Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Mandate in Imago Dei

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0916
Volume IX, Issue XVI

What Imago Dei Tells Us

For the past week a disturbing image has been circulating the news of what appears to be cold-blooded murder. A man appears to be fleeing a police officer and is shot in the back by that officer. We don't know the details, and do not offer any 'theories,' but merely suggest that something is terribly wrong here. Most of us recoil at the thought of taking another life. Most of us extend the courtesy of human dignity to those who are different from us -- and yet, I recall when taking my car to a new garage in the town I used to live in, the mechanic said something that shocked me. He was a good mechanic and appeared to be a decent guy. He had served in Korea and was relating the experience to another worker in the shop. He talked about them having a black guy in the unit. They hated him for some reason. The mechanic used the more vulgar term for describing this man and I think I heard him say that they put him in a position to get killed.

I thought of that man's mother. Perhaps there was a wife or girlfriend. Children? I was in no mood for a confrontation that day, so I did not ask for a clarification. The mechanic's tone indicated he was pretty set in his ways. Clarification was not likely to be pleasant. I never went back there. I have not told the story before, but now the garage is gone. We are shocked by such stories but every day people kill people for being in the 'wrong' group around the world. ISIS kills Christians, Hutus and Tutsis are rivals though most outside of their lands cannot tell them apart. One of my friends from school went to Northern Ireland in the 1970's to study the situation there. A car exploded in the street while he walked in Belfast. He actually got an interview with Bernadette Devlin. We awaited his report eagerly.

He said he had met Catholics, Protestants and a few people in both churches who said that they related intimately with G-d, like children of their Father. These were the ones who extended forgiveness and the gift of recognition to those outside their cultural church. They were the 'Blessed Peacemakers.' -- Matthew 5:9 These people had a vision for their country not unlike that of Dr. Martin Luther King in our own. They saw a day in the future when Protestants and Catholics would share their land without oppression or conflict.

The 'Blessed Peacemakers' of Northern Ireland have a lesson for us in our own time. We can see outside the parameters of our own group (and wrongs done to it) and embrace the larger family of G-d's Children. That means we mourn EVERY child's death by violence, be he like us or not. We see the travesty of lives destroyed because they are precious to their Creator. Genesis says that each is made in His Image. To miss this truth is to go the way of destruction like that seen in Rwanda, where the Hutu majority slaughtered the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. [1.]

Corbels and Carillons

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Grace United Methodist Church in Middletown, Virginia. [2.]

Photo by Bob Kirchman

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Stephens City United Methodist Church [3.]... Photo by Bob Kirchman

ShulmerlichBW
...contains this Shulmerlich Carillon, probably built in the 1960's. The instrument was played by punched rolls (like a player piano), and each note was struck on a small rod and amplified electronically. The sound was broadcast from speakers in the belfry.
Photo by Bob Kirchman.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

THYME Magazine: Building the Kingdom IV

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Passover
Volume IX, Issue XV

Prayer for the Disciples

The thoughts of a Master towards us are what should stay with us as we labor to build His Kingdom. On the night before He suffered and died to conquer sin and death, Jesus spoke these words.May we remember them as we contemplate the great things we have just celebrated and go forth into this world to be His laborers:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another." -- John 15:1-17 KJV

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true G-d, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." -- John 17:1-26 KJV

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Easter Lily. Photo by Bob Kirchman

The forty days that followed saw the disciples move from doubt to sure faith as Jesus indeed showed himself to them, resurrected!

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

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Easter Lily. Photo by Bob Kirchman

THYME Magazine: Orthodox Good Friday

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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Written 1000 years before Jesus died, Psalm 22 foretells His death by crucifixion -- a practice yet to be invented by the Romans. [View Larger] Illustration © 2015, by Kristina Elaine Greer

The Calendar Conundrum

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reworked the traditional Julian Calendar into what came to be known as the more astronomically correct Gregorian Calendar. There is a difference of thirteen days between the Julian and the Gregorian Calendars. As the Western Church adopted the newer calendar, the Eastern Church retained the Julian, thus the feasts overlayed on the modern calendar are celebrated about a week later. Good Friday for the Orthodox Christians will be April the 10th this year and Easter will be on the 12th. Another Orthodox tradition is that Easter, the Pascha, always follows the Passover.

That is why our Orthodox brothers and sisters celebrate the great Holy Days on a "different" date!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

THYME Magazine: "He is Risen!"

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYMEResurrectionIII
Volume IX, Issue XIVaa

The Meaning of the Miraculous

For many Centuries man has acknowledged  the miraculous. This week the Jewish community celebrates their deliverance from Egypt and the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. A dialogue set in a meals has all generations together consider the preservation of their people that could only be seen as a work of G-d. Previous generations always saw G-d, or some miraculous force as Creator. The Patriarchs saw Him as Provider and Deliverer! The relatively recent concept of Evolution (Charles Darwin in the Nineteenth Century) has created a philosophy of Naturalism that either outright rejects or quietly diminishes the Theistic explanation.

I once attended an Easter service at a large church in Richmond. The minister asserted that the Resurrection was not important! I don't remember anything else he said. I was astonished because Christ's Resurrection would seem to be a cornerstone of Christianity. Many voices today denounce Faith. They may not directly denounce it, but in the academy it is the subject of "open discourse" such as that experienced by Ryan Rotella at FAU [click to read]. Rotella was asked to leave a class. His "offense" was refusing to participate in an excercise where students were required to "stamp on Jesus." Dennis Prager [click to read] has more details. Though the school ultimately apologized to Rotella, it justified its so-called "open discourse" in doing so.

Running from the Resurrection

In fact, among many in academia today you are likely to hear some variation of the following: "There are other reasons why I consider Christianity to be an ill-chosen creed, such as the morals actually taught in the Bible, many of which are abhorrent to a compassionate and just man, or other details of its theology which run counter to observable facts." writes atheist Richard Carrier in introduction to his argument against Jesus' resurrection from the dead.

Here in his introduction, Carrier gives what I believe is his real reason for being uncomfortable with a physical resurrection. A G-d who can so control the laws of nature can ask 'unreasonable' things of us as well. A 'Compassionate and Just Man,' in Carrier's world can support abortion on demand because it is not 'abhorrent' to his viewpoint that abortion is a kind response to the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies. The beating heart of the unborn child need not be seen here as an 'observable fact.' Likewise, the 'restrictive' definition of marriage as a relationship defined by Scripture in specific terms may be viewed as archaic and discriminatory.If G-d didn't design it, He cannot write the specifications.

The elimination of Christianity as an authoritative source allows us to personalize moral decisions. In a culture that elevates self-actualization, this is virtue. It spares us the heavy lifting required to weigh moral absolutes with human frailty.

Jesus, meeting a Samaritan woman at a well, is a prime example of what I mean by this heavy lifting. Balancing compassion for the woman with his observation that she has not been a faithful wife, Jesus creates a constructive dialogue. He does not condemn her, nor does He overlook the complexity she has created in her relationships. He speaks truth and ultimately the dialogue that results sets her free. Here Absolute Love and Absolute Truth are in no way mutually exclusive. In the end her search for 'Living Water' trumps her desire to live as she pleases. [2.]

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

Before Jesus appeared, the concept of Resurrection is found in Scripture. Sometimes it is very clear and other times it is a logical assumption consistent with the text.

Resurrection Foretold

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." -- Isaiah 53:9-12

The famous Messianic text above talks of triumph after death. Other texts that may be seen as prophetic of Resurrection are: Genesis 3:15, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 16:9-11, Psalm 22:14-25, Psalm 30:29, Psalm 40:13, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118:21-24, Hosea 5:15-6:3, Zechariah 12:10.

Resurrection Documented and Verified

I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead." says Dr. Thomas Arnold, formerly Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford Universities. Simon Greenleaf, one of the most skilled legal minds ever produced in this nation, top authority on the question of what constitutes sound evidence, developer of the Harvard Law School, after a thorough evaluation of the four Gospel accounts from the point of view of their validity as objective testimonial evidence, concluded:

It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact." [3.] Dr. Henry M. Morris PhD writes more on The Importance of the Resurrection [click to read]. His point is that the foundational truth of the Christian faith has plenty of evidence to support it.

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

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A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Nature itself suggests the possibility of miraculous transformation and new life! Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe.
Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Greer for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.

Jesus

Saturday, April 4, 2015

THYME Magazine: Why the Resurrection Matters

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYMEResurrection
Volume IX, Issue XIVa

Why the Resurrection Matters

In his book 'Miracles,' C. S. Lewis wrote: “The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the ‘pioneer of life.’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has been opened.”

Modern 'enlightened' man is not so sure. In fact, I once heard the pastor of a large church state that: "The Resurrection isn't that important." The early believers certainly would have objected to this reasoning. Belief in Resurrection is what propelled them to share the Good News. Belief in the Resurrection is what spurred them to rescue babies thrown into the Tiber River. Christianity was not spread by the sword, as other religions have been, but rather it has spread in spite of the very real possibility that you could be killed for doing so.

Could it be that the sure belief that death has been overcome makes the believer stronger in the face of death? Fox's Book of Martyrs would bear that out. Certainly some very ordinary people were propelled to do very extraordinary things through their belief in Resurrection. Brian G. Hedges writes in a piece entitled: Three Reasons the Resurrection Matters [click to read]: " What is unquestionable is that the first generation of Jesus’ followers did believe he had risen, and were convinced that everything had changed as a result.

Consider just three of the ways the New Testament highlights the significance of the resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection means that his sacrificial death on the cross was sufficient, and therefore our sins can be forgiven. Jesus’ resurrection means that death is defeated once and for all. Jesus’ resurrection means that the material world matters."

This is key as we consider the promises in Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21. G-d is indeed able to renew all things, as He promises. Hedges quotes writer: John Updyke:

Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall."

(to be continued)

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Texas Bluebonnets and moon. Photo by Melissa K. Hand

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

THYME Magazine: Building the Kingdom III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0914
Volume IX, Issue XIV

The Ministry of Building Things

I'll bet if I asked you to think of some different types of ministry and ways to build the Kingdom of G-d, you probably wouldn't think of Economic Development. Pastor Tim Keller, in his book: Resources for Deacons, sees it clearly as a part of the Diaconal ministry. Our church helps women in Zambia get sewing machines. To be sure, the gift of the ability to earn their living as seamstresses is an act of ministry to these ladies.

But think bigger! THYME presents the story of how a nation turned from a great evil and one city suffered greatly in doing so. G-d provided a provider! Then G-d provided provision for the provider by inspiring great innovation that came to revitalize that great city. Should we dare to pray for such innovation and inspiration in our own day?

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
What a Nineteenth Century Innovator Can Teach Us Now
© 2013 The Kirchman Studio, All rights reserved.

They say that the condition for a miracle is difficulty, but the condition for a great miracle is impossibility” -- Angus Buchan, “G-d's Farmer”

When William Wilberforce [1.] had ended the slave trade in the British Empire, he had thrown the city of Bristol, England into economic depression. The port there was heavily devoted to that wretched business and suffered heavily when it was brought to a sudden halt. The unintended consequence had been a rise in children condemned to a life of poverty. Ending the vile business of enslaving Africa's children had resulting in England's society spurning the needs of her own. Into this world came George Müller [2.], who, relying on faith in G-d alone, provided redemption for thousands of orphans. Many of these children were cast-offs of a society in economic despair.

George Müller [3.] had seen the wretched street urchins most people despised as jewels to be polished. Muller, relying solely on Divine provision, built five large houses for Orphans at Ashley Downs in Bristol, England. He trained the girls to be nurses, teachers, clerical workers and domestics. He apprenticed all the boys in various trades. He was excoriated for training these unwanted children "above their station." He ignored the critics.

Müller looked to G-d alone, but Bristol needed an outfowing of Divine provision to provide for her children. G-d's provision for Bristol was to come in the form of inspiration and innovation, embodied in the work of a young pioneer of civil engineering. He also ignored his critics.

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Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge became the symbol of the City of Bristol.

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Building the Great Western Railway.

In 1831, 24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel [4.] was awarded a contract to bridge the Avon Gorge. It was the dream of a prosperous wine merchant who provided the initial funding. The completed bridge would become the symbol of the city, but lack of funding dogged the project. It took thirty years to complete it. For years only the towers stood completed. In 1833 Brunel began work on the Great Western Railway, which would become the instrument of Bristol's economic revitalization. The nicknames: "Great Way Round" and "G-d's Wonderful Railway" seem to describe well Brunel's great work.

Brunel was an innovator. He probably experienced as many failures as successes in his short lifetime. Born on April 9, 1806, the son of Sir Marc Brunel, he assisted his father in building a tunnel under the Thames. He would later become the resident engineer of that project. At twenty years of age, he designed a suspension bridge to cross the Avon river. A modified version of his plan was actually constructed.

At 26, Brunel was building the Great Western Railway, commissioned to maintain Bristol's importance as a port and position her for  trade with America. This wide-gauge railroad linked Bristol and Western regions of England to London. Bristol's prosperity as a port was assured and the work of Müller created solid citizens with strong spiritual foundations to benefit.

But Brunel was not content to simply build a better railway. He looked across the Atlantic, envisioning fleets of ocean greyhounds -- great steamships that would complete the linking of his Great Western Railway to America! The S. S. Great Britain was his creation. It was the first metal-hulled propeller-driven ocean ship and became the prototype for modern ocean liners.

Building the South Devon Railway as a spur to the Great Western, Brunel experimented with an alternative to steam engines -- Vacuum tube powered trains. Stationary vacuum plants evacuated tubes laid along the center of the track that powered the movement of trains.

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Brunel's 'Atmospheric Railway.'

The technology required the use of leather flaps to seal the vacuum pipes. The natural oils were drawn out of the leather by the vacuum, making the leather vulnerable to water, rotting it and breaking the fibres when it froze. It had to be kept supple with tallow, which is attractive to rats. The flaps were eaten, and vacuum operation lasted less than a year, from 1847 (experimental service began in September; operations from February 1848) to 10 September 1848.[45] It has been suggested that the whole project was an expensive flop. In Brunel's favour, it has been noted that he had the courage to call a halt to the venture instead of struggling on with it at greater cost." -- Wikipedia

Like alternative transportation prototypes of our day, the vacuum tube system was more expensive. The accounts of the SDR for 1848 show that atmospheric traction cost 3s 1d (three shillings and one penny) per mile compared to 1s 4d/mile for conventional steam power.Though considered a failure at the time, vacuum powered trains may have been a distant precursor to Evacuated Tube Technology [5.] which is now being developed to move entire transport capsules through large tubes -- essentially powered in the same way as Brunel's South Devon train. Brunel was simply two Centuries before his time on this.

What can we learn from Brunel today? Plenty! Inspiration and innovation are needed now as they were needed then. Brunel teaches us valuable lessons about expanding vision with proven technologies and wisely exploring alternatives (and abandoning them when they do not work as planned).

Praying people see the diaconate role of economic development as an integral part of G-d's provision. In “Resources for Deacons, Love Expressed Through Mercy Ministries,” [6.] Tim Keller states his belief in three “levels” of mercy in diaconal ministry:

The first Level Is Simple Relief: That is taking care of the immediate need.

The Second Level Is Economic Development: That is teaching the poor how to get out of poverty by teaching them how to handle money, property, etc. and furnishing them with the means to do so. “Not handouts, but ownership is the way to break the cycle of poverty.”

The Third Level Is Social Reform: Christians should be involved in the culture in an effort to change the social structure.

We see it very localized in a place like Zambia, where people of faith instruct widows to become seamstresses (and people in America gift them with sewing machines). But, can we believe G-d for ever greater inspiration? What vision would G-d give us for our family, our company of employment, our city and county... and beyond? Müller said "the age of miracles is not past." Angus Buchan [7.], in the turmoil of Zambia and South Africa, looked to G-d for inspiration. G-d met him in a corn field where he learned the power of prayer!

Buchan had packed his family up during the unrest in Zambia in the late 'seventies and moved them to South Africa. A successful farmer in Zambia, he felt that he would be happy if he could acquire another farm in South Africa. It didn't. Experiencing deep depression, Buchan was angry and confused. Wandering into a lay-witness Sunday at the local Methodist Church, Angus heard builders, tradesmen and fellow farmers tell of what Jesus meant in their lives. For the first time he saw men crying, he wept unashamedly himself as he responded to an altar call. He took the Lord seriously about the changed life promise.

Buchan went back to his farm and learned to pray in his own corn field. Then he sought to minister to his Zulu workers. His farm manager, Simeon Bhengu, told him: "that's women's religion..." But G-d met Angus and spoke through his friendship with Simeon. Today the men are brothers in faith and brothers in every way. "My children are his and his are mine." Angus says of his Zulu brother. Angus expanded his farming operations and G-d's miraculous provision was seen at every turn. The movie "Faith like Potatoes" is the true story of Angus Buchan and it is quite inspiring! Buchan used machinery but avoided totally mechanizing the farm, looking to provide steady employment to his Zulu neighbors.

In the early 1980's Buchan became aware of a new tragic development. AIDS was ravaging families and creating untold numbers of orphans. Buchan reached out to these orphans but had no place to house them. A local school had temporary classrooms they were going to demolish and Angus received permission to take them apart and reassemble them at Shalom, which he had named his complex at the farm. At first the children lived in dormitories but gradually Angus was able to create "houses" where one "mother" cared for a smaller number.

South Africa in her recent history has experienced much uncertainty and Buchan's experience is instructive as we look to address the turmoil in our own country today. Isambard Kingdom Brunel should serve as an inspiration as well.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." -- 1 Timothy 4:12

Passover
Dogwood Flower. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Passover and Passion
Stories of Divine Redemption

Why is this night different from all other nights?

On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah, and on this night only matzah.

On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.

On all other nights, we don't dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.

On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline." [7.]

The meal begins with a child's questions. It is a celebration of Divine Redemption and it is told in the courses of the meal. This time of year is a special time of remembering G-d's hand in delivering his people! Remembering the hand of the Divine in our own lives and passing that knowledge along to our children is a Sacred thing. May this be a time of great blessing and significance for you.

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Dogwood Flowers. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THYME Magazine: Building the Kingdom II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0913
Volume IX, Issue XIII: William Wilberforce (1759-1833).
Portrait by Karl Anton Heckel, 1794


Building the Kingdom II

The term Social Justice is often used in the discussion of finding solutions to societal problems today. Jonah Goldberg describes what it often means today in the following video. But, has the noble quest for human rights and dignity been hijacked from its original purpose? Is there a proper application in the building of the Kingdom of G-d? Today the term is largely associated with government intervention and redistribution, but that was not always the case.

Jamie Casler, Director of Trevecca Nazarine University's J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice [1.] believes there is indeed a place for Scriptural social justice, saying: "We draw our definition of social justice from the Scripture, not so much from the secular terminology, We try to be very careful to say we're about biblical social justice, not about secular social justice. What we call today 'social justice' the church has commonly called 'compassion ministries'-showing compassion to your neighbor and helping those in need." Casler seeks a return to the Church's role in fostering this sort of compassion.

Carlton Hayes wrote, "From the wellspring of Christian compassion, our Western civilization has drawn its inspiration, and its sense of duty, for feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, looking after the homeless, clothing the naked, tending the sick and visiting the prisoner." As one writer put it, missionaries and other Christians lived as if people mattered. Revolutionary!

Christianity exploded onto a brutal, heartless Greco-Roman culture. Believers in this radical new religion set a new standard for caring for the ill, downtrodden, and abused, even at risk of death. Through their transformed Christlike outlooks, they established countercultural ways that lead to later innovations: orphanages, hospitals, transcendent art and architecture, and systems of law and order based on fairness, to name a few. In the early church, every congregation had a list of needy recipients called a matriculum. Enormous amounts of charity were given. "Pagan society, through its excesses, teetered on the brink of extinction. Christianity, however, represented . . . a new way." [2.]

THYME presents here the lives of several reformers who's work was clearly rooted in the principles of Scripture.Their work should serve as a model for the building of the Kingdom in our own time.


Without foundations in timeless values, 'Social Justice' becomes simply an excuse for government intervention and redistribution.

The Abolition of Slavery
William Wilberforce

Born to privelege and prone to enjoy the pleasures his status afforded, William Wilberforce would have seemed an unlikely candidate for world changing reformer but G-d in his wisdom had bigger plans for the young dandy. He prepared himself for a life of politics while studying at St John's College, Cambridge.

Then, as now, religion was something considered good 'but not in excess.' Still Wilberforce found himself spiritually hungry and found faith. He sought out the council of John Newton, former slaver turned clergyman. Wilberforce was ready to forsake his place in Parliament to serve G-d but Newton convinced him that his service in Parliament could indeed be a great service to his Creator!

Wilberforce became convinced of two great missions: "the abolition of slavery and the reformation of manners." That is to say reform of society's priorities and treatment of people.

Wilberforce labored for almost half a century to end slavery in the British possessions. He pressed himself to exhaustion and stressed himself to the detriment of his health, but eventually he prevailed. The movie "Amazing Grace" tells of his life and gives a broader picture of the man. He was concerned about mistreatment of animals, healthcare, prison reform and a host of issues that press mankind still.

His work is far from finished. Human Trafficking [click to read] is an issue that modern day persons desiring to follow the lead of Wilberforce must step up to address.

Compassion for Orphans
The House that Faith Built Cared for Thousands

George Müller
George Müller.

What Can One Do, 
Motivated by G-d's Love?

Our small group has been discussing the book Crazy Love [1.] by Francis Chan. There is a brief mention of George Müller, the Nineteenth Century evangalist who is famous for his work with orphans. Müller's story begins in Prussia and continues as he comes to faith as a young man. Motivated by his love for G-d he moves away from some practices in the church such as 'renting' pews. In those days people of means would pay handsomely for the best seats and the Pastor would make a good living from these monies.

George Müller's love for G-d soon moved him to reliance on G-d. When he came to take a church in Bristol, England he declined the salary. He wanted to show people how vast and great G-d really is by trusting Him for his supply. Müller prayed and told his needs to no one, then ministered to the needs of his congregation. When his needs were supplied he gave G-d the glory. In times of waiting for supply he gave G-d the glory.

Seeing the needs of orphan children, George Müller went to his knees on their behalf and G-d provided the means for him to care for them. He eventually built five orphan houses and never once made an appeal for money!

We often read of how G-d worked in the lives of the saints of old. We read Hebrews 11 and see how men and women motivated by the love of G-d lived out that love, but with George Müller's story we have photographs. Here are some old post card views of the orphan house at Ashly Down, built in 1849.

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Nineteenth Century rendering of the house at Ashly Down.

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The house at Ashly Down.

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Children at Ashly Down.

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Children at Ashly Down received education and training for future employment. the day started at 6am for the orphans, normal forworking-class children of Victorian times.

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While boys would be placed in apprenticeships at age 14, the young ladies would remain until 17. They received training to be Nurses, Teachers and Domestic Servants [as the group in maids' uniforms above].

More on the Life of George Müller [click to read].

The George Müller Foundation [click to read].

Redefining 'Social Justice' [click to read] from World Magazine.

Beck vs Wallis [click to read]. More thoughts on 'Social Justice.'

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The house at Ashly Down today. Although the building might seem austere by today's standards it featured high ceilings and three hundred large windows [all donated by a window maker]. By Victorian standards it was a bright environment.

The Story of George Müller
One Man's Journey of Faith Changed History

George was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805 and was in college studying to be a preacher when he became a Christian. In those days some young men saw preaching as a well paying job, not necessarily as a service to G-d. The University at Halle, where young George was studying was a place where one could find bad company.

His father was a tax collector for the government. He gave George a lot of money, and he spent it very foolishly. Young Mueller was known for his wild out of control lifestyle, But his life was transformed when he came to know Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" -- 2 Cor. 5:17

Müller turned from his old ways but still struggled in his desire to follow Christ. He finished his studies and headed for England to begin his career as a preacher.

Soon after coming to England Müller received a deeper Christian experience which entirely revolutionized his life. He became very ill and was at the point of death when he saw what a bad life he had led but realized all his sins were completely forgiven -- that he was washed and made clean, completely clean, in the blood of Jesus. The result of this was great peace. "I longed exceedingly to depart and to be with Christ..." he wrote.

He was sick for two weeks. Then his Doctor said he was better. He was sad. "I wanted to be in Heaven with the Lord, but he gave me grace to do his will.”

He became pastor of Ebenezer Chapel in Devonshire. His marriage to Miss Mary Groves, a Devonshire lady,followed. Their married life was a very happy one.

In those days the church ”rented” pews to the people. Rich families would pay for the best seats while the poorer brother sat in the far corner. Large salaries were paid to the minister.

George did not think this right. He ended the practice of collecting pew rent in his chirch and forsook a salary. He stated that he would look to the Lord he served to meet his needs, not to men.

He and his wife told their needs to no one but the Lord. Occasionally reports were spread that they were starving; but though at times their faith was tried, their income was greater than before. He and his wife gave away freely all that they had above their present needs, and trusted the Lord for their "daily bread."

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:as it is written, The just shall live by faith." -- Romans 1:17

He and his wife eventually settled in Bristol, England, where they saw many orphans roaming the streets -- uncared for, unfed, often sick, and virtually guaranteed death at a young age. At this time writers like Charles Dickens and William Blake had not yet brought attention to the plight of these children, and NOTHING was being done to help them.

Müller began his labors in Bristol in 1832, as co-pastor with his friend Mr. Craik, who had been called to that city. Without salaries or rented pews their labors were greatly blessed at Gideon and Bethesda Chapels. The membership more than quadrupled in numbers in a short time. Ten days after the opening of Bethesda there was such a crowd of persons inquiring the way of salvation that it took four hours to minister to them.

George and Mary decided to start an orphanage that would be entirely free of charge, and for which they would never ask any money or support. When they had needs they would go to G-d alone, trusting that he would give them everything they needed.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." -- James 1:27

Among the greatest monuments of what can be accomplished through simple faith in G-d are the great orphanages covering thirteen acres of ground on Ashley Downs, Bristol, England. When G-d put it into the heart of George Müller to build these orphanages, he had only two shillings (50 cents) in his pocket. Without making his wants known to any man, but to G-d alone, over a million, four hundred thousand pounds ($7,000,000) were sent to him for the building and maintaining of these orphan homes. At the time of Mr. Müller's death, there were five immense buildings of solid granite, capable of accommodating two thousand orphans. In all the years since the first orphans arrived the Lord had sent food in due time, so that they had never missed a meal for want of food.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" -- James 5:16

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." -- Phillipians 4:19

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." -- Psalm 37:25

Hundreds of children were saved from the mean streets. They knew love and happiness in the care of George and Mary.

In 1875, at the age of 70, the remarkable George Müller decided to devote the next period of his life to a world-wide ministry of preaching and teaching.

During his seventeen years of missionary travel he toured the United States of America three times, India twice and on three occasions toured Australia and the Colonies. In addition, George Müller preached in forty-two countries including China and Japan. By land and sea he traveled 200,000 miles, an extraordinary feat in the nineteenth century.

Charles Dickens
With Six Children to Feed, the Author Needed a Miracle

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Frances Alexander's 1842 painting of the famous author.

The Year was 1843 and he needed a miracle. With six children to feed and a large house in London to maintain, his slipping sales as a writer were of great concern. His installment novel: Martin Chuzzlewit, was selling poorly, unlike earlier works like Nicholas Nickleby, which had given him some measure of success.

Christmas was coming as he bitterly confided to a friend that his checkbook was empty. Walking the streets, he came up with a 'Ghost of an Idea' and set to work. He published 6000 copies in time for Christmas distribution. They sold out, but because he had splurged on hand-coloured illustrations by John Leech he barely broke even. [3.] Yes, even in Nineteenth Century England, good illustration cost you something! [4.]

Fortunately the little work went on to be a classic. It reinvigorated the career of its creator. Today we still love A Christmas Carol and its author: Charles Dickens, not only as a writer, but as one who helped to bring about much needed social reforms in his day.
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Binyamin Netanyahu's Big Win

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Early predictions had Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party not likely to win a clear majority. Major media outlets were predicting a tie at best with the Zionist Party, meaning perhaps a rotating Prime Ministership. Still, as the actual voting occurred a week ago, as "official" exit polls hovered around a tie, The Prime Minister declared the race a victory and began the important process of building coalitions to govern. How could that be possible?

Phillip Pasmanick, who writes: Israel and Stuff [click to read] put it best: "Wait until the IDF votes are counted. He'll have thirty seats!" Sure enough, as the hard results started coming in on Wednesday, Likud had secured the promised thirty seats. You need to know something about Phillip. He's in the IDF and he's up defending the border with Lebanon. Alongside him are arabs; soldiers, also in the IDF. This should begin to give you a glimpse into the under-reported life of this amazing country the size of New Jersey.

It is indeed the only place in the Middle-East where the religious and political minorities live in peace with their majority neighbors, not only enjoying protection from persecution but representation in the Kenesset! Netanyahu's win, remaniscent of Ronald Reagan's unexpected win in 1980, says that there is solid support for his strong stance in defending the stability of the region. Those who truly desire peace in the region will do well to listen to him.

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Restoring Harmony

Harmonic


I have been in Stephens City much of the past week helping master restorer and organ builder, Xaver Wilhelmy as he restores the Estey pipe organ in Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. The instrument was likely built sometime in the early Twentieth Century, though we have no known opus number. Here are some photographs from the trip.

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The sanctuary itself was completed in 1906.
Photo by Bob Kirchman

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The church windows illuminated from within.
Photo by Bob Kirchman


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The organ itself was probably installed in the 1930's, having been moved from a church in Baltimore. Photo by Bob Kirchman

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Here are some of the motors that play the 1200 pipes.
Photo by Bob Kirchman


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Front Pipes. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

THYME Magazine: Faith and Bright Hope

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

THYME0912
Volume IX, Issue XII

Jesus is Coming, Plant a Tree!

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
   -- 1 Corinthians 15:58

In a wonderful article by N. T. Wright entitled Jesus is Coming, Plant a Tree [click to read], the author writes: "For the early Christians, the resurrection of Jesus launched God’s new creation upon the world, beginning to fulfill the prayer Jesus taught his followers, that God’s kingdom would come “on earth as in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), and anticipating the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17, 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) promised by Isaiah and again in the New Testament. From this point of view, as I have often said (though the phrase is not original to me), Heaven is undoubtedly important, but it’s not the end of the world. The early Christians were not very interested, in the way our world has been interested, in what happens to people immediately after they die. They were extremely interested in a topic many Western Christians in the last few years have forgotten about altogether, namely the final new creation, new heavens and new earth joined together, and the resurrection of the body that will create new human beings to live in that new world."

I have friends who are very much into eschatology, wonderful people, but they are pretty much convinced that this world is pretty rotten and the sooner it passes away the better. I also have friends who are very much into fixing things in the here and now, not thinking about the hereafter at all. Wright makes the case that I very much agree with: Both are missing something! He also struck a chord with me, especially in light of this dedication in my yet to be published novel: "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale:"

This little book is dedicated to those brave young people, who though I shall not name them here, will likely recognize bits of themselves in the characters I portray. I apologize beforehand for this intrusion into your privacy but feel that the world so desperately needs your story. Your very real dedication and bravery inspired this book and it cannot be written without a foundation of such truth. Most of all it is dedicated to my beautiful wife, of whom the accolade: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" is most fitting. You have stood by me in good times and bad. We have shared in the raising of some incredible young people who inhabited our own home. You have poured your love and wonder into the lives of countless students. I love you with all my being!!!

It is because we both love young people so that I write this. It is but a poor attempt to offer hope and direction to a world so devoid of it. We err, perhaps, in pointing to the hope of the hereafter without providing adequate models and renderings of that Kingdom and those who have labored to bring it into the world we inhabit now. The water that will quench the soul's thirst is dismissed because those who profess to bear it often seem, (to the society around them,) preoccupied with apocalyptic visions and derision for the world as it is now. It is not wrong to love such things, but they are not easily shared with those for whom the flower of life is yet to come. No bride-to-be, having just unwrapped her wedding planner, wants to engage in a lengthy discourse on Eschatology!

Jeremiah of old told those in exile to "Build, Plant, Marry and Have Children, Prosper and Pray!" [1.] Jeremiah 29:4-7 -- and to be sure, there are many who do. They just don't make the headlines very often. The historical references in this work, and there are probably too many, are essential to understanding how men and women have navigated dangerous times before. They are most necessary to show how one can indeed have vision for one's own times and hope in a greater, unseen reality as well."
-- Excerpt from "Pontifus, The Bridge Builder's Tale"  ©Copyright, 2015, The Kirchman Studio

Referencing 1 Corinthians 15:58, Wright presents the important idea that our work here in this world is not wasted. It is incredibly important to the building of the Kingdom to come! Just as human marriage is a picture of Christ and his Church, there is much to do to point the way and give vision to the Unseen Kingdom. Wright continues: "I have no idea precisely what this means. I do not know how the painting an artist paints today in prayer and wisdom will find a place in G-d’s new world. I don’t know what musical instruments we will have to play Bach, though I’m sure Bach’s music will be there. 

I don’t know how my planting a tree today will relate to the wonderful trees that will be in G-d’s recreated world. I don’t know how my work for justice for the poor, for remission of global debts, will reappear in that new world. But I know that G-d’s new world of justice and joy, of hope for the whole earth, was launched when Jesus came out of the tomb on Easter morning: I know he calls me and you to live in him and by the power of his spirit, and so to be new-creation people here and now, giving birth to signs and symbols of the kingdom on earth as in heaven. 

The resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Spirit mean that we are called to bring forth real and effective signs of G-d’s renewed creation even in the midst of the present age. Not to do so is at best to put ourselves in the position of those Second Temple Jews who believed they had to wait passively for G-d to act – when G-d has acted in Jesus to inaugurate his kingdom on earth as in heaven. At worst, not to bring forth works and signs of renewal in G-d’s creation is to collude, as gnosticism always does, with the forces of sin and death."

Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the time when people of all nations are joined in communion with G-d:

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord G-d omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of G-d."

In Isaiah 60 [4.] and in Revelation 21 Believers look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [5.]

And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from G-d out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and G-d himself shall be with them, and be their G-d." -- Revelation 21:1-3

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Journey to Jesus, a mural depicting the nations coming to Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation 21. Mural by Kristina Elaine Greer and Bob Kirchman

Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].

Our Christian hope is that we're going to live with Christ in a new Earth, where there is not only no more death, but where life is what it was always meant to be." -- Timothy Keller.

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The hope of Heaven and New Earth.

A Lesson from the Missionaries

Wes Stafford, founder of Compassion International, remembers with great joy the times he and his missionary father dug wells together. He happily recalls the tired, sweaty, muddy process of ensuring clean water for the villages in Africa that they served. Father and son came home tired and filthy and the people saw a beautiful illustration of the love of G-d! Clean wells, fenced off so that cattle could not foul them, meant healthy children instead of sickly ones. Lives were saved and the people, through that expression of love, were moved to trust in Christ!

The Staffords excitedly sent photographs of the whole operation, dirty faces and all. They surely would be an exciting part of the mission's newsletter. To their dismay, when the newsletter arrived, there were no pictures of the well digging. It wasn't about 'salvation' in the eyes of the mission board. Yet it had resulted in real salvation (earthly as well as Heavenly) to the villagers! Years later, as head of Compassion International, Wes Stafford still presides over the digging of a lot of wells!

Tragically, the board's earthward myopia extended to the boarding school for missionary kids that Wes and his sister attended. Those who washed out as missionaries were assigned to teach at the school. Not seeing the school as an important work of G-d, the children were poorly cared for, sometimes even abused, and the faith of many was destroyed. In his book: Too Small to Ignore, [2.] Stafford makes the case that the work of teaching and caring for children is paramount in the work of the Kingdom of G-d.

Passing the Torch

Perhaps the greatest lesson Stafford's father ever taught was in the digging of the wells. Wes grew up with practical experience in participating in the building of the Kingdom. That lesson would stick with him as he grew to head Compassion International. There is a poem by Gary Snyder: Axe Handles [click to read] which captures the Sacred process quite nicely:

I am an axe And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on."

How are we doing as teachers. Not very well, I fear. As we are all too eager to see this world pass away, our young adults busy themselves with apocalyptic video games. The sad truth is that both generations have lost the mandate to build the Kingdom. A little child, it turns out, will teach me a "more excellent way." We are outside her house together... initially we set out to dig in the snow. Perhaps we'll build a snowman.

But we notice the chaos of snow and ice on the path to the trash cans. I chip, she digs. We create a beautiful clear walk for the neighbors. Then we clear off some sidewalk. The young child is clearly enjoying the whole process. But my adult mind soon grows restless that we have not built the snowman! Funny, how the adult mind can be distracted so easily!

It is only later that I realize that the child has been the teacher that day. We created a small patch of beauty (and safety) for her neighbors. She indeed saw that such labor was a good thing. No pontification, just a simple model, simply followed. We were making something together! Didn't Jesus say that: "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!" -- Luke 18:16

The Fragrance of Eden
Wisdom from an Old Rebbe

AT on Hazeltop
In the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Here is a Beautiful Story [click to read] of an old Rebbe who's devotion to G-d's work of redemption shaped the way he lived his own life. The wise man was told one day that the Messiah had come and was in the steet outside. The man opened the window, sniffed the air outside and declared the so-called 'Messiah' a fraud. His instincts told him the coming Messiah would bring with him the sweet fragrance of Eden, the fragrence of the divine presence in the tabernacle and the temple, that was lost when the Glory departed.

Years later, the Rebbe's son wondered why his father had to go to the window to sniff the air. Surely the sweet smell of redemption would come into the house. His son then realized that the father had lived his life in devotion to torah study and the expectancy of Messiah's coming. His life, so lived, gave his own dwelling place the fragrance of what he hoped for. Thus it was necessary for him to smell the air outside his house to know if what he hoped for had truly appeared.

May our faith and devotion create such an aroma in our own dwelling places!

Spring Crocus
Spring Crocus

THYME Magazine: The Crocus Chronicles

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Crocus
Volume IX, Issue IXa

The Crocus Chronicles

The first crocus made its appearance last week and the series of photographs I took of it suggested the coming of the much deferred Springtime in C. S. Lewis' classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Some thought provoking quotations from that work have been included with the photographs, which hopefully capture the anticipation the characters in that story had as Aslan, the King drew closer!

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First Crocus I, Photo by Bob Kirchman

Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time." "Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did not quite know what to say." -- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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First Crocus II, Photo by Bob Kirchman

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."
-- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)

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First Crocus III, Photo by Bob Kirchman

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." -- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)


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First Crocus IV, Photo by Bob Kirchman

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

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First Crocus V, Photo by Bob Kirchman

But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

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First Crocus VI, Photo by Bob Kirchman

None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning--either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in it's inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of Summer." -- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)

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First Crocus VII, Photo by Bob Kirchman

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different - deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

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"The Wood Between the Worlds." Painting by Bob Kirchman.

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” ― C.S. Lewis