Quick test – what percentage increase is 800 compared to 400? No trick question.

My hometown TV station is using some funky math to come up with 79%. I don’t understand it, and they aren’t real specific about the numbers, but

You gotta be impressed. I’m dumbfounded. But I ain’t dumb.

From https://www.wcpo.com/news/state/list-ohio-bmv-releases-rejected-vanity-license-plate-names

Cleaning up in the bathroom she used. Lotions, soaps, shampoos, ointments, tinctures, shower gel, hair gel, probably some gel gel. Being donated to a charity supporting battered women. They are getting it all, unopened and partially used.

Well, not everything. Loofa gloves, which I didn’t know existed, yes. Razor and toothbrush, no. I’m sure they could be sterilized, but there’s a line somewhere.

None of that stuff, even the highly personal things, caused an emotional tweak in me. She is the one who opened it, the only one who ever used it, and her hand placed it in the medicine chest. But those things were tools, replaceable without a second thought. More shampoo, more toothpaste? She stored her backups on a shelf at the grocery store.

But there are things that are significant, that have an emotional component. Her pincushion, placed on a table beside her rocking chair. A collection of buttons, grown organically instead of purchased. And her Bible, marked-up, and closer to her (physically and spiritually) than the pincushion.

Toothbrushes are not essential. The Word, holy scripture, is.

With my Mom’s passing, there is an immediate reaction on my part to turn everything about her into something to be venerated, something holy. The numbers surrounding her final days – time of death, heart rate, breathing rate. The last recipe she gave me. Her projects that were in process.

This is the first time I have been through a great loss. The avoider part of me wants very much to get into the details – build that time-line of when she was in and out of the hospitals. I could spend years looking for missing details – while ignoring the details of my own life, my own grieving.

This is not meant to belittle her or her death. She was a wonderful woman, very strong, a creator, loving, caring. She was unique (like we all are). She liked lighthouses. She baked Christmas cookies like no other. She wasn’t perfect, but she was my only mother.

She showed me the way to Christ. I remember as a cynical teenager, I walked down our driveway and found her kneeled at the back bumper of her car, praying. I remember being awed that she was serious about this Christianity stuff. And those prayers didn’t stop.

She was greatly into crafts. Basket-weaving was a specialty – she gave classes, sold her baskets at craft shows (and donated the money to charity and missions), and knit scarves (again donating proceeds). One of her last projects is a mystery. She had gathered Halloween cards my brother and I had received from our grandparents. Unsure what was going to happen with those,but the cards were on top of the working pile.

To bring this back around, I’m interested in what that project was. But I’m not going to research what it could have been. Not going to look at her browsing history to find the how-to. I took pictures of the cards, shared them with my brother. And I know it was motivated by love.

The numbers don’t matter – she passed from congestive heart failure. The hospice nurse told me that she was following a textbook path towards her death. If there were minor variations along the way, so be it.

And I really felt the need to enshrine that recipe. From her hospital bed, in a video call, she told me about a sweet potato / apple / maple syrup recipe. Now understand she had never made it – this wasn’t a family favorite. She didn’t have the recipe, and told I could find it on Google. (potentially this one) But I was ready to decree that we absolutely needed to have this every Thanksgiving, because – Mom.

But I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew and Luke: “Let the dead bury the dead”. She made a big difference, in many lives. But she’s gone. David’s “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” in talking about his infant son applies. And “we grieve, but not as the world grieves”.

My Dad said “life goes on”. Not flippantly or irreverently, but truthfully. Do not forget, but do not live there.

Cherry bonbons

My Mom, Mary Kathleen Fluharty Aubrey, gets to worship in a bigger congregation today.

85 years old. November 28, 1936 to December 5, 2021. Permanant residency transferred to Heaven.

I bought a lock-picking kit at the end of August. Tools and some clear locks for practice.

Tonight I tried it, and I was successful! Yes, I’m sure the locks are made to open easily. Doesn’t matter. I took a lock that opens with a key, and opened it without a key.

I’m kinda proud. Doesn’t translate into real-world skills, yet, but it’s a skill (experience?) that I didn’t have yesterday.

I was thinking the other day about ones and twos.  One cat, two cats.  One dog, two dogs. It kind of breaks when you get to one fish, because it’s also two fish, or a school of fish.  Fish are different.

And then there is the United States.  It’s not really as big of a jump as it seems.  Just like you can’t tell from the word whether “fish” is singular or plural, some people think the United States is singular – “The United States is”.  Some people think it’s plural – “The United States are”.  Sometimes it depends on the context – looking outside can be different than looking within the borders.  And sometimes it depends on who you’re talking to – a big believer in states’ rights is much more likely to see the plural, as opposed to somebody who’s in favor of a big federal government.

All those things are examples, helping us to start thinking about important things like the church.  Ephesians 5:23 says “Christ also is the head of the church”, so that’s pretty clear.  And Colossians 1:8 says “He is also head of the body, the church”.  We have Jesus as the head and the church as the body.  One head, one body.  But wait – are we part of the same body as that church around the corner, that church down the road?  That megachurch in California? Well, only if you believe the Bible.

And that means when you read First Corinthians 12:16, which says “And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?”, you should think about your place in this church, Connections Christian Church.  And you should think about the place of Connections in relation to all the other parts of the body.

Then we start applying this same thinking in hard ways.  First Corinthians 12:27 says “As for you, you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it”. Is that true? When you think of yourself and Jesus Christ, do you think single or plural? Integrated and one, or a duality? First Corinthians 11:28-29 says “Each one must examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

If that makes you scared, congratulations. You have started to understand Philippians 2:12 – “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. But notice that it says to continue – you aren’t coming into this as an outsider, because Jesus Christ, the head of the church and the head of you, gave himself as a sinless sacrifice on the cross. First Timothy 4:10 says “we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, that is, of those who believe”. That’s you and me, because of the body and blood of Jesus.  Let’s pray.

Father God, I remember the Shema. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is your God, the Lord is one”. You don’t want division, disunity. The world was created as one, and then separated by sin. Jesus’ sacrifice, which we celebrate now with the wafer and the juice, brought the hope of salvation, the hope of unity to all of mankind. Thank You for the gift of Your only begotten Son, Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen.

Communion Meditation 2021-09-12

Yesterday was the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11, when terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania.  That was a terrible, tragic event, one that I hope never happens again.

The whole country, the whole world, was alarmed, very watchful, on high alert – and rightfully so.  Everybody was glued to their news sources – television, radio, newspapers – for days on end, wanting to find out more, to understand what had happened.

Which brings me to my own twenty-year anniversary, which is today.  On September 12th, twenty years ago today, I was scheduled to have my gall bladder removed.  We had confirmed that yes, the surgery was going to go forward.  So I went.

My memory is a little hazy, because of the anesthesia, but my recollection is that everybody, from the receptionist up to the surgeon, was watching the TV.  The nurse feeding me jello afterwards would kind of aim the spoon at my mouth and let me finish the action, because she was looking elsewhere.

Did this concern me, make me wonder about the quality of the surgery I had just gotten?  Yes, it did – but without reason.  As distracted as they might have been, the doctor and nurses were still professionals.  They got their job done, regardless of the cost.  They may have had relatives or friends on the planes, or in the buildings, but they did what they needed to do.

And that makes me think of Jesus.  He had a task – to do God’s will.  That included living a perfect, sinless life, and dying on the cross without guilt.  He gathered and taught the disciples across years, teaching and correcting them. He had one job, and he did it perfectly.  Was it easy?  No – He was tempted in every way, just as we are – but He resisted temptation.  Did He want to pour out His blood on the cross?  No, He prayed the exact opposite.  Did He do His Father’s will?  Yes.  Hebrews 12:2 says “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He did the job, He ran the race, He won the prize.  That is what we are remembering now, with the bread and the juice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, You loved and still do love Your Son.  You loved and still do love us.  Thank you for having Jesus show us the way, and pay the price for our salvation.  In His name I pray, Amen.

Two black cylindrical things

Two nifty things recently, both black and round in two dimensions.

The Amplifi Alien has been serving wifi throughout the house for a month, and doing a wonderful job of it. Phones, streaming devices, wireless printer – everything just works. This is the way it’s supposed to be. Is it a terrible thing that I can’t do network segmentation on it? Nope, no more sad that I can’t extend my hammer. Purchased to do one thing, and it does that thing well.

The other cool thing is a little bluetooth speaker from Anker. Twenty bucks for twenty hours of audio (at lower volumes), that is surprisingly loud, clear, and bassy. It isn’t green – it’s reflecting in the glory of the “signal-is-good” Alien.

Both recommended, for different purposes, of course.

James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

I had a friend who used to say that if you’re ever asked a question in Sunday School, and you haven’t been paying attention like you should, it’s a pretty safe choice to answer “Jesus”. And here, he would be right. 

We are surrounded by good gifts – I think of the physical world here. The breaths we take in, the wonderful food we consume (and sometimes over-consume), the medical support system available to us when things go wrong – these are all good gifts. 

And then perfect gifts, I tend to think of as spiritual. This church – not the building, which is good, and for me would fall into the first group. But the people – this church is a blessing. Salvation is a perfect gift. And the means of salvation – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – well, I don’t know how to rank perfect gifts if everything is perfect, but He’d be at the top. 

And yet, after He had offered His sinless body on the cross as a sacrifice for my sin and for your sin, He descended to Hell. Did God His Heavenly Father turn away from Him? Habakkuk 1:13 says of God the Father “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil”, and Jesus Himself quotes Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“. 

But we just read that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”. So how could both be true? 

I think God’s light shines everywhere, even into Hell. I’m no theologian, and I’ll accept any guidance or correction on this. When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, the end of verse 22 and then 23 says “The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” He was seeing from Hades – what we would call “Hell” – into Heaven. I don’t know if this was optical light or spiritual light, but the rich man saw

And I believe that God cannot look upon sin, but He sees people. When Jesus went to the cross and died, he became sin. The first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us”. Christ was not a sinner – He was carrying the guilt, the shame, the punishment for our sins. The final verse of the chapter Jesus quoted from the cross says “For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from Him and but has listened to His cry for help.” 

And because of that, on the third day Jesus arose from the grave, triumphant. That’s the second part of that verse in Corinthians: Jesus was made sin for us “so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”. 

And that is what we are remembering now, with the wafer and juice representing the body and blood of Jesus. Let’s pray. 

Father God, You who do not turn, thank You for the perfect gift of Jesus – His example, His teachings, His work on the cross. All part of Your perfect plan. Because of that, I can approach Your throne boldly. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Blog Stats

  • 55,175 hits