Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
Moving into a new year is that simple, but the getting there is never simple at all. The things you planned to accomplish in 2012 are either done or they’re not. The new, improved you has lived another year and become ever so slightly improved but nonetheless older. For those of us who still write checks, we have to constantly remind ourselves to write 2013 on the date line. Even though it is a new year, it starts out very much in the same old ways.
In Matthew 2:13–15, we read the story of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt. The three wise men have given them information more important than gold. Herod is coming and he does not like rival kings. Joseph takes his little family to another part of the Roman Empire that Herod does not control.
This new family starts out its life as refugees. That is not a political statement, just a fact. A fact that should give us pause as we think about issues such as starting life over in another country, something that is not—and has never been—easy.
Eugene-Alexis Girardet was a French painter born in the mid 1800s. One of his most well-known works depicts the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. The painting shows Joseph following the donkey, on which Mary and the baby Jesus are riding. In the background are the pyramids. There are no other people in sight. I do not think that anyone who might have come upon this family would have thought that they were anything other than what they seemed: poor, homeless, and running for their lives. Girardet brilliantly conveys the contrast between the pyramids of power and the seemingly powerless little family. You get the point.
Somewhere out there in 2013, a God moment awaits you. Somewhere out there you may find a flash of inspiration, an adrenaline-fueled moment of courage, or an insight that may change all of your doubts into faith. But beware. Don’t focus on the pyramids. The God moment may be passing by in humble attire.
Because it was one of those years when Christmas fell on Sunday, our church decided to have an informal worship service with the general theme of “come in your Christmas sweater.” Sunday was cold, but the sky was clear. People arrived in new sweaters, ties, and one very nice mink coat. The prize in my eyes went to the seven-year-old who rushed down the aisle in his brand new football uniform complete with helmet and pads.
October 15, 2012, marked the 60th anniversary of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, one of the classics of children’s literature. National Public Radio reported on the struggle E. B. White had recording the audio version of the book. When it came to describing Charlotte’s death, it took the author seventeen takes before he could get through it without showing emotion in his voice.
My neighborhood is a great place to be these days. We are reaping the benefits of dedicated home gardeners in our midst. The bounty of produce is amazing. But what amazes me even more is the level of trust that is displayed.
The gardeners put their crops of tomatoes on untended stands in front of their homes. You pick your tomatoes, weigh them on a nearby scale, and put your money in a metal box. I have never heard of anyone stealing either tomatoes or money. It is really kind of remarkable in our gated, alarmed, and locked-down world.