“Play the clapping music!”

May 31, 2013

Matthew 18:20

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

“Dianne, play the clapping music!”

Our youngest two grandchildren and I were together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Soon-to-be-three Ellie is strapped into her pink car seat. Little brother Dylan is exploring life in his car seat behind my driver’s seat. Ellie’s newest mantra shortly after getting into the car: “Play the clapping music!”

For those of you unsure what “clapping music” is, it is Vacation Bible School music. This fun, upbeat music often has clapping or other silly motions we do while in the car. Immediately I plug in the clapping music. Soon, the vehicle is filled with the familiar tune that has a strong bass beat, to which we clap. Ellie gets a big smile on her face and I am impressed how she can often actually find the beat with her hands. Half way through the song, she is instructing Dylan to clap along. Stopped at a stop light, I glance behind my seat. His chubby little paws are trying to follow Ellie’s example.

When the song is over, I hear, “Again!” And we listen to the song again. Then, we skip over to a trendy rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” Now our claps have become little candles: the pointer of one hand is the candle and the hovering other hand is the flame. Ellie belts out, “Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”

When I hear Ellie sing off tune and watch Dylan’s little hands try to find the beat, my heart swells. I know she is just three; before the age when real life too often jades us. I so want to capture her enthusiasm for clapping music and letting a light shine as the highlight of a car ride. How can I nurture this enthusiasm and excitement for singing God’s praises for years to come?

Too often I lack this pure excitement and joy to simply worship God. Because worship is part of my job, I can easily turn it into creating flow, making sure it is meaningful for others and putting my need and desire to simply worship as something barely on the radar screen.

Have you lost some enthusiasm to worship God? How do you connect with God and sing praises to your Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer? What music would cause you to clap for Jesus and sing on or off key? Even in the car, we had two or three gathered in Jesus’ name. And there was no doubt, He was present with us.

Speak to us of the joy it brings you when we worship you, Almighty God. Thank you for not requiring us to be expert singers, skilled musicians or perfect clappers. Whether we worship with a large faith community or just a couple other people, may we see and feel your presence in those worship-filled moments.

Blessings –

Dianne

Dangerous Grace

May 30, 2013

Luke 11:20-24

Jesus said, “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

A couple weeks ago, our family experienced a potentially disastrous situation. Our six-year-old grandson decided to walk seven miles from school home one day. Waylan slipped away without a teacher knowing, crossed the main highway by himself and was headed towards his house through the Reedsburg Industrial Park.

Rick’s son, Darran, hauls milk. It had been a frustrating day, with delay after delay. He headed for home much later than expected. The Foremost plant is in the Industrial Park. Driving down Dewey Street, he noticed a little boy walking by himself. At one point, the boy ducked behind a tree. After driving by the tree, he decided he to stop and see what was going on.

Imagine the emotion Darran experienced when he realized the little boy behind the tree was HIS SON. He didn’t know whether to hug him to death or give him a piece of his mind. Darran called his wife and prevented her from going into hysteria when Waylan didn’t get off the school bus. He admitted it was a good thing he got the school principle’s voice mail when he called the school. He was in a more reasonable state when they talked later.

There are several examples of grace in this story. What if Darran had not been delayed and driving down Dewey Street right at that time? When Waylan saw his Dad’s milk truck, he knew he would get into trouble if caught. But he did not see the danger of walking home by himself. Nor does he know how far seven miles is. But he was on the right path. Fortunately, Darran discovered Waylan and not someone who might have taken advantage of the situation.

I’ve been exploring grace on Sunday mornings for several weeks. We considered how God extends grace to us over and over and never gives up on us. When we have discovered God’s grace, we are to extend grace to others out of gratitude of what Jesus has done for us.

Through this series, several people have shared with me situations they are dealing with in which grace is difficult. Sometimes others question why Christians share grace. Too often we want justice for others but mercy for ourselves. Yet, at some point, should not there be accountability and knowledgement of the grace we have received by God and others?

When Darran talked with the principle, the principle was concerned why Waylan decided to walk home. Darran invited him to discover the “how” and he would explore the “why.” For Christians, grace is extended to us through Christ’s death on the cross when Jesus assumes all responsibility for our sin. Why? Because God loves you so much that God wants to make God’s kingdom completely available to you. What an amazing definition of grace.

Sometimes we choose a path that takes us into potentially dangerous situations. Sometimes we duck and hide from your love, Almighty God.  Yet, your grace comes to us with no strings attached. It is so much harder for us to extend grace and model your example. Continue to help us discover your understanding of grace. Amen

Blessings –

Dianne