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And in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young . . . a word about love.

And in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young . . . a word about love.

Listen to what the silence in the forests and mountains have to say: you might hear the small, still voice of God.

Listen to what the silence in the forests and mountains have to say: you might hear the small, still voice of God. (Pictured: Forests and mountains along Hummingbird Highway after a rain in Belize)

A poem about the power of . . . nothing.
(From Parabola Magazine)

    “Curious and Rich”
    By Linda Ann Suddarth

    When I walk past
    the fragrant forest
    after heavy rain,
    which smells like
    the freshest salad
    you ever ate,
    some vegetation
    from Otherworld
    that when eaten
    makes you feel alive,

    then I listen, listen
    and there is
    nothing, nothing but.

    When it is almost dusk
    and the horizon is tinged
    with the most delicate
    hint of lavender,
    against it dark
    silhouettes of tiny
    fruit-tree branches,

    I listen, listen
    there is nothing, nothing but.

    When I pass the small mountain
    rising like a god
    impressing the night
    and the still liquid sky,

    I listen, listen
    and there is nothing, nothing.

    But nothing is something
    curious and rich,
    and I have heard it.

When I find myself in times of trouble,

“Mother Mary comes to me,

“Speaking words of wisdom . . .

“Let it be, let it be.”

— Paul McCartney and the Beatles

Mother Megan and babe.

Mother Megan and babe.

I’ve been reading and mulling on the life and the story of Mary the Mother of Jesus this week, influenced as I’ve been by the presence of my daughter and her newborn babe.

The story of Mary is the story of the ultimate in a loving and nurturing mother, of course. But of course it’s also the story of the ultimate woman of God, devoted to service to God and others.

Note how Mary is always thinking of others as when she goes to see her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1: 39); how she worries over her son lost on a pilgrimage (Luke 2: 43); how she considers the others who have no wine at the wedding at Cana, where her son performed his first miracle (John 2:3).

Jesus’s homeboys all tucked tail and ran when the going got excruciating for Jesus, but it was Mary (and other women, of course) who stayed in full, loving connection with him.

The story of Mary as the ultimate mother is a story of ultimate service to God and all God’s children. She’s the bright, shining star who guides all, male and female, through the ages.

Let it be.

Here’s a hodgepodge of “Summa This & Summa That” items that I’ve saved in the photo files which I’m cleaning out while I sit here procrastinating when I should be packing for the night flight to Texas Our Texas . . .

"A Star Is Born": Logan Joy Bidelman, b. Dec. 4

“A Star Is Born”:
Logan Joy Bidelman, b. Dec. 4

Today’s thought from the “I hate when dat happens” files:

When I feel the overwhelming urge to sneeze real big with a mouthful of food.

Today's "Big Amen of the Day" to that!

Today’s “Big Amen of the Day” to that!

An old quote from Her Greatness the gritty, truth teller of a Christian writer Anne Lamott

An old quote from Her Greatness the gritty, truth teller of a Christian writer Anne Lamott, who has a new books out

And this ancient mosaic was under water, no less!

And this ancient mosaic was under water, no less!


From the “Stories that make you go wow!” Div.

This kind of discovery from antiquity fascinates me to no end. The story is from the “Twisted Sifter” web site, one of the coolest sites I’ve come across in a while.

What great advice for healthy living.

Great advice.

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* * * *

From the “Bloggers We Love: Christian Div.” files.

Rachel Held Evans is right on here about the ludicrous “War on Christmas” nonsense.

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Methinks 2,000 years of Christianity will prevail if some overworked retail store clerk says "Happy Holidays" to you I wish Fox would spend as much energy, time and money shining a light on poverty and homelessness stories (what Jesus would do) in this Christmas season as they do trying to preserve the secular Christmas culture..

And now for the meme and thought for the month: Methinks 2,000 years of Christianity will prevail if some overworked retail store clerk says “Happy Holidays” to you. It’s no more secular a greeting than “Merry Christmas is. What a more spiritual “Reason For the Season” time we might all have if self-appointed “cultural warriors” spent as much energy, time and money shining a light on poverty and homelessness stories (what Jesus would prefer?) in this Christmas season as they do trying to preserve the secular Christmas culture…

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Merry Christmas from here in the neighborhood

Merry Christmas from my neighborhood

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:18-20,
the so-called “Great Commission of Jesus”

* * *

“The world is my parish.”
— John Wesley

* * *

“Charity begins at home.”
— anonymous

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Why go to a foreign country to help people? Why not stay home and help Americans?

I was asked that challenging question by other Christians many times when I went on mission trips to the far-flung slums of Juarez, Mexico, where volunteer teams from my home church (Sun Creek UMC in Allen, TX), build cinder-block houses for big families living literally in cardboard-box homes.

I was asked it when I went with mission teams to be in ministry with struggling Methodist Churches and orphanages in Moscow and Tomsk, Siberia.

And I was asked the question by an American tourist I met here in San Ignacio the other day, when I told him I moved to Belize largely to be in ministry with the poor and to live close to the millions of poor in Central America.

He and I and his wife were talking over coffee–they were a really nice couple from frigid Nebraska–and the talk led to that question, from the man, that I’ve been asked so many times before:

    “Why not stay home and take care of needy Americans? I’ve always believed in taking care of our own first.”

I told him that I always appreciate that question, which I’ve heard so many times before, and can certainly understand the sentiment behind it. God knows there’s never going to be a shortage of Americans in need of Christian outreach.

But my first response to the tourist–who happened to be a fellow United Methodist (and who sheepishly noted that “We’re not really very good churchgoers”)–was this:

    “First of all, you suggested that I could stay home and ‘take care’ of needy Americans in our own country. And my response to that is that it’s not my job as a minister or my role as a Christian to ‘take care’ of American people, or to take care of Central Americans in need. If I tried to take care of all the people who need some kind of care in America or anywhere else in the world, I’d drop dead of exhaustion before sundown today. Even Jesus didn’t stay in one place and take care for the rest of his life of every needy person he encountered. He moved on to spread the good news and the good news took on a life of its own wherever he preached it and practiced it and showed others how to live it out.”

I told my tourist friend, whom I met in passing at a local coffee shop, that I’ve been asked the same question he raised about American Christians taking care of “their own” no less that a kazillion times now. I told him–trying not to be defensive about my ministry–that I’ve been in ministry with people in need all over the U.S. and other countries too, because I don’t think there’s any such thing as an “American Christian.”

I always point out to Americans who question mission outside the U.S. that Christ didn’t say in his “Great Commission,” “Go therefore into your American town or city neighborhood and take care other Americans.” Jesus said to go into the world. And my tourist friend’s reaction was the same reaction I always get in lifting up the Commission of Christ: “I never thought about that.”

I hope he and others keep thinking about the good news, which Jesus didn’t limit to the United States of America. And think about the obvious fact that Christianity exited long before the United States was even founded, and founded with the displacement of native people who occupied it long before we Americans staked claim to it, btw.

John Wesley, who was an Anglican priest till the day he died at the end of a long and fruitful life of creating a Christian movement called Methodist, famously said:

“The world is my parish.”

It happens to be mine as well, and I happen to believe, strongly, that “the world” is every Christian’s mission field. Just because “charity begins at home,” as the wisdom of American folk theology has it, does not mean that Christian outreach is to be limited to a church’s neighborhood or town or state, or country or continent.

May God bless the world this Christmas season and every season.
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Megan and Jake: prepared to be astonished by the mystery and miracle of it all

Megan and Jake: prepared to be astonished by the mystery and miracle of it all

Advent is that season in the church year in which we prepare to be astonished, once again, by the mystery and miracle of the most astonishing birth ever recorded.

My youngest-born child, Megan Joy Bidelman, and her husband Jake, are expecting the arrival any day of their first baby, Logan Joy. For lo these many months, Meg and Jake have been planning, anticipating and preparing to be astonished by the mystery and miracle of birth.

I’m planning and preparing to be in Texas next week and can’t wait to hold and behold my first granddaughter, just as I could hardly wait for the arrivals of two grandsons and the births of three children so many years ago.

What we experience as expectant parents is not so different, really, from what Mary and Joseph experienced as they planned, prepared and anticipated–surely with no small amount of apprehension as well as hope–the arrival of the child they loved so much.

Such love awaits Logan Joy.

Such love awaits us all.

Joy to the world.

My grandson Rhys at a few months old in 2012, shortly before PawPaw moved to BZ. The downside of life overseas: the fam so far removed.

My grandson Rhys at a few months old in 2012, shortly before PawPaw moved to BZ. The downside of life overseas: the fam so far removed.

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One of 18 young confirmands receives a blessing from Belize's Anglican Bishop Philip Wright of Belize City, at St. Andrew's Anglican Church here in San Ignacio in western Belize. Standing is my dear young friend and gifted rector at St. Andrew's Anglican Church Father David, a native of Indiana.

One of 18 young confirmands receives a blessing from Belize’s Anglican Bishop Philip Wright of Belize City, at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church here in San Ignacio in western Belize. Standing is my dear young friend and gifted rector at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Father David, a native of Indiana. Confirmation coincided with the first Sunday of Advent.

Lord our God,

We thank you and praise you for never giving up on us, no matter how far we may distance ourselves from you.

Just as your Spirit rested on Jesus, we pray that you pour out your spirit on us.

We pray for this Spirit of Christ-like love and peacefulness out of our faithfulness and gratitude to you, for you have so richly blessed us in this, another season commemorating the Love that came down in the form of your Son, Jesus.

Empower us to do all that is within in our powers, wherever we are, to promote peace on earth and goodwill to all in our speech, in our actions, our behavior, in all that we are and all that, with your help, we can be, on this day, in this season, in all the short time that you may bless us with on this good earth you created.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

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