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Out Our Way: 'Doney Gal'

Mathew 16:15

 

April 13, 2018



Out our way, the cycle of seasons and their labors just keeps rolling along. Every task leads to another and another after that and so forth. It is a cycle of seasons and we learn to rejoice in each one. I recall in college singing a song called “Doney Gal” in which a cowhand laments to his horse, “We’re alone Doney Gal in the wind and sun, but a cowboy’s work is never done.” I suspect most cowboys, farmers, businessfolk, shopkeepres, teachers and students and especially moms and dads would agree with that.

But it’s amazing how many church folk forget that fact when it comes to being the people of God.  I recall in seminary the remark was made that there were two types of church folks — the regulars and the C.E. folks — Christmas and Easter. I know it is common in all faiths for a small faithful  remnant to “hold the fort” for most of the year only to find a swell in their ranks of the casual religious folks  during the high holy days. But then what?

Now we have just completed the season of Lent and Easter — and for the casual believer, the Christian year is ended until Christmas, Indeed, even some faithful attendees think the Christ story begins with Christmas  and ends with the resurrection.  It is as if they have reduced God’s message to the for Gospels and have forgotten or ignored  all of the Old Testament and most of the New. And if such is the case then they may as well toss out the Gospels a well, for they cannot understand its message except as part of the whole story.

I have sometimes noted that the Book of Acts is an unfinished book, for it only tells us of the beginning of the church’s story — of our story. For remember the Great Commission. Christ does not tell His followers to go and make Christians of all nations, nor even believers.  He commands them to make disciples.

A disciple is more than an admirer, devotee, or fan. The word “disciple” and the word “discipline” come from the same root.  For a disciple is not just a believer or even a follower, he or she is an apprentice.

In following Christ we are learning to be like Him, to seek to become examples to the creation of the Gospel (Good News) Christ delivered in His coming. As another Seminary professor put it, “Our job as disciples is not only to demonstrate to the world that God means to save us, but that He has the means to save us.”

“The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Go on. Check it out. Read the whole chapter and get the feel and context of it.  This is not some cute “bumper sticker” theology but headline theology! There is a Plan and this is the reminder there is also The Planner. And now comes the good news that everyone of us is called to be part of the Plan. Easter is not the “happy ending of a fairy tale” as some scoffers suppose and hope, but the prologue to the rest of the story, the overture to the Great Opera that has begun. The story has just begun and you are one of the lead characters. Why are you on stage at this moment in time? What is your roll? To hide behind the curtains and try to sneak back stage? Or to walk on stage and play your part. What is your part? Look inside where the Playwrite is. “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

I have known people who scoff at righteousness and justice — but I have never known any who did not, deep down inside, know it when they saw it. How many agnostics and athesists have you ever heard claim something was “not fair?” It may be true that the human soul can be dried up, shriveled and starved to almost nothing, but it still remains. And many whose souls are merely going hungry can manage to feed and nourish it and grow healthy again if they will take the time and care to do so,

Years ago I met the scariest looking inmate I have ever seen while doing a ministry program in a prison. “Tiny” had tattoos all over and was about 400 pounds and 6 feet 7 inches of the scariest looking man I had ever met.  And then I met him and discovered behind that huge and frightening hulk was an even bigger man whose heart was filling the room.  Tiny was no longer evil, but had found and begun to feed his soul.  I don’t know what Tiny did when he got out but I expect eventually he was back in prison — no longer an inmate, but a man of God and a preacher sharing the love of Christ.

The story of Jesus did not end with Easter, but moved on into the church which moved on into the world, which is now moving on to the darkestcorners of people’s hearts. I saw the “resurrection” in Tiny as I saw the Gospel message reaching the darkest corners of that prison.  And other inmates started to be raised up from the dead of the past and into the life everlasting, even behind bars.

Tiny is a disciple and in him Christ continues to minister and heal his neighbors. In a small way, I hope I am also a disciple and that I too continue the work and the story.  Keep going, fellow disciples, for like that cow.

——

Brother John Bruington and Doc keep on plugging and know many of you do as well. A cowboy’s work is never done — nor a disciple’s.  Ain’t we glad!

 

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