A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Halloween: Be Not Afraid

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

What a difference a day makes.

24 hours
1440 minutes
1 Cyclops

The perfect fall day.
Blue skies, puffy white clouds,
and the trees  of the woods majestically presenting their colors.
Birds were chirping and frolicking in flight,
and the air was a delightful 70 degrees with a gentle breeze.

It could have been the front cover of any autumnal magazine.

My dog, Bushy and I were out on the lawn
playing his favorite game,  fetch.

With each throw, my Springer Spaniel galloped with delight.
He would circle around his Master with ball in mouth,
proudly parading his find.

On a day that anyone would wish would never end,
Bushy knew that fetch, would be followed by a treat and a belly rub.
Life was good.

FRIDAY (24 hours earlier)

A beautiful autumn day
The sun was shining, 
the trees were painting a Picasso over the landscape,
and the afternoon temperatures warmed the earth.

My dog, Bushy and I were out on the lawn
playing his favorite game,  fetch.
Life was good……..for now.

It wasn’t obvious right away.
The first hint was the ceasing of the birds’ singing.

As the creation got quiet,
it was replaced by a roar that started off in the distance
but with each second began to swell like an incoming ocean wave.

Bushy stopped and stared out onto the horizon.
After a momentary inspection, he resumed his game.
In all of his prancing,
he didn’t noticed that a dust cloud was building just over the hill.
With each passing moment,
the cloud rose higher into the sky.
The roar was closer.

Something was coming and it demanded his attention.
Bushy dropped his ball to the ground and laid down to face the distraction.

But this was not a distraction. It was an invasion.
The dust cloud beyond the horizon was now so large that particles of leaves 
began to fall to the earth on its periphery.

Bushy had defended the land in the past.
There had been the potbellied pig that had come up the hill in search of food,
numerous cats out on nocturnal searches,
deer who emerged at dusk from the woodlands,
rabbits and squirrels who dared to call the land their home.
and humans who for whatever reason, sought to plunder the land.

Bushy lay on the ground and stared toward the rumble. 
His response began with a low growl
but the invader’s roar only grew louder in response.
Bushy arose to full attention, his tail moved to the alert position.
Then he saw it……

It was beyond big, it was mammoth
it was devouring everything in its path.
And it was headed directly toward Master, home, hearth, and all that Bushy held so dearly.

David had faced his Goliath.
But proportionally, this Goliath was 30 stories tall.

The watchman in the Titanic’s crow’s nest saw the iceberg,
but this impending disaster did not wait for its prey,
but moved steadily towards it.

Homer had his Cyclops,
but this beast dwarfed the classical giant.

If my dog were a Bible reading canine,
this would be Revelations Chapter 13,
the seven headed, ten horned Beast coming out of the sea.

The Beast fully emerged from over the horizon.
Bushy stared it down.
A low growl matured into a five alarm bark.

But the Beast was unfazed.
It’s roar turned into a deafening growl.
Dust swirled like a tornado as it drew closer.

Bushy got up on his hindquarters 
and dared Cyclops to come closer.
Cyclops did not care.

There is a moment in each man or dog’s life when he must decide what to do…..
to fight or to flee.

As the beast from the pit came within yards of the property line
Bushy did what any self-respecting 52lb ball of furry cuteness would do………..

He ran and hid under the porch
and whimpered like a little baby.

Halloween is a lot like a dog who sees a farm combine for the first time.
Halloween is all about fear……
fear of the unknown,
fear of being alone,
fear of death and what happens thereafter,
fear of the Cyclopses in our lives.

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing.
It is an emotion that is built into us if we believe we are in mortal danger.
It is a survival emotion.

But fear also arises if we feel disconnected from our Savior and the rest of the world.
When we feel disconnected, isolated, unheard, unseen, shameful, guilty, and alone,
fear is a natural response.

Fear is an impulse endowed by our Creator to help us 
not only to survive but to return to Him for shelter and safety.

But, like anything else, when it is not in balance, it can cause all kinds of mayhem in our lives. And unbalanced anything leads to disaster.

Because we fear, doesn’t mean God isn’t with us.
It simply means we have yet to learn how to trust him with those things that cause fear.

Is your life more like October 31 than November 1?
Is your life governed more by fear or by hope?
That’s the difference between a Halloween or All Saints Day faith.

24 hours   
It’s the difference of one day.
And it makes all the difference in your life.

24 hours
That’s about how long it took me to get Bushy out from under the porch.

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