Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, February 5, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

In the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, Feb. 8, Jesus is thrust into his healing ministry in an odd way, via Simon’s mother in law. I’ve always admired Peter for that. His mother in law was sick, and instead of rejoicing, he asked his new friend, Jesus, to get her up on her feet again. That may, of course, have been because he was hungry, since Mark [1:29-39] tells us that as soon as she was well, she got up and started fixing lunch for them, in which case Peter was not quite as well motivated as I like to think.

As soon as the neighbors find out about this, they start bringing everyone and anyone who has a problem, to get them fixed up just like Mavis. [Peter’s mother in law’s name is usually not mentioned in this story, but I feel that is a disrespectful omission.]

Later Jesus goes off by himself to pray about what just happened, all those people coming to him with their physical and emotional ailments, and when Peter and his other disciples find him, he says, “Let’s take this show on the road, because this is what I was sent to do.” [The KJV translates Jesus here saying, “For therefore came I forth.” That’s a nice phrase.]

It reminds me of the time Hank Aaron came to bat against the Dodgers. John Roseboro was catching. He noticed that Henry had the brand of his bat toward the front, toward the pitcher. Every sandlot ball player knows that is a no-no. If a pitched ball hits the bat directly on the brand--the spot that gives the information about the bat, its manufacturer and name and number, etc.--it is more likely to break.

“Hey,” Roseboro said, “you’ve got the brand toward the front.” Aaron replied, “I didn’t come up here to read.”

That’s why he’s the all-time home run leader. [1] He had one mission, and he knew what it was.

During annual conference one year when the late Leroy Hodapp was the UMC bishop in IL, he was called up to MI to do the ordination service for the annual conference there. The MI bishop had suddenly taken sick and was unable to do it.

Annual conference is when all the ministers of a geographical area, plus lay representatives from all the congregations in that area, plus anyone else who wants to sell something or spend a long intense week of boring meetings, come together to transact business. Bishops get no rest. They are in charge. They sit up in front and try to keep things going smoothly.

Leroy was already tired, half-way through the week of the IL annual conference, but MI needed a bishop, fast. A thousand people had gathered, including the families of those to be ordained. It needed to be done now. They sent a plane for Leroy. He hopped on it after the evening conference session in IL. When he got to MI, they had been singing for several hours. He ordained the new preachers at midnight and flew back to IL.

I encountered him in the hallway the next morning as the IL conference was about to start up again. I commiserated with him about what a tough life he was leading. He looked thoroughly surprised that I was so clueless. “But this is what I was elected for,” he said. He had a mission, and he knew what it was. If it had to be done at midnight, when he was already tired, so what? [2]

John Robert McFarland

1] Barry Bonds doesn’t count.

2] Note to UMC insiders: Yes, I know I generalized the names and dimensions of conferences, but this makes it more understandable.

The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]

I used to keep a careful index of all the things I told in this blog so that I would not repeat. That has become unwieldy. Now I just trust to… what’s it called… oh, yes, memory. Sorry about that.

I have also started an author blog, about writing, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, about four handicapped and homeless Iraqistan veterans who are accused of murdering a VA doctor, n 2015.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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