Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Friend Sunday

Two things I typically try to stay away from on my blog and in life: politics and religion. I suppose it is because it has become uncool to be conservative. Discussions on these two topics can bring out emotions that can dive a wedge between friends and family. I welcome healthy dialogue on the subject but can typically tell from the first few words if it is going downhill. Today's sermon at church had me thinking it may be time to post about this topic and see what kind of trouble I can get myself in.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. I did not know this until I went to church. You see, I was raised Baptist. I went to church occasionally growing up and enjoyed the friends I met there. My church had a great choir and orchestra too. I did not attend Sunday school, I have not read the Bible and I can only tell you a few names of folks that hung out with Jesus (and I have two tattoos! eek!). When I moved from my hometown to go to college I did not continue my church going ways. Not until I met my Episcopalian husband, that is. My husband and I lived in KC when we met and we would attend church with his family on visits to SWMO. I remember my first visit to St James very well. It was Christmas Eve. Hubs and I, along with his dad and grandparents were in the pew together. The lights dimmed and Daddy's grandpa leaned over to me and said "this is when they bring in the snakes". You could tell he got a kick out of my reaction, his infectious laugh roared until I figured out he was kidding. The same man that had fun on my behalf was memorialized at church today. The church purchased a new flagon with some of their memorial funds and dedicated it in Pa's name. For those of you that do not know, a flagon is the large vessel of wine used for communion.

Speaking of communion, after almost ten years with my husband, I am still getting used to my new religion. Flagons and acolytes, wardrobe changes and lunges during the service. When do I stand, when do I kneel, when do I call back to the priest? Why is all the music so sad?

The first time I saw my church home I told Daddy it looked like a dungeon, small and dark. Now I feel that adds to it's charm. We have a small congregation compared to those of my baptist roots. I don't know everyone but they seem to know me, and my boys. Our Rector is fabulous; he has a fatherly or grandfatherly presence about him. I love to hear his sermons. Not always for the content, but because I like to hear his voice, it is very soothing. Father Ross will be retiring soon and I am not sure how that will affect our relationship with this church. He really has been the glue that has kept that church going. He married us, baptised my boys, and buried our loved ones. He is our family guide and our friend.

Today we talked about friendship, well not directly, in a round about way. The words shepherd and friend have the same Latin root. I found this to be an interesting coincidence. Just like a good friend, Jesus is there when we need him and we often take advantage of his kindness; after all we typically hurt the ones we love the most. I thought about being a parent and a child. How I neglect myself, my friendships, and relationships but those that I love and love me are there when I need them and vice versa.

John 10:1-10 states “. . . and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

A shepherd in those days didn’t walk behind the flock beating them with a stick to keep them moving. He walked in front of them, seeking out a safe path to food and water and shelter. The sheep followed him, because they recognized his voice, and they trusted him. Jesus tells us that’s the kind of Good Shepherd he is. He leads, and we follow.
This got me thinking a few things:

Maybe the reason some do not follow Him is because they do not recognize his voice. Maybe some recognize the voice of other religions.

Much like infants that can not see well, sheep can only see 45 feet in front of them, but they have great hearing. Infants and "sheep" know the voice of their "shepherd" or parent and will find it in the dark. When we are in our darkest moments and are truly listening we can hear Him. I know this from experience. When my children need me they find me, when I need my parents I find them. Even a simple phone call to my mom and dad, being able to hear their voice, can make all the difference.

You have to listen to hear though. Maybe this is why some say they have no proof of a God; they are not listening.
Lately is seems that the media and the like think it is ok to bash those that believe in God; but support those that have other beliefs. Even my own brother, who is not a believer, thinks that I have been brain washed. My brother does not understand how I can Christen my boys when they do not have a choice to do so. I tried to explain to him that I merely provide the opportunity and information and in the end they will decide, just like he has, on what they believe. I do not run around waving a flag and trying to push my views on people but welcome respectful dialogue that opens minds and strengthens relationships.

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, I pray that everyone has a Shepherd to lead them. Whatever form it comes in, I hope that everyone has something to believe in, wether it be on pure blind faith or becasue they have someone to support them.

A very wise man once said to me "If I spend my life believing in the Lord and it turns out he doesn't exist, I have lost nothing. If I don't have faith and it turns out I am wrong..." (We miss you Pa)

I can hear all the delete buttons now...I have been removed from all three blogrolls I was on!


A Buns Life said...

A. I hardly consider you conservative, but maybe you have really really changed over the years.

B. Episcopalians are cool. They allow women to be priests. I'm starting to think about checking out one of the churches near us. It's not quite as restrictive as the Catholic Church (which is what Dave is), but has a lot of the same rituals which Dave would like.

C. I'm just not the baptist mold any longer.....actually I never was, I was just pretending and trying to fit in. Now the quest is to find a healthy balance between what I believe spiritually and what I feel is right way to live my life.

You're still on my blogroll! :)

Joeprah said...

I just unsubscribed. NOT! In fact I like folks who talk about what they believe in no matter what it is. I have heard that quote too about having lost nothing if you were wrong about believing and its a good one.

I am a Catholic. Not sure why I told you, but I figured you should know. :)

Putz said...

talking about how politics can spilt up a family...i got so tired og mccain talking about a possible hundred year war in iraq that i said i might vote for obama, and i got a responae of 21 comments, go to my putz blog scroll down to where (in small print) i state my intentions for ombama and read the 21 comments, they are disturbing, and very family sp/liting...i am not sure if my son will ever speak to me again