A novel idea

Post 47/2021 Friday 19 November . . . I recently read an article about the Human Library. The idea is that this library brings people together just as a regular library does. On its website, the Human Library says it “creates a safe space for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between human books and their readers.” What a novel idea for addressing social barriers. The Human Library has been operating since 2000.

I came across the Human Library in a feature by John Blake (11/14) in CNN health, titled, “This library lets you borrow people instead of books. It just may help bridge our bitter divisions.” On its website, the Human Library says, “All of our human books are volunteers with personal experience with their topic. The Human Library is a place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.”

As I said, what a novel idea. Unjudge a book by its cover. Engage in civil discourse. Get candid answers. Build bridges. Be direct. Engage. As in a regular library, lower your voice and raise your mind.

Scenes at Greencroft Goshen

These are photos since Sunday, November 14.

Walking the Elkhart River Preserve

I saw a flash of white in the distance in a circular walk in a field between the the River Preserve’s Benton Hydro Spillway and Elkhart River, and then saw these two white-tail deer peering at us. White-tail deer are Indiana’s only representative of the family Cervidae, which includes mule deer, elk and moose. White-tail deer were reintroduced in the state between 1934-1942.

Walking to dinner

On Tuesday we walked to meet family for a Pad Thai dinner at Goshen Brewing Co. From home we zig zagged across the Greencroft campus, took the path to Goshen College, went past College Mennonite Church and Goshen Hospital, and at the Goshen Dam started on the Canal Path, diverting through the Beachy Classified Forest. After a stop at the Port-a-Pot at Reith Nature Center, we took the pedestrian / bike underpass under Plymouth Avenue to Shanklin Park where we diverted again to a path through the woods along the Elkhart River to Mullet Park. The setting sun cast long shadows on the Elkhart River.
This bridge crosses the Elkhart River to Mullet Park, home to a Disk Golf Course, where a number of players were making the most of it.
The wind in the maple at Mullet Park has created a broad “swept” carpet.

Leaving Mullet Park, we walked along Indiana Avenue to Linway Plaza, traipsed through the Plaza, passed The Chief Ice Cream shop (closed, but getting ready for pint and Christmas tree sales), hustled along Lincoln Avenue, turned slightly right onto another path and did a virtual hop, skip and jump to Goshen Brewing.

The dinner was delicious, as usual, and the occasion was blessed with the surprise presence of great-niece Jenny, home for a week from Boston. We got a ride home (prearranged) and visited over coffee and pumpkin dessert. (We finished the dessert with tea on Wednesday in a long overdue catch up visit with cousin Carol and her husband Vernon).

Meditation: My monarch has my back

Note: This is an abridged version of a message I gave on Thursday in chapel at Evergreen Place, Greencroft Goshen’s assisted living residence. The worship service was recorded for telecast on Christ the King Sunday, November 21, on Greencroft’s internal TV channel.

My monarch has my back

A back sprain kept her from fulfilling her duties, on 14 November. A month ago, she spent a night in hospital and was told by her doctor to stay at home and rest for two weeks. She continued desk work from home.

Following that time of rest, she was still unable to travel, this time to attend the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Last Sunday, because of the back sprain, she was disappointed to miss the Remembrance service at the Cenotaph in London.

Nevertheless, she’s still going strong, dedicated to her role as Queen.

The United Kingdom’s longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizbeth II, is due to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee—70 years on the throne–next year. At age 95, Her Majesty The Queen, continues to fulfill the role that began with her accession to the throne on February 6, 1952, the day her father King George VI, died.

Queen Elizabeth has no plans to give up her reign, even as her family picks up more responsibilities of the royal household. She carries a deep sense of religious and civic duty as supreme governor of the established Church of England and Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms.

Queen Elizabeth models what a good governor is and does. She has ruled well through many shakeups in her realms and church–and family. In her Christmas address in 2000 she said, “To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”

In that address she acknowledged the key role spirituality plays in human life. “Whether we believe in God or not, I think most of us have a sense of the spiritual, that recognition of a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and I believe that this sense flourishes despite the pressures of our world.

“This spirituality can be seen in the teachings of other great faiths,” she continued. “Of course religion can be divisive, but the Bible, the Koran and the sacred texts of the Jews and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, are all sources of divine inspiration and practical guidance passed down through the generations.”

The New Testament Gospel of John speaks of the human/divine personage of whom Queen Elizabeth spoke, Christ the King. John 18:37 records this exchange between Pilate and Jesus: “Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’”

Christ the King has been on the throne for almost 2000 years. Christ the King will not abdicate God’s throne. Jesus is the Christian church’s monarch, sovereign, king.

Our globe is shaken by conflicts, violence, misunderstandings, untruths, neglect, disasters, and harm of many kinds. As followers of Christ, we often miss seeing what our monarch is up to in righting these wrongs. Even as we affirm that Christ is in charge, has authority from God, is our true worship, we must admit that we often see through a glass darkly what God is doing.

Scripture recounts the acts God used to shake up the world, culminating in the birth and reign of the Prince of Peace. God continues to shake things up through Christ the King—even if we only glimpse it dimly. In Jesus, God came as sovereign and savior.

Yorifumi Yaguchi, a poet and teacher in Japan, in a short poem speaks for many at junctures of blurred vision:

And Yet

“Though I pray earnestly

I see no miracle

Yet

I still follow Christ.”

Christ has had a long span of years with most of us here at Greencroft. With Poet Yaguchi, despite our own needs and wants, and perhaps perplexity at the big picture of the world around us, we can declare, “I still follow Christ.” We follow Christ as we declare our faith, trust, and love for the One who reigns, then, now, and forever and ever.

As God continues to work God’s purposes out through all creation, God works not just through us, but in us.

Carol Penner, in a 2017 Christ Is King Sunday sermon in St. Catharines, Ontario, said Christians should not get very wrapped up in saving the world. I say this cautiously, not wanting to downplay or deflect from our faithful stewardship in caring for each other and all of creation.

The crux, however, of what she said, I believe, is stated in these words: “We can’t save the world. We don’t even have to save the world. We worship a Saviour who has done that job.”

She elaborated, “When we lay down the burden of trying to save the world and instead concentrate on just being faithful to the one who reigns forever and ever, we can live more joyfully. We can trust that God has things in hand. When we trust that Christ is reigning, then we can be less judgmental and more forgiving. If our fellow church member doesn’t measure up to our standards of faithfulness, we can let it go. We let it go because we aren’t the one in charge of judging the world.”

When we feel down, we can tune into a spiritual booster shot, such as in this hymn stanza: “Come, thou Almighty King, help us thy name to sing, help us to praise: Father, all glorious, o’er all victorious, come, and reign over us, Ancient of Days.”

In the reign of Christ the King, God has invested what is good and holy in us. Even if the how, when, where, and who our sovereign and savior is shaking up doesn’t appear as breaking news, there are reassuring moments in our lives when we feel God’s breath, sense a power, experience a joy, gain a comfort, discover a peace, and see a present and future world that is almost indescribable.

Whether everything is going on an even keel, or the doctor tells me to rest for two weeks, or I’m unable to regain the stamina I once had, my monarch has my back. Amen

Wrap-up

In the ambience of scented pine, to sit down and converse, to contemplate, to dream, cold-weather-dressed, a thermos of hot tea at hand–a dismissive wave toward the stares or solicitations of passersby–why else would one not put such a bench, among those scattered around Greencroft Goshen, to use?

Fair warning.

-John

6 thoughts on “A novel idea

  1. John, Your weekly posts are always an inspiring read. I especially appreciate the tone of your testimony, your witness to what you see, hear, read, during a week and an ever so subtle, never preachy, statement of what it means to you. I’ll check the website of the Human Library. Such conversations would solve a majority of the globe’s conflicts/disasters.

    Love your outline of walk to GBco! You and Marty are my only Goshen based friends who know or would even dream of making such a walk. We are richly blessed in Goshen-Elkhart County with the abundance of simply beautiful pathways. phyllis

    >

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Phyllis. As you know, some of our walking regime has been honed in the UK as well as on the Bruce Trail in Ontario. As to being subtle I once went on and on with a work colleague about how my preferred approach in communication is understatement. On and on I went, maybe even doing some extreme arm movements. He said, “Yes, I can see.” Ouch.

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  2. How interesting, the human library. I looked it up and read some of the human stories. So nice to look at the people’s faces who wrote the stories. You could feel a connection. How novel.
    Kaye

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