Monday, October 24, 2011

Seed pods and Samaritans

I took off Sunday afternoon for favorite prairie patches down east of Derby to look for orchids and gentians in the grass, knowing it was most likely too late --- and it was. But the search was the important thing, not the finding. And there were other things to see.

Colors are muted now and the shapes of things are beginning to emerge as leaves continue to fall. Stalks and seed pods demonstrate structure now that brilliant blossoms no longer distract.

Coming home the long way, I drove north from Derby on U.S. 65 and down into the Whitebreast valley, then east on U.S. 34 to Chariton --- one of the loveliest and most accessible drives in the county. The timber --- oak and hickory --- has fully turned now and soon all the leaves will be gone.

It was a beautiful afternoon --- brilliant blue sky with scattering clouds, mellow sunlight, falling leaves; a festival of a day.


After giving us a little rest, Republican politicians were back in town over the weekend, posturing for the thousand or so who attended the allegedly Christian Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition fall banquet at the state fairgrounds Saturday night. All were there other than the most likely GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, and his fellow Mormon, John Huntsman, who wisely steered clear.

Abortion seemed to be the principal topic and, unsurprisingly, all of the six gathered were against it --- under all circumstances, or so they said. Bachmann and Santorum probably are sincere in this, the others --- Cain, Gingrich, Paul and Perry --- probably not. Beware of those who say what they think you want to hear.

Bachmann came on down to Osceola on Sunday to preach at Calvary Bible Church; the others went home. Ho hum.

Sunday’s lectionary Gospel lessons focused on the great commandments, for morning worship the version from Matthew 22: “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?' He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

The daily office reading, which covered the same territory from a slightly different perspective, was taken from Luke 10, where the linked commandments flow into the uniquely Lukean parable of the Good Samaritan.

I keep reminding myself that there are no if’s, and’s or but’s built in here and wishing I were better at obedience.


The most interesting Sunday sermon (via the Internet) was by the Rev. Victor M. Parachin, a Discipes of Christ pastor, and had been recorded last summer at All Souls Unitarian in Tulsa.

His topic was SBNR --- shorthand for a growing trend among those turned off by what passes for Christianity these days who now describe themselves as “Spiritual But Not Religious.”

Parachin, describing rather than lamenting this development, offered his own four-point foundation for a faith that could be either spiritual or religious.

First, he advised, “practice sameness” --- that is, look for what unites, not what divides. Then “slow down,” noting a study that demonstrated that the bigger hurry we’re in, the less likely we are to be Samaritans. Third, “serve others,” he said. And finally, “cultivate hope,” quoting a saying attributed to the Buddha implying that hopelessness is more than anything else laziness; that to remain hopeful requires work.

So I’m trying to begin the week hopeful with those two linked commandments in the back of my mind. We’ll see how long that lasts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Frank, Might as well start going to the same church as our sermon was exaclty the same as yours on Sunday.