Rightest Comparisons

Creating comparisons in the English language confuses many would-be linguists. Comparisons are typically—but not always—made in one of two ways.

GrammarWords with less than three syllables use the suffix –er for comparisions and –est for superlatives. Examples: “John is taller than Juan” or “Susie is the fastest person in her class.”

Words with three or more syllables are preceded by the modifiers “more” or “most.” Examples: “Sean is more effective than Jean” or “Katie is the most productive employee.”

Back in the day, our teachers insisted on these sacrosanct rules. However, today’s grammaticians are a more wishy-washy group who ambiguously mumble that words with two syllables can go either way.

One site advised that –er or –est should be used UNLESS the newly created words sound “awkward.” Well, THAT clears things up.

I confess to being a grammar geek, and one of my pet peeves is the incorrect use of comparisons. A recent commercial by a public utility invited people to become “More Cool.” Memo to the advertisers: it should read “Cooler.”

Others creatively combine comparisons. One meteorologist warned an approaching front might be “more stormier.” Sigh.

English is such a complicated language that exceptions always prove the rules. Comparisons have a subgroup of irregular words that march to the beat of their own drummers. Examples include: good (better and best), many (more and most), and bad (worse and worst).

Another group called “absolute adjectives” supersede any comparison. Consider words like “perfect” or “unique.” Nothing can exceed perfection. By definition, unique describes something that is beyond compare.

So be righter in your comparisons and most carefulest in your grammar. Otherwise, you might just end up looking like the most foolishest one of aller.

Be the One

When this weekly blog began in 2015, I searched for an appropriate Scripture theme. I eventually chose Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:6-7:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

jarChristians are jars of clay filled with God’s glory. It is a weighty responsibility to proclaim the gospel to others, but it is also a tremendous privilege. The Holy Spirit graces believers with the chance to be the one to make an eternal difference in others’ lives.

I am who I am today because of the examples of others yesterday. God has graced my life with wonderful saints who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ through word and deed.

Who served as midwives of faith in your life? See their faces. Speak their names. Recall their faithfulness. Give thanks to God.

AND be reminded by their example that we have the opportunity to be the one in someone else’s life.

Paul described the church as the body of Christ. We are Christ’s incarnate presence in the world. If God’s work gets done, it is because people like us are faithful to the task. One person can make an eternal difference; and WE can be the one.

Are you the one?

Be the one.

Professional Christians

In many ways, clergy can be categorized as religious professionals. The church sets apart ordained ministers for specialized ministry. Worship, Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and mission form our job description. We are PAID to do the very things that all Christians are CALLED to do.Pro

If pastors do not exercise great care, then church work can become a job rather than a vocation and a career rather than a calling.

Temptation constantly beckons to plan worship rather than worship; to lead prayer rather than pray; to practice sermon preparation rather than spiritual devotions; to prepare Bible study rather than study the Bible; to chair committees rather than provide leadership; to attend meetings rather than perform ministry; to preach sermons rather than practice what we preach.

Then again, maybe ministers aren’t so different from church members. There are times when we all act like professional Christians. Temptation constantly beckons us to go through the motions rather than experience the emotions; to keep the letter of the law rather than the spirit; to do church work rather than be the church. We begin looking for the minimum amount required rather than the maximum effort necessary.

Approaching our faith, do we possess a “HAVE TO,” “OUGHT TO,” or “GET TO” attitude? Choose carefully—the answer shapes our entire relationship with God.

Holy Land Pilgrimage

I invite you to join me on a trip-of-a-lifetime to the Holy Land. Our church family along with other guests will visit Israel from March 27 to April 6, 2019.

Holy Land 2019Biblical scholars call the Holy Land The Fifth Gospel because geography so shapes the story of Scripture. Travel brings the Bible to life as pilgrims literally walk where Jesus walked.

I have traveled to Israel twice in the past, and both journeys transformed my understanding of the Christian faith. Indelible memories continue to mold my life and ministry. I look forward to the next trip with members of my Northside Church family.

The eleven day trip has been designed to cover as many Old and New Testament sites as possible, including destinations not typically included in a standard tour. The inclusive pricing includes first class hotels, deluxe motor coaches, guided tours, airfare, and much more.

For additional information, visit this link to see the full brochure that contains all of the details: www.NorthsideUMC.org/holyland

We will also have two no-obligation interest meetings this week on Wednesday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 29, at 12:15 p.m. Both will occur in the Board Room of Northside United Methodist Church. A representative from our tour host, Educational Opportunities, will join me to discuss the trip.

During the Seder meal at Passover, a traditional, Jewish toast declares: Next year in Jerusalem! In 2019, we can make this dream a reality.

Every Litter Bit Hurts

On a recent litter patrol, I filled a plastic bag with trash strewn around our block. The corner of Northside Drive and West Wesley accounted for much of the refuse. Apparently people toss their trash out the window while waiting at the traffic light.

The rubbish included Styrofoam cups, plastic straws, fast food wrappers, potato chip bags, soft drink cans, newspaper flyers, and four feet of a metal stud, complete with screws. Based on the beer bottles and wine coolers, the street also doubles as a corner bar.

People are pigs.

I should apologize—such a comparison is unfair to pigs. While hogs earn their stinky-sty reputation, a porker never tossed Bud Light cans out a truck window.

Dilly, dilly.Litter Bug

A week later litter again festooned the block. Two Toyota hubcaps gave the road’s shoulder a festive touch. I grabbed a trash bag with a sigh and started over.

See comment about people and pigs above.

According to the opening chapters of Genesis, the Lord appointed humans as co-stewards of creation. Our birthright mandates we treasure the world both for God’s sake and for ours.

In many national parks, signs instruct hikers: “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.”

And the people of God say, “Amen!” Then they pick up some trash because every litter bit helps.

April Fools’ Day

April FoolsHistorians disagree over the origins of April Fools’ Day. A search of the Internet (the source of all knowledge) reveals various explanations about the holiday. Regardless, April 1 traditionally marks a day for pranks, monkeyshines, shenanigans, and high jinks.

For the first time since 1956, Easter Sunday fell on April Fools’ Day this year. Many remarked on the concurrence. Preachers made bad jokes concerning the coincidence before preaching about the Resurrection.

However, Easter and April Fools’ share more in common than one might first imagine.

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, dead, and buried. At the cross, sin seemed to win. At the tomb, death appeared to reign.

Three days later some women visited Jesus’ grave to anoint his mangled body. In the garden, the women encountered angelic figures who proclaimed the news that continues to echo in our ears today: Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus is not here—he is risen, just as he said!

April Fool! Sin’s power is broken.

April Fool! Death’s reign is overthrown.

April Fool! On the third day, Christ arose from the dead.

In 1 Corinthians 4:10, Paul wrote: We are fools for Christ!

Happy Easter AND April Fools’ Day. Christ is risen, indeed!

Low Sunday

Last Sunday we celebrated the glorious news of Easter: Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Sanctuaries overflowed as churches experienced their annual, high attendance Sunday.

The liturgical calendar calls the week AFTER Easter Low Sunday. Historians believe the name originated in contrast to the great festival of Easter. Following the celebration of the Resurrection, churches returned to the “low” or ordinary routine of worship.

Low SundayChurch pastors know better, however. Low attendance puts the LOW in Low Sunday! Easter marks the high water mark for worship. The Sunday AFTER Easter ebbs at low tide. Some congregations may even experience negative numbers!

However, we continue to celebrate the Season of Easter this week. Over 40 days, the risen Lord appeared to his disciples. Mary encountered Jesus in the garden. Two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Paul reported that Christ appeared to Simon Peter, the Twelve, and more than 500 followers at one time.

According to John, one man missed Jesus’ appearance to the other apostles on Easter night. Unconvinced by second-hand reports, “Doubting” Thomas announced he would only be convinced by touching Jesus’ wounds.

On the Sunday AFTER Easter, Jesus once again appeared in the Upper Room. He confronted Thomas’ doubts and displayed his wounded hands, feet, and side. The disciple knelt and professed: My Lord and my God!

Christ responded: Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

It’s a good thing that Thomas decided to attend church the Sunday AFTER Easter. Otherwise, he might have missed the Risen Lord.

On Low Sunday, we continue to celebrate the Easter good news: Christ is risen, indeed!