A friend recently shared a poem entitled “Small Kindnesses” by Danusha Lameris. The verses trace the ripples caused by small gestures of love.
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”
These three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
The fall equinox occurs this year on Thursday, September 22. The sun crosses the celestial equator into the southern hemisphere as the North Pole tilts away from Sol. The date marks the advent of autumn in the northern hemisphere.
Most people do not calendar their lives by astronomical dates. We ease into the season, experiencing fall on an installment plan. Consider some extended signs of fall’s arrival.
The first day of school
The start of the college football season
Labor Day weekend
Exchanging shorts for blue jeans and sandals for shoes
The burnt-dust breath of a furnace awakened from its summer slumber
The scent of fireplace smoke in the air
Maple trees blushing bright red
Piping-hot chili and cornbread
Jack-o-lanterns adorning porches
First frost coating lawns in gossamer silver
Pumpkin spice flavored food and drinks
Homecomings at high schools and colleges
Trees shedding brown leaves like unwanted burdens
The Lord calls us to appreciate and enjoy every season of life. Taste, touch, smell, hear, and see that God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
My SUV’s info screen periodically flashes this WARNING: “Taking your eyes off the road too long or too often while using this system could cause a crash, resulting in injury or death to you or others. Focus your attention on driving.” The message remains until the driver pushes a button on the touch screen.
The notice ironically appears while I’m driving. I’m required to take my eyes off the road to read a warning about taking my eyes off the road. Then I have to fumble with the touchscreen until I hit the right spot. None of this promotes a focus on driving.
File this under the category, “Best of Intentions, Worst of Outcomes.” A message about distractions becomes a distraction, creating the very reality that it seeks to prevent.
Humanity has evolved into a distracted people. People focus on their phones, ignoring everything and everyone around them. Multitasking helps us accomplish a number of simultaneous tasks poorly. Virtual and augmented reality replace reality itself.
Jesus called his followers to have eyes to see and ears to hear. Otherwise, the Lord God Almighty might appear and speak without notice.
Unplug. Unwind. Focus. Attend. Be present. Cultivate mindfulness. Be where your feet are.
In her poem entitled “Aurora Leigh,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:
Our fall worship series at Northside Church is entitled The Faith We Sing. The title recognizes the vital nature of music in personal discipleship and corporate worship. We will highlight the hymns of Charles Wesley. Historians recognize John Wesley as the founder of Methodism; but his brother supplied the music that fueled the revival movement.
Charles Wesley wrote between 6,000 and 9,000 songs and poems. He often scribbled verses while traveling on horseback, and scholars estimate he wrote 10 lines daily for 50 years! The law of averages naturally governed the quality of this much output.
John Wesley wrote about his brother’s songs, “Some were good, some were mediocre, and some were exceptional!” No doubt Charles read this and yelled, “MOM!”
The series is examining four familiar hymns by Charles Wesley that continue to shape our faith, including:
September 11 O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
September 18 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
September 25 Soldiers of Christ Arise
October 2 Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast
I invite you to worship with us onsite or online for Traditional Worship at 8:30 and 11:15 along with Contemporary Worship at 9:00. The services and sermons can be accessed later in the week at NorthsideUMC.org under the Worship tab.