Tag Archive: jesus


Dear Mike Pence,

Can we talk? I want to have a calm conversation with you.

I ask this as a fellow graduate of a church-based college. Yours is Presbytarian and mine in Church of the Brethren. If it makes you more comfortable, our spouses can be in the room as well. I realize that your wife went to a private college but my husband went to a church school, so that should aid in your comfort.

Please, have a seat. I can make some tea or coffee, set out some cookies, or cheese and crackers.

You’re going to need the sustenance because what I am about to say is going to be hard for you to hear.

Donald Trump, the former president and your former boss, is not your friend.

I know, I know. You worked hard for him, believed in his platform, and that he was the shining light in the Republican party.

But the man does not have your best interests at heart. I’m not sure he cares for you at all.

Why do I say this?

Because on January 6, 2021, the day when you chose to live by the law, his followers were looking to kill you. They were yelling “Hang Mike Pence” and set up a noose on scaffolding that was there for restoration work.

By minutes, you and your family were able to get out of the Capitol building before the insurgents calling for your death rushed through looking for you specifically.

Worse yet, your boss did nothing to stop the violent behavior. He never called the national guard to stop the attack on the Capitol but you did. Oh, he put out a tweet a few hours later telling people to go home.

But he did nothing to stop the insurgents. He did nothing to safe guard the Capitol police, members of congress, or you and your family. You ended up calling the National Guard.

What I don’t understand is how you can say it was just one day, it was another day in Washington D.C.

What I don’t understand is how you can still support Donald Trump.

Is this a PTSD reation to discovering that your boss didn’t care if you and your family was harmed, or worse killed, because he loved that his supporters’ mis-guided notion that Trump won the election?

Is the idea of continuing being vice-president or being president someday perhaps more important than your life? Or the life of your family?

We both know that January 6 happened, that it was real. We know that while protests might be a daily part of D.C., we also know violent protests are not a daily occurrence. We know that the Capitol does not experience violence like this on a daily basis. Congressional members do not have to hit the floor or bar the doors or quickly get out of the building on a daily basis.

I don’t pretend to know what motivates you. I haven’t been able to figure out why you continue loyalty to a man who doesn’t care if you live or die; he only cares that you give him what he needs by any means necessary. And just because you served him loyally for nearly four years, doesn’t mean that counted on the day he wanted to remain president.

I cannot figure how how you can justify all of that. Perhaps you can explain that to me.

Someday.

Meanwhile, I feel concerned that you don’t understand the danger you were in, that your family was in. I feel concerned that your naivete doesn’t get that Trump doesn’t like you and will put you in danger – again – if it means he wins.

Is it your Christian faith that chooses to believe Trump is the guy to make your Republican dreams come true or is it greed and a desire for power?

What would Jesus say to you if you were to actually speak to him?

I don’t think you would like the answer he would give you.

But this is one time you should listen to it.

Getting to The Nativity

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Last week I shared the story of my friend and her son. About the horrific car accident that took the lives of his two very young children.

Sad WomanMy friend has had to struggle with the worst a parent can deal with. They are not sure if her son will live or join his children in heaven. While I pray for the young man who is only 26, I also pray for my friend to have the strength she will need to get through every day.

It is a difficult thing and I want my friend to know I am here. I also know she has many other people around, she is not alone. But anyone who has gone through this knows that the lonesomeness of the situation feels very real.

In the meantime I try to focus on the season. Our grade school and high school jazz bands just performed at the mall and did a great job. We finally got our tree at Cupola House Tree Farm and it is displayed on our front porch.

Our church had its monthly movie night and we watched The Nativity starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Issac. The movie is from 2006 and was put together quite quickly. But I love it because it tells the story of the Christmas birth beautifully.

The Nativity Story poster IMDb com

Poster image from IMDb.com

It starts at the time that Mary is about to be betrothed to Joseph. She does not love him or want the marriage. Then she is visited by an angel who tells her she will bear the child of the Lord.

We go through the familiar story until the young family leave for Egypt. It is filled with dangers from Roman tax collectors and the wild elements of the terrain. We see the beauty of faith played out along with fear of the real dangers of everyday life.

While I am not a big fan of Christian cinema because the focus is on the message, here the focus is on learning about these two character who will raise a child like none other. We see that Joseph honestly cares for Mary. And we see how she begins to trust him, even before they leave for the census in Bethlehem.

The quality of the photography of this movie is breathtaking as well. Each scene displays the tone and the feelings of the moment from Zachariah’s moment of doubt to the fear that soldiers on horseback can bring to the joy of a special new born.

I might not show this movie to younger children because of the context but I would certainly allow pre-teens to watch it and be prepared to talk about the story and its themes afterwards.

There will be many points to ponder and wonder about when it is over.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Have you noticed that lately there have been a lot of posts on Facebook with the suggestion of what this country is missing.

Jesus is the big one. We need more Jesus and more faith in God.meme jesus

 

Other people are wishing for morals and manners.

Meme morals

One of my friends shared a meme that said we need more front porches being utilized by friends and neighbors.Meme porches

My favorite is that we need to help Grandma snap more green beans.

Meme grandma beans

I am sure you are waiting for me to have some snappy come back for all of this. But I am going to keep it simple.

Great! You start.

That’s right. If you have the guts to put this on the wall, then start doing it. No one else will know what you want until you start modeling the behavior. You know that saying from Ghandi about being the change you want to see in the world? The one you have snorted about and said “Yeah, right?” That’s what I am asking you to do.

Oh, there are lots of people out there willing to be jerks, to not hold the door open or push their way to the front of the line when you were clearly there ahead of them. So be their opposite. Hold a door open, say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ when it is deserved. Show people how manners work and chances are they will start to pick something up.

You know that mom who is trying to get around Walmart with the screaming kid right after she gets off of work? Pay attention and you might find that she has told the child he is staying in the cart and cannot run around. Instead of standing with your buds and criticizing her for having a yelling child, support her for being willing to say ‘no’ to the child and stand her ground.

And that one about Jesus being needed in our country? Show people what Christian love is all about and, to paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, use words if necessary. Be the only bible that others may read and live out the behavior Christ wanted us to model. And then do something bigger, like actually go to church. Once you go to church, start helping with a mission project or with youth group. I promise you will expand your thoughts and your faith. I can’t guarantee there will not be some frustration at times but how you help others will matter.

The same goes with the porch thing. Start hanging out on your porch during good weather days. Ask your friends to join you, sometime. Say hello to neighbors as they pass by on their regular walks. As you work on the flower garden in front of your house, sooner or later some gardener will ask you questions. Join the conversation and be a good neighbor.

Lastly, there is the thing about the green beans. Not everyone likes green beans, not everyone likes to snap green beans. So what. Go to the farmers market, buy a bunch for Sunday dinner, invite the family over, and have the grand kids help you snap the beans. They will hate you for it. Again, so what. Start talking to them while snapping beans about life, about memories, about them. Expand to other veggies when green beans go out of season. Expand to making cookies or pie crust together. Keep talking.

Will any of this instantly make the world a better place? Probably not. But it will make the world around you better. You will know that you taught people how to be polite, how to give to others, and how faith works in your life. You can teach them how to behave in the best possible manner. And you might learn how to cook green beans in a tasty fashion. I prefer saute in butter and thin sliced almonds.

How are you going to make your corner of the world better?

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

As Easter creeps closer, there are things to be done.

It is the traditional time of Spring Cleaning. So much dust and dirt collects in my house that I feel like I can never keep up with it. One week I clear cobwebs and the next week they are back again. Dirt and sand gather for some party I was never invited to join.

During this time of the year, now that taxes are done, I find myself going through a ton of paper that needs to be shredded. I always think I am going to get at those big closets or piles of clutter but the regular stuff gets me distracted every time. In the end my goal becomes to get through one nasty place a day.

All of this is in preparation for Easter, making sure the house is ready. Or maybe it hearkens back to the Jewish holiday of Passover in which cleaning happens in earnest. There can be no leavening agent left in the house before the start of Passover which is the night of April 3rd this year.

I always remember this because the Last Supper was the Seder dinner, the first night of Passover that Jesus and his disciples would have observed.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

For this week we think about those Christian movies more than usual. And in the past few years, Hollywood has responded to people wanting more movies about Christian faith. I recently watched Heaven is For Real starring Greg Kinnear. I am not sure a movie like this would have starred a big name of a name or talented actor of an actor as Kinner as recent as a few years ago if the script was poorly written.

If you are looking for a movie that is family friendly, this one is beyond a few outbursts of anger and one scene in which dad tells his daughter she needs to punch someone without hurting herself. But content wise, this movie is better for pre-teens and up. Their minds are better able to understand the nuances.

The story is about a four-year-old boy who nearly dies from mis-diagnosed appendicitis. It is during this time that he goes to heaven, meeting family members, Jesus, and God. As the boy recovers he slowly begins talking about his experiences with his family. For the dad, who is a minister, it causes a crisis of faith. He is torn by people who support him and others who doubt that such a thing could happen.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Many of my friends who have seen this movie state that the book is better and I do not disagree. In the book, much of the action took over two years to happen. As the movie goes, much of the action takes place within a year’s time. But Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly give heartfelt sincere performances as parents trying to understand what has happened to their son and how that affects their life in the present.

I enjoyed the movie because of that sincerity. I likes the little boy who focuses on what he saw for minutes at a time while his father seems to want to dig deeper. That’s how we adults operate, we want every detail and the little kids want to play in the sand box. I believed the story that this child saw something but defining it for adults was not always easy. Isn’t that faith in a nutshell?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Are you a youth group leader?

Then you know what I am about to say is true.

Picture by Xandert

Picture by Xandert

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get stale. How many times can we do the same lesson to a bunch of kids who may or may not want to listen?

There is a scene in Soul Surfer in which the kids are listening to their youth group leader  quietly and attentively.

That was real fiction because I have never had that happen. When I mention it to the kids, they usually say “you know that is a movie, right? It is not real life.”

So the other night when the kids gathered, I asked then to pair up and gave them six pieces of paper. I tried to hum the theme song from “The Dating Game” before I announced that tonight we were going to play a new game.

I called it “Things I Don’t Remember Talking About in Youth Group?” or something similar.

The kids laughed because they realized I wanted to make what we talk about fun but not like a test. At some point I wanted to see if they remembered anything we talk about because most of the time they are busy trying to out-talk me.

The five questions went like this:

*Who was the guy who freed the Jews from Egypt?

* Name one of Jacob’s two wives.

* What was the first name that Paul went by?

* Name six of the twelve disciples?

* Where was Jesus born and where did he die?

Bonus Question: How many people did David have to kill to prove to Saul he was worthy of being King?

The answers were pretty interesting, especially when everyone remember Rachel but not Leah. And the most disciples anyone could remember was four. Well, guess what the next few lessons will be focusing on. Yep, we are learning about each disciple.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

As we move close to Easter and the resurrection, it is important to know about the men who kept the movement going after Jesus left the earth.

I am not sure if I will go into the deaths of each man but their lives before meeting holds interesting facts. None of these men were perfect, like the rest of us.

I can’t wait for next week’s youth group. I just need a way to make it fun.

Suggestions, anyone?

Looking for a Sign

Every Sunday I find myself opening my eyes and looking up during prayer time.

Why do I do this?

Well, for years I have taken a look around when I am supposed to have my head bent and eyes shut.

Image by Eduardo

Image by Eduardo

Right after we share our joys and concerns and go into prayer, I am hoping for something that might be a glimpse of something glorified, something rare and beautiful.

I am hoping for a glimpse of God, Jesus or maybe just an angel.

We used to have a member at the church who drove me crazy. He prayed the loudest and always a half step in front of everyone when we did the Lord’s Prayer. The man was a sanctimonious ass, an uncompassionate Christian who made the other Christians look bad. And his goal was to never bring you into God’s love but to let you know he was a better Christian than anyone else.

That member bothered me because the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few times all members of the congregation are in lock step with each other, when they can take a minute to repeat a prayer and be in synch. We need to be able to do that, to know that there can be a moment when all are joined in worship of the same God.

But before we start that, when the pastor or lay speaker is giving up the joys and concerns, I open my eyes and look around. I want a glimpse, I want to see, I might still be looking for proof. I want to see what the glory looks like.

Image from Morguefile.com

Image from Morguefile.com

And I do not have to push anyone out of the way to make that effort.

Will I ever see God while I live here on Earth? Some days I think so when I see the beauty of hoarfrost or a blooming rose or kids just running around being kids. I see it in the beams of light that come through the clouds towards the end of a day.

When I try to explore the metaphysical world, I see a man who looks like Jesus in his European form. I once saw a picture of Jesus with more Mid-East features and thought that man looked beautiful as well. But I have not seen them at church or during a prayer time.

Still, at each prayer I take a moment to look and see if I can find him.

You never know, one of these days, I just might.

How do you try to find God?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Over the past weekend, I was able to go to the play at the Grade School.

I thought the cast did a wonderful job and I don’t say that because my son was one of the pirates. Ok, maybe a little. But the rest of the cast did a great job as well. It was light and fun, a great piece of diversion.

Afterwards, I was talking to another parent whose child loves pirates. I know most people have come to love pirate movies thanks to Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Image

Poster Image from IMDb.com

These movies are fun and lighthearted while being action-pack. And then there are the crazy costumes of various characters slowly being turned into creatures of the sea. These are movies best suited for intermediate grade school children because some parts are too intense and too sensual, in my opinion.

Another movie featuring pirates is Jonah: A Veggie Tales This movie features our favorite vegetables is a re-telling of the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. The comic relief comes from the “pirates who don’t do anything” and remind us to laugh during a serious tale. This is a great flick for pre-schoolers and up.

The rest of the week is the end of the Lenten season. Good Friday, and the rain that always seems to accompany it, will be here before we know it. That will be followed by Easter Sunday and the reminder of the Resurrection.

Image

Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar, Image from IMDb.com

There are several movies that discuss the crucifixion but few that talk about the miracle afterwards. One of my favorites is Jesus Christ, Superstar with Ted Neely in the titled role. I am blown away by the emotional depth and tragic insight of the score by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice throughout.

I know that there are many people who love The Passion of The Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. The movie has startling beautiful scenes that are reminders of famous paintings and sculptures of various parts of the crucifixion.  But there are also shockingly violent moments that take my breath away as I look on in horror.

This movie is rated “R” for good reason and that does not include “right.” It is for graphic violence. It is not a scrubbed clean version and only the person(s) in charge of the house should decide if children younger than 12-years-old should view this movie.

Have a peaceful Good Friday and a happy Easter.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

During this time of year it is easy to find various religious movies. Or at least it used to be.

Oh, the memories.

Charleton Heston as Moses in "The Ten Commandments," picture from IMDb.com

 The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah.  

There are also the movies that weren’t exactly religious but set in the same time period.

Spartacus and Ben Hur

 

Then there are those set in different time periods.

Sidney Poitier in "Lilies of the Field," picture from IMDb.com

Lilies of the Field and Song of Bernadette

 

While we love these, what is called for this time of year are the movies about Easter.

The Robe and The Greatest Story Ever Told.

 

However, in our modern times realism must take precedence.

Jim Caviezel as Jesus in "the Passion of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com

We watch every grisly detail with The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel and directed by Mel Gibson. This is not a movie I recommend for children under the age of 10 as the violent scenes are intense. You feel every jarring bit and wonder how any man could have taken this. Perhaps that was Gibson’s point while making the most gruesome religious movie I have ever seen.

On the other hand, there are moments of stunning beauty as Gibson recreates well-known artistic tableaux. Not sure that is enough to make me want to watch this movie again.

The Last Temptation of the Christ has also seen its share of controversy.

Daniel DaFoe in "The Last Temptation of the Christ," picture from IMDb.com.

In this movie, we see what might have happened if Jesus came off the cross to live with women and have a family. But we are also given food for thought that Judas might have been in on the plan to betray Jesus. And that the two men might have been the best of  friends.

It is a movie I watch, despite Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn accent, for the idea that Christ might have been tempted but in the end he still did as he was foretold to do.

Finally, the movie that has become a must see at Easter in Jesus Christ Superstar.  

Ted Neeley as Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar," picture from IMDb.com

I was a little girl at the time the movie came out and I remember how it was considered sinful just to sing those songs out loud. Maybe it was the spectacle, the fact that Jesus dies on the cross and doesn’t have a resurrection, that Judas lives and Mary Magdalene is not a vilified persona.

What I love about the movie is the strong character of Jesus who admits sometimes he is scared or get angry at what is happening around him. That he knows what must happen and yet can’t do damage control with the crowds or the disciples.

None of these movies ever seem to get the whole story right. But how could they?  There is so much to cover and the crucifixion must be one-third of your story. They can never get in all of the parables and the beatitudes, all of the intrigue that happened in front of Jesus or behind closed doors. Do any of these movies contain the episode with Zacchius?

Still, it make me wonder if in hearing only a small part of the story does that lead some to find out the rest of it in the most popular book on the planet. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Let’s Make a Deal

A few weeks ago “Glee” chose to explore religious belief.

Can you see the eyes? Picture by Click.

The Holy Cheesus.

Sure, we have all seen those stains and images that could look like Jesus or the Virgin Mary. But how many of us have done exactly what Finn did in that episode – made deals with God for the thing we want most to happen.

“If my child gets well, I will make a large donation to the church.”

“If the surgery goes well, I will believe in you.”

“If we win the football game, I will honor you.”

Sound familiar?

I know I have been there, willing to make a deal. On the other hand, I am frustrated to hear people act as if God/Jesus are like Santa. Believe and you will get all that you desire. Rewards shall rain down upon you as they did Job after his trials.

I realize that scripture states that if we believe, truly believe, in Jesus and God we will be rewarded ten fold. We will be rewarded for faith given. But at what point do we believe in God because we just know he is there? Why must our belief be motivated by something other than total faith? Why do some people need fear or greed to make them realize earthly riches, while nice, are not the totality of riches.

I am not sure what Finn actually learned during his week of miracles. Getting to feel up his girlfriend or winning back his spot on the football team will have some short term gains. I wish that Emma could have made him understand that Jesus was there on that sandwich but it was for more than to realize his greatest dreams of the moment. It was a reach-out effort that could have lead to greater faith, greater depth of character.

Let’s be honest. Finn is a good guy but he has a shallow character. He lives in the moment for the most part, just as most of us do. But religious belief asks for something more. It is a living, breathing way of thinking and doing on a daily – moment by moment sometimes – basis.

Do unto others as you would want them to do for you.

Be a willing giver.

Give without others knowing who is the giver.

Is he reflected in your heart? Picture by Alex Lobo

What a good Christian that must be to give without letting others know what you do. Most of us want credit. We want assurance that while we have accepted Jesus in our hearts, and we know we were saved,  future sins will not land us in Hell. Living blameless lives after being saved is difficult, an endless tightrope.

We want people to know how we live our faith so we announce it and proclaim it. Maybe it is on your neck or your car but is it in your heart? Do your actions all week let people know you are a christian?

They will know we are Christians by our love.

Convert as many people as possible, use words if neccessary.

Funny thing is, Finn lives these words, these various maxims, in his character. But he has never declared himself as Christian or Jew, Protestant or Catholic. Perhaps what he really needs to declare is his belief. And that is what the Holy Cheesus was trying for all along.

What do you think is the message that Finn missed?

Picture by Mensatic

 

When summer hits, the one thing I can depend on is vacation bible school or VBS to the uninitiated.  

I may not be able to afford summer camp but my kids can go to one church for a week and have a boatload of fun. They make crafts, sing songs about Jesus, and have fun snacks.  

Some of my friends might think I am a little loony on this. After all, my kids will hit four VBS programs this summer. That can be a lot of schlepping around but it is totally worth it.  

They have been to programs with space themes, heroes, heroes and space, and, this week, a cowboy ranch. In years past VBS themes have hit the beach, gone camping and did a VBS in a neighbor’s backyard.  

Last week, the kids talked about how they had chicken nuggets at the church down the street from our house. There were cookies and other  

Picture by Xandert

 

goodies. Plus there were crafts and picture frames. One VBS made a door-hanger that had white board-like paper to leave notes.  

At our church, we put star sprinkles on small ice cream cups one night. Another night they had trail mix. There was a cheese stick combined with fruit. That was a mixed bag but for the most part, the kids loved it.  

Here is what I like. Many of these programs have a mission component. They are collecting money or canned goods or special items to give to people in our country or far away who need basic items we take for granted. Our church collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald Houses. It is important that my kids learn from me, and from others, that giving is the best thing that you can do.  

 Here is another thought. Who knew you could have fun at church? Many of us grew up being yelled for making noise or fidgeting or running in the church. But during VBS we encourage the kids to sing loudly, which they do and seldom on key. We encourage them to yell bible verses. Then they go outside to run, scream and yell a little more. Suddenly, being a Christian is not some solemn duty. You have real joy in your heart that is reflected in your actions.  

Furthermore, a church that has VBS tells me they are open to families. VBS may be a marketing ploy to get those families in the door. But you know if a church is right for you when you just listen and feel. That was one of the reasons we picked our church that we now attend. And it has nothing to do with other churches being bad because the other churches in our area have great pastors and good congregations. This one just struck our hearts in some way.  

Picture by Anita Patterson

 

One of those ways was welcoming our children who are rambunctious, to say the least. Many kids I know are that way. But by giving them the space to do that and teach them how to reflect of Jesus and their faith in him are two lessons churches should give. All of that can happen in VBS.  

So this week, as I send my kids to their fourth VBS program of the summer at the Baptist church, I know that they are having fun as well as learning lessons about faith.  

I wonder what crafts they will bring home this week…