I love these crisp mornings we are having now when I can take my coffee, Bible and study book and do my devotional time in the rocking chair on my side porch. I relax in the quiet, listening to the birds and enjoying the beauty of the flowers.
I share my porch space with a mother bird who built her nest in the eave. Barn swallows love our protected porches for their homes and although I know they eat tons of insects, I don’t always love them. They are very territorial and have literally dive-bombed my head when I’ve been anywhere close to their babies.
But this swallow must be a different variety, because so far she has not tried to attack me. She flies off when I sit down and I can feel her watching me from a distance. When I leave she comes back to tend to her eggs. I don’t bother her and she doesn’t bother me and the relationship works out well.
I sometimes wonder who actually owns this house and yard. Does it belong to Keith and me or the birds, squirrels and other critters? In the mornings when I stay inside to read my Bible, the front porch swallows will perch on the transom windows and peer in at me. I imagine them saying, “Oh, I got a good sighting of one of the humans in their natural habitat today.”
In the evenings I can sit very still outside and the birds flitter around and don’t seem to know I’m there. I hear them rustling and chasing each other in the limbs of the magnolia tree and think about the whole world that is above my head.
For the most part, as long as they don’t eat my garden, we live peacefully with the birds and other animals in our yard. Right now I wish our human world felt more peaceful.
Ever since Adam and Eve ate the proverbial apple and started sin on its path, we have had divisions between us. Just when we think we have evolved and are coming closer to breaking down barriers, the horrific killings against Black men occur. And instead of bringing us together, the pandemic has cast light on more “underground” prejudices in our society- those against the elderly, the working class, minimum wage earners, Latino, Asian and other “non-white” Americans, the poor and those living on the edge.
I’ve been studying the life of Paul and I love reading about the early church. Just as we struggle with lack of understanding among each other, they had their prejudices and misconceptions.
For them it was the divide between Jew and Gentile. The Jewish Christians had been raised to believe that just being around a Gentile was unclean. After waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah to come, they did not want to share Jesus. The Gentiles who became interested in what Jesus represented did not want to become circumcised and go by the strict Judaic law to become a Christian. But Peter, Paul and some of the other disciples heard God telling them very clearly that Jesus had come for all people, no matter their color, religious background, social status or nationality.
One day Paul gave a sermon outside the Synagogue emphasizing that although Jesus came first to save the Jews, his forgiveness was for everyone (Acts. 13:38-39). The people in the audience were followers who were sincerely trying to understand all that he had said. They asked Paul and Barnabas for more clarity:
After the synagogue was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.Acts 13:43
Did you hear what Paul and Barnabas told the perplexed people to do? Continue in the grace of God. Those words jumped out at me this morning.
Right now we may feel discouraged and not sure where God fits into what is going on in our world. Continue in the grace of God. We may be confused about what our next move should be. Continue in the grace of God. We may feel angry and worn out from the struggle. Continue in the grace of God. We may be on our knees praying for our family members and our leaders. Continue in the grace of God. We may be aware of our own inadequacies and bias. Continue in the grace of God. That’s what we as God’s people have to do now.
Continuing in God’s grace will look different for each of us. It may involve a peaceful protest, sending a note to a friend, helping with a food drive, thanking a fast food worker, or spending time in prayer. It may mean sharing a porch with someone.
We may not have all the answers or be in a position to change the anger and injustice we see, but as we continue in grace, God will reveal Himself to us.