1042) Miscellaneous

     Henri Nouwen tells the story of an old holy man who saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water of the River Ganges.  The old man leaned out over the water, hanging to some roots, and tried to rescue the scorpion.  As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him.  Instinctively he withdrew his hand.  A few seconds later, having regained his balance, he stretched himself out again.  This time the scorpion stung him so badly that his hand became swollen and bloody.  The old man’s face contorted with pain.  Just then a passerby saw the old man stretched out over the roots struggling with the scorpion.  He yelled, “Hey, stupid, old man!  What’s wrong with you?  Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature!  Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”  The old man turned to the stranger and said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”  Take this as a parable of the God who reaches out in love to redeem us, even as we sin against him.  

Romans 5:6-8…10  —  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

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     William Willimon  —  We were in a group, talking about problems in the church.  The congregation had been through some rough times, financially speaking.  There was a great deal of accusation and blaming.  People said that the problems had been festering in the congregation for many years, that the problems were due to a history of mismanagement.

     Then a young woman spoke up and said, “While all of this may be true, could I just remind all of you that if this congregation had not been here, for me, when I really needed a family in the worst sort of way, I would have died.  You are the ones who reached out to me, who told me that God was not mad at me, that God loved me and cared for me.  What would have happened to me if this church, with all its faults, had not been here to tell me and to show me that God was God for me?”

     It was for us all a grand reminder of both the gift of the church and of our responsibility as keepers of the flame of the gospel, bringing warmth to those who live in an often cold and darkened world.

Colossians 3:12-14  —  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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     Martin Luther King, Jr.  —  “There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God.  We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.  We have worshiped the god of pleasure only to discover that thrills play out and sensations are short-lived.  We have bowed before the god of money only to learn that there are such things as love and friendship that money cannot buy, and that in a world of possible depressions, stock market crashes, and bad business investments, money is a rather uncertain deity.  These transitory gods are not able to save or bring happiness to the human heart.  Only God is able.  It is faith in Him that we must rediscover.”

Exodus 20:2a…3  —  “I am the Lord your God…  You shall have no other gods before me.”

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From A Noble Indifference by James Meikle (adapted):

     The brevity of time, and the near approach of eternity, should give us a noble indifference about everything here on earth.

     What does it matter whether I dwell in a palace or a prison, since it is but for a day, an hour, a moment!  What disappointment should grieve me in time if I shall possess God for eternity?     

     I look around me and see multitudes eager on the chase, keen in the pursuit of created vanities, forgetting that this world is passing away.  I am astonished at the stupidity of people; that the trifles of time should consume them.  I also find myself in the deluded throng of triflers, and condemn my own vain conduct.

     One hundred years ago the earth was filled with inhabitants who are now in eternity.  They were then straggling along the road of human life with care and concern, with burdens and bitterness; but now are forever at their journey’s end.  

     I am now traveling the thorny path and shall also shortly arrive at my eternal home.  The time is so short that why should anything that can befall me give much pain or pleasure?  The end will be bitter for the unsaved, but for the saved the passage of time is a joy, because the shorter the time, the nearer to heaven.

     All the complicated afflictions of this life will disappear when time is no more.  Why, then, take deep concern, or heavy sorrow; or much joy, or lasting delight, at the ill or good of the few flying moments on our journey to eternity?  God is eternal, and in God shall my soul find boundless pleasures and unfading bliss.

Psalm 90:10  —  Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

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 O Lord Jesus, who was silent before Pilate and Herod, do not let us wag our tongues without thinking of what we are to say and how to say it.

–Irish Gaelic prayer