On May, 7th the Ecumenical Church came together in Anthem’s city park to pray. The denominational walls came down and Christians by the hundreds came and prayed in unison for the family, the church, the sick and homeless, our government, and the schools.
The universal church came together, but it was not Roman Catholic; those present believed in baptism, but they weren’t Baptist; they believed in the Reformation, but they were not Lutheran; they believed in the new methods of teaching, but they were not Methodist; they believed the church was to be led by elders, but they were not Presbyterian; they believed in the teaching of the church, but they were not Orthodox; they believed in spreading the Gospel message, but they were not Evangelical, they believed in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but they were not Charismatic. Also present was a Jewish synagogue who believes Jesus is Messiah. What were they then? They were just Christians!
Who is a Christian? The person who when asked, “Who do you think Jesus is?” They reply, “I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
My faith is built on nothing less,
I often mention the park across from my home and that’s because if often reflects slices of our society. One of those slices that I see on most days is a kids pick-up game of baseball; no adults, no uniforms, and no trophies just baseball for the fun of it. The kids that show up for a game are good, for you can see line drives, shagged flies, cut-off throws, and double plays.
What I find really interesting is how a game begins. A kid shows up with his glove, bat, and ball and lays out some stones for the bases. Then he sits in the grass and waits for his buds. When enough kids show up the game begins.
My wife pointed out to me how their game is much like church. They wait for each other to show up. They practice to make themselves better at what they love. Everyone who shows up is accepted. They help each other improve through encouragement. Their shouting and laughter is like singing. Finally, there is a great amount of joy in doing something they love.
Baseball and church, who knew,
Last week I mentioned the coyote chorus that is sung nightly in the desert. They seem to be rejoicing that the pack is back together again. There is another animal that can be heard each night, and that’s the wild donkeys. The Jacks and Jennies are a complaining bunch, for those sad eyed creatures lack the ability to travel from point A to point B at night without letting everyone know what their complaints are. Throughout the desert night their hee-hawing echoes can be heard.
I talk with many people in the park across from my home and often I’m asked, “Do you ever see the donkeys?” I reply, “Yes, all the time.” They sound surprised at that response, for most of them have never seen or heard one. I tell them “Those beautiful creatures are there, you just have to look and listen for them.”
It’s the same with God. People say they have lived on this planet for years and have never seen or heard from God. My reply is the same, “I see Him and hear his echoes all the time. You just have to look and listen for Him.”
The tag line for Anthem is: “Life in Abundance,” some have expanded it to include, “And I’m entitled.” I met one such claimant doing 75 M.P.H. on the freeway.
With white knuckled hands at the 12 O’clock position on the steering wheel, along with her nose, she was giving my rear bumper a close inspection. Her hand gestures indicated that she felt entitled to my space of the road.
Safely by me she exited at our city of abundance. I noted a fixed position on the side of the road as she passed it and counted off three seconds before I passed the marker. She had saved three seconds. Perhaps she was having an emergency, but the event seems to occur with frequency at mile marker 279.
God has blessed us and our cup in life, for the most part, is sweet. We should thank God for our cup of blessings and drink it with humility. Our blessings don’t entitle us to grab, endanger, or act like a boor; after all there is abundance here.
Heading east on Anthem Way after you cross the I-17 there is a sign that reads, “Anthem, life in abundance;” it’s our community’s official tag line. The sign describes us well, for we do have an abundance of what life offers. For instance, did you know we have four Starbucks within a five mile radius; apparently we drink an abundance of lattés.
With so many offerings we must choose what to do with our time off. One woman told me what her choice was out of her abundance. She chooses to sleep in on Sunday. She went on say that because our church starts at 9:30 it interfered with her choice. However, if we would start at 10:00, like other churches, she would then be able to come to church. I thought, “I know where you can get a latté to wake you up.”
Abundance pales to eternity, but it massages, pleases, comforts, and treats us, and therefore, abundance obscures the everlasting and allows us to make absurdly foolish decisions.
The people we are close with we eat with. It’s a custom dating back to our first parents. Our thinking goes like this: I want to sit with you in the dinning room; my place today, your place tomorrow. Eating together is important. It allows us to catch up with each other. It’s a time to put things aside that have separated. It’s a time when we can form new friendships.
Once a month, instead of our mid-week Bible study, we have a fellowship meal together. Cindy does the main dish and everyone else brings something to pass. Last Tuesday was that time of the month for us. It is not intended to be fancy or impress, just a time for Christians to participate in an old custom; the results are automatic.
There was quite an age difference, from 4 to 70. Despite that, everyone prayed, laughed, talked, and sang. After we sang someone said, “What just three songs?” We laughed and sang another.
Often we get hung up on structure, and that’s a bit stiff. Tuesday was neither structured, nor stiff; just Christian joy.
It’s a good custom,
God transacts his business at unusual places and times. This week for me it was with a local coach. I met the coach as he was preparing the field for the next day’s football drills. He was noticeably frustrated about things: The local athletic program, Anthem parents, and the entitlement attitude of his young players. His frustration had brought him to the breaking point; he had quit his job, put his house on the market and was leaving Anthem. He said, “I’ve had it with Anthem.
We walked the field setting it up for Saturday’s drills. I just listened for I rarely have answers for such problems, but I have experience being up against it. When the field was set up we stood on the edge of the field and prayed. Two men who didn’t know each other very well but who had one thing in common: Christ. He prayed for the athletes and I for him. Sometimes that is all we can do when we find someone going through it; stand by them and pray.