Sunday, 8 March 2015

URGENT: Rescuers needed


As far as I know, the rotation of the earth is affected by tidal forces caused by the moon...and losing my wallet. I don't know about you, but when I lose - let me rephrase that...misplace - my wallet, I'm pretty sure my neighbors know. If it isn't 'found' in less than 10 seconds, my entire family plus the family pet is conscripted to search. A chain of command is set up, a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants' grid search ensues...with lots of unnecessary, yet customary, weeping and gnashing of teeth...until the worn out, butt-pressed, forlorn, and forsaken piece of tri-folded, wannabe animal hide gives up its not so hidden hiding place a.k.a. the kitchen counter. Once found, peace is restored, the sun shines brighter, and the earth returns to its daily rotational speed of 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds.

I wonder if that's today's equivalent to the lost coin or the lost sheep in Jesus' parables in Luke 15. Or, more probably, it might be like losing a set (the only set) of keys which can't be duplicated, or losing an irreplaceable family heirloom, or maybe even losing flight MH370 somewhere in the Indian Ocean. In whichever modern day scenario you can think of, searchers from near and far volunteer to look for the precious lost item and only when it's found will celebration and any 'whooting' take place.

When Jesus talks about looking for the lost and calling back those who have walked away, I get the feeling that he was talking about all-out, no holds barred search and rescue operations. SAR ops like the ones mobilized on mountain sides after an avalanche occurs or a media frenzy covering the SAR of miners trapped in an underground cave. It seems to me that the situations Jesus describes are monumental and potentially life altering scenes. It's life and death...spiritual life and death. But truthfully, that thought has me feeling sad...and guilty (well not so much sad as guilty, unfortunately). When I think of the spiritually lost; sure - it concerns me, but more often than not I lack the sense of immediacy and urgency that Jesus frames for us.

I don't think I'm unique to feeling this way. Generally speaking - and understand I'm not saying it's true of all Christians - our concern gets ramped up a little for direct family members where we might go out on a limb to gently nudge them back to Christ and say to them, with sincerity, "I'm praying for you". However, to those unknown, or even those an arms length away, we hardly give their eternal destination a second thought. (Maybe, it's the idea of predestination that holds 'TULIP' slanted folks like me back where we sit back too casually and we 'give permission' to the Holy Spirit to do his work.).

And, isn't it true that our focus and spiritual intensity on the 'ninety-nine' who worship beside us is far greater than it should be? We're often too busy keeping peace among the choir members and preaching to those already 'found' that we forget about those who haven't darkened the doorways of a church in eons or those who haven't got a clue who Jesus Christ is...although sadly enough his name comes up often in their conversations in a form of a curse.

Today, in our church's sanctuary, I looked at a painting entitled "To the Sinner A Promise of Heaven" by Ovide Joseph Bighetty, a Cree artist whose series of 17 paintings, “Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin -- The Creator’s Sacrifice”, depict Christ's road to suffering, his death, and ultimately his resurrection. In the tradition and style of artwork belonging to North American indigenous people, Bighetty shows Jesus hanging on a birch pole and appears to be talking to one of the convicted criminals hanging beside him. And from the gospel account in Luke 23, we know Jesus welcomed this criminal into Paradise - into Heaven - just moments before his own death. Even up until his last gasps for air, Jesus continued his mission on earth of searching and saving the lost. It was a truly remarkable moment of displaying God's mercy.

So, as long as we're breathing and able, we don't have the option to give up or 'allow' someone else to do it for us. Jesus is the Command officer and we're going live - into a rescue operation not a salvage operation.

It's imperative! Get that search party organized, the media deployed, missing persons signs printed and a parade route planned! Let's find them...and bring them home alive...alive in Christ.

A stumble, a tear and a rainbow

Greeted by a surprise rainbow on Mom's birthday! It was at a dressed up gravesite that 40 or 50 people gathered around last Tuesday,...