The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Cat In The Hat

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Revelation 21:1-5.

The Warren Willis Camp in Fruitland Park will always be a special and holy place for me. It is the place I first received my call; God said “Follow me,” and I am continually amazed by where following God leads me.

The Maggie Brown Dock overlooks Lake Griffin. It is a weathered and wise structure bearing up generations of campers’ hopes and dreams, worries and confessions. The dock is an incredible place to watch the sunrise. The way the colors dance across the sky is truly incredible.

My friend Malinda Rains is a talented artist across a number of mediums – including Taylor Swift dance moves! She snapped a photo one morning of the sunrise from the dock. It captured the colors in the sky as the backdrop to the camp cross that floats in the lake. Adjacent to the cross was a fishing boat and a fisherman attending to his work. Upon seeing her photo I commissioned this watercolor from Malinda.

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(Upon receiving the watercolor, I commissioned the frame from Andrew!)

When I think of New Creation, Malinda’s image – first painted by God’s own hand – comes to mind. The night has passed and the day lies open before me. Light breaks and embraces me. And I am called to serve – to attend to the responsibilities God places before me – keeping always near the cross.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people’” (Mt 4:19).

Today. Tomorrow.

Always.

What is your image of New Creation? How does it inspire you to attend to the responsibilities God places before you? Share your thoughts with a family member or friend. I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Prayer: “There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”* Amen.

*“Hymn of Promise,” The United Methodists Hymnal 707.

 

 

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The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Butter Battle Book

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13.

Joshua is teething. Our wonderfully content little man…is now a wonderfully cranky little man. Poor guy. It is true what they say – it is good that babies are the ones that teeth and that they (we) forget the pain. Adults could not endure it.

Watching Joshua teethe, attempting to soothe him, or listening as he gives Andrew a piece of his mind about teething during the late night hours is hard. It is hard to watch and attempt to soothe and listen to someone you love experience pain.

We rock Joshua. We sing to him. We offer him a cold teething ring. We assure him that the pain will pass. We offer him something to eat and, when necessary, pain reliever. He is not left alone in his pain. Our nearness assures him that we see, we know, and we walk alongside. Our nearness communicates our commitment to him. Our nearness and our presence in his pain – not to increase it but to comfort him in hopes of alleviating the pain – is an expression of our love.

Our world is full of all sorts of pain. And sadly there are many in this world that sit alone in their pain – some through self-selection and others that have sought listening ears and warm hearts and found only cold shoulders. I am convinced that their pain – our pain – would be surely eased and well on its way to being healed by giving and receiving the gift of nearness, which entails both companionship and compassion.

Sometimes when we see a loved one in pain, we can fix the situation. Andrew or I can offer Joshua a teether and that does the trick! But other times we cannot fix the pain; it is either beyond our capacity to fix or it is not our role to fix. No matter the circumstance, what we can do – and it is hard! – is show our loved one empathy by sitting with them in their pain. The intent of sitting with them is not to further exacerbate their pain but to acknowledge that it is real, and, that if it is a concern for their heart, then it is a concern for ours, too.

Pain, and often the shame that accompanies it, intensifies when we feel we are all alone, which is why the Apostle Paul calls our attention to “a more excellent way” – which is the way of love expressed through companionship and compassion. This is the love that we receive from God because God first loved us. This is the love that bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. This is the love that never fails. This is the love that never ends.

When was a time someone showed you empathy? How did that nearness comfort you and heal your pain? Who is God placing on your heart to connect with this week? How might sharing God’s gift of nearness alter their circumstances for the better?

Prayer: “Your love, O God, has called us here, for all love finds its source in you, the perfect love that casts out fear, the love that Christ makes ever new.”* Amen.

*“Your Love, O God, Has Called Us Here,” The United Methodist Hymnal 647.

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Sneetches

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Galatians 3:23-29.

The film Hidden Figures tells the powerful story of black female compute-ers that were integral to the United States’ success in the 1960s Space Race. Two of the most impactful scenes in this film for me feature bathrooms.

You read that right – bathrooms.

In the first scene, Katherine Goble, recently assigned to NASA’s Space Task Group, stands soaking wet in the middle of the Space Task Group’s Command Center – the lone black woman surrounded by white men, including her supervisor, Al Harrison – and defends why she is away from her desk forty minutes a day. Cold and embarrassed with her mascara running because of the rain and her anger, she responds, “There is no bathroom for me here. There are no colored bathrooms in this building or anywhere outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself…so excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.”

The scene ends with Al Harrison breaking the Colored Restroom Sign off the wall on the West Campus with a crowbar and telling Katherine, “Use whatever bathroom you want, preferably one closer to your desk.”

In the second scene, Dorothy Vaughn finds herself in the women’s restroom – not white restroom or colored restroom just the women’s restroom – with Vivian Mitchell. Dorothy, a black woman, functions as the supervisor for the West Campus compute-ers without the title or the pay while Vivian, a white woman, is the supervisor of the East Campus compute-ers with all the rights and benefits that entails. Earlier in the film viewers see inside the Colored Restroom – dismal and gray, lacking in essential supplies like soap and paper towels – whereas the White restroom is rosy, warm, stocked and sparkling. Dorothy pauses, not taking for granted that there is soap in the dispenser and paper towels awaiting her use. Vivian comes toward a sink and her eyes lock on Dorothy’s. Vivian says, “Despite what you think, I don’t have anything against y’all,” meaning persons of color. Dorothy, without missing a beat, responds, “I know you probably believe that” and exits the restroom.

Scene One communicates the message that we are all one.

Scene Two asks if we really are all one…do we say it, believe it, and act it or do we say it but believe and act otherwise?

This week in worship we will study Paul’s words to the Galatians that affirm, “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26 and 28). We will explore what it means for us to all be one, especially in light of the challenges that seek to chip away at the unity God desires us share, through the lens of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches. I look forward to worshipping with you. 

Prayer: “In Christ shall true hearts everywhere their high communion find; his service is the golden cord close binding humankind.”* Amen.

*”In Christ There Is No East Or West,” The United Methodist Hymnal 548.

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Zax

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 15:11-24.

Joshua Emory Andrew’s arrival ushered in numerous changes to my and Andrew’s life – and we would not have it any other way. For example, house cleaning now only occurs during morning naps. Eating now resembles the sport of juggling. And evenings spent reading theology books have been replaced with reading storybooks.

Become a parent – graduate back to books with pictures.

I consider that a win.

I am grateful for all of the books Joshua received from the showers celebrating his arrival. We have enjoyed reading so many already and I look forward to the days we can talk about what we read as a family. So many books draw their themes and main ideas from Scripture. They may not quote Scripture directly, but their lessons remind us of words and truths shared in the greatest story ever told.

This Sunday the Tuskawilla UMC Family begins a new sermon series inspired by some of the books on Joshua’s shelf, “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss.” We will study the Parable of the Prodigal Child through the eyes of Seuss’ The Zax. Many of us know this parable well; I hope studying it alongside The Zax will deepen our knowledge and understandings in new ways.

And so as we start our six-week journey with Seuss, let us frame our adventure with words he would use,

Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never foget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!*

We hope you will join us in 11:00 Worship this Sunday to celebrate Joshua Emory Andrew’s baptism and to highlight your favorite Scripture verse in his Bible so as he begins learning the greatest story ever told, he will know you journey with him. If you will not be in worship this week, I welcome you to share your favorite Scripture passage with me to be highlighted in his Bible. A lite reception will follow worship in the Family Room.

Prayer: “High King of heaven, my victory won, May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”** Amen.

*“O The Places You’ll Go” – Dr. Seuss

**“Be Thou My Vision,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 451.