Saturday, July 27, 2013

Diving for Candy

Today was the Great River Days parade, a yearly event here in this Iowa river town.  It is a parade complete with the marching band, various rescue vehicles proudly displaying their sirens and lights, and lots of local entries.  Children lined the curb, candy bags in hand; waiting for what they hoped would be a deluge of candy.  Teenagers trying to appear as if they didn’t really want to scramble after the candy stood in little groups along the sidewalk.  Grandparents and parents watch the little ones as they make sorties from the candy bag to the curb.  Children learn to wave and look cute in an attempt to win over the candy throwers – it works.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Witness to Love in Action

I have been witness these last few weeks to wonderful examples of love in action.  By this, I mean someone taking an action to care for someone else, not for self-gain, but to help someone else gain.  In a time when it is much too easy to hear the news of crimes, agonies, collapsed dreams, wars being waged, and chaos; it is easy to wonder if any act of love by one person can make a difference today.

With that in mind, I wanted to encourage you the way I have been encouraged.  Last week I had the exhausting pleasure of helping at my church’s children’s camp (akin to a VBS).  My opportunity to serve was with the workers’ children who are too young to participate in camp.  There were many hands that went into making this week long camp function, and many chances to witness love in action.  Let me give a few examples… 
Everyone was hungry for snacks or a quick meal by the time the evening camp is about half over.  Each group of kids and leaders are so happy to see a cooler coming loaded with goodies and cold water.  The preparation of the coolers is love in action, taking time and work to plan, prepare, distribute everything, and clean up for the next day.  Food was served, but so was love.

Teenagers serve as big helps during the week, taking on everything from being gophers, extra hands during craft and game times, to members of the worship team.  Not only did I witness these individuals jump in to help, but also do so in such a way that made them examples to point children to, serving with cheerfulness.

“Jesus loves” is one of the games played by the children, as they would roll a ball to each other saying, “Jesus loves…” and then filled in the blank with the name.  Of course there was the glee over getting the ball.  But, there was also each little child trying to decide which friend to send the ball over with the announcement that Jesus loves them.  And, the receiver of the ball would just beam before starting the process again. 

There were many examples, and these comprise just a few, where small acts of love can be impactful in the lives of others.  Children were cared for, adults were encouraged, and a remarkable amount of love was poured into lives with prayers that it spills over in many ways and that these children will have a relationship with Christ – our ultimate source of love.

Keep an eye out – you never know when you might see love in action.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


He told his wife in a letter that a day would be marked and celebrated by “succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade… Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other. ” John Adams wrote these words to Abigail, with the thought that the celebration would occur on July 2, the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted.  The formalized adoption took place on July 4, just two days after, in a hot Philadelphia hall with a town that held its breath with the uncertainty of what was coming. 

The people heard the news and they did celebrate with first readings of the Declaration of Independence to the Philadelphia public, replete with organized and impromptu celebrations.  The first battles had already been fought; the colonies were already in a state of war.  But now, it was a finalized and definitive statement that the bond between mother England and these colonies would be broken; and that these individual colonies, like a collection of the Greek poleis, would start taking the steps to form a new nation.

Today, I want to recognize the citizen soldiers who left their families, farms, businesses, and lives to stand on battlefields and fight for independence.  I want to recognize those citizen soldiers who stayed at home and maintained the families, farms, and businesses so that there would be something to form the nation around, not to mention provide needed supplies.  I want to recognize those who were charged with a difficult task of birthing an infant nation and doing so, with ups and downs along the way, but seeing their task through.  These people, our early citizens, left a high standard for us to live up to.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dreams and Sacrifice

Tomorrow I plan to be sitting in a parking lot, surround by a crowd of people, enveloped in a cloud of bug spray and a sea of lawn chairs.  Tomorrow I plan to walk in a parade, listen to music, watch fireworks, and celebrate July Fourth.  This is not a day grounded in some flippant summer celebration, it’s one based in a purpose.  In the midst of these wonderful lawn chaired crowds having fun, it is easy to forget the purpose behind the celebration.  So, I want to pause with my celebratory activities for a moment to remember those founders of what would become the United States of America. 

Volumes of information have been written on those who started with a dream and a hypothetical situation.  We now celebrate the reality of what was the hypothetical, the blessing that came of the sacrifice.  These are the founders that defied the British government by forming a new government.  It is also the time to remember the founders made of farmers, towns-people, craftsman, merchants, and the future citizens of the country.  It is a time to remember that this is the celebration of a war fought, a war won.  It is a celebration to remember the sacrifices of those who crafted our founding documents, searching their minds and hearts of such words as “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and the Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”  The words, such as “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be ... the signal of arousing men to burst the chains ... and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. ... For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."  Words of power, strength, and purpose reflect an awareness of the importance of events that were at the heart of them. 

The words, the actions that made them more than empty words, still ring with purpose and validity today.  The words and actions were those of dreams, sacrifice, and putting the effort to change the hypothetical into the new reality.  We can still pull national strength from these efforts, as we face new dreams, and make new sacrifices.  I challenge each of us in the USA to realize that effective citizenship in such a place demands an awareness and continual seeking for future growth. 

                                                       Happy Independence Day!