Pastor Henry's Memo

December 2018

Two Turtle Doves

"On the 2nd Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree."  Wednesday the 26th is that 2nd Day of Christmas.  Those two turtle doves seem inauspicious enough.  They are of no large monetary value.  I understand they are rather easily captured.  Children can trap them with a piece of cloth or even a butterfly net.  Turtle doves are not aggressive and seem to be rather unencumbered by fear.  When a male child was brought to the Temple for circumcision and naming in Jesus' day, the least costly and appropriate offering for sacrifice was two doves.  They were cheap; almost of no value at all.  Yet, they were offered to YHWH on the eighth day when an infant son was brought for naming and circumcision.  I would guess the reason for two doves being acceptable was precisely because they were easy to catch and so inexpensive.  Everyone could afford such a sacrifice.  No one would be turned away from being admitted to the Covenant.  No child would be forbidden a place in the Family of Abraham for lack of a sacrificial offering.  How like YHWH to set so very low a bar for so very high an honor.  


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Cell Phones, Yada, Yada, Yada....

Cell phones have become an addiction.  It's almost as if they have become an extension of our hand; an indispensable tool for living from minute to minute on the planet.  The very thought of not having it on your person and even in your bed is too horrifying to contemplate.  News reports suggest too much screen time with phones and iPads and other devises can be detrimental to children's brains.  (Not to mention family meal time and homework and chores and being outside running around and falling down and learning how to get up and move on to riding your bike yada yada yada.)  I don't think I've actually become a curmudgeon, but there's a debate going on in my family about that.  Did I forget to mention cell phones cause cancer and carpel tunnel syndrome and texting while driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol?  And marijuana.  Don't get me started.  Cell phones are the focus of my weekly pastor's memo.  What has me ranting on and on is my phone bill.  I mean OUR phone bill.  It comes monthly like the New Moon.  It's never the same. The total bill is NEVER the same from month to month.  What makes the bill so frustrating to read is the litany of taxes and charges and fees and data usage and 911 access and every other way a government agency finds a way to extract a few cents from my wallet.  Then I receive a text from my daughter with a picture of grandson Jack trying to eat oat meal while making sure the dog gets his share smeared on his nose and I almost don't care about the bill.  I'm too busy re-texting that picture to half a dozen people who may or may not care at all about oatmeal.  Or the dog.  Or even Jack.  And for one joyous moment I'm free, free, thank God Almighty I'm free at last.  And it's time to move on.  So Amen and God bless all of you.  I'm moving on.

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A World of Zero Tolerance

 It has now become apparent no one is safe from their past.  In the age of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram we keep account of our own behavior for others to rifle through.  The notion of privacy is in precipitous decline.  Traffic cams and ATM cams and security cams and...  There is almost nowhere we can go for privacy.  Even our cell phones and Alexa and Echo and Google Assistant keep track of us whether we intend for them to or not.  Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Murray, while a young teenager, posted offensive comments on his social media accounts and he's being given an electronic 3rd degree.   Kevin Hart was selected to host the Academy Awards and it was discovered his social media past was littered with offensive posts.  He is no longer Oscar's choice.  Maybe there won't be a host this year.  Perhaps the imaginary fantasy world of Hollywood could spare us all the inconvenience of four hours of self-congratulatory television and dispense with it altogether this year.  Have we finally come to a point where our sensibilities are so fragile we no longer able to just walk away and ignore boorish behavior?  Is every social slight an occasion for public humiliation?  Will our lives be more secure and our consciences be more at ease if every mistake is corrected for all the world to see?  Our "zero tolerance" culture will soon be impossible to tolerate.  None of us will be free from some form of taint.  We will all be so fallen and broken we might rediscover the Biblical revelation: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  (Romans 3:23)  Or, "The inclinations of the hearts and minds of men are only evil continually."  (Genesis 6:5 AND 6:21)  Perhaps knowing our pedigree we could be more tolerant and more forgiving.  After all, we don't want another flood.  Do we?

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The Whole Human Family -- Laughing, Rejoicing, and Giving Thanks!

As you read this pastor's memo on the 5th of December, I'll tell you yesterday was my brother's birthday.  He's twenty-one months older than me.  There are three December birthdays in my family.  Brother Keith on the 4th, wife Julia on the 17th, and our son Nicholas on the 28th.  Presents are sometimes a tricky choice keeping birthday and Christmas separate.  There was a season when my brother and I were not in touch, if you know what I mean.  We were never Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau.  We were more like Laurel and Hardy.  Just ask our mother.  On second thought, don't ask.  I suppose plenty of siblings have various kinds of falling out.  Those extended seasons make for bewildering feelings.  You will never hear from me what precipitated our season of division.  It's past and behind and we are brothers who love each other more than ever.  We share jokes and cartoons and birthday cards.  We don't get to share a meal as often as we'd like to, but when we do gather at the table, we feast.  And our wives worry about the way we remember the "good old days."  We will begin to laugh about something and pile another memory on top of that and before you know it, we're crying and hardly able to breathe and it wouldn't surprise me if someone has their cell phone out ready to call 911.  After all, we're both beyond middle age.  December is such a delightful month for all the reasons about which we need no reminder.  It's still several weeks away, but Christmas comes not just on the 25th, but whenever families are at peace in their hearts and are able to share it with others.  Perhaps one day the whole of our human family will know that peace and every heart will laugh and rejoice and give thanks for the family God blesses us to be.


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