I’ve started reading one of the small, brief books of the Writings called The White Horse.  It’s only 17 numbers long, plus an Appendix that is 4 numbers long, so it’s not a daunting read, and it’s very interesting.  (Depending on the translation of the Writings, you may find that The White Horse is bound together with other small books in “Miscellaneous Theological Works.”)

It’s all about a story that I have to admit I always took for granted, namely the story of the white horse in Revelation 19:11-14, 16.  The dramatic image didn’t sink in until now.  But now I have stopped to think about it.  First heaven is opened.  Then a Man on a white horse, with a secret name that no one knows but Himself, charges forth at the head of the armies which were in the heavens, all of whom are also on white horses, all following Him. His eyes are flaming, His garment is bloodstained, and He has many diadems on His head.  It says He was called faithful and true (just like a hero should be).  He judges and makes war in justice.  His name is called the Word of God, and it also says that “King of kings and Lord of lords” is written on His clothes and on His thigh.   What an image!

So this little book I am reading explains what that one small story in Revelation means.  The whole story looks like it’s going to be about what happened when the previously hidden internal meaning of the Word was being opened up to the understanding of people on earth. 

Continue reading Horses

Perspective Shifts and “The Pout-Pout Fish”

We read a lot of children’s books in our house. One of my longstanding favorites is “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen. The Pout-Pout Fish follows the tale (or should I say “tail”) of an Eeyore-esque fish with big pouty lips. As he gloomily encounters his underwater friends, they each urge him to try being a little more pleasant. But the Pout-Pout Fish is stuffed to the gills with excuses for why he is incapable of change:

“I hear what you’re saying, but it’s just the way I am.”
“I’d like to be more friendly, but it isn’t up to me.”
“But I haven’t any choice. Take a look and you’ll see why.”
“With a mouth like mine, I am destined to be glum.”

He follows each of these excuses with the same refrain:

“I’m a pout-pout fish
With a pout-pout face,
So I spread the dreary-wearies
All over the place.

Poor Mr. Fish. He is stuck believing that just because he looks pouty, his personality has to match. I can’t help but think how often human beings wind up stuck in a similar merry-go-round of melancholy. 

Continue reading Perspective Shifts and “The Pout-Pout Fish”

The Woman Clothed With the Sun

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” Revelation 12:1-6

This week we were gifted this beautiful ornament as a New Church Day gift. I have loved looking at it and it has made me reflect on Revelation 12. In looking it up I also found this wonderful verse by verse break down of the story and its inner meaning. I’ve found it powerful to ponder on this story this June.

Random Thoughts About Living in a Church Community

I live in a largely Christian world, and spend a lot of my life with other non-New Church Christians. We are active members of the United Church of Christ, a Methodist-Presbyterian mix that formed 50+ years ago when neither church could stand on its own (if you’re wondering what kind of doctrine comes from such a mix of conflicting dogmas, the answer is that we are the Christians who are neither Baptist, Lutheran, or Catholic, and we don’t sweat the small stuff.). 

Over the years Mark and I have become deeply connected to other members, especially older couples who have lived clean and meaningful lives without fanfare, who consistently serve as deacons, cooks, trustees, board members, choir members, tech support, and anything else that is needed, all in their volunteer church life. Churches are a wonderful avenue to community, even aside from any religiosity–a fact that is often missed in the mainstream media in its lament over the problems of loneliness and broken relationships and disease. Our tech guy, Jose, who films countless services and other events at the church, sometimes as a volunteer, recently announced that he will retire this summer. In his announcement he gruffly stated, “I don’t really consider myself a religious person” with a rueful laugh, adding, “The church family means a lot to me.” I suspect he will discover that he still wants to come to church, just because.  

What is it about coming to church every 7th day that is so powerful? It’s such an easy commandment to keep, compared to some of the others! Just a habit, do-able for those of us lucky enough to not be in 24-hour service shifts. While we have been through many phases with our church, I’m finding that once you put in enough time, the familiarity and comfort, coming from a thousand hymns and prayers chanted together and a thousand conversations over coffee fellowship builds, imperceptibly, until suddenly a child whom you watched grow up or an old person you watched grow old is confiding in you as a trusted friend.

Continue reading Random Thoughts About Living in a Church Community