Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year’s Benedictus

Since light does shine in the darkest night
As moons and stars give off their light
Since peace does thrive in the midst of war
Where hopes endure and spirits soar.

So each New Year brings a dawning day
Of renewing love that comes to stay
A kiss, a touch, to mend our soul
    Is a New Year’s gift that makes us whole.

~ Clarence McConkey

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Joy To The World

The question Jesus asked the disciples, “What did you go out to see?,” when they went looking for him, has all the earmarks of the Advent/Christmas season. What is it exactly we go out to see when we talk about, think about, buy for, celebrate, this holy season? Of course the answer to that depends on who we are individually, what our histories are concerning this season, what our traditions are.  Yet there is built into the Advent/Christmas season so many themes that we only have to choose which one we want to give priority to. For myself I opt for memory. By memory I don’t mean memories of eating, drinking, gift-giving, family togetherness and music, music, music. These are all integral parts of our Advent/Christmas celebrations of course and all have meaning for us. 

When I say memory, I mean, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19). The theological/practical impact of this simple sentence is almost beyond our understanding. What I think about for myself when I write about memory is how that statement from 2 Corinthians filters down to us like falling snow. If God is reconciling us to himself, along with all the human race, who are we reconciling ourselves to in response?  Mom reconciling with dad in attitude and inner spirit? Children reconciling with parents, brothers with sisters, former enemies now become friends? What’s the use of a reconciling God if it pays no dividends in the reconciling of God’s children to one another? Ah, the magic and mystery of Christmas: lights, trees, greetings, homecomings! Yes, homecomings, people coming home to God, children coming home to parents, old enemies coming home as new friends.  “God and sinners reconciled/Joyful all ye nations rise/Join the triumph of the skies…..” In reconciliation from God to person and from person to person, we truly join the triumph of the skies.

May God bless us everyone.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Just a Keepin’ on Goin’

In my senior year of high school I went out for football.  I weighed 100 pounds, two pounds more than my football uniform.  I was used as water boy, tackling dummy, on the chain gang and keeper of timeouts.  I played briefly in one game that we lost.  At the sports night banquet I sat while others won their awards.  Nearly everybody who played on the team got some award of higher or lower achievement.  At the end of the presentations, as we were getting ready to be dismissed, Coach Carmichael said, “There is one other award to be given.  Will Clarence come up front, please?”  I was as surprised as the other team members but after I’d gotten up front the coach said, “This award to be given to Clarence is given, not because he started any games or scored touchdowns or made fantastic plays.  He is given this award because out of all the players on this team he is the only one who never missed a practice or a game.  He is my ideal of the true sportsman.”
Well, I’d like to say I got a full scholarship to college or was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys or made the cover of Sports Illustrated.  I didn’t get anything like that.  But I’ll tell you something I did get.  I got the reward of a lesson about determination, about not giving up (you should have seen the way those 220-pound Kansas farm boys tackled a 100-pound scared-out-of-his-wits kid who liked reading books a lot more than he did chasing footballs.) In my family life, my professional life as a minister, the hard rocky road of hard times and of failure and mistakes, I’ve kept alive the value of what my mother called, “Just a keepin’ on goin’.”  Now that I’ve lived long enough to gain enough weight to hold my pants up, I may just go back to my high school for a Friday night football game and get the coach to let me suit up.  About half way through the third quarter I’ll run out onto the field and hit one of those Kansas Jayhawking football players right in some tender place until he sees stars.  I’ll go back to the bench and say to myself, “Good goin’, Mom, you taught me how to do it.”