Monday, May 23, 2016

Even Jesus Had Scars


When I was first starting Highlands Church, in Paso Robles, our family had a little less means than we do now.  And so, like most young couples starting out, we would tend to try to "fix things" ourselves, rather than hiring people to fix them, or buying new things.  And so, I decided one Saturday afternoon to try to "fix" the box spring on the bottom of an old couch we had in the garage, rather than to buy a new one.  The box spring was extremely heavy and hard to hold, and required that I grip onto it and pull it by great force with a pair of pliers.  Long story short, the box spring slipped out of my hand and popped me in the eye - one millimeter from my eyeball.  My eye was gushing with blood, but by some miracle of God, the spring did not hit the center of my pupil, which would have made me permanently blind.  I rushed to the urgent care, where the doctor skillfully but disapprovingly sewed up the gash just to the side of my eyeball.  "You could have shot your eye out," he said (reminiscent of a line from one of my favorite movies, 'Christmas Story').  To this day I have a three centimeter scar just to the right of my right eye.

When I see my scar in the mirror each morning, it is a reminder to me of how lucky I was that Saturday afternoon.  It is a reinforcement of how fragile all of our human bodies are.  It is a memory of how much I have been through in my relatively short life.  Most of all, my scar is a testament to how God protected me from a near disaster, when, to be honest, I was doing something rather stupid.

Here's my big idea for the morning.

Even Jesus Had Scars

The end of the book of John tells us that on the Sunday of that first Easter, "Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them His hands and side (he showed them his scars).  Later, Jesus showed himself and his scars to Thomas who had declared everyone that; Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side (touch Jesus' scars), I will not believe it.  Later Thomas does touch Jesus' scars (the only one in the Bible who we know for a fact ever did), and because of this, believed in Jesus.

Even Jesus Had Scars

This is extraordinary when you think of it.  Why did Jesus have scars?  I mean, after-all, since it was possible for Jesus to reverse the course of life and death itself, to be resurrected, it would seem that it would also have been possible to reverse the exterior clumping-up of white-blood immunity cells which created the masses of skin tissue on his body - to reverse his scars.

What purpose did Jesus' scars serve?  Jesus' scars showed the disciples and the world that Jesus was, in-fact, the same person before the resurrection as he was after the resurrection.  They showed the pain and the struggle that Jesus went through in order to be resurrected.  If Jesus went through pain and survived, then we can too.  They were evidence of Jesus' hardships.  Perhaps, in a strange way, Jesus was almost proud of his scars.  There is evidence of this in the text.  Showing his scars was one of the first things Jesus did after the resurrection.  After saying, "Peace" (Shalom), Jesus showed them his scars.  And why not?  Jesus earned them after all.  They were badges of honor for having vanquished the evil one and overcome death on the cross.

It is impossible to go through this life without a few scars, both on the outside and on the inside of our bodies.

I have a friend who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  Every time he hears a loud bang from a construction site, or the backfire of the exhaust system on an old car, he jumps.  They are a flashback for him of the Buffalo bombs and the explosions that he experienced on a daily basis on the battlefield.  I asked him one day if he thought these startling reminders would ever get better - if his PTSD would ever go away.  He told me with a knowing sense of reality; "Yes, they will get better, but they will never go away."  These PTSD recurrences are his emotional scars.  And he bore them now, every day, with a mixture of fear and pride.

Just after World War I, the so called "War to End All Wars" - and one of the bloodiest and most traumatic in world history, a soldier named Edward Shilito, who fought on the battlefields of Europe and who bore many war wounds and scars, reflected on the scars of Jesus in a poem.  The poem is entitled; "O Jesus of the Scars".  Here it is:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.[1]


Even Jesus Had Scars

And this fact reminds us that we, as people who also have scars, can carry on with faith, love and hope - and because of Christ, overcome all things!

All For Now,

GB






[1] Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 647). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.










Monday, May 16, 2016

Don't Ever Give Up On People - Ever


Two truths continue to be reinforced in my life and my ministry.  First, God is good.  Second, most people eventually "come around", no matter how busy, hurt, angry, broken, confused, or against God they initially appear to be.  And so, I have developed a personal motto surrounding this theme:

Don't Ever Give Up On People - Ever

Many years ago, while I was pastor of Highlands Church in Paso Robles, a young man came to church one day who was totally against God and organized religion in general.  I knew that because he told me so at the back door after the service.  "How can you people sleep at night," he said.  I took, "you people" to mean pastors in general.  I knew a little bit about his personal life.  He had recently been divorced.  His father had struggled through addiction to alcohol and other drugs.  His son was now in the custody of his very estranged ex-wife.  He was really angry.  "How can you believe in God when everything in the world will tell you that God doesn't exist," I can remember him telling me as he left church that first and what I assumed to be his last Sunday.  But something inside told me not to give up on him.  And so, I wasn't totally surprised to see him at church the next Sunday.  And the next, and the next.  Each week, his anger seemed to dissipate little by little.  Long story short, he was baptized as a member of the church about a year later.  I can still remember his tattooed neck bowing downward as the water dripped down his shoulders and I prayed over him.

Don't Ever Give Up On People - Ever

Once, also many years ago, I was being interviewed for a job in a church.  The whole committee seemed to really connect with me, and I with them.  One man, though, seemed to have problems with every aspect of my ministry.  He was more theologically conservative than I was and grew up in a Pentecostal tradition.  My longstanding Presbyterian roots seemed to rub him in every wrong direction.  Does God choose us or do we choose God?  Is infant baptism defensible?  Was the world created in 7 days or 70 million years?  Can women serve at the highest levels of ministry?  Can a person be baptized with a sprinkling of water, or does it require full immersion?  We seemed to disagree on almost every subject.  Again, long story short, by some miracle of the Holy Spirit, our differences and disagreements never got in the way of our basic friendship.  We cared for one another, plain and simple.  We have remained in touch for many years now.  I can honestly say that he is one of my best friends.  I would do almost anything for him, and he for me.  On some issues I have become more conservative through the years.  On some issues he has become more open minded.  We have helped each other grow.

Don't Ever Give Up On People - Ever

This past Christmas Eve as we were holding our second worship service of the evening, a family walked through the door of the Spanish Hills Country Club (the venue of our Christmas Eve service last year).  Though this family were very active in the church in the beginning, I had not seen them in over a year and a half.  Frankly, I thought, they have probably begun to attend another church, which was fine, I told myself, as long as they have found somewhere to worship.  And yet, something told me to not give up on them.  So, I called them on the phone on an occasional Saturday and asked if they would like prayers for anything.  I sent them "Mission Blast" emails and newsletters.  When they saw me they beamed with happiness.  They introduced me to their friends, "Let me introduce you to our pastor, Graham Baird".  I was their pastor?  Wow.  They continued, "This is our church, and we are so proud of it."  This was their church?  Incredible.  I'm glad I didn't give up on them.

Don't Ever Give Up On People - Ever

All For Now,

GB




Monday, May 9, 2016

The Last Of The St. Kildans


Sometimes the past reaches out to touch the present.  Sometimes the things that have come before ebb into the things that are happening now.  And sometimes those things die away.

This past month, the last of a beautiful island culture passed away.  The last surviving native resident of the remote Scottish island of St. Kilda has died.  At the age of 93, Rachel Johnson (seen pictured above) the last surviving resident of the island of St. Kilda has gone.  But where is St. Kilda?

On the west coast of Scotland lies a set of islands known as the Hebrides.  I have visited a few of these, and they are very remote.  The wind sweeps in off of the Atlantic ocean with a ferocious vengeance equalled only by the total isolation and loneliness that can be experienced there.  The rain on these islands doesn't just fall from the sky, it slaps you in the face, like a handful of salt on a cold winter day.  The outerrmost islands in this chain are known as the Outer Hebrides.  Of these islands one of the most remote and desolate is an island known as -  St. Kilda.  St. Kilda is where a handful of hearty residents eked out a meager subsistence of fishing, farming and shepherding for thousands of years.

One of these native St. Kildans was named Rachel Johnson.  Rachel grew up in a village where the 36 residents met each morning to decide what the community work projects would be.  Sometimes it was fishing.  Other days it was shepherding, or mending a boat, or a rock wall.  The women would get together to knit a sweater or patch up a quilt blanket.  These sweaters or quilts would be sold to a passing boat of the very occasional tourists who would visit.

For food, Rachel, and her young friends, who were under the age of eight, would be lowered down from the cliff edges in baskets to search for eggs - from puffins, gannets and fumars.  There was no telephone or telegraph machine to the mainland of Scotland.  The only connection to civilization was an ancient tradition of putting a note in a sheep's bladder, and placing it in the ocean, and hoping that the currents would wash the note up on the shore of another remote Hebridean island.  And so, it would sometimes be many months before outsiders heard any news from St. Kilda: "A baby has been born," "a wizened crofter has died," "There are no provisions here, please bring supplies," "a storm destroyed a house."

In 1930, fearing that the local population would be decimated by disease and abject poverty, the National Scottish Trust evacuated all of the residents of St. Kilda (numbering 36), and relocated them to the mainland of Scotland.  Rachel was 8 years old when this happened.  As she grew up, away from her familiar island traditions, she did various things to get by.  She worked as a server at a local hotel in the Ardtornish Highland estate.  She took up highland dancing and won prizes up and down the coast of Scotland.  She eventually married and moved to Clydebank - a town near Glasgow.  Rachel never talked much about her life in St. Kilda.  Indeed, like most island people, she hardly said anything at all.  "If you asked her about St. Kilda now," said her surviving son, Ronnie Gillies, "she would just look at you and smile."

One of the most important aspects of Rachel's life was her faith in God.  She was a stalwart churchgoer.  According to the Church of Scotland, Rachel had been a member of the Radnor Park Parish Church in Clydebank for 60 years.  As the world around Rachel changed, her faith, which was a private one, remained a constant.  Fifty people attended her funeral.  Gaelic hymns, the native language of Scotland, were sung.

Reflecting on his mother's death, Ronnie Gillies, her son said, "It is very sad because she is the last of the line of native St. Kilda residents.  Her death represents the passing of an era."

All For Now,

GB


Monday, May 2, 2016

Screwtape Is 75

I was recently asked by my friend Jim Daly, Head of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, to offer some background research on C.S. Lewis' writing of the book, "Screwtape Letters".  Because I did some research on Lewis in Cambridge and Oxford, several years ago, but am far from a Lewis expert, I suppose I was recruited for the task.  This year marks the 75th anniversary of the writing of that important Christian tome.  So, rather that write another blogpost about "Screwtape Letters" this morning, let me simply include Jim Daly's, well-written blog here.  
Also, this thought on this Monday morning.  The evil one (Screwtape's boss) still exists today!  As Lewis so colorfully illustrated in his classic novel, the evil one still loves to divide Christians, cast aspersions, make people feel minimalized and isolated, sow seeds of doubt and fear, divide congregations, lift-up tyrants, bully small people, cause ordinarily sane individuals to lose their minds, enflame hatred, besmirch reputations, create gossip, and worst of all, prevent good people from acting in constructive ways to thwart the forward progression of brokenness in the world.
Also, one addendum to my own research on Lewis.  As you will read in Daly's blog, I said that Lewis had turned on an electric tea kettle in Cambridge.  Turns out I was wrong.  Because Cambridge was so behind the times technologically, they only had gas pipes - and it was a gas tea kettle that Lewis turned on before chapel, not an electric one (which actually makes even more sense as to why it took 20 minutes to heat up the water)!
All For Now,
GB
**
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of one of C.S. Lewis’ most important books, “The Screwtape Letters.”
Have you read it?
In this classic, Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy where a senior demon, Screwtape, corresponds with his nephew and apprentice, Wormwood. The younger spirit’s assignment is to corrupt a newly converted Christian young man living in London during the tumultuous days of World War II. Through the letters, Lewis examines Christian morality, temptation, and good and evil.
“The Screwtape Letters” helped solidify Lewis as one of the most renowned writers of his time. The beloved masterpiece still sells about 150,000 copies every year. Here are three things about this beloved masterpiece you might not know.

1. “The Screwtape Letters” wasn’t originally a book.

The Screwtape Letters were originally released as a weekly series in an Anglican periodical, The Guardian, between May 2, 1941 and Nov. 28. The letters were an instant hit, and they were published as a book in February 1942. It’s been in print ever since.

2. C.S. Lewis refused payment for his original work on “The Screwtape Letters.”

The Guardian was to pay Lewis £2 per letter, but he refused his earnings, asking instead that his earnings go to a fund dedicated to the widows of Church of England clergymen instead.
The gesture was only one example of Lewis’ generosity. He also had a charitable trust set up – The Agape Fund – that anonymously distributed two-thirds of his royalties to help people in need. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Lewis’ income eventually went to charity.

3. Writing “The Screwtape Letters” took its toll on Lewis.

In what might have been his final interview, C.S. Lewis shared he didn’t enjoy writing “The Screwtape Letters.”
“They were dry and gritty going,” he said. “At the time, I was thinking of objections to the Christian life, and decided to put them into the form, ‘That’s what the devil would say.’ But making goods ‘bad’ and bads ‘good’ gets to be fatiguing.”
Moreover, the diabolical nature of the book pushed Lewis into a depression of sorts after writing it. Dr. Robert Banks, a leading scholar of Lewis from Australia said that, “Day after day of having the Devil as an interlocutor took its toll on Lewis.” The subject matter was almost too dark for Lewis to write about and engage with in such an all-encompassing manner.
In the last decade or so there’s been a renewed interest in the writings of Lewis, and rightly so. I was recently asked to share the top ten books I’ve ever read and I included Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity. It’s had a profound impact on my faith. I’ve been inspired by his many other books and essays and I’ve always been intrigued by stories of his colorful and eccentric personality.
For example, my friend Graham Baird, lead pastor of Mission Street Church in Camarillo, Calif., has studied Lewis for years. He recently shared that when Lewis taught at Magdalen College in Cambridge, he had a unique way of signaling the end of the 20-minute chapel services.
Lewis’ office and rooms were just above the chapel. Before going down to the service, Lewis would set his electric tea kettle – which took about 20 minutes to heat up – and plug it in. That meant if those congregated in the chapel room below heard the loud whistle of Lewis’ kettle, they knew the service was going longer than the allotted time and it was time to wrap up! (But as much time-sensitive as Lewis apparently was for chapel, it should be noted he never missed a service.)
Before I sign off, I want to recommend a new way for you to experience “The Screwtape Letters.” Focus on the Family Radio Theatre recorded the first ever full-cast dramatization of Lewis’ classic. The four-hour production features an award-winning cast, including Andy Serkis (who voiced Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy) as Screwtape.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Prince and The Bard


This past week, the world lost two truly great artists.  On Thursday of last week (April 21), the world lost a musician named "Prince", who died at the age of 57.  And on Saturday of last week (April 23) the world lost the a great playwright, who died at the age of 52 - 400 years before (1564-1616) - named  - William Shakespeare.   Is it just me, or do both Prince and Shakespeare have the same facial hair (I digress...)?  This blogpost will be about the latter artist's death, and more specifically, Shakespeare's connections to Christianity.  Perhaps 400 years from now, another blog-writer will want to reflect on the life of "Prince".

I can still remember my high school AP English class.  It was a Friday afternoon and because the AP exam was just around the corner, our teacher, named D.L. Smith, was trying to drum into our heads that William Shakespeare was not a Christian but a Humanist.  "Shakespeare did not believe in God - Shakespeare was totally secular - Shakespeare hated the church - Shakespeare's content was non-Christian to the hilt," I can still hear my English teacher say, as he pounded his podium, right before the lunch bell rang out.  However, these twenty-five years of experience and living and education later, have shown me that nothing could be further from the case.  As a more notable English professor, Leland Ryken of Wheaton University, has recently written - the idea that Shakespeare was not a Christian is; "a great lie".

William Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Later, as a playwright and actor in London, he attended church regularly.  While living in London, he rented a home on Silver Street which was owned by a devout Huguenot (French Protestant) family.  Huguenots back in the day were like Southern Baptists today - they did not hide their religion from the public.  Throughout "The Bard's" life (by the way, he never went by the "artist formerly known as 'The Bard'"), he regularly participated in church services as both a lay rector and a lay reader.  Because Shakespeare loved the church so much (and also probably because he could afford it) he chose to be buried right next to the altar in the church in Stratford, rather than being buried in the cemetery outside the church.  Here are the words of Shakespeare's will that he drew up himself right before he died;

I commend my soul into the hands of God my creator, hoping and assuredly believing these the only merits of Jesus Christ my Savior to be made partaker of life everlasting.

Shakespeare's plays and sonnets have hundreds of Biblical allusions in them, and draw from around 42 different books in the Bible.  Here is one of my favorites; "Shall I keep your hogs and eat husks with them?  What prodigal portion have I spent that I should come to such penury" (As You Like It).  This is, of course, a reference to the story of the Prodigal Son.  And later in that same play, "Here we feel not the penalty of Adam" (As You Like It).  

My favorite example of how Shakespeare was Christian and how he influenced the course of Christianity in profound ways, is how he actually most likely wrote himself into the King James translation of the Bible.  Most scholars believe that there may be a secret genogram-code in the King James Bible which, it is widely thought, Shakespeare helped to translate.  Bear with me as I describe this.  The King James Bible was translated between 1604 and 1611.  In the year 1610, Shakespeare was 46 years old.  Many people think Shakespeare, given his poetic sensibility, helped to translate the book of Psalms.  In Psalm 46 of the King James Bible, at the beginning of the chapter, can be found the word "shake" ("Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake...").  And at the end of the chapter can be found the word "spear" ("He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear...").  Shake-Spear.  No one knows for sure if this is true or not, but it is beyond probability and coincidence that this would have occurred naturally.  It also points to the sometimes questionable translation points, though always extremely poetic, qualities of the King James Bible.

Why does it matter whether Shakespeare was a Christian or not?  It matters because Shakespeare is, hands down, one of the most influential writers in the history of the English language.  I matters because the compendious amounts of work that Shakespeare was able to compose had to have influences beyond this world and life.  It matters because great ideas don't just come out of the stratosphere, they come from God.  Or as Shakespeare himself said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (Hamlet)".

All For Now,

Or Should I say...."All's Well That Ends Well"

GB





Monday, April 18, 2016

Around The World In 80 Sundays


This past weekend was Mission Street Church's 80th worship service in the Edwards Movie Theater in Camarillo.  It will also be our last in that location.  Next week, we will be moving to a temporary summer location that is less expensive in Newbury Park (a town just south of Camarillo), at the Monte Vista Presbyterian Church.  And so this is a bit of a reflective moment for all of us, a culminating event, a transition place, a temporary seat on a log by the side of a hiking trail.  And it is an opportunity to reflect upon some of what God has done in the movie theater.

When the ministry began, some 80 Sundays ago (Oct. 26, 2014), we began with an an out of the box idea.  What if we video record all of our services, and post those recordings on the web (Facebook, Vimeo, Website)?  We didn't know if anyone would be interested in watching them, or worshipping with us, but we figured that it was at least worth a try.  The theater was not ideal for worship in many ways (pink neon lights outside, no time to talk to people after worship because of tear down needs).  But it WAS ideal for another purpose - video and music recording.  The walls of most theaters are lined with thousands of dollars of sound treatments, so it is very much like a professional recording studio.  A professional videographer named Robb Klein from Orangetree Productions (and who has done work at Universal Studios), offered his services for the endeavor.  What we discovered was remarkable.  Quite literally, we went...

Around the World in 80 Sundays

Because of modern day computer analytics, we are able to know the countries and the states of where people watch videos from.  We also know the amount of time that people log onto our website from.  This last detail is important because if a person was logging on for, say, one minute, chances are they were just looking at the times of our services.  If they were logging on for 30 minutes or more, they were most likely watching a weekend message (sermon).  Within a week of putting our worship videos on the web, we found that people were logging on for 30 minutes or more from the following countries...

Russia
Romania
France
Brazil
Argentina
Taiwan
Portugal
Philippines
China
U.K.
Italy
Thailand

And many more countries around the world, and states within the United States.  And so, each week as I have begun my message, I have looked into the camera and welcomed those who were watching, from whatever country they were watching from:  "This morning we want to say hello to our video watchers from Romania, we pray that you sense the Holy Spirit where you are, the way we do here in Camarillo, California).   This international focus at the beginning of the message has also helped our own congregation's growth in several ways.  First, it signals to all who are in the room (theater), that there are others watching and that they are a part of a larger worldwide congregation.  It also focusses our church on mission without ever having to say the word "mission".  The third thing it does, and this is kind of funny, is that it keeps everyone on best behavior.  It's like inviting an outsider to a dinner party - nobody tends to tell as many bad jokes when the turkey is passed.

God has done many more great things in our 80 weeks of ministry in the movie theater (baptisms, communions, memorial services, services of healing).  But the video ministry of Mission Street Church will always loom large in my fond memory and appreciation.  We went

Around the World in 80 Sundays.

I recommend that your church try the same idea.  It doesn't cost much but it reaches many.  We will continue next week at the Monte Vista Presbyterian Church in Newbury Park (3797 Lynn Rd) at 4:45 on Sunday afternoons.  And we will continue the video ministry;-).

All For Now,

GB



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Outlander Moment


Have you ever had the experience of being in a place that you had never visited before, but somehow you knew that you had been to before?  Have you ever walked down a street, sat in a room, been in a car, driven down a road, entered a restaurant or a chapel that you were altogether immediately familiar with, but you had never frequented?  That was my experience this past weekend.

There is a new television series on STARZ cable television called "Outlander", in which a character named Claire Randall, who is a married World War II nurse in 1945 is transported back to Scotland in 1743, where she becomes embroiled in the wars of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland Clearances ("Outlander" is definitely adult television by the way, so I am not endorsing the content of the show but the plot).  This past weekend I was transported back in time.  It was my,

Outlander Moment

On Sunday afternoon, I had the great opportunity, after the Mission Street Church worship service in the movie theater, to travel to San Francisco and preach at the San Francisco Theological Seminary Stewart Chapel, and to teach a workshop on "Entrepreneurialism and the Ministry".  From 1935 until 1959, my great grandfather, Jesse Baird, was President of San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS).  My grandfather received his Master of Divinity degree from SFTS.  My father got his Doctor of Ministry degree from SFTS.  There is a "Baird Hall" which is named after my great grandmother - Suzannah Baird.  I had never really been to the seminary before this weekend (the above picture is of me before preaching in Stewart Chapel).  And yet, somehow I had been there before....

When I arrived in San Anselmo, where the seminary is located, at 10:30 at night, the street lights were covered in mist, and almost looked like gas lamps from the 1900's, which would have been installed in the streets there.  There was a stillness in the air, a calm, a quiet peace that was transporting and somehow otherworldly.  I almost imagined my great-grandfather, Jesse, emerging from a plume of mist, with his pence-nez glasses perched on the end of his nose, and his teaching papers in a leather satchel around his shoulder, walking pensively home after a long board meeting.

The next morning, when I woke up, and walked up the steps from my apartment to the chapel, I imagined my great grand-father, who had preached there weekly, making his way up the winding stairway as he went over his sermon notes in his mind.  Ten minutes before speaking, I got a cell phone call from my wife Star, who was checking to see how I was doing.  I decided, on the spur of the moment, to take the call.  I slipped out behind the alter area, and out a back door.  How many times had my predecessors done that before (not for cell phone calls, but for some other last minute conversation).  When I ascended the spindled steps of the pulpit to begin to preach, and placed my hands on either side of the lectern, I noticed grooves where a previous preachers hands had grabbed many years before.  Who's hands were they?  Who's grooves were they?  My hands fit in them perfectly!  This was getting weird...

My Scottish mother, who hails from the non-ministerial side of my family always said; "Why is it that we as Christians believe in the Holy Spirit, but that we don't believe in other spirits."  There were spirits in this place, that I could sense and feel and was aware of.  They were good spirits, of a time gone by and an era which has passed, but which now still remains...and is very much alive.

King Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, as he was peering over parapets of the castle that his father king David had once peered over - said of this life that; "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecc. 1:9).

Perhaps what Solomon didn't recognize was that in experiencing things backward (in our Outlander Moments), we may find...that there is always something new to behold!

All For Now,

GB