Reflections on Faith
In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.
Andrew S. Odom
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)
On Saturday I attended a local fundraiser lunch for the Presbyterian Pan American School down in Kingsville, Texas. PanAm, as it is fondly called, is a “Christian college preparatory school that educates and empowers young adults for leadership in the global community.” It takes students from all over the world, including impoverished countries, and helps open new doors through education and spiritual growth. It is quite a unique place.
During the lunch, we heard from alumni students who went on to further education and are now out in the world. One graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, another Presbyterian affiliated school. He is now working in Dallas. A young lady from Piedras Negras graduated from Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, a Presbyterian affiliated school my grandfather once served as president and where my mother currently works. She talked about how a group of Christians came to Piedras to build a home for her family and how they helped her apply to PanAm. She is now teaching in Fort Worth, seeking ways to help students in poverty succeed more effectively in the classroom. Each of these people got emotional when they shared their experience of how the scope of their lives has completely changed.
What struck me throughout the entire lunch is how much the Presbyterian Church has helped shape these future leaders. They have been introduced to a life of learning, led in the way of faith, and have not departed from that way. They are the kind of folks who understand what it looks like to build cross cultural bridges. I left that gathering filled with a rekindled hope for the future.
Published on 04/24/2017 @ 9:49 PM CDT
Published on 04/17/2017 @ 6:31 PM CDT
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:36,39)
One of the truly poignant moments during our recent trip to Jerusalem had to have been the day we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It sits just across from the outside of the city wall. While there, our group was given ample time to walk around the grove of trees and think about the importance of this place. We were told that, although the trees themselves have grown and regrown, some of the roots may well have been there in Jesus time. Here’s what caught me about being there, though. It wasn’t the fact that Jesus knelt in this same spot years ago or the thought that this is where they came to arrest him. What caught my attention was the loud noise of the cars.
Right next to the garden, just a few feet away, is a modern street filled with cars racing to their destinations. It was quite odd to stand there looking at this ancient site right in front of me while the hum of revving engines and the smell of exhaust filled the air right behind me. There in the place where Jesus expressed those prayerful human words, "Father, take this yoke from me, though not my will but yours be done," there, even today, the realities of the world continue to encroach on and crowd out the holy sound of God. That’s what caught me.
Published on 04/10/2017 @ 7:04 PM CDT
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
I recently read about a gallery in Taos, New Mexico by photographer Lenny Foster. In it there is a showcase called the Healing Hands project. It is a collection of photographs of people’s hands, all kinds of people, all kinds of hands. Some of them are cracked and rough, others soft and supple. There are clean hands, dirty hands, large hands, small hands. Stacy Smith, former editor of Church Health Reader and a personal friend of mine, interviewed Foster about the project.
“You seem to find healing hands everywhere,” she said, “from Senegal to Roman Catholic healers to a little girl at the store. How do you spot healing hands?”
“All of us have them,” he replied, “you in what you do, me in what I do. I think the project helps people to recognize that in ourselves and in others. What really interests me, though, is the people who come to the gallery. I get people from academia to traditional healers to just every day folk. [They all seem to] sense the spirit in the different images. That’s the one thing – no matter what our backgrounds are, we can all understand and come together in healing.”
I haven’t been to the gallery, but just from the pictures in the magazine, I feel a tug on my heart to go. I think it would be moving to see so many different hands in one place, all holding on in some way, all grasping for something full and whole, all healing. Whether I go or not, it reminds of the hands of people around us. Take some time to notice what they are up to, their hands, my hands, your hands, hard at work. Look at them. Take a long hard look, for in them, and this is true, in them reside the healing hands of Christ.
Published on 04/03/2017 @ 9:29 PM CDT
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41)
These words follow the famous Palm Sunday passage when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. He sent two of his disciples ahead to fetch a colt for him, the palms waved, and then he wept over the city. A church now stands in the place where it is believed Jesus wept, crying out to a God who had long been burdened by a people at odds with one another. While sitting in that church on my recent trip, I sensed a heaviness that still hangs in the air, almost as if Jesus still weeps there today and will continue to weep until we stop killing one another. It reminded me of what author Danielle Shroyer wrote when she visited the same spot, “In the same way that Moses could not experience the fullness of God’s glory, here we are reminded that we cannot experience the fullness of God’s pain.”
It was rainy and cold on the day our group visited. My fingers went numb for about an hour. There I was, standing in the place where Jesus stood, and all I was thinking about was when will it stop raining? When will we be done and be able to get warm? When will I feel my hands again? I lasted 5 min in the rain. Jesus endured suffering beyond compare. He chose to do it, weeping and suffering for a world that was as equally divided and violent then as it is now. He did not turn aside or complain. He did not shy away from it. He experienced the fullness of God’s pain for us, and in those moments, revealed the fullness of God’s glory.
Published on 03/24/2017 @ 10:53 AM CDT