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From the Heart!

November 10, 2018

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It only took three years, but I finally caught one of our elusive neighbors with my camera! This pika was busy gathering “hay” for the winter burrow when we saw it near Rock Cut. The more I have learned about our little furry friends, the more I am in awe of what such wee creatures can do. They also have shown me how delicate our ecosystem is not only in Rocky at the higher elevations, but also around the world. The pika work so hard to make sure they have enough stored up to make it through the winter months and changes in weather patterns can really throw them off.

I have seen this in my own life as well. When I was stationed in North Dakota and England, the long winter nights and lack of sunlight really played havoc with my depression. Last winter, there seemed to be more overcast days than had been in previous winters and I noticed the difference. Thankfully, time spent in search of our wild friends in Rocky has help me tremendously. While the pika may spend a lot of time scurrying around all year long, their friends the marmots seem to have more time to simply enjoy the sun. This particular pair, who we found on the same trip into the park where we found the pika, seemed to be enjoying the sun and relaxing. Spending ten minutes or so with them helped me tremendously.

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We just got back from a much needed vacation that didn’t involve any sort of work. It was good for my heart and for Denise’s heart to simply be with each other and slow down the pace a bit. At times, I felt much like this pelican!

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Yet, like the busy pika, we came back to a busy schedule. Veterans Day observances, a Funeral, Worship, and a slate full of meetings before heading to Minnesota to check on my Dad. All of a sudden, I felt a lot less like the Marmots and the Pelican and much more like the pika! Yet when I look at the two readings for tomorrow, it helps put perspective on what is going on in my life. I am not discounting the effects of depression and exhaustion… the effects are very real. What I am saying is that meetings, ceremonies, and the like pale in comparison to what the two widows in the readings faced each and every day. They also pale in comparison to what the family who lost a loved one is going through.

In 1 Kings 17:8-16 Elijah is sent by God to visit the widow of Zarephath. What Elijah didn’t know was how desperate the situation was for the widow. She was gathering sticks to prepare her last meal for she and her son with the last of the supplies so that they could eat the meal and then die. Somehow Elijah convinced her to take the last of her supplies and make him something to eat. She took all that she had and prepared the cakes for Elijah and her family. Everything that she had… she offered to the servant of God… and God provided! When I talked with the family at the funeral this afternoon, I didn’t try to sell them a bill of goods or tell them that all would be well. We talked about the emotional and spiritual roller coaster which death can bring. What I could promise them was that through the storm, God would be with them… that the peace which Christ offers is not like peace with conditions such as what happened on November 11, 1918 when the Armistice was signed. It is a peace which would guide them through the storm.

The Northumbria Community’s Celtic Benediction which I use at the conclusion of worship talks about such a peace and presence. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you. May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. That was the sort of peace which Elijah brought from God to the widow and her son.

When we move to the reading from Mark 12:38-44, we see a different take on life. Jesus and the disciples are sitting outside of the treasury watching as folks bring their offering to the Temple. Like the widow in 1 Kings, the poor widow put everything she had into the treasury. They both gave, not out of any sort of excess, but gave completely to God. In the words of the old offertory hymn — We give thee but thine own. What ‘er the gift may be. All that we have is thine, O Lord. A trust O God from thee.

I know that there are times when I feel like I have given all that I have to give. Times when I feel like I am completely wrung out and empty. That happened in the Air Force on Deployments or when the Operations Tempo was high and our staffing was critically low. It has happened when the call for another hospital crisis rears up and I find myself in the car headed down the mountain or elsewhere in other ministerial postings. Yet at about the time I feel like I have nothing left, the Spirit steps in. I may not be in as critical a condition as the two widows, but at times I just feel empty.

Tonight is another example of this provision. I had sunk into the couch and into a funk. Drained and empty, the last thing I wanted to do or felt like I could do was to write. The Spirit stepped in and before I knew it, She was guiding my heart and my fingers over the keyboard. Like my friend the pika, I discovered what I needed to get through this block or funk. I found the “hay” I needed to sustain me!

The promise of the Benediction does come through if we are truly open to the leading of our Lord. May that same promise bring you, dear reader, through whatever storms life has thrown your way. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you. May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May he bring you home rejoicing, at the wonders he has shown you. May he bring you home rejoicing, once again into our doors. May the Peace of the Lord Christ Go With You

  1. Look at that face! Thanks for sharing!

  2. A beautiful and inspiring word, and adorable photographs. Thank you, Michael! 💜

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