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Trip Around the Sun

 

48 of 52 – Escondido United Reformed Church – Broadway at Vista

Have traveled about 539,000,000 miles - 4 weeks to finish the Trip Around the Sun.


An Upper Sent from a Friend:

 

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand:

"TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE"

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he carved on a stone:

"TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE"

The friend, who had slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you carve on a stone, why?" The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but then  someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, where no wind can ever erase it."


From a Friend:

I have noticed that during Clinton's administration,
when the Cole was attacked,
Clinton didn't do much.  I
think that he knew what he was doing.

If had he done something about it,
it would have fed into the terrorist's plot to get us
stirred up.  Right now we are feeding into the
terrorists’ hunger for a conflict.  And we are
fighting the wrong people and for the wrong reasons.
The terrorists probably knew which president would

have the most emotional reaction. Bin Laden is cheering when

we ought to have him sobbing. “Oh look,” says he, “It

took more than a year, but we finally have them terrorized.”

 

Response:

 

 

From Atheists:

How much should atheists contribute to easing the suffering of others? Theism makes this claim that it can stop suffering if and only if you believe. Atheism doesn't have that kind of seductive dogma. We are left to our own education and reason. Unlike theism, we have no panacea, but we can offer our individual perceptions.

This is why (Name) has made this list a support group, but it took the rest of us to carry it out. We don't have some infinite power, but we do have our basic human compassion.
I feel that we should give as much positive support as is possible.
(Name)


Response:
(Name) - I have seen this, of course, in the group - and have an appreciation for it. There are some here who need this support - and don't have the option, philosophically, of accepting it from a church.

But it is not true that religious organizations help only believers. The Mormons, for example, have helped me a great deal for many years. They argue with me about beliefs, of course, but my lack of them has never been a deterrent to their helpfulness. I've also done a part helping others among them. It has been of great value – both because I needed the help raising our five kids – and because I needed to feel of some import myself - belief in all the dogma or not. There really are some good ones (churches.)


From East of here:

"You can't surrender easily; we should fight," said
Ahmed, the man at the barber shop. "Our religion says
we should fight for our honor. We fear God. We're more
afraid of God than we're afraid of the Americans."

 

(That’s what He wants – for us to fear Him? Old Testament garbage. And these poor people have essentially only that – a version of the Old Testament. They are so afraid of God (Allah), that they can’t accept that we may be there to help them. Should this surprise us?)

 

A relative asked me:

If we are trying to take weapons of mass destruction away

from Iraq, why should we ourselves as a country possess them?

We are no better than other countries, if we possess the same

capable weapons, are we?

 

Response:

We believe that we are more responsible – and can handle the power.

 

We don't set examples like this – We will not get rid of our weapons of mass destruction – and we certainly will not allow inspectors - we dictate the rules - that's what lone super powers have always done.

 

It's been quite a while since the World has had a lone super power.

 

While we believed the USSR was another super power, our ability to do things without world approval was mitigated by that belief.

 

We may not be responsible enough for it - No one else has ever been. That’s the history. Who said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Are we immune to this?

Many times rules are made for others to follow – when the rule maker has no intention of following the rules themselves. God says, “Thou shalt not kill,” but sends an angel to kill all the firstborn of the Egyptians. This is too much power – and evidently absolute power can corrupt even God – as we view Him not only allowing evil – but doing it and asking for it over and over – especially as reported in the Old Testament. This is too much power.

 

Do we give this power to Him? Or does He have it independently of us? It’s easy not to take responsibility.

 

TidBit:


The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his
own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

 

-       George Orwell

 

The Visit: Escondido United Reformed Church – Broadway at Vista

 

(I’m having some fear that next year – always attending the same church – is going to be a bit boring. I suppose I will simply have to stir things a little along the way.)

 

The meeting starts at 8:30 – so I arrived about 8:15 – and took a seat in the sixth row. Not very many people were there – but it eventually filled up – a very large chapel.

 

From the program:

 

We are REFORMED in our faith and practice according to the Scriptures as summarized during the Protestant Reformation in the Three Forms of Unity: Belgic Confession, Heidelburg Catechism, and Canons of Dort. We believe that we come into a saving relationship with God only because of His gracious work in our hearts, and therefore He deserves our praise in every area of life.

 

We are a Church belonging to the one holy and universal apostolic church instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for the ministry of the Word, the ministry of the sacraments, and the shepherding of God’s people by the pastors and elders. We hold dear and profess the apostle’s creed, the Nicene creed, and the Athanasian creed. We are a member congregation of The United Reformed Churches of North America, a federation established in 1995 that has more than 80 congregations.

 

(Quite a few of the denominations visited this year include themselves in this “One Universal and Apostolic Church – included but not limited to the Catholics – The Serbian Orthodox, the Episcopalians, and now this Reformed Church. Most of them also use the word “Catholic” in this description – here they evidently do not. This surprised me on my very first visit – the Episcopalians – who consider themselves Catholic. “Catholic” roughly means “All in One.” I thought it interesting that here – the one universal and apostolic church is all in lower case. I interpreted this to mean that the one church is not a Church. It’s interesting that the non-emphasis is an emphasis.)

 

Prelude Music:

Big, bold, praising music – like some of our own most powerful hymns – some familiar. It was a Nine Foot Concert Grand Piano with its lid unapologetically wide open with the “long” stick.

 

This pianist, a woman, loved getting into those long bass strings – not jazzy – just formal and big. I loved watching her play – how comfortable she was! And at home at the magnificent and entirely “acoustic” instrument. No electronics were needed for this one.

 

Then she moved to the other side and took her place at the organ. She played then for the meeting – all the hymns, etc. She was good at the organ also – but it was a job – not like she was at the piano, which I later learned was her love – and what she teaches.

 

The minister made some announcements – including asking everyone for their prayers for a sister who had just this week had a stroke and was in the hospital.

 

“Clap your hands all ye nations – Sing praises to your God.” He said this with sufficient enthusiasm that I thought maybe this meeting was going to take off in a more informal direction. That was not to be – there was never any clapping. The entire meeting was in formality about the same as ours – except for the more aggressive use of the only two instruments – the piano and the organ. All music was still formal – but big. Once in a while, we do this – I always like it when we do.

 

“Let us pray.” And then it was silent. Everyone said their own prayers – and after a minute or so, music started quietly and then gained force.

 

“Please Stand for God’s blessing - ” Everyone stood.

 

The minister gave a blessing to the congregation with his arms stretched upward.

 

(This minister was the only speaker for the entire meeting – not one word from anyone else.)

 

Song: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” The minister also led the singing. In such a big church – with so many people – this is surprising to me.

 

Singing is big – they select all big praising hymns – and the organ is at forte. They usually sing all the verses – and some sing parts. All hymns are from the hymnal – no projected words. Singing was fun – I could sing as loudly as I cared to – switch parts – whatever.

 

Minister read the Ten Commandments – entire script from the Old Testament – Then he read the Two Great Commandments from the New Testament. This was done in such a formal way that I suspect it is done every Sunday just the same.

 

Song: “Gracious God My Heart Renew”

Some interesting words from this hymn:

 

“Not the formal sacrifice has acceptance in Thine eyes.”

“Broken hearts are in Thy sight, More than sacrificial rite.”

 

Prayer by minister: (TEN minutes long.)

He thanked for and asked blessings for “Sister congregations of Reformed Churches,” and then for “All congregations of other parts of the Church” that they would have a blessing with the Sabbath day message from God’s word.

 

Then he asked for blessings for four named members of their congregation – four who were in Iraq at war. “We thank you for their testimonies – Bless our president – keep him on his knees and attached to you during this war.” (There was no blessing for Iraqi’s.)

 

“Bring us swift victory, and bring us safely home.”

 

In the back of the hymnal, there are questions and answers. The minister reads the question – and then the congregation reads the answer. Two questions each week.

 

Question #99:

 

Minister: What is God’s will for us in the third commandment?

 

Congregation: That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God by cursing, perjury, or unnecessary oaths, nor share in such horrible sins by being silent bystanders.

 

Questions #100:

 

Minister: Is blasphemy of God’s name by cursing and swearing really such a serious sin that God is angry even with those who do not do all they can to forbid it?

 

Congregation: Yes, indeed. No sin is greater. No sin makes God more angry. That is why He commanded the death penalty for it.

 

(!!!) (This puts so many of my good friends in the military in harm’s way – a death penalty from God. How could they be viewed here as on God’s errand?)

 

And the minister talked quite a while on how horrible this particular sin was – adding that words like “Golly – Gee – Jeez – are included as the same – and also Dang – Darn.”

 

“Whether you mean it or not!”

 

(I had to wonder what this meant, since he had just said the words himself – not meaning them.)

 

In other words – this is something one must be “careful” about – the sin may be committed in ignorance – whether you know it or not.

 

If you are late to church – and miss “God’s Blessing,” is that blaspheming God? It is not “my” blessing. It is “God’s” blessing. Do we show our disrespect by negligently missing it?

 

(This was the blessing he verbalized at the beginning – with his arms stretched upward. These were “God’s” words, not his – like with our Patriarchal Blessings.)

 

Or when elements of our country misinterpret the separation of church and state – in schools teaching our children about this world – God’s world – and leaving God out of it – all as though God did not exist?

 

Ignoring God is worse even than speaking badly. At least speaking badly still recognizes His existence. There is no more complete way to blaspheme than to ignore God.

 

Those that treat His name disrespectfully – will be ignored. They will be ignored by His grace! (This spoken more loudly.) (!!!)

 

Then after this long talk, he made one final statement that appeared to turn all this strong talk around. (I’m not sure exactly what it meant – after the “ignored by His grace” remark.

 

He said:

 

Jesus Christ himself was accused of this blasphemy. And for it, they insisted that He be crucified – that very death penalty that is required by God for this sin. Yet it is through this very Jesus Christ that even the sin of blasphemy – is forgiven.

 

(End of talk – period.)

 

The meeting was over. A man and woman came up to me and asked if I had to go anywhere right away. They invited me to come to their home for “Coffee.” I asked if we needed to drive on the freeway (I limit myself to 60 in the hotrod.) They said they could go another route – about six miles. I followed them home – after considerable visiting around the hotrod outside with a medium sized group of these “Reformed” Christian car enthusiasts.

 

It turns out – reformed means “Dutch Reformed.” This couple was Dutch – as were the two other couples who also joined us for coffee.

 

I had never seen such a table “cloth.” It was like a carpet – as heavy as a heavy dense plush carpet – with a fringe – on the table. It’s what everyone used to use in Holland, and that’s where it came from.

 

She had prepared several Dutch pastries – and the visiting was fun and spirited. It went on for some time – much talk of the war and their strong support for the president and the wonderful job he is doing for God.

 

(Not Allah – the other one.)

 

It went on just long enough – that she then brought out place mats – and it was time for lunch. I tried to excuse myself – not wanting to overstay my welcome – but this had been planned, and I was to be included.

 

The man led us in prayer – The Lord’s Prayer.

 

There was no mention of the food – other than the line “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

She had prepared a Dutch soup – this was very good. And there were little one-sided sandwiches – half of her own homemade bread and half of a thin dense bread that was exactly like pumpernickel – the dense, chewy kind. She said it was a kind of rye. There was a spread of some kind and thin layers of something like Swiss cheese. (Umm.)

 

Discussion continued during lunch. One of the other couple included a young man who had been a deputy sheriff for nine years. He was the most outspoken about the evil of Saddam and his people – and the way they fight a war. The other couple were two seniors who had just sold their home – bought a 40 foot camper – and were planning to live in it full time – moving from place to place and seeing the country.

 

The couple of this home were dairy people – Hollandia Dairy. For beverage during lunch – there were two choices – milk and butter-milk. I had milk – and it was milk to die for – sweeter than usual and very cold – just ready to crystallize.

 

When lunch was over, then the man said, “We will have the blessing and giving of thanks.” He then proceeded to give thanks for the food and to bless it to our good health – after we had eaten. When I told Leona of this, she remarked, “Wow – no waiting for everyone to come to the table – do it last – when everyone is there.” I thought, “And we always get to eat the food hot.”

 

“Our church started in Holland – but churches do change so much as minister’s change, don’t you think?”

 

That was something noticeable – the entire meeting had been handled and run by a single man – so naturally, there would be change to each new personality as ministers change – or when one moves to a new congregation.

 

(We have a unique formula. While we have been a part of this ward, there have been three Bishops – Bill Snapp, Ron Jarvis, Kyle Denning – not hard to recognize as completely different (all lovely) personalities – yet – the change is at most cursory – we remain “at home.”)

 

I arrived home (the house, that is) just as Leona also was arriving – 4 ½ hours altogether.

 

(This war is an awfully large part of the thoughts of people everywhere.)

 

48 of 52 – Escondido United Reformed Church – Broadway at Vista

 

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