Blog

Two Dishwashers

Teacups in Rain

I would stand by the dish drain as Dad washed the dishes. He took this task seriously, getting the pots and pans out of the way before starting on dishes and silverware.  My task (my turn) was to dry dishes while my sister put them back in the cupboards. Mother was busy putting away leftovers for another meal. Dad was also particular about dish products: he preferred Comet to Ajax as a scouring agent; he had a favorite detergent, one that “cut the grease,” as the commercial would say. Growing up I don’t remember having an automatic dishwasher; it was Dad.

Soon after I married Bill, he took me to the kitchen and said, “This is yours.” I was proud of the possession and responsibility, and I assumed he would help out with various tasks. Wrong. At least for many years, anyway. After Bill became dean of the college, he took up cooking, finding new recipes (sometimes strange ones). One recipe he copied from a magazine in a doctor’s office – imitation crab and angel-hair spaghetti, a quick and easy dish we still make today. When he would cook, I didn’t mind washing the dishes. Then when I cooked, Bill would do the clean-up

Now in our three-generation home, Bill is the “official” dishwasher. Emily says, “He’s the best!” We have a dishwasher appliance, but Bill doesn’t use it unless we insist when we have company. He’s as particular as my dad, maybe more so. He doesn’t like for dishes to stack up in the drain, so I stay handy or he will start drying. When he had an infected thumb, Becky took him off dishwasher duty, and he did not like it, lingering around, hoping she would not see him at the sink. It’s his job and he likes it.

Child-like Honesty

Girl praying

During Sunday dinner I sat across from my friend’s six-year-old daughter. I don’t recall what she said, but the expression on my friend’s face indicated that her daughter was more honest than she would have liked her to be. In her child-like honesty, being real before others, she did not think ahead about any rebuke. I appreciated the girl’s unashamed honesty.

Didn’t this sweet girl illustrate what Jesus taught us about being able to enter into His Kingdom? He welcomed children, indignant that the disciples rebuked the children. “He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Mark 10:14-15, NIV).

I’m impressed that these were “little children,” possibly toddlers and pre-school age. They had not been tainted with too many expectations or troubled about how people think of their words and actions. These children exhibited the characteristics of honesty, love, and faithfulness in a natural way. That’s the way we should all come before our Savior – open, honest, and real.

How often we start our prayers with a hidden agenda about what’s expected, and we try to sound right and good. We’re not honest before the One who knows our thoughts even before they are framed into sentences. God wants us to open up, be true, real. We see that in King David’s prayers: “I am forgotten as though I were dead.” “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” “May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame” (Psalm 31:12; 38:4; 35:4). Yet, David often praised the Lord: “I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.” “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” “Praise him for his surpassing greatness” (Psalm 40:10; 37:25; 150:2).

God honors our open hearts, our petitions as well as our praise. I desire to be real before God.

The Church

LaPlasUMC.LA.13

When I was a sophomore in college a district superintendent of the Methodist Church approached and asked if I would be willing to pastor a small church in LaPlace, Louisiana. A heady assignment for a 19-year-old boy, but in my naïveté and self-assurance, the challenge did not overwhelm me at all. I’m no longer a naïve college boy, and I’m not so self-assured anymore. In all honesty, I’ve been overwhelmed when pastoring a church.

We need to prepare the church for the future, but many changes have occurred in the church over the past 2000 years. Some of those changes have been good and become part of a normal development of the church. We can’t anymore go back to the first-century church than we can go back and re-create the 19th century in America. We live in a world of change, so some changes have been needed if the church is going to be the church and minister to people today.

Some changes in the church have been wrong and we have suffered. Think particularly of the medieval era when the church was placed in the hands of the clerics, the professionally religious, and laypeople basically became spectators. We don’t want to go back to the period of time when laymen were uninvolved. Laypeople would find themselves missing out on the blessings of God and the church failing to be the church.

Many opinions surface about what we ought to be and what we ought not to be and how we ought to conduct ourselves and how we ought not to do it. Many opinions represent the personal preferences we have or the traditions from which we have come. These differences make the church in the 21st century struggle a great deal more in the effort to be the church and minister to people. Our preferences vary one from the other, and our traditions are so different we have to grapple with the problems they generate.

In the midst of all these difficulties and differences, we deal with theories about how we need to prepare the church for today. With all of the new marketing techniques and exhortations to “get with it” or “be relevant,” I sometimes feel uncertain, inadequate and unconvinced. On more than one occasion, I have felt like saying, “Let’s go do something else.” But if Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, there is no way I or you can love Him without loving the Church for which He died.

The pressure is on the church today to reach out into a world that’s increasingly secular, into the midst of such deep, dark, and desperate needs in people. Can the church be the church? Every day we discover whether or not we can deliver the goods depends on whether or not the church is truly the church in our community.  — W.B. Coker, Sr.

 

80th Birthday – Mother and Me

As I waited for April 23rd to arrive for my 80th birthday, I thought of the surprise birthday party we girls planned and orchestrated for our mother. It was a big event with entertainment. My sisters, Minnie in AL and Martha in NM, collected names and address for the guests, mostly family. The party was a complete surprise for Mother and she thoroughly enjoyed it. We sisters sang to her while Martha signed the words, a real treat. Mother thanked us by giving the sign for love. Pictures of the party and guests made the memories last longer. Our brother, Tom, phoned Mother when she got back to her apartment.

This April I thought of Mother’s 80th birthday mainly for the reason of comparison. Remembering Mother, I thought of her then as old. But as I looked in the mirror on my day and saw the resemblance to my mother, I didn’t think I looked as old as I remembered her.

It’s like a joke greeting a friend sent me: “A lady told her friend on her birthday, ‘You don’t look like you’re 80 years old,’ and then added, ‘but I remember when you did.’” Do we ever look our age or behave such?

I’m now 80 years old and in my 81st year, the way Mother would put it. I told Bill that now he can officially call me, “Ole Lady.”  That’s what his dad called his mom all their married life together. To top it off, I’m grateful for these 80 years and even ask the Lord to grant me more so that I can complete my dreams.

100_1875  Sisters with Mother on her 90th birthday.

Maundy Thursday

Communion

MAUNDY THURSDAY MEDITATION by William B. Coker, Sr. (not dated)

Matthew 26:17-30

A spiritually intense moment for Jews.

  1. A reminder of how they came to be as a nation.
  2. A “communion of saints” with those who made up their history.
  3. A personal participation in redemption history (Masada today).

We can only imagine how intense for Jesus.

  1. He knew the final confrontation was at hand.

“All hell broke loose” – It was about to!

  1. Jesus’ intensity reflected in his comment to the disciples:

“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16).

Jesus’ great desire to eat this meal with his disciples must be understood in the light of what He did:  He took bread, and gave thanks; broke it and distributed to his disciples. “This is my body; do this often in remembrance of me. This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

WHAT DID HE MEAN?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THOSE OF US WHO FOLLOW?

Donald Baillie (The Theology of the Sacraments) suggests three significant elements:

The Memory, The Presence, and The Hope.

  1. A memorial feast, the Eucharist is a harkening back to the incarnation

>Establishes the historical reference

>Proclaims the passion of Christ for our redemption

>Meaning of the word “Maundy” is Remember

  1. A sacrament of worship, the communion underscores the Real Presence

>Not to be lost in arguments about how Christ is here

>Baillie – “…looking beyond ourselves to Him who is waiting to be gracious to us, Him who answers before we call and hears while we are yet speaking, Him who in His grace and love is near and as real as the bread which we see with our eyes and touch with our hands.”

>Sacramentum = the oath taken by a Roman soldier that he would never desert the standard, never turn his back on the foe, and never be disloyal to his commander.

  1. A celebration of hope, the Lord’s Supper looks toward the consummation

>A prophecy of victory

“O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin O’er captive death and conquered sin.”

>A present participation in the Age to Come

As you participate, I suggest three words for perspective:

REMEMBER – the Lord’s suffering and your part in His death.

REALIZE – our participation is our pledge to faithfulness

REJOICE – to us is the promise for the marriage feast of the Lamb

 

My Siblings

Laird Kids.NO2

I am the oldest of four siblings. My sister Minnie is two years younger. My sister Martha is eight years my younger. Our brother Tom is ten years younger than I am. Mother had a miscarriage between Minnie and Martha, and the doctor told her not to get pregnant again. But Mother and Dad wanted a son. Martha was born next, and two years to the month Tom was born. We siblings seemed to be in two sets. Minnie and I often babysat for Martha and Tom.

I called Martha my “little bit” when she arrived for she looked so small. Soon her crib was moved into my room. In at least two different houses all three of us girls shared a bedroom. At one house our bedroom had a bunk bed and a double bed. In another we had three single beds, called ‟Hollywood” beds because they had no headboards. Of course, we had lots of talks and plenty of giggles, often late into the night, and we had to be shushed. If I would read too long after the required time for lights out, Minnie would start yawning to get me to stop reading so she could sleep. She forced the yawning, but it got results.

Martha, being so much younger, became a tag-along when Minnie and I would play together or with friends. For a while Martha was more like our child than a sister, for we were responsible for her well-being. We had to watch out for her, but that was fine with us.

One incident stands out. Mother was whipping something in the electric mixer and Martha was watching. She got too close and the beaters caught and pulled her hair. Mother screamed and cut off the current, but not before some of Martha’s hair had been pulled out and the beaters cut her scalp. This traumatic accident left us all wary of watching too closely.

Tom was the darling of us siblings, for after all he was the youngest and the only boy. We liked pampering him, even using baby talk when helping him at meals and such. Once while he was eating I gave him another helping, and as usual I told him to say, ‟Ta Ta.” He immediately corrected me, ‟No.” Then he said, ‟Thank you.” Surprised, I laughed, and that pleased him.

Pilgrim’s Progress — Pliable

2 Roads Converge

Two neighbors, Obstinate and Pliable, decided to follow Pilgrim with the intent to force him to return home. As with all of Bunyan’s characters, names reveal their inner nature. Up to this point we know Pilgrim only as ‟the Man,” but when he answered their inquiry, his true name is used—Christian. Bunyan explained that Christian sought an incorruptible inheritance. Obstinate would have none of it, and he pulled in the opposite direction, begging Pliable to return with him. Curious enough, Pliable went a little further with Christian, attracted by the pleasantries of a kingdom, crowns, and shining garments.

Distracted while talking, the two travelers fell heedlessly into the Slough of Despond. Ah, this became the dividing of wills, for Pliable this way brought no quick and easy happiness. He got out of the slough (deep bog, marsh) on the side next to his house and left.

While Obstinate was set in his way, unwilling even to listen to Christian’s resolve, Pliable was without any root, much like the seed planted in rocky soil. He saw joy at first, but when trouble came, he was neither ready nor able to learn and grow. I find in my desire to have a consistent devotional life that it takes a resolve of intentional living. Being rooted in the Word results in negatives being weeded out and positive nutrients added on a daily basis.

What does ‟Slough of Despond” mean to you personally?