North Highland United Methodist Church
Friday, February 26, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors


 Today is the first of June and outside it feels like the inside ofa dryer. So it appears that we will need to brace ourselves for at least a somewhat less-than-pleasant summer season. Iwas out on the highway a couple of days ago and watched a bird take off head long into a very strong wind—I think it wasthe first time I had ever actually seen a bird struggle that pointedly to fly. But eventually she got her bearings and fleweast into a strong westerly wind. I marveled at that littlevbird taking flight in what appeared to be “against all odds”.
Have you noticed how often animals, and particularly birdsvmake their appearances in scripture? The first creation story in Genesis says that creatures of the sea, and birds of the airvwere created on the fourth day—humans had to wait another day! We can learn a lot from animals—watching the birds, accepting unconditional love from dogs, making space for cats (they own us, you know), and considering the comings and goings of various animals throughout all of creation.
Now I want to share with you something that troubles me, and that is hearing God certainly or smugly blamed for terrible days or situations—as if the Divine peruses a certain person or group and says, “today I think I shall send disaster to so and so.” I also bristle strongly when I hear people shamed for a perceived lack of faith because situations or health doesn’t improve. I have a similar reaction when I hear proclama-tions of God’s punishment in natural disasters—blame typically pointed to a particular group of people. The reality is that we are part of the human condition, and therefore we have human struggles and challenges. It also means we are not divine, nor as our Bishop said recently, “none of us know the mind of God”. Not every day is good—not every season of life or season of the calendar unfolds to our liking or to our plans. And sometimes the storms of life are so strong we aren’t sure we can take flight.

Yet even against the strongest headwinds, God does not abandon us. Like the bird pic-tured above who found two branches for balance, we are recipients of countless small providential miracles. Some of these may not be recognized as miracles, and some need to be recalled through what I consider the gift of hindsight. When we stay in tune with God’s call on our lives (to love God with our entire beings and love our neighbors as ourselves) we at times end up being a small miracle for others. A beautiful part of the human condition is that we have one another—family, a church community, and friends. And every person we meet—those we know, those we don’t know, and those who seem to not be like us at all—is struggling in some way, or has a defining story to tell. We likely have all faced situations that seem “against all odds” —and so have they. So let’s be a little kinder, slower to share criticism and negative judgment, and quicker to offer genuine support. When the seasons are difficult, know that God’s Spirit is still present to strengthen, support and guide. And by God’s grace we can be the good—be the peace—be the hope for others struggling to navigate through headwinds of life.
Grace and peace,

Pastor Lou

June 2018