The Verbs of Lent: 4

Numbers 21:4-9The 4th Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 15, 2015

“The people became impatient on the road. The people spoke against God and Moses . . .” (Numbers 21:4-5)

The people spoke against God and Moses . . .

In the season of Lent, or in the mundane and mayhem of your regular life, what have you “spoke” that hurt another?

I didn’t have to read too many verses (though I did!) to seek a Lent-appropriate verb. This scene from Numbers was familiar, with the Children of Israel—free from the injustices of Egyptian slavery and sojourners in the wilderness—complaining to Moses. Like today’s kids (and adults) on a road trip with a destination that never seems to appear around the next curve or over the next hill, their protests included meals. The food’s bad! Not enough. Not the right kind. Not what you promised. Not what we’re used to eating.

It wasn’t only their stomachs that were growling!

I don’t have to read about the snakes God sent. I don’t have to read about how those wandering whiners were eventually contrite—after a multitude of nasty snakebites—and then spoke again to Moses. They would be good. They could be better.

Me? I got stuck on the verb spoke. Continue reading →

Negatives + Positives = Learning

-19,000 + 19,000 + 10,000 – 9,000 – 990 = 10

The calculation above was the response a fourth grader provided when asked to create a mathematical sentence with “10” in it.

school-kids-classroom-raising-handsThe fourth grader’s response was given to my wife a few years ago when she visited that student’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, we’ll talk about what happened in each of our days.

“What’d you do today?”

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!

“What’d you do today?” My wife asked me.

This was when I served a church . . .

My day had been spent in a hospital’s intensive care unit, with a woman in our congregation near death. On the prior day, her “plugs were pulled,” and death, whether it would take minutes or days, was not far away.

My wife had been in a classroom with children’s hands waving over their heads: “Let me try an answer!!”

I’d been surrounded by medical machines and white-coated doctors.

One of the dying woman’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 “non-responsive,” friends held her hands, hymns were sung, and prayers—spoken and silent—were shared.

No one in the hospital said, or probably thought, “Wow!”

And yet, I believe there were more similarities with my wife’s day to mine than differences. Continue reading →