Pastor Henry's Memo

April 2019

Swords and spears? Or plowshares and pruning hooks?

Our Wednesday evening Bible study has just completed the book of Joel.  He's one of the so called minor prophets.  I'll let you look up the others if you have a mind to.  Suffice it to say, Joel is written rather late, perhaps one of the very last of the books written in what we call the Old Testament.  It's an apocalyptic themed prophecy with lament and plagues of locusts,  It concludes with a blessing for Israel approximating "happily ever after."  The book includes a passage that causes us to take a second look, as it is so unexpectedly jarring to our ears.  "Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears."  (3:10a)  This is the exact opposite of what Isaiah records in his text:  "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." (2:4b).  What's more, that sentiment is repeated in Micah 4:3b: "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks."  Twice is the text as we expect it; and we love the way it sounds as a clarion call for "happily ever after."  But there is that verse in Joel which give us pause.  It might suggest all that beating and forming and re-purposing weapons of war into farm implements isn't necessarily the exact future in store for here and now.  We might need to wait for God to intervene at the end so that the peace surely promised in Jesus will come to pass.  All this is to say we need to read the sacred text with great care and with a broad vision and take the entire Biblical witness into account.  There are, after all, hidden treasures through out and they are worth finding and savoring and keeping close to our hearts.  So, which shall it be?  Swords and spears?  Or plowshares and pruning hooks?



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Notre Dame-another 850 years

Sometimes words are inadequate to tell the whole truth.  As many hundreds of thousands of them that are at our disposal, finding the right ones is not always easy.  Sometimes not even possible.  The fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral Monday evening has done more than leave a scar against the Parisian landscape.  It has laid waste to a holy site.  It has consumed not just a church.  It has ravaged the hearts of many millions of Catholics, other Christians, and unbelievers across the globe.  Disbelief is a very potent emotion.  It can cripple the ability to make sense of tragedy.  When the natural order of things become unhinged, we are often left adrift.  Our moorings are gone and the world betrays us.  Being in such a state is uncomfortable, to say the least.  An ancient Latin proverb reminds us "Of mercy, neither fire, water, or governments know anything."  Watching Notre Dame go up in flames and then collapse pays homage to just that grim reminder.  How long the acrid smell of history lying in ruins will be with us is uncertain.  At least two French billionaires have already pledged to provide whatever funds will be necessary to rebuild.  Their generosity is noble.  Add that to the countless others who will give nickels, dimes, centimes, pesos, marks, guilders, yens...Notre Dame will rise.  Paris will recover.  And decades hence, the world will have once again a symbol of faith and courage and unity.  Pray Notre Dame will stand rebuilt and reconsecrated for another 850 years.



Keep Reading >>

Pray Notre Dame will stand rebuilt and reconsecrated for another 850 years

Sometimes words are inadequate to tell the whole truth.  As many hundreds of thousands of them that are at our disposal, finding the right ones is not always easy.  Sometimes not even possible.  The fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral Monday evening has done more than leave a scar against the Parisian landscape.  It has laid waste to a holy site.  It has consumed not just a church.  It has ravaged the hearts of many millions of Catholics, other Christians, and unbelievers across the globe.  Disbelief is a very potent emotion.  It can cripple the ability to make sense of tragedy.  When the natural order of things become unhinged, we are often left adrift.  Our moorings are gone and the world betrays us.  Being in such a state is uncomfortable, to say the least.  An ancient Latin proverb reminds us "Of mercy, neither fire, water, or governments know anything."  Watching Notre Dame go up in flames and then collapse pays homage to just that grim reminder.  How long the acrid smell of history lying in ruins will be with us is uncertain.  At least two French billionaires have already pledged to provide whatever funds will be necessary to rebuild.  Their generosity is noble.  Add that to the countless others who will give nickels, dimes, centimes, pesos, marks, guilders, yens...Notre Dame will rise.  Paris will recover.  And decades hence, the world will have once again a symbol of faith and courage and unity.  Pray Notre Dame will stand rebuilt and reconsecrated for another 850 years.



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Your Name is Spoken in Love

Once in a while I read something special.  Really special.  Even profoundly special.  It can make me stop to give it more than a simple recognition or nod.  And if a tear should come to my eye, so much the better.  I read just such a thing a few days ago.  It wasn't from a noted philosopher; wasn't a well noted theologian; not even from the Bible.  A teacher asked a class of four year old students to describe love.  What did it mean?  How can you recognize it?  When is it real?  Four year old Billy told his teacher: "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."  In whose mouth is your name safe?  Whose name is safe in your mouth?  In Jesus' mouth, I believe all of our names are safe.  And for that, our praises should lunge heavenward day after day after day until our name is called from that safest of mouths in all of creation.



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Oval or Square?

Visiting museums is a way to appreciate art and culture and not have to go into the office.  Such visits allow us to see the works of great artists from around the globe. While most museums have a policy of "DO NOT TOUCH", proximity to history through the artwork is a way to be "in touch" with the past.  Paintings come in all sizes.  Some are situated in lockets worn about the neck.  Some are huge murals filling entire walls.  And every size in between.  But have you also noticed the frames in which the art is presented are either four sided or oval?  Have you ever seen a seven sided picture frame?  Or an eleven sided frame?  Or the trapezoid, though four sided, certainly not square?  I suppose there are some avant garde three sided exceptions, but I don't recall ever taking notice of them.  Why square and oval?  And why those two shapes across cultures and centuries?  I'm not an art expert and I don't consider myself competent in judging what's worthy of collecting, though there is art work I love on our refrigerator.  My guess is there is something aesthetically pleasing to the human eye and mind that makes oval and square popular.  Maybe the human brain's perception across the vast ages of our existence is hardwired to admire those shapes.  I really don't have a clue.  On the other hand, maybe square fits nicely on a square wall and oval is a very slight adjustment just to keep us from going insane.



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