Mr. Wally Amos is the founder of Famous Amos Cookies Company. He invented those wonderful pecan chocolate chip cookies, which would be a sacrament if I were higher up the ecclesiological food chain. Instead of resting on his laurels or wealth, as a person of faith, Wally writes and speaks to business leaders and students about using inspiration to be effective and successful.
The poet Maya Angelou says of life, “Nobody, but nobody gets through without help.” Think of it, from the time we are born people are around to help us. Teaching, nurturing, protecting and nudging. As we mature, part of the natural response within us is to return those helps.
Psalm 121 opens with the line, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come?” The question is asked and answered by the writer. All Holy help comes from God alone. This was an important statement because at the time monotheism was new and communities often had many gods including a variety of household gods for protection and guidance. The Psalmist is saying only one God is necessary, because one God creates, guides, protects and helps all.
To look at an ancient text like this is sometimes difficult for modern thinkers. After all, we are independent, self reliant individuals. With a global positioning satellite, a portable lap top computer and a cell phone we can do just about anything. So the notion of taking time in contemplative thought to consider how blessed we are might seem unusual. Yet, that is precisely what the psalmist is saying. That in a world of transiency, God is constant, reliable, available, creative and creating.
To complete the idea of the poet, we would then be called to live life in the name of justice, healing, hope and peace. For when the help of God finds a home in the human heart, Holy things happen.
Dr. Joey K. McDonald
Theologian Frederick Buechner offers some insight into the term Holy. In his book Wishful Thinking he writes, “Only God is Holy, just as only people are human. God’s holiness is part of his Godness. To speak of anything else as holy is to say that it has something of God’s mark upon it. Times, places, things, and people can all be holy, and when they are, they are usually not hard to recognize.”
To experience the holy in the terms the Reverend Buechner means is to look at our experiences differently; to look at those around us and even ourselves with uncommon expectations. Jesus moved throughout his ministry with just such a model of faithfulness. When healing, he focused not on disease but health and wholeness. When criticized for breaking the laws of faith, he reminded the people that laws were made to serve people, not the reverse; and the ultimate service was toward God. The people Jesus chose as disciples and later sent as apostles were folks who had seen holiness in him… in his speech, touch, manner and movement.
We experience anew that holiness when we read the story of faith in Scripture. Be it the story of the patriarchs, the narrative of Bethlehem, the calling of the disciples or the letter of Paul to mission churches, we see and feel the holiness in the story. We fail as modern believers if we view it as something holy which happened. The holiness of God which Jesus spoke and the Bible records is happening still.
What does it mean to experience a holy moment? Most of us have had one if we take the time to remember. Births, baptisms, communion, weddings, funerals all provide opportunities for holy moments. However, holiness is not regulated to houses of worship or worship events. The beauty of a rainbow can be a holy moment. Wild flowers blooming in the desert are holy. The sun rising over the mountains is holy. The sun setting over the water is holy. You and I, if we dare, can be holy for each other and this world when we allow something of God’s love to show in us.
Imagine if we looked at each other with reverent expectancy, counting on good and glorious things to come from each other. If you are one who believes holiness happens only in lofty surroundings, take the time to watch a child chase a butterfly or two old folks play chess. Holiness happens not because of us, but in spite of us due to God’s grace in our midst.
Dr. Joey K. McDonald
We have just celebrated Valentine’s Day, a day first celebrated in the 17th century to emulate the ways of St. Valentine; the patron saint of love. On this day we send notes of love and affection to loved ones, and notes of affirmation and respect to friends. Much has been written about the nature and meaning of love. From “How do I love thee…” to “Love is lovelier…” to “Love is a many splendored thing;” words have been used to express the innermost feelings from one soul to another.
The newspaper recently ran a story about a small child being rescued from drowning. A man found the youngster floating in the apartment complex pool, pulled the child out and shouted for help. Two men in nearby apartments came and together they revived the child. When the paramedics arrived, they offered praise for the efforts of the three men in rescuing the child. The two, who performed resuscitation, shared that between them they remembered CPR instructions. One breathing for the child, the other stimulating the heart to pump. In other words, they helped each other – helping the child to live. They said they did it because they felt they were supposed to.