Time For Missions
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I enjoy telling people about my wife, Claudia. I love her and I love her name. I am proud of her, and I very much respect her intellect, her opinions and how she views the world.
I too have my own way of viewing the world around me. Sometimes my wife's view and mine will differ and she will let me know in no uncertain terms: "Not so Bill. That isn't the way it happened;" or "I didn't say that!"
My wife is a saint. I have often told people this, and they snicker, but I really believe it. My kids believe that their mother is a saint as well. I know that when my son was in school, he would whip any kid who would dare to try and say anything different.
My wife is our church Mission Chair. It may not be so, but I like to believe that because of my wife's efforts our local church has a much broader view of mission, be it to our neighbors, our community, or to the world.
Every Sunday, Claudia has a time during morning worship where she delivers a "Time for Missions" talk. She may take our congregation as far away as Darfur, or discuss floods occurring far across our nation, or bring us all to some place close like our local food bank or Woman's Shelter.
A few Sunday's back, our Church made preparations for a special "Peacemaking" offering. Inserts were put into the Sunday bulletins, and children were presented with colorful cardboard coin banks with doves on them. The Peacemaking offering is used to work with and support groups in their pursuit of social, racial, and economic justice. It is used to respond to people in communities who are suffering, poverty, unemployment, or burdened by other problems. One fourth of the offering is retained locally and the rest is used to help with national and global concerns.
I was given the job of greeter. I stood at the front door of the church, shook hands and handed people a small square of paper. On one side was a picture of an evergreen tree with a dove; a paper hatchet was pasted on its back.
"What's this for" people would ask me
"Beats me" I'd reply. "I'm just doing what my wife told me to do. She says that you will need it during the church service."
I saw someone trying to peel the hatchet from the back of their paper"
"Hey, don't do that;" said I, in a stage whisper.
I was given a look of surprise.
"My wife says that you need to keep the two together, it is a very important part of the service" I uttered, without the slightest idea of what my wife had planned.
It was time for the service to begin. I walked into the sanctuary, and noted that all the back pews were filled. I found a seat about three rows from the back. It was not long before it was time for my wife to give her combination Children's Sermon and Time for Missions.
Claudia got up before the congregation and began to relate an Iroquois legend.
Many years ago the Iroquois had a strange custom. When a loved one died, the Iroquois believed that you could minimize your grief by killing someone from another tribe. This was supposed to make people feel better. The bad thing about this custom is that the other tribes also had similar customs, and lots of people died. They called it the "Mourning Wars."
Legend has it that "PEACEMAKER" appeared to the chiefs of the Iroquois tribes.
(My mental picture of PEACEMAKER was that of an Indian Paul Bunion; a giant of a man who would scare the doo do out of you.)
There stood a big evergreen tree with an eagle perched upon it. The eagle held five arrows in his talons, one for each of the five Iroquois tribes.
PEACEMAKER grabbed the tree and pulled it out of the ground - roots and all. The eagle flew, dropping the arrows into the hole beneath the tree.
PEACEMAKER then called for all of the five Iroquois tribes to gather in this place for a "Ritual of Condolence." There they buried their spears, hatchets, arrows and other tools of war, and PEACEMAKER then replanted the tree to grow over this spot and cover all of their implements of war. Claudia told the Congregation that this is where the term "bury the hatchet" comes from.
Claudia then told everyone to take the paper that she had me give them and write on the back names of all the people who have in the past grieved them. It will be our "list of Condolence." She said that following church, we would have our own "Ritual of Condolence" and bury our "hatchets" beneath a "Peace tree."
"So that's what she had in mind," thought I.
I started writing names on the back of my paper, and ran out of space. One lady asked if she could help me with my list. "I think that you are supposed to put down the names of people you are to forgive, not the other way around."
"Oh," said I. "That does make a difference."
When the service concluded, our congregation marched outside. There was a hole and a small evergreen tree. My wife and our pastor said various words of condolence and the congregation; one by one, dropped in their slips of paper. The tree was planted and the service was concluded.
I enjoy telling people about my wife. She is a marvelous lady. I know that she really is a saint. After all; she has to be one, she did marry me.