BlogMarch 7, 2014To Grow Is to Go
The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation and bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.” Abram left just as the Lord told him . . .” Genesis 12:1-4a
About 4,000 years ago a family of nomadic people left Ur in present day Iraq, and settled in Haran, Turkey, along the Syrian border. While in Haran the folks in the family were confronted with one of those adjustments on the journey as the patriarch of the family died. Not too long after this family leader’s death, Abram, a son, began to hear voices. The voices were complex and compelling all at the same time. Abram wisely surmised the voices to be coming from God. They said in essence: “Leave all that you know… “Go to the land I will show you.”
The verses of scripture don’t tell us of Abram’s heart tugs, but the call surely had to be difficult to hear, to leave one’s people, place, and position.
What I’m suggesting is that there had to be apprehension and sadness in considering the loss of so much and not knowing what the future would look like. Even with whatever heart tugs Abram had, the scriptures tell us that he heard the difficult words “Leave all that you know . . . Go to the land I will show you,” and he left, as the Lord had told him.
Many of you have no doubt discovered like Abram, that we cannot always predict where the journey will take us. From the day we are born, we enter into the mystery of not knowing-until the day we leave the planet. The only way to grow is to go, and step into the unknown time after time.
God's call upon Abraham's life is a call that is often repeated every day with folks like you and me. Any call to journey has to feel counter-intuitive at best. Especially when you consider that we have the need to move beyond three powerful and yet deep-seated “I –Fears.”
Our “I – Fears” are:
Ignorance - fear of the unknown and of that which we cannot control.
Inclusion - fear of others who are different from us.
Impotence - fear of powerlessness in the face of what seems to be impossible.
Father Abraham faced the “I –Fears" and accepted the fact that he couldn’t know everything. How are we with our “I – fears?” There can be the tendency of some to discount new ideas, and that which is strange and different, even people. The story of Abraham reminds us to be more open and invites us to “go”! Where might God, through his Son, Jesus Christ be inviting you to go in this Lenten season? Perhaps it’s worth praying about!
Myron F. McCoy
February 27, 2014Living Through Our PrayerUnfortunately or fortunately, depending upon our perspective, the living out of our days is not done in a straight line. We live life navigating highs and lows, and what seems like periods of uninterrupted consistency. Yet we manage. However, there are episodic moments that can feel like forever when life seems to throw us a curve and rob us of the joy of living. Such times can make even the strongest among us want to quit or throw in the towel of surrender and defeat.
The poet, William Cullen Bryant, voiced well in many of his works the assurance and trust of knowing a Savior in such times. In 1815, twenty-one year old Bryant had experienced one of those down moments in his life while recovering from an illness, and his future was left on hold. He felt forlorn, depressed, clearly untrusting of anyone, and lost. While walking one evening near a village where he was to spend the night, Bryant noticed the splendor of the darkening sky with a solitary waterfowl winging its way in the shadowy horizon. He watched until the bird was lost to his view in the distance. Bryant did not know where the bird was headed, nor from whence the bird had come, but there seemed a surety of direction in the bird’s flight. And, as Bryant thought about this, perspective happened, insight came, and a poem resulted:
“To a Waterfowl.”
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way among the pathless coast.
The desert and illimitable air-
Lone wandering, but not lost.
Still, there is indeed another affirmation Bryant added, and it is perhaps the most passionate utterance in poetry about personal faith in divine guidance, shaping, and ultimate concern:
He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright.
Friends, as you and I give ourselves over to our God to be guided and shaped, please know and trust that our future is assured in God’s time and will. Let us listen to this familiar affirmation of faith by the Apostle Paul:
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else . . . Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
Rev. Myron McCoy
February 21, 2014The Waiting FatherSeveral years ago while reading from Daily Readings From Spiritual Classics I came across a poem written by the 19th century Scottish preacher, Dr. George MacDonald, entitled “The Waiting Father.” I must apologize in advance for using it because of its gender-exclusive nature. However, in spite of this fact, the poem provides some rather rich imagery for me to hang my ensuing comments:
The Waiting Father
I see a little child whose eager hands
Search the thick stream that drains the crowded street
For possible things hid in its current slow.
Nearby, behind him a great palace stands,
Where kings might welcome nobles to their feet,
Soft sounds, sweet scents, fair sights there only go
There the child’s father lives, but the child does not know.
Are we not like this child, searching the thick streams for hidden treasure, for hidden things of value, while the vision of the future of HPCUMC lies, just in front, within reach?
What is the “thick stream that drains the crowded street”? The “thick stream” could be focusing on the past memories, both good and not so good, and perhaps hesitating a bit and not trusting God fully with the many changes over the last decade, both in the church and in the world.
What is our “palace” here? It is living out the mission and values of the congregation; some articulated long ago, some spelled out in recent years, and some yet to be revealed as God’s guidance is sought to lead this congregation into a future bathed with promise and hope.
I firmly believe that HPCUMC will be prayerfully poised and ready to move beyond wilderness wandering into God’s promised future. My hope and prayer is that the future is claimed and instead of being side-tracked searching for treasures in murky waters, needed time is taken to help all of our HPCUMC family in the midst of loss and change see the bright vision of a hopeful future.
Dr. Myron F. McCoy