Today is, of course, Easter Sunday. I believe I could safely say that it is the greatest day in Christendom, a day of joy and celebration for those who call themselves followers of Jesus. Even for nominal Christians( whatever that means) and those who have no connection to church, it is often that one Sunday each year when they make their pilgrimage to church. I have often heard that practice described as people thinking they are doing God a favor by dropping by.
Thanks to the wonders of technology I knowe that I have one of my children and her family attended Easter services today and had quite a good experience and another made it to their first Easter Sunrise service and also had good experience, I know, without officially knowing, that almost all and probably all of my extended family ( sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law,etc) attended church today, the churches they attend on a regular basis.
So,who am I leaving out in the above description? Alas, that would be yours truly. Yep, I had every intention of going today. I wasnt going to make the sunrise service since that would have required a 5:00 am wake up call. But the church we started attending recently offered several options left no good excuse. Sad to say, I still did not make it. The day that is most glorious and offers us hope beyond measure became a day in which I did not take part. Somewhat ironically even technology failed me. I found ” our” services online streaming live. So at least I would be able to take part to some extent. But, alas, my computer chose to show its unseemly self and froze twice during the broadcast, leaving me bereft of that option as well. All of this is certain to leave one at a loss. Next Sunday will not be Easter and the atmosphere will be different but once again I will have the opportunity to join a community of faith. It isn’t actually a ” do-over” but it is still awonderful opportunity to have. After all, if we sing the Don Francisco song, “He’s Alive” today, it will be no less true next Sunday.
- Christians celebrate Easter in Jerusalem (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Asheville native Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you can’t go home again. I have wondered about that phrase. After all, one can almost always go home again unless there are extraordinary circumstances that prevent that from happening. But, after this past weekend I think I have a better grasp on what he meant.
My wife and I have different hometowns and at this time in our lives we live in hers, having lived in my hometown of Eden,NC on two separate occasions.
For many reasons, some valid and some not , we have not been to Eden in over 20 years. As is often the case we returned under difficult circumstances; the sudden death of a relative. One of my sisters lost her husband quite suddenly last Wednesday and were drawn home again, at least it was home in my case.
I have tried to put the trip into some type of perspective, knowing all the while that the trip was not about me, but rather being there for my sister. My wife and I talked a bit about going back as we traveled, particularly as we drew closer. The main artery for us is NC Hwy 14 into town and I was predictably astounded at what I observed. There were businesses galore that we did not know,and could scarcely believe that were there. They had a Cookout, for goodness sake. Old businesses were gone, others inexplicably remained. The hospital ( Morehead Memorial) seemed to be stretching its tentacles everywhere as if it were the only game in town and maybe it is.
Going down main street, Washington,was, as in most small towns sorta sad. Alas,vacancies seemed to outnumber stores. But, even more surreal was arriving at my home church, Bethel Baptist. The church sanctuary was the venue for the receiving line prior to the funeral. This was a place where I had not set foot since probably 1970. Really, really strange.
Predictably, I did not know most of those paying their respects, but every now and then, a familiar face emerged and once again the past became the present and quite nicely I might add.
The service itself was not really a funeral but more of a celebration of what had transpired in my brother in laws life and really my sister’s as well. She was that crucial figure, largely unseen that made a lot of what he did possible. There was as much laughter as tears, largely due to the common bond of Christian faith shared by the members of my family.
The church’s pastor, Darrell Boles, was one whom I knew by word due to my sisters and their spouses, two of whom faithfully attend. I was so very pleased to met him and get to know him for myself. From this point of view he is the right man in the right place at the right time. I would be remiss if I did not mention the caring but professional job done by Fair Funeral Home under the direction of Neil Fair.
So, we went “home” again and I think I learned once again that it’s not so much the place but those people who are there and were once there that really provide that unique aura that is no where else.
To all who were there,
Never been to Gainesville,Fl before although I have been nearby. I also have never met Pastor Terry Jones who leads a small church of about 50 folks named the Dove Outreach Center. Remarkably, Jones has managed to make himself notorious on an international level, quite a feat in itself. He has received a number of death threats and has started carrying a gun himself. So, what has this heretofore unknown person done to draw attention from Gen David Petraeus, Hilary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Eric Holder , Rush Limbaugh, ( who appropriately calls him a lunatic) Robert Gates, Angelina Jolie and countless unnamed but now angry Muslims worldwide?
He has for some inexplicable reason announced a plan to burn many copies of the Koran on of all days, 9/11/2010. How many copies seems to depend on how many gullible people send them to him. That is by far the easier of the questions involved. Based on some earlier actions, Jones seems to think that Islam is evil. I will agree that there are followers of Islam have done some evil things and alas if his plan goes through they will probably do more of those things. ( Gen Petraeus is quite concerned about that.)
I have given a lot of thought about why Jones is doing this. Publicity, notoriety, name recognition ? He has gotten all of those to be sure. But , assuming he is a legitimate Christian minister, which I have no reason to doubt, what is doing for the furtherance of his ministry or for the “image” of Christianity or for that matter his native country. Oh, just a qualifier. He actually has the right to do this but for me it’s one of those “rights” that just because one has it, one does not need to exercise it.
Cannot imagine the potential damage he can carry out, unless by some miracle he chooses to call a halt to the event. At this point, that looks unlikely.
Some words from a song came to mind today that at least from a Christian perspective define my feelings quite well. The artist is Wayne Watson and the song came from his 1988 album The Fine Line. The title is “That’s Not Jesus.” I will just relate a line or two that seems to fit what is happening with pastor Terry Jones.
- That’s not Jesus, he doesn’t carry on that way,
- Just some flesh and blood like you and me
- Somehow gone astray
- That’s not Jesus, no matter what they say
- He doesn’t need us to defend him
- He just wants us to obey
Shalom and amen
Related Articles :
- Petraeus: Quran Burning Threatens Troops, Afghan Effort (israelnationalnews.com)
Evangelist Franklin Graham was to be the keynote speaker at the Pentagon’s May 6 National Day of Prayer service. Now, he isn’t. Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins announced that the invitation had been rescinded due to the nature of comments Graham had previously made about the Muslim faith. Collins said that Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate” since we are an all-inclusive military and try to honor all faiths.
Graham’s invitation was extended by the Colorado based National Day of Prayer Task Force which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office. The disinvite was applauded by the Council on American Islamic Relations( CAIR) which is no surprise. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was also pleased, adding that Graham should never have been invited in the first place.He hopes someone more “inclusive” will be picked as a replacement. Oh, I’m certain that any mullah will be a better choice from their perspective.
Weinstein founded the group in 2006 to rebuild the wall of separation between church and state in the military. Based on that position why would his group want the Pentagon to participate in any kind of National Day of Prayer event anyway.
As for Graham, he was very gracious and said he wuld continue to prayer for the troops. Hope that will not get him in trouble.
At first glance, how could there be any connection between a city in Texas and the capital of Morocco? The connection is the Muslim faith. First, the Texas side. There is a small liberal arts institution located in San Antonio known as Trinity University ( keep that name in the back of your mind) which has become somewhat newsworthy over the past year. In March, 2009 a group of students, the Trinity Diversity Connection, led by a Muslim student began a push to have the words” in the year of our Lord,” removed from the school’s diplomas. Their president’s objections centered on the fact that this was a direct Christian reference and not everyone believes that way. The group has supported by the student government and a campus commencement committee. Input is still being received and trustees will consider the request at a May meeting.
Now for part two which admittedly is somewhat more significant. The North African country of Morocco ( Casablanca anyone?) is known as a moderate Islamic country with generally good relations with the United States. It is like a number of its neighbors 99% Muslim. So, why the sudden push to clamp down on Christians?
The country’ s position as stated by Ambassador Aziz Mekouar , which it refuses to call a crackdown on Christians is that the sudden, inexplicable deportations of British citizen and 20 year resident of Morocco, businessman and 15 year resident of Morocco Michael Ramsey among others. There were interrogations , raids on homes ,etc followed by swift ignominious passage out of the country.
The charge, proselytizing,the ambassador says it involves pushing someone to change their faith. The unanswered question is why now and why target individuals that have been in the country for years? Perhaps the answer is as Jack Wald suspects. Wald is pastor of Rabat International Church. He is hearing reports of Moroccan Christians being followed, questions and intimidated. He describes it as the heat being on Moroccan Christians.
Two events, neither of which are really connected, but yet are in a sense. One in a pluralistic country, the other in a country 99% of whose people adhere to basically the same belief system. The ongoing event in Texas could not occur in Morocco. Some would say that the events in Morocco have occurred here. In the aftermath of 9/11, there probably was some of that here. But institutionally and to those actively engaged in ongoing humanitarian activities, I doubt.
Wonder if CAIR operates in Rabat?
Last night was I think, the first NCIS Christmas episode. The show provided its typical quality hour of entertainment, with an interesting mix of storylines There was the return of Gibbs’ father, McGee performing Christmas magic ( Admiral Nicholas Whitebeard was a great line ) and Tony and Ziva winning a great bar fight. But my main interest lay in another area entirely.
The central plot line was solving the murder of a marine who had converted to Islam. As it turned out, he was killed by his brother who felt he had shamed the family by converting to the Islamic faith. A sorta sidebar to this was that the deceased’s father had left the military to become a minister and was not so thrilled with his son’s conversion. The other member of our mixture was a Nay Muslim chaplain.
To me , the show presented the two Muslim characters and thus the religion in quite a favorable light. The father, from a more traditional faith, not so much. It just got me to thinking how in this country we seem to work very hard to accomodate other faiths, particularly the Islamic faith. In contrast, those countries with a Muslim majority don’t seem to be so accommodating to those of the Christian faith. Think of Libya, Sudan, Iran etc.
It just made me think how sometimes television can be used to frame a point of view or encourage one in subtle ways. I’m not saying we should not be accommodating but it seems at times that we overdo things. And, as much as I hate to disagree with Gibbs, I don’t think that Christians and Muslims are on the same page when it comes to God.
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