Well, at least the streams are flowing freely as if it is springtime!
John tells us to love, not in words, but in action (1 John 3:18-24.) Our faith in Jesus and our love for one another are the signs that Jesus remains in us and we in him.
Last evening we experienced some unusual light as rain clouds showed up here and there. As it came close to setting, the sun threw this rainbow into the eastern sky.
Once the disciples in Jerusalem were convinced that Paul's conversion was genuine, he was allowed to come and go among them. Like every recent convert to anything, Paul was on fire with his news about Jesus. He argued so fiercely with some of the Jews that they threatened to kill him. The disciples "sent him on his way to Tarsus."
Reading between the lines, I get the impression that they sent him home to Tarsus so the Christians could keep a low profile and spread the Gospel more quietly. They probably also hoped he would cool down.
When Paul surfaces several chapters later in the Acts of the Apostles, he is still on fire.
On our way from 2500 feet to sea level we passed lots of red bud (named apparently by some color blind botanist.) I really like it, but it doesn't grow at our altitude.
The fifteenth chapter of John's Gospel is very rich for reflection. Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches...Remain in me as I remain in you." The word "remain" is used eight times in the first seven verses. It translates the Greek verb "meno," which is its source. That verb is also translated: abide, dwell, endure. It carries the idea of permanence, "to stay for good." Jesus intends our intimate union with him to last forever.
This Wednesday morning it was 32 degrees and frost before a bright sunrise at 6:44 AM.
Monday we dropped from 2500 feet to near sea level. Lilacs and dogwood in full bloom. Spring green leaves open on the trees. What a contrast with the picture on the last blog!
Moving into Glory.
Johnny Mathis sang a song, "The Twelfth of Never," that included a line, "Melt my heart like April snow."
Yesterday morning about 11 a hard rain turned to snow and continued for several hours. Snow laid quickly on fields and lawns and trees and bushes. Mid-day the roads even became slushy. About 2:30 PM the sun broke through and by evening the snow was all gone.
If Jesus had only lived and preached and suffered and died, his memory would probably have died out within a few years. The Resurrection made all the difference. It was the earliest Christians' experience of the Risen Jesus that made Christianity a religion for all time and all places.
The earliest Christians had a vivid awareness that the Risen Jesus was living within them. St. Paul's letters, which he began writing in the year 50, are full of this awareness. Jesus was sharing with them his new life beyond death and he was making them good here and now by sharing his own goodness with them. It was this intimate religious experience of the Risen Jesus that kept the story of Jesus alive.
Walking Sunday I saw the leaves of this red oak clinging to their branch. It sent me to a favorite poem, which now in light of my December heart attack, becomes more meaningful to me.
The Red Oak
Among the four seasons' perpetual jokes
Is the winter appearance of overdressed oaks.
Refusing to fall with the sleet and snow
Oak leaves cling, lifelike, through fifty-below
Until they are nudged by the force of the sap
Rising to fashion the oak a spring wrap.
I hope when it's autumn and winter for me
I can look as alive as the overdressed tree
And during the lengthening nights I can cling
To my wits and my heart--the tokens of spring--
Only releasing them into the sod
The moment I'm dressed in the glory of God.
(This poem was written by Jon Hassler for his novel Simon's Night. I think that's the one. I have read most of his novels and like them all. North of Hope is my favorite, perhaps because the main character is a priest.)