Father Rob's Blog
I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication,
*because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
I was struck by the first line of today's Psalm. It has not been my experience that God inclines his ear to me whenever I call upon him. There are times when it seems like he is not listening at all.
I came to grief and sorrow,
the Psalmist continues. And then,
How shall I repay the LORD,
for all the good things he has done for me.
Interesting. While it may not seem God has always listened to me, there can be no arguing that my life, too, is full of good things. I thought of this evening. I sat with my wife as we both enjoyed a cup of hot tea--and, of course, Nike our cat.
On the roof of the house, a robin sang.
Then he flew to a tree where the sun caught the color of his breast. Oh my.
A blue jay joined him, surrounded by white. Only this time it wasn't snow, but the flowers of spring.
The hummers made regular visits to the feeder.
And then I realized: Maybe that is answer enough in itself, all the answer one ever needs.
Sometimes on a dark and rainy day, nocturnal animals will venture out from their hiding places a little early. Often it is to eat, a pretty darn good strategy for coping with days like this (there's nothing like a little suet as a treat on a gloomy day). But my big question is: If it's dark enough for animals that are usually asleep to be awake, does that mean those of us who are usually awake can go to sleep? Is it time for bed yet?
Well, it looks like after being down for several days, DaddyRoBlog is back. But even more importantly, it looks like the hummers are back as well. This male has been visiting the feeder for about a week now. So if you live in northern VA and enjoy seeing hummingbirds, it's time to hang those feeders back up once again!
If the fox looks like it is intensely focusing on something, it's because it is. While Linda and I didn't realize it at the time, a squirrel was also making an early morning visit to the yard.
The squirrel will not be returning. While the early bird may get the worm, the early squirrel does not always get the nut. Context is everything.
The Sea of Galilee, that is.
Or maybe the Dead Sea.
But of course, seeing a beautiful sunrise is not why people go Israel. No, the reason they go is to see the lizards, like this one enjoying a cozy spot in the Jerusalem wall.
OK, so maybe that's not it either.
No, I think the primary reason those of us who are Christians go is to answer anew, in a deeper, fuller way, the timeless question Jesus asked: Who do you say that I am?
A fox is again making morning visits to the yard.
Morning Cloaks have come out of hibernation and can be seen sunning themselves on warm surfaces.
Turtles, too, are making an appearance.
So are leeches, like the ones seen here on the bottom of the turtle's shell (called a plastron). The leeches I could probably do without.
If Jesus was a man who knew how to weep, I believe he was also a man who knew how to let his heart be buoyed by the beauty around him. Reading the Gospels, one can't help but conclude that he was a keen observer of nature, and that he duly appreciated the wonder of what he was seeing. "Consider the birds," he says. Having now seen some of the birds in Israel (like this kingfisher on the Jordan River), I can better understand why they made such an impression!
When a smartphone can grant congregants instant access to an almost infinite array of data—biblical or otherwise—preaching must be more than the mere communication of orthodox information. It’s about creating an imaginative space in and through which we engage the biblical narrative, thus allowing the story of God to find a home in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds. --Kutter Callaway
Though these sentences were written in relation to the movie Noah, I was struck by how well they also apply to my experience of being in Israel. Being there wasn't so much a matter of gaining additional information--one surely doesn't have to spend the money and take the time to go to Israel to do that. What it was about was experiencing the heart of the people and the land, and through them understanding something more of the heart of Jesus.
And so we made it a priority to pray though the various sites; to intentionally and consciously enter in to what they seek to highlight. Take this church, for instance. It's called Dominus Flevit, erected on the spot where Jesus looked out over Jerusalem, foresaw its coming destruction, and wept. It is shaped like a tear drop. In the picture below, you can see the view Jesus would have had of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Kneeling inside, I thought of Jesus, his heart so tender that he wept openly. It's interesting how frequently men cry in the Bible, especially when you consider how infrequently men cry today. I thought of how in so many ways I've walled off my heart so that I will not cry because I've trained myself not to care as deeply as I might. I think that's alot of what it means to be tough instead of tender--and being tough is at the very heart of what it means for so many of us to be a man.
And so I prayed. "Lord, you wept for the people around you. Your heart went out to them in their pain and distress. Help me to do a better job of caring about others, of letting them into my heart so that I too love deeply enough to be moved to tears." Suddenly the years began to drop away. I wasn't just a tourist seeing sites, but a pilgrim joining milleniums of pilgrims, together journeying ever deeper into what it means to live faithfully in the best and fullest sense of the word.