Monthly Archives: April 2021

Silver and Gold

1Peter 2:25: For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

I don’t know if you lose or misplace important things as much as I do. It seems something goes missing every week or so. When I was a lad, I bought an Epiphone El Dorado guitar with the money I paid painting inside houses for a dollar an hour. I saved this money carefully and paid $175 for the instrument. It was my first “real guitar” and it enabled me to play on beaches, at camps and for church. I enjoyed it all and judging from their reaction, my friends and school mates did as well.

I bought the guitar in 1964 and held onto it until we came home one evening a few years ago and found that a few of my guitars and some incredibly important items of Becky’s jewelry had been stolen. We were distraught, but there was little we could do. To torture myself further, I checked the current price for the Epiphone and found out it was worth $6000 dollars, but I didn’t care about the worth of it. The memories and good times I had with it were more important to me.

More recently, I misplaced the wedding ring Becky gave to me 48 years ago. I looked for it for about a month with no luck. Like the Epiphone, it was gone.

Last week I was dressing in my tuxedo for recording my parts for the Chorale’s virtual concert and took out the small box that I keep my cuff links and shirt studs in. As I rummaged through the items looking for what I wanted, I saw a shiny curved piece of metal. Thinking it might be my missing ring, I pulled it out and looked at it more closely. But it wasn’t my ring: it was my father’s wedding band that he wore for over 61 years. It wasn’t the one I was missing, but it reminded me of my father and mother, so that’s why I’m wearing it.

I thought that this story could be about the way that God treats us. We might want certain gifts, but God knows what is best for us, He turns us down when we ask for what we don’t need. But he doesn’t turn us down cold: He always has something different in mind—not better or worse—just different and it’s something we do need. Praise God for always wanting what is best for us and praise God for coming to earth and sacrificing himself for our sake, something we do need, desperately. Amen.

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Left Out

Leviticus 18:19: You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

I don’t know if you heard about the discovery in the Middle East of a basket that was perfectly preserved and over 10,500 years old. The age is interesting enough, but half the basket was woven by a left-handed person. I have no idea how someone figured this out, but it was amazing.

The value of this discovery is incontestable and I would like to take it further. The basket is like we are as Christians. God wove us together, and I don’t think God is necessarily left-handed, but God knows us, all parts of us and although some of what we are is not good, God loves us anyhow. Praise God for God’s love and for the miraculous way he put us together and sacrificed Jesus Christ although we were sinful.With God’s help may we be useful and beautiful woven baskets. Amen.

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Priming the Pump


John 4:13—14: Jesus answered the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever pumped water by hand. I first encounter this at my grandmother’s house in the mountains of west Tennessee. She didn’t have any of the usual amenities such as running water or a flush toilet, but we loved going there to spend some time with all kinds of relatives who treated my brother and me as special creations, unlike the way our parents saw us. I think you know what I mean.

I remember clearly the day my grandmother asked to come out onto her back porch. She said she wanted to show me something. I thought it might be a pony, but all I saw was the cast-iron pump protruding from the concrete. I was puzzled. I knew about the pump which spouted water as if by magic, but I knew nothing about how it did this.

My grandmother took a nearby bucket which was half filled with water. “I’m going to show you how to pump water.”

I thought, that’s no big deal. You pump the handle and water comes out.

“I know how to do it already,” I said, but I didn’t.

“All right,” my grandmother said. “Show me.”

I took a strong grip on the handle and worked it up and down in a flurry of action.

No water came. I pumped harder. Still no water. And a third time with the same result. “Granny,” I said. “This pump is broken. No water comes out.”

She didn’t say a word but poured some water from her bucket into the pump. She studied the place where she had poured for a few seconds and then began pumping, slowly and deliberately.

Then I heard something. It was—no, it couldn’t be. I watched in disbelief as water gushed from the spout.

“What’d you do?” I demanded. “How’d you get the water to come out?”

“I primed the pump.”

“You what?”

“I poured a little water in to soak the gasket.”

“What’s that?”

“A little piece of leather in the shape of a doughnut that allows the water to come up.”

I tried it and was astounded that I could duplicate her work. I also saw that I didn’t know as much as I thought. That was a valuable lesson.

We had a pump because water was so important to us, just as it was in the scene at Jacob’s well. Jesus acknowledges this when he asks the woman for water, but he takes it further when he tells her about living water, his message that brings new life and salvation. Thanks be to God for water, for being able to learn new lessons and for our savior Jesus Christ, the living water and saver from all our sins. Amen.

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