20 November, 2010

Thanksgiving Question

Have you ever had to explain “Thanksgiving” to someone who had no knowledge of the holiday? What words would you put around your definition? My history teacher friends would speak knowledgably about Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the celebration and thanks for a bountiful harvest. I, in turn, feel the need to google Thanksgiving to get my facts straight!

I’ve also begun anticipating a question I’ll soon be asked, ‘what are you thankful for this year’? My family of 30 to 35 people will form a large circle, hold hands and be asked to answer the Thanksgiving question. One by one we’ll go around the circle and hear every voice respond. The youngest to the oldest will give an answer. In the past, we’ve heard all types of responses: I’m thankful for my family, I thankful for my dog, I’m thankful for SEC Football, I’m thankful for Mama’s pecan pie, I’m thankful for military leave…all honest and great responses.

So, on one day in November we pause as a nation to give thanks. One day. One day is not enough for all I’ve been graciously given. I’m like the 9 lepers in the story below. Failing to give thanks for the miracles in my life and instead choosing to celebrate with my family and friends and forgetting the Source.
As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Do you notice in this story that the one who returns to Jesus is called a foreigner? Could it be that those in the world who have been born into poor, disadvantaged countries are able to see Thanksgiving better than me? Are our eyes so glazed over that we can’t see all we’ve been given? I mean, really, I have to Google on Thanksgiving to be able to offer a definition to my Chinese friends??

Let me try again to answer the question today:
•I’m thankful for being born in the United States, particularly Mississippi – the Bible Belt. Even as my home state is the poorest of all it is far richer than most others in the world.
•I’m thankful that I worry about being overweight because that means I have plenty to eat; therefore I have plenty to share.
•I’m thankful for my son’s crisis and illness as that brought him back to Jesus this year.
•I’m thankful that the God of the universe has chosen us as His messengers to the world.

After all the healing Jesus has done in my life, where do I now run to offer Thanksgiving? Is to those who already know him? Is it to my own good fortune, my works?

I choose to run to Him today…in Thanksgiving.

10 November, 2010

A Symphony

Have you been to the symphony recently? Have you attended a Broadway production? A Broadway show is one of my favorite joys. I love to dress up for the event and arrive early just to watch the crowd and see the theatre begin to come alive. The crowd comes in talking and laughing and looking for seats. Soon, very soon, the orchestra begins their pre-show ritual. And now, we’re to my favorite, favorite time of the evening. The flutes, the cello, violins, brass, and piano – they all begin to loosen up, to tune up, all playing different notes, adhering to their own personal warm-up session. Do you hear them? Then finally…..tap, tap, tap….silence. And the overture begins, perfectly in harmony and purpose for each instrument. Beautiful.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9

A symphony of people will be standing before the throne of God. Among these people are those who have yet to know the unconditional love of God. Today, in my city there are those who do not know of this Love, they’ve never heard and they’ve never seen it lived.
Will I live the Love today? Will I stop my busy life long enough to unconditionally love one person who is hard to love, who looks different from me, who has a hard time speaking English? I will see them at the throne one day; will I love them today?

A few weeks ago in English class, we were practicing prose. As the Chinese students read aloud I was listening to their English and helping them correct pronunciation problems. We were in a small group of 6 and huddled together in order to hear each other. When a troublesome word would come up for one student, I’d noticed that all the students begin to repeat it, mimic my pronunciation, and before long all were practicing the word. On this day, we were using prose from the most famous Book of all, the Bible. As one student read, he stumbled and pronounced a word, “Jesirs”. We began to work on the word….Je…..sus. Listen well as there is no R in the pronunciation, I said. So again, Je…..sus. Je….sus.
All around me, the pronunciation spread…..the practice…..Je….sus, Jesus, Jesus they repeated over and over again. I closed my eyes and just listened. A symphony, a tune up as they had no idea of the name they called that day. But He heard them and knows them by name…..can I love someone today like Je…..sus loves me?

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