Keillor on canoeing, Karl Rove and saying howdy in church

I read a column in Sunday’s paper by Garrison Keillor mostly about canoeing and Karl Rove. If you decide to dig it out of your recycling, you’ll find it in the Opinion section.

Anyway, in the middle of his column, he touches on the topic of my May 25 posting. So, I’m using Keillor as ammunition for my opinion that churches will be more hospitable to their guests if the guests are not told to stand up and greet strangers around them. Here’s Keillor’s observation.

“There are basically two types of Americans and the first is the type most of the world considers typical: the Americans who when the big smiley preacher stands in the pulpit and says, “How about everybody turn around and shake hands with the person behind you and give them a big howdy!” they all turn around and shake and say howdy and feel uplifted by this. And then there are the Americans who would do anything to avoid this, including staying away from church entirely.” “There are more of the second type than the first.”

I agree. But most of the second types, when they do show up at a church, still appreciate being genuinely welcomed by a few individuals who take time to visit with them. That’s the job of the first types, before and after worship.


Local Justice

This week I got to meet Larry Williams, executive director of the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights. Check out the link and some of the items listed, especially their 2006 annual report. Every month the commission produces a new TV program that you will see occasionally on cable channel 5, so if you're flipping through and see it, take a few minutes. I promise you'll learn something.

Did you know that 112 cases were filed last year by the commission? That 72 dealt with employment discrimination, that 32 dealt with housing discrimination, and that eight dealt with public accommodation? Neither did I. And every one of them has an intensely personal (but confidential) story to it. I was impressed with the work they do.

While last Sunday we looked at justice from a global point of view, tomorrow (August 19) our focus will be intensely local. And we'll keep listening to "A Voice That Cannot Be Silenced," and the word that God gave an ancient prophet named Amos.


Just one thing

Sunday, August 12, as part of our series based on the prophet Amos, “A Voice That Cannot Be Silenced,” I will challenge the people at Horizons to begin by doing just one thing to become a more globally aware person.

Here are ten possibilities, so you can find one that stirs your passion. Don't try to do everything--that's not sustainable. Just start with one. And then see where that one thing leads you. You’ll be on your way to becoming more a globally aware person.

Watch the 55-minute film “China Blue” on Google video. There’s a study guide available.

Shop at Ten Thousand Villages. You can even volunteer there.
Haymarket 140 N. 8th Street, Suite 125
Lincoln, NE 68508
email: villageslincoln@alltel.net
phone: (402) 475-4122

Learn about the Clean Clothes Campaign and read their current newsletter, which includes an interview with “China Blue” producer/director Micha Peled.

The stated mission for Sweatshop Watch is “Empowering Workers. Informing Consumers.” What I found particularly helpful was a shopping guide of goods made under fair labor conditions.

You may not agree with everything Coop America does, but I appreciated their list of companies and the information provided.

Sponsor a child at the Pratheeksha Orphanage in India by participating in Project Hope at Horizons. Right now, we have four children waiting to be sponsored, at a cost of $35 per month. Sister Jessy, the founder and director of the orphanage, plans to visit us again at Horizons on October 28, and you'll get to meet her. Once you sponsor a child, you may correspond with her or him to learn more about life in India. To sponsor a child, contact Kay Holt.

Look into the hunger-relief advocacy organization Bread for the World.

United Methodists have enjoyed a long-standing partnership with Heifer Project International. The Living Gifts program provides livestock for people in the U.S. and around the world who agree to pass on the firstborn female offspring to another neighbor in need.

The United Methodists have recently produced an adult study guide (which I haven’t seen yet) called Globalization and Its Impact on People’s Lives. The youth version is called The Big G.

I’m becoming a fan of alleviating poverty and increasing dignity through micro-credit loan programs. This is a link to one United Methodists provide for women in the African country of Senegal.


A child will lead them

God knows that one of the entrances he has into a parent’s heart is through their love for their kids.

A few centuries before Jesus was born, God told the prophet Malachi, “See I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:5-6).

And that’s how the Old Testament ends, words of hope and warning. That’s it. And this Elijah figure, when he comes, will either turn and hearts of parents to their kids and the hearts of kids to their parents, or else the whole nation implodes. If hearts are not turned, society falls apart.

And so the New Testament records that before Jesus came John, “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

So often I see parents who haven’t been part of a church in a long time or never have been, and they come with their kids. They bring their infants for baptism or blessing. They bring their four-year-old to experience Sunday school. They want to provide their pre-teen with good set of peers. They hope their middle and high school kids will gain a strong moral compass.

Over and over I’ve heard the story. “We came here for our kids, but then we began to experience God for ourselves. We were drawn to Jesus. We found faith blossoming inside us, and now we are growing in that walk with Christ and living in fellowship with others on the journey.”

It reminds me of a line from another prophet, “…and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).