Aloha Friday Message – December 27, 2013 – Keeping it Together

1352AFC122712 – Keeping it together.

Read it online here, please.

“The evil that men does lives after them; the good is oft’ entered with their bones.” This line was spoken by Mark Anthony from Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

Colossians 3:12-14 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Aloha nui loa, beloved. This is the last Aloha Friday Message for 2013. After today, there are only 4 days left in this strange year. And there are also only four days until Crucita and I slip into something more comfortable – retirement! We have been moving toward this together for over four decades, and now we eagerly anticipate a big change in our lives. We do not know the kind of change it will be, however. We know something about the potentials for what’s coming, but have no way of knowing how it will all turn out. In other words, life is going to be just like it always has been: Something of a mystery.

As I prepared for today’s message, I found myself dealing with an odd collection of ideas. The first was about how electrons work. The second was that line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The third was “What holds things together.” And in answer to that, the familiar verses to the Colossians about how to hold the community together. Somehow all of those are connected. It is the Spirit who shows us how and why this is true. Take a moment now to ask the Spirit to open your mind and heart to what follows. And here we go, once again starting with childhood memories.

I remember always being interested in science. I always wanted to know how life worked – not necessarily “things” – didn’t take apart a clock to see what made it tick – but I wanted to know why life is … alive. I wanted to know why electricity worked. I wanted to see the insides of every living thing. I wanted to know why rocks could change from one kind to another and how it could be that clouds came in so many types but were all made of the same thing. The more I learned, the more questions I had. These interests led to some odd answers to that age-old-question, “What do you want to be when [if] you grow up?” As I remember, the sequence was something like – ornithologist, ichthyologist, nuclear physicist, physician, back to nuclear physicist, poet, particle physicist, ordained pastor, musician – guitar and vocals, author of scientific textbooks, medical technologist, management guru, science teacher, mentor, and finally I settled on a career as a happy old man.

When I reflect on that path, I see that there is a flow. The undercurrent of that flow is, of course, time; but there is a bit of a pattern there. As I envisioned each of those careers, my motivation in each was to find out what made things work and then tell others what I learned. And you can see that even now as you read this. As I look back over my history, my perception is that at every point of change from one potential to another, it has always been the Spirit that creates and then satisfies the change. Does that sound presumptuous and arrogant to you? I sounded like that to me, too. At least it did until I thought about electrons.

Electrons are the “working parts” of electricity. Electricity has a flow from potential energy to kinetic energy. Electrons move from one place to another and that produces the kinetic energy we call electricity. When they don’t move, there is still potential energy which we call static electricity. When the flow of electrical energy is controlled, we use it to do productive work. When static energy is suddenly released, it can be mildly painful as when a spark jumps from our finger to a doorknob, or as destructive as lightning. But, flowing or not, electrons are a crucial part of what hold creation together. Without them, atoms couldn’t be atoms, and without atoms there would be no elements, no elements means no chemicals, no chemicals … no flow of life. But, there is a flow; in fact, it’s not just electrons. Everything created has a flow, even you and me.
Electrons flow because they don’t really “like” being close to each other – they’re all so negative, you know – and because the “like” being part of a well-balanced atom. I know I’m stretching it here, but if you’ll humor me a bit and think of an atom as a very elementary family of subparticles, we can expand on that to see a material made entirely of atoms of one particular type to be a community of atoms – an element. Combine the elements with other elements and you have molecules; bind molecules together … so you see what I mean. Humans are not like that. We are created in the image and likeness of God. God is community. He intends for us to be community. God is Spirit. We are Spiritual beings. God is eternal. We are created to be eternal. Our movement through eternity was abated by sin.

Sin changed the flow of that potential. Our purification, removal of all sin, restores that potential. The evil that we do does not live after us; we have only to repent of it and accept forgiveness. The effects of the evil we have done to our fellow earthlings may outlast our mortal lives, and our immortal souls may yet experience the effects of unrepented evil. The opposite of that is also true. The good that we do often does live after us, not merely as the effects of good but surely even as lasting goodness that prevails over and against evil. That kind of lasting goodness has a sweet-and-simple name: LOVE.

Through, in, and because of LOVE, we stabilize our community, we are able to forgive and be forgiven, and we live up to our potential as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. Living up to that potential means returning to the steady-state of our creation – everlasting life. Against, out of, and without LOVE, we destabilize our community, we cannot forgive or be forgiven, and we live out our potential as those who have rejected God and spend eternity without the Light of his Glory and Grace.

Oh, most dearly Beloved! How our hearts ache for Life in, through, and with God! How much the more should our hearts ache for those who refuse him! Who will help them find LOVE? Acts 1:8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Let us return to the Spirit as witnesses (μάρτυρες – martyres) to testify (μαρτυρεῖτε – martyreite) of his LOVE. Do you recognize a familiar word in the translations of those Greek words? Martyr? The root word is μαρτυρέω – martureó: To give personal witness without holding anything back. Is your witness one that will live after you, or will the good you have done have a lasting effect? Will the evil you have done live after you, and will the good be interred with your bones? Think on that. OR will you clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And can you top that off with what you yourself most want? Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

The Spirit speaks and says, “Can I get a witness?” Well, can he? Who among us does NOT have that potential? When you enter eternity, which threshold will you be crossing?

Share-A-Prayer

Today I’m asking you to spend 180 seconds praying for three people of your choosing. First, pray for someone whose love has changed your life. Second, pray for some whose life you want to change through your love. Third, pray for someone whose life is at the threshold of eternity. Offer to witness on their behalf and testify about their love.

It’s OK if you pray longer than three minutes.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Please come back next year. I love you, and I want to travel over the threshold* with you!

* Click the LINK for this photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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