I woke up this morning to a special treat… a quiet and peaceful backyard, where I could enjoy my flowers and the birds and a cup of coffee in peace for once.
This was an unusual gift, because on normal mornings the cats need attention, the chickens are clucking to get out of their cages, and the dogs want to play. And one of them invariably makes me spill my coffee on my bathrobe. But this morning Ade had left at the crack of dawn to drive up to the family farm with his brothers, taking the dogs along with him.
Now, I realize that I may have just opened up a can of worms by admitting that Ade went to the farm this morning, because….
YES, today is Sunday. And NO, he didn’t get back in time for church.
I could offer several excuses for this, starting with the fact that Ade will be out of town for the next two weeks on “real missionary trips.” Also, Jesus condoned taking care of livestock on the Sabbath, and our cattle and sheep needed their worm medicine. But trying to make sure that I don’t upset anyone by admitting that we might skip church every now and then is only going to distract from the real point of this story, which began when I realized that the dogs were gone for the morning.
Taking advantage of having the backyard to myself, I grabbed three magazines from the collection that several different visitors brought when they came to Peru for the Huaylas Quechua Bible dedication in August.
I didn’t pay much attention to the selection until I settled into my yard chair and this is what I discovered… a recipe magazine, and two Christian periodicals from church denominations on completely opposite ends of the theological spectrum.
(The paradox of this collection almost made me laugh out loud!)
Leaving the recipe magazine out of the mix for the moment, here’s what I found when I leafed through the two denominational publications…
Both shared inspiring articles about missions. Each one mentioned (in a positive way) the roles of women in the church. I found advertisements for books about President Trump in both magazines. One magazine had an article that referenced Billy Graham, with nods to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien in the other… all three of whom were very solid men of the faith, if you ask me. I also read articles in both magazines about appreciating God’s good and beautiful gifts.
As I was skimming through these magazines and thinking about what most of us see as HUGE differences between the two denominations, I caught myself thinking,
“Wouldn’t it be nice if people from both sides could forget those differences for a moment and just get along?”
Then I realized that the moment I wished for actually HAD happened, and the two magazines in my hands were proof. The date was August 9, 2019, and the event was a “gringo open house” in the same backyard where I was enjoying my coffee this morning. At least 80 ex-pats had traveled to Peru for the Quechua Bible dedication, and we invited all of them to our home the day before the main event, so they could chat with old friends, meet new friends, hear the story of the Bible translation program, and praise God together for what He had done.
Take a minute to look through the pictures. You’ll see a lot of people helping… talking… singing… laughing… getting to know each other… remembering fun times…
What you DON’T see in these pictures is anyone arguing over the 5 points of Calvinism or trying to convince the “other side” that the sign gifts should (or should NOT) still be practiced today. And no one is refusing to sing next to someone from “one of those churches” because the theological arguments really didn’t matter that afternoon.
And the thing is, I KNOW that there were people on both sides of the arguments in our backyard that day, because two people in this crowd (I don’t even know who) brought me the magazines I was reading this morning. But for that one afternoon, and actually throughout the entire weekend, it didn’t matter what type of church someone attended, or how one interpreted certain passages of the Scripture.
We were together for a different reason…
… to celebrate the finished translation of God’s Word for a people who had been waiting way too long to be able to hold a copy in their hands.
Now, I could end my post right here, but because I’m a former English teacher, I need to tie up a few loose ends.
First, the title of my post…
Faith & Beauty
I chose one word from the front cover of each of the magazines I was reading this morning. And don’t just smugly assume that you know which word graced the cover of which denominational publication… because I’m pretty sure that your guess would be incorrect! (Mine would have been.)
And the other loose end that my English teacher’s mind must resolve?
The recipe magazine… (which I actually still haven’t read… but that cake sure looks good!)
While the other two magazines have a Christian focus, this magazine centers on FOOD. And even though we shouldn’t eat cake every day, we all know that we can’t survive without food. And we also know that we can’t survive in our life of faith without food… and that food is the Word of God. We can read all the denominational publications we want without finding any real nourishment to help us grow… that will only come from the Bible.
The beauty of this life of faith comes when we can leave behind some of our theological differences in order to celebrate the small part that each one of us shares in bringing this spiritual food to people who have been going hungry for so long.