Our cat Moses died, sometime in the early morning hours of February 17.
Less than a week before he was, as usual, scampering about the house, yard and neighborhood, master of his universe, equally obnoxious and precious.
Moses turned thirteen last fall. For spoiled, domestic cats, thatâ€™s not a long life span. Given his propensity to stroll across suburban streets and engage in territorial fights with rivals, my wife and I figured he wouldnâ€™t survive two years. So, Moses was too young and surprisingly old.
By looks, Moses was sometimes identified by vapid humans as a member of the inferior Siamese breed. The dude was Tonkinese. He was given his Biblical name because we believed heâ€™d lead his beleaguered fellow cats from their despair over living with a rambunctious golden retriever puppy to feline freedom. Moses failed. Instead, he and Hannah, the diva dog, became best buds on the first day they met, in our kitchen in December of 2000. This near immediate defection shifted the balance of pet power for the older and diminutive Jynx and the older and pear-shaped Madison. Continue reading →
The calculation above was the response a fourth grader provided when asked to create a mathematical sentence with â€œ10â€ in it.
The fourth graderâ€™s response was given to my wife a few years ago when she visited that studentâ€™s classroom. My wife teaches at Fresno State and, as an education professor with an emphasis in elementary math, she delights in participating with kids in their classroom. For her, working with fourth graders and helping teachers learn how children learn is far more joy-filled than spending time on a university committee.
Often, when we get home in the evening, weâ€™ll talk about what happened in each of our days.
â€œWhatâ€™d you do today?â€
And so I learned about a fourth grader who confidently used negative numbers in a problem. That little “-” before the 19,000 excited my wife. Negative can be positive! The student understood the complexity of numbers. Numbers are negative and positive and there are myriad ways to solve problems. Wow!
â€œWhatâ€™d you do today?â€ My wife asked me.
This was when I served a church . . .
My day had been spent in a hospitalâ€™s intensive care unit, with a woman in our congregation near death. On the prior day, her â€œplugs were pulled,â€ and death, whether it would take minutes or days, was not far away.
My wife had been in a classroom with childrenâ€™s hands waving over their heads: â€œLet me try an answer!!â€
Iâ€™d been surrounded by medical machines and white-coated doctors.
One of the dying womanâ€™s sons was there. The decision to remove her life support had been made by him in consultation with physicians and other members of the family. Close, beloved friends were present. Throughout the day, though she was categorized as â€œnon-responsive,â€ friends held her hands, hymns were sung, and prayersâ€”spoken and silentâ€”were shared.
No one in the hospital said, or probably thought, â€œWow!â€
And yet, I believe there were more similarities with my wifeâ€™s day to mine than differences. Continue reading →
Acts 9:36-43 – The Fourth Sunday of Easter â€“ for Sunday, April 21, 2013
â€œNow in Joppa there was a disciple name whose name is Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas . . .â€ (Acts 9:36
With apologies to James Bond, did Dorcas only live twice?
The ambitious ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles began with Paulâ€™s conversion near Damascus and ended with Peter bringing a woman named Dorcas back to life in Joppa.
Who was Dorcas? Based on the Biblical account, she was more likely called Tabitha, her Aramaic name. Tabitha apparently means gazelle. And, gazelle-like, Tabitha was one of those many Biblical characters that quickly appeared and then just as quickly vanished from the sacred pages. She was a member of the New Testamentâ€™s club of obscure women like Peterâ€™s never named wife, silent Salome at Jesusâ€™ tomb and the once greedy and quickly dead Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
If Paulâ€™s conversion and Tabithaâ€™s resurrection form thrilling bookends of a chapter in Acts, Sapphira of Jerusalem was a different kind of bookend to her Joppa â€œclub sister.â€
Acts chronicled Peterâ€™s rise from a wayward disciple of Jesus to powerfully serving the risen Christ by showing the old fishermanâ€™s actions. In the fateful chapter five of Acts, Sapphira and her husband Ananias cheat other believers. After Peter rebuked them individually, first the husband and then the wife dropped dead. Their nefarious deeds were quickly and efficiently punished.
A handful of chapters later, Peter trudged up some stairs in Joppa and was shown Tabithaâ€™s body. A gaggle of grieving widows encircled her corpse. And though itâ€™s never directly stated, Peter either learned then, or already knew, about Tabithaâ€™s reputation. Those widowsâ€”and likely othersâ€”wore clothing sheâ€™d made. According to scripture, Tabitha was â€œdevoted to good works and acts of charity.â€
After closing the door on the weeping widows, Peter prayed and told Tabitha to â€œget up.â€
Peter resurrected Tabitha. In a moment, she was alive for round two of her charitable, generous life.
Peter had earlier rebuked Sapphira. In a moment, she was dead and gone. Her greedy nature doomed her to an early grave.
And so, boys and girls, what are the lessons of faith revealed in chapters five and nine?
Do bad. Die.
Do good. Live.
Even if we donâ€™t wish death upon the greedy, deceitful or hypocritical, we sure wish theyâ€™d be punished. Reap what you sow! When a person intentionally engages in bad activities, donâ€™t they deserve to have bad things happen to them?
When a person engages in uplifting activities (like being â€œdevoted to good works and acts of charityâ€), good things should happen to them.