In the gospels, Jesus had to regularly contend with what people thought of him and the people that regularly surrounded him. Whether it was fishermen, tax collectors or the sick, the religious elite wondered why he preferred being around the wrong people. In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus deals with this head on during a meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee.
All of Heaven was astir. The pearly gates were being polished. The golden streets were shined to shimmering. The angelic choir was practicing. Even the angels, wearied by time, were excitedly moving about. The normally quiet angels were busily conversing with one another. Jesus was returning to Heaven after a 30-year assignment on earth.
There is an axiom among those who study world religions: In exploring other faiths, we see our own with fresh eyes. I recently returned from a pilgrimage to Israel. In a very real way, my trip enabled me to see the oddness of us, the Jesus followers — not oddness in a bad way, but rather oddness in a way that is strange to outsiders.
Our oldest child had a birthday recently. She is now grown and married, with children of her own. But you just never forget the birth of your first child. I was a pastor, so can you guess where we were when my wife went into labor? At a Wednesday night church fellowship supper! If I had been paying attention, I would have realized that this event was a portent. Our children’s lives would be forever impacted — for good or ill — by the church.
The recent passing of astronaut John Glenn has revived interest in our country’s early space flights. I remember as an elementary student being herded into our school library so we could all watch this brave man in an oversized tin can hurtling through the inky black void.