Tag Archives: bible study

meditation 9: fruit of the spirit, goodness

6 Aug

meditation 9:  fruit of the spirit, goodness

 What is goodness? Can anyone be ‘good?’ Any act?  Any purpose?

As I look at myself, for own motives, loves, looking and coveting, speaking solely for my own heart and self, my answer is “No, not good, not me.”

I can say this because I have glimpses of goodness. From others.  Brief compelling can’t stop thinking about glimpses. My heart replays these vary rare views over and over, over and over. They are so rare; I don’t recognise them at first. Here is a recent one.

Priscilla, my wife, is goodness. Yes, at times she is angry, forgetful, and full of self. But at small, very key life moments, she rises. Her goodness empowered by the spirit shines as a new moon in a clear night sky, or a moving piece of music. She, immediately and without thought, is’ good.’ It is her first instinct.

In mid June I saw an advert for a local Proms concert. St. Jude’s church in Golders Green was to have Sir Willard White sing. Priscilla knew him over 40 years ago at a small church in NYC, The Bronx Household of Faith. She always spoke fondly of him and was excited to see that he was in the UK. I booked two of the last three tickets available and Priscilla called the church to leave a message.Can you please tell Mr White that Priscilla from the Bronx Household of Faith will be at the concert? She would love to say ‘hello.’Graciously, the church and the person Priscilla spoke to assured her that they would leave him her contact information.

We heard nothing in the week between her call and the event. Very excited that Friday, in a slight rain, we arrived to a packed house. When we picked up our tickets, Priscilla again explained to a kind steward how she knew Sir Willard. The event staff listened attentively and assured her Sir Willard would get her hand written note. Ours seats were in the first row off to the side. We went in.‘Perfect ‘was Priscilla’s response to our seats: she could see him; and he might recognise her, though people change.

Sir Willard came on; he had not changed significantly except for the greying of age in his hair. He looked well and sang with power and zeal. He opened with a number of German classical pieces that shared the subject of death. He sang, at times with real power. The interval came.  He and his accompanist left the stage.

As a little girl, Priscilla needed vanilla ice cream to cool her excitement. Returning to her, I spoke to another steward. Yes, Sir Willard would leave the stage at the end of the performance and he would ensure she could have a brief moment with him.

The second act began. My sense of the evening was that of a man singing of death in a place of risen celebration, a church. He seemed a performer, not a worshipper of anything, even his own performance. Needless to say, the evening closed. Priscilla waited and told me how he sang ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ to her in New York before she knew me. The Head steward waited with us at the exit. Sir Willard never appeared. He ducked out to avoid her, my Priscilla.

 And here, here, is where I saw goodness. Myself, I was angry Not even a ‘hello.’ He purposely avoided her, as though she was a stalker. In the Head Steward’s word to me: ‘really, he could use the fans; the work.’  Standing by the exit door till the last possible moment Priscilla said ‘Thank you.’ As we walked to our transport she said, ‘Church must have hurt him. He must be hurting deeply.’I asked her is she was hurting; wasn’t she angry? How insensitive…Priscilla said looking down, ‘You don’t know what he has been though. I have my memory of his singing for me.’How generous; how good.

 

 

Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 

Website:

www.charlesosewalt.com

 

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Stewards: Terah – a bad steward

3 May

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This blog was first posted on the Stewardship website, as part of the Stewards series. You can read the whole series here.

“Are you settled in yet? How are you and Priscilla settling in? Are you sorting things out?“

Following our move to the United Kingdom from New York City, kindly Brits have asked this ‘settling’ question of me more then a few times. (This is one of the key differences between a Brit and a NYC native: the seasoned New Yorker never asks if you are settled in. It is understood that isn’t happening till the end of a lifetime).

Yes, we are settling in. Yet, I worry about ever getting too comfortable. I hope I always go where the Lord desires me to be. I never want to ‘settle’.

Terah, Abram’s father, settled for Haran and is a bad steward as a result. Terah is so obscure in bible history that most people don’t know who he is.  His name in Microsoft Word spell check always comes up underlined in red. Even though he is Abram’s father, he is not known. Abram is known primarily by his God-given new name, Abraham. This illustrates a core fact of Abraham’s life: he was a man of faith. God, as his father, renames him Abraham and calls him to be a father of many nations.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God….And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11: 8-10; 12

Terah was called before his son Abram was called. He left his home and family in the city of Ur for the land of Canaan.

This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran. Genesis 11: 27-30

Note verse 31: But when they came to Haran, they settled there.  Haran is actually half way from Ur to Canaan. Terah moved from his home and set out leaving part of his family (his son, Nahor and Nahor’s wife, Milkah). He was supposed to go to Canaan.  He never made it to where he was called to. Why? The writer of Genesis gives us a clue that this is a failure through the two words, “but” and “settled.” They speak not only about Terah but to and about us.

What am I settling for? What are my “buts” when I can’t do or finish something? Do I really believe in my journey, no matter how long and tiring and difficult? Am I “settled?”

Whether Terah was weary of travel; in love with Haran; or lazy, the point is he settled for Haran. He never went where he was called to go. He didn’t follow through. In contrast, Abram, after his father’s death was told by the Lord, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show up. Genesis 12:1

He didn’t know where he was going, except it was the land the Lord desired him and his descendants to possess. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11: 8.

He went by faith. He found out later it was Canaan, his father Terah’s original destination. The place Terah never got to.

Is ‘only going half way’ as bad as not starting at all?