives. Are we looking for it?
This Lenten season might be a good time to slow down, to take some time during the day to look around us, and to identify the beauty that we see. This could be a sunrise or sunset; that colorful bird in the tree above us; or a flower in the ground below us. Perhaps the beauty that we see is reflected from another person, which inspires us to do some of our own reflecting.
I’m finding that so many people are fascinated with the darker side of life, it is having a negative impact on them (and on our society). It is so tempting (and addictive) to give all of our attention to the things that are wrong with our world. I believe that the things we focus on shape who we are and influence our actions. Where is our focus? When we are with our friends, what do we talk about?
I confess that in this time of struggle within our denomination, country, and world, it is easy for me to spend too much time thinking about the ugliness that I witness and experience. I do not want to be a carrier of this ugliness. I refuse to allow it to form who I am as a person! I want to be the person who takes the time to see the double rainbow (while taking a few pictures) and celebrates the hope and love that God gives to each of us! If people are hurting more after spending time with me, I am probably doing Christianity wrong.
What about our churches? What are we focusing on? What we have to offer to the world is incredible! Jesus has taught us a way of living life that is in harmony with God’s plans for us. This way of life fills us with light and gives us purpose. If the church is tearing people down, and inflicting pain, we are probably doing Christianity wrong. It is when we reflect God’s love into the lives of people, that we have the best chance of people doing their own reflecting. Together let’s work on projecting God’s love and hope like a lighthouse, instead of risking becoming a black hole (OK, I might be watching too much Star Trek). The world needs to know about Christ. Not to build up our churches, but to build up people. Jesus has chosen our hands, feet, and hearts, to be sharers of our Christian faith. Let’s do it well!
Your brother on the journey, Mark