On Monday, Sunnie saw couple of ten year-olds take an armful of books from our window. She was a bit concerned but reasoned that the sign does say "Free Books" and we do want people to take them. Then the kids returned and put some back. Turns out they had cruised the neighborhood asking if anyone wanted a book. Two people came into the store that afternoon as a result of their efforts. Best PR we've had all year. Sunnie said we should add them to the payroll. Jelly beans and chocolate eggs.
Four of us prayed weekly in the lower room--a huge crowd in the annals of our Easter to Pentecost prayer time. Healing and direction for ourselves, our families and friends. Healing and direction for our country, our churches, our communities. "Why are we always praying for healing and direction?" I blurted out mid-prayer one afternoon.
"Because we are broken and lost," Stephanie answered.
Tromping along Pacific Ave. one day, I glanced in the window of the Thomas Kinkade gallery and saw a portrait on the back wall. "Hey, I know that guy," I thought and went in for a closer look. It wasn't until I got right up to the picture, that I realized it was a painting of Jesus.
In an autobiography of some actress (I forget who, maybe you can tell me) she wrote of a trip to Israel. She was looking through the fence of the garden of Gethsemane when she saw Jesus in there praying. "Why am I seeing Jesus?" She wondered, "I'm Jewish." Jesus looked up and said to her, "So am I."
People often ask which church supports The Word Shop. The answer is, "Yes." The Church through the ages has constructed various groups, houses, denominations and organizations to meet the needs of her people and to proclaim the love of God in Christ Jesus to a diverse and hurting world. The shifting tides of cultural conditions wash away some structures and modify others. The amazing thing is that the Church survives at all.
Sometimes, while sitting at table, I dunk a crust of bread into my glass of wine and chew it slowly, rejoicing in the simple pleasures of bread and wine, in the intimacy of family and friends round the table; marveling that our Lord would choose to meet us through such simple, homely means.
Sometimes, when moving from bread to wine in the Eucharist feast, a sweep of sadness crosses my heart. Whose sadness is this, Lord? Yours? Mine? Theirs? Broken fellowship, absent loved ones, hearts divided....what?
At a healing service one night I look up at a big stained glass window of Jesus and I want more than anything to hug him; to fling my arms around him and bury my nose in his neck.
The next day Bill shows up at Toastmasters and gives me a tremendous hug. Later, I'm walking at the beach and come across Justin, who flings wide his arms and gives me a giant hug. The following day I go into The Word Shop at the changing of the guard. Phil stands up at the desk and moves out to hug me. Joanne comes in with a whole hubbub of people and sweeps me into a warm embrace.
When Leslie emailed my daughter-in law about having a baby shower for them at Family Camp, Shannon wrote back in gratitude, but added that presents weren't necessary, "The baby is the gift, you know."
The line struck me with tear-pushing sweetness when I read it, and became an anchor of prayer as the birth drew near. The baby is the gift, you know.
Often, after sending this monthly newsletter into cyberspace, I get grand ideas of what could have/should have been written instead. I usually forget these promising insights by the time the next deadline rolls around. However, last month a rant rose up with sufficient force that I actually wrote it down--and then spent untold hours learning how to post it on the home page of our website.
We are tromping into 2007 with twenty-three $100 sponsors, and a couple more promises to anty-up after the first of the year. Thanks be to God for this affirmation and support, for each sponsor, all the staff and for every one of you that brings light and love (not to even mention cash) into this little corner of the kingdom.
The educational model of the universe claims that we are here to learn. Life is a series of lessons. The point is to Grow Up. (God is a teacher.)
The business model of the universe claims that we are here to be successful. Life is a series of challenges. The point is to Grow Bigger. (Many churches have bought this model--with their congregation's paychecks.)
The psychological model of the universe claims that we are here to improve. Lessons and challenges build character. The point is to Grow Better. (Nice, serene, unfazed.)
Throughout my life, I have had many loving and intimate relationships with people involved in homosexual activity. With my positive experiences, my scriptural understanding and long conversations with people on all sides, I have come to the conclusion that homosexual activity is a sin--it misses the mark. It is not a huge grandiose sin; just a common everyday garden variety sin like adultery, pornography, divorce, lust, sleeping around or any other of the many sexual sins that so easily beset us. This is not a popular opinion in most circles I travel in, but there it is.
Four days and three novels into our Puerto Rico vacation I begin to relax. None of the novels were astounding. It didn't matter much; I just went on to the next one and entertained myself thinking about the differences. One had great material, lousy writing, and a minimal theme. The next had great writing, sleazy material and a fascinating theme. The last had decent writing, great material and an overly cluttered theme. We'll be talking about the "building structure" of a novel, tonight at the First Tuesday's Writers Group, 7:15.