“Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world. . . “~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Sunday, February 2, 2014. We’re expecting freezing rain/sleet today. I hate February. I know I’m not supposed to “hate.” But February is an inanimate thing, not even an object. In fact, it’s nothing more than an arbitrary concept. Therefore, I can hate February with no guilt.

Besides being Groundhog Day, the day when Punxsatawney Phil allegedly determines whether we will get Spring or six more weeks of winter (which is extremely silly because 1) we DO have six more weeks of winter, and 2) seriously?? A groundhog predicting weather??) it is also the day of a lesser known small animal. Yes, today is “Hedgehog Day.” Hedgehogs are similar to groundhogs, but with a body covered with spikes for a defense mechanism, not unlike the porcupine. The hedgehog advantage is that, when threatened, the little hedgehog can roll up into a ball, with spikes pointing every which way. Another note of trivia: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released in the U.S. on this date in 1994. It is also a Roman tradition that predates Groundhog Day.

Today is also Super Bowl “Big Game” day, for all of you football fans (I still don’t understand how it is “football”). In the spirit of the day, I will share with you a fellow blogger’s opinion, giving Ten Reasons Why Baseball Is Better than Football. Yes, I believe he has nailed it. Nevertheless, weather permitting, we will have another family over at our abode this evening for snacks and such. The game will be on the TV. Will anyone be watching it? Who knows? I will say this. I’ve had a difficult time deciding who I want to cheer for, should I cheer at all. Apparently, the quarterbacks for both teams are Christians. Russell Wilson, however, the QB for Seattle was acquired by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft (don’t ask me what this is, I haven’t a clue) last year. So I’m leaning toward cheering for the Seahawks.

We had a good service last night at our church, The Exchange. We had a small, intimate gathering, circled around the pastor as he spoke to us about “Invitation with Challenge,” the third of our core values. Using the passage in Mark where Jesus called out his first four disciples, he talked to us about the need to balance invitation and challenge in our lives. Jesus invited first, by saying “Follow me.” But then he immediately challenged the invitees to something completely new to them.

On this date in 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed. The American League was not formed until 1901. The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first established baseball club, formed in 1869. In 1871, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was formed. But the National League was formed by Chicago businessman William Hulbert, because he believed the Association was mismanaged and corrupt. The original eight members of the National League were the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves), the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs), Cincinnati Red Stockings (later shortened to simply Reds), the Hartford Dark Blues, the Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the St. Louis Brown Stockings. According to this source, the NL remained an eight-team league until as late as 1962 when the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s joined. Other sources have the league expanding earlier, but then dropping back to eight teams. (Source: History.com)

Today’s birthdays are James Joyce, author, 1882, Frank Lloyd, actor/director, 1888, Howard Johnson, hotelier, 1897, Ayn Rand, author, 1905, Clarence “Buster” Crabbe, swimmer/actor, 1908, An Wang, founder of Wang Computers, 1920, Al “Red” Schoendienst, baseball manager, 1923, Tom Smothers, comedian/yo-yo expert, 1937, Graham Nash, musician, 1942, Howard Bellamy, singer, 1946, Farrah Fawcett, actress, 1947 (Corpus Christi, TX), Peter Lucia, drummer (Tommy James & The Shondells), 1947, Ross Vallory, bass player (Journey), 1949, Tom Tripplehorn, guitarist (Gary Lewis & The Playboys), 1949, Christie Brinkley, model, 1954, Scott Erickson, pitcher, 1968, Lori Beth Denberg, actress (All That), 1976, Shakira, singer, 1977, and Data, android, 2338.

Ross Valory is one of the original members of the rock group Journey, and still performs with the band today. Here is a song from when Steve Perry was still with the group.


(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1, 3
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Psalm 17:6
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:13

There is good advice in the weekend reading for In Touch magazine. Using John 6:1-14 as the text, the reading emphasizes that, when faced with what appears to be an impossible situation, we must not try to engineer our own circumstances. Rather than despairing and thinking, “What will I do?” we must have faith in God and ask, “What are YOU going to do?” We must remember 1 Peter 5:6-7, which says, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Making Our Home in Jesus.” In John 14:4, Jesus says, Abide in me, and I in you. The word “abide” can be said to mean “dwell,” or “remain.” Brennan uses the Jerusalem Bible translation in the reading, which says, “Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.” “Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world. . . ”

Home is the place, the “sacred space,” whether external or internal, “where we don’t have to be afraid, where we are confident of hospitality and love.” There many people in our society who are “homeless;” they have no place to sleep, no shelter save a cardboard box under a bridge. But we also have “vagabonds who are in flight, who never come home to themselves.” They are constantly on the hunt for a “safe place,” but through alcohol, drugs, success, crime, pleasure, knowledge, or, perhaps, even religion. They are “strangers to themselves, people who have an address but are never at home, who never hear the voice of love or experience the freedom of God’s children.”

To all of us who find ourselves in flight, jesus says, “You have a home. . . I am your home. . . claim me as your home. . . you will find it to be the intimate place where I have found my home. . . it is right where you are. . . in your innermost being. . . in your heart.”

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

Father, I praise you that you have drawn me into this safe place of home with you. While confess that there is still much work to be done on my “abiding,” I feel safe in the “home” that has been made for me in Christ. Each day, each week, I feel just a bit more safe in this “sacred space.” I know that I am accepted; I know that I am safe; I know that I will not be cast out, no matter what mistakes I might make. There have been times in the past where I have found myself in flight from this home, seeking satisfaction in things that never should have been happening. But you have always drawn me back to your safety. Lord, you are my rock and my fortress, my security. There is no place safer. And during this time of sudden uncertainty, as Christi has been laid off, we cling desperately to this security, this safety, anticipating what you will do.

I pray for this day. If we get the freezing rain/sleet that is forecast, I pray that it will be minimal and not cause travel issues for tomorrow’s drive to work. I pray for safety for everyone who is having gatherings for tonight’s big game event. I pray for both of the quarterbacks and any other players on either team who might be believers. May they be the best witness to your grace that they can be during this time.

Keep us in your safe place, Father.

Where is your home? Have you found a safe place yet?

Grace and peace, friends.