Born of the Spirit

December 7, 2014 - Leave a Response

My mother, Grace C. Hawbaker, passed from this life into the presence of Jesus on November 25, 2014, at the age of 94.

She had asked me to bring the message at her funeral service. I told her that because her favorite biblical theme was that of being born again, I thought I would speak on the Gospel of John, chapter 3, the story of Nicodemus and Jesus. She agreed that would be good. So that is what I did.

Here is the text of my message, given on December 1.

“Born of the Spirit”

A deeply spiritual experience can take place in an ordinary physical setting. So it happened one day in the basement (or cellar, as we called it) of our family farmhouse along the Edenville Road.

An experience with God in the musty cellar of an old farmhouse? Yes. We will return to that basement scene in a few minutes.

When Jesus was here on earth, he had significant conversations with many people. Fortunately for us, because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the writing skills of four men named Matthew, Mark Luke and John, we have a written record of many of those conversations.

For the message today, I want to read one conversation.

The story is well known to many of you. That means it takes mental effort to really enter into the story and see how radical it was at the time, and still is.  But I invite you to make that effort and enter into the story.

The story is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 3. I will read the story in sections, making a few comments as I go.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemuswho was a member of the Jewish ruling council.He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Nicodemus – a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a sub-group of the Jews. They followed the religious rules in the strictest way possible. People would look at Nicodemus and say: “If that’s what it means to be acceptable to God, there’s no hope for me. I could never be that good.”

Nicodemus acknowledges that something special is happening in Jesus. “You are performing miraculous signs. God must be with you.”

And Jesus abruptly introduces a totally new thought.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Well, that sets Nicodemus back a peg.

The kingdom of God – that was Jesus’ favorite theme when he was here on earth. The rule of God, the reign of God. Jesus said it was breaking through. It would come in its fullness in the future, but it was present in a measure here and now.

Now Jesus is saying that no one will see this kingdom unless he is born again.

Born again? What’s that? Nicodemus is mystified, just as you and I would have been if we had been there and had heard those words for the first time in our lives.

So Nicodemus just blurts out his confusion.

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

So Jesus explains a bit more.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c]must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Here Jesus explains that there are two kinds of birth – born of the flesh, and born of the Spirit – with capital “S” referring to the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit.

Born of the flesh – natural physical birth that gives you physical life.

Born of the Spirit – something different from physical birth, something from heaven, from God; something that gives you spiritual life. Made alive on the inside, so that your inner spirit is no longer dead because of sin, but is made alive by God’s Holy Spirit.

Now, as you notice, I’m borrowing a few phrases that come from other parts of the NT, to try to explain what it means to be born of the Spirit. But in this conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus doesn’t explain everything fully. He just lifts up a profound spiritual truth and leaves Nicodemus to think on it.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear the sound, but you can’t be sure where it comes from or where it’s going. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit,” Jesus says.

Jesus points out there is mystery to this new birth. You can’t package it or control it or produce it by human effort. This is God at work, coming to a person who is dead on the inside and making that person alive in a new and powerful way.

I will skip part of the conversation and go on to two more verses.

Being born again involves a clear understanding of what God has done for us in the life death and resurrection of Christ. That’s why this conversation that begins with talk about being born again goes on to include one of the most famous verses in the Bible.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

And v. 17 goes on to give further emphasis to this same truth.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

The NT is rich in language to describe the salvation that God brings to us.

So when the Bible describes the change that happens when a person repents of his sins and believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior, it uses words such as these: forgiven, pardoned, cleansed, justified, saved, enter the kingdom of God – and “born again” is one more NT term to describe that inner change.

So Jesus says to Nicodemus: Don’t be surprised when I say, “You must be born again.” And Jesus says the same thing to everyone.

All this talk about being born again fits the life and personal testimony of my Mother.

I could talk at length about the memories that we four children have of our Mother:

her delight in babies and young children; her hard work as a farm wife and mother; her whistling as she washed the piles of laundry; her cooking and warm hospitality as a hostess; her skill as a seamstress; her collection of fine glassware; her habit of saving everything because “you don’t know – we may have a use for it someday;” the poetry and religious tracts she wrote; her telling spiritual stories at Shalom Christian Academy, holding both students and teachers spellbound; her support of various missions and relief ministries; her formidable skill at playing Scrabble; and her hearty laugh.

But the most pivotal experience of her life was the fact that she was born again.

Like Nicodemus, she came from a strict conservative religious background.

Like Nicodemus, she had no spiritual understanding.

Like Nicodemus, she wanted more.

Mother recalls sitting in a River Brethren meeting in the Hawbaker farmhouse. The preacher was a Daniel Hawbaker, Sr. He had a long beard and sunken eyes and looked just like you would expect of a prophet from the OT. Daniel stood between the living room and the parlor as he preached. He said: “I don’t care what church you belong to – you must be born again!”

At the time Mother didn’t understand what “born again” meant, but the preacher’s bold statement stuck with her.

Later Mother and Daddy attended Brethren in Christ services, where they heard more about being born again. And they heard Christians who were clear in their testimonies, saying that they knew their sins were forgiven, they knew they were saved. So Mother pressed on in her journey, hungry for spiritual certainty.

That brings us to the cellar of our farmhouse in November 1954.

Mother was scrubbing the floor, thinking about all these things, especially wondering about the assurance of salvation. Her 2-year-old son Clifford was sitting on a chair entertaining himself.

Then there came to her a deep inner peace and assurance – that through faith in Jesus Christ her sins were forgiven and she was accepted into the family of God.

The words of Jesus came to her: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. And she realized – this is the new birth I was seeking for.

She said to God, “You can take me to heaven now if you want. This is what I was searching for.” He didn’t take her then, so she said to God, “Whatever there is down the road, I am yours.”

She picked up Clifford from the chair and came upstairs to the kitchen. Daddy had just come in for lunch. She said, “Do you know what just happened to me? I was born again!”

“Well, good for you!” Daddy said.

An experience with God can take place in an ordinary physical setting, even a farmhouse cellar.

I should point out that not long after that Daddy, too, came to an experience of the new birth.

Ever after Mother’s experience in the cellar, she regarded November 2, 1954, as her spiritual birthday. When she gave her testimony at Roxbury Holiness Camp in 2010, she said, “The new birth is so real to me that if you want to send me a birthday card, don’t send it to me in May, when they tell me I was born the first time.  Send it to me in November, when I was born again.”

And a few of her friends have done just that!

For Mother (and Daddy), this was not just a brief experience of joy and emotion. It was the beginning of a life of growing faith, obedience, holiness, love and service to God and other people – which is exactly what the NT describes: a deep personal faith in Christ as Savior, leading to an ongoing life of righteousness, holiness and love, and living in true community with others in the church.

One more thing about the story of Nicodemus:

Through this story God speaks to all of us – to every person here.

Perhaps you have entered into the truth of what Jesus said about the new birth.

You have repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus as your Savior and are born again. If so, you are humbly grateful to God and are living in the joy of his salvation.

Perhaps you are more like Nicodemus – asking questions, not sure, not yet fully committed to Christ.

If that is you, we invite you to take the next step that God is prompting you to take. Bring your questions to Jesus. Trust him fully for the new beginning, the inner transformation that is the new birth. Then come and follow Jesus for the rest of your life.

Your experience will not be exactly like Mother’s, or like anyone else’s – because God is a God of infinite variety, and he will meet you in a way that is real to you.

And to you who are believers, remember how big and all-encompassing is the salvation that God has planned.

We serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit all our lives long.

Then when we die, our spirit goes to be with the Lord – just as the spirit of Grace Catherine Bricker Hawbaker has left us.

But there is more to come. At the end of the age, Christ will return, and our decayed bodies will be raised from the dead, to a new kind of body, the kind Jesus had after his resurrection.

Then still later, God will set up a new heaven and new earth, and in this way he will restore the Paradise that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned.

How great are the wisdom, love and power of God, who lives and reigns forever!

We turn now to a song of hope and confidence in God – a song that has become the theme song of the Hawbaker family.

It started out when Mother was a child. She occasionally went with her Grandmother Peckman to the Lutheran Church near the mountain, near Letterkenny. There, for the first time, she heard the song “It Is Well with My Soul,” and she noticed that her Grandmother joined in singing it heartily.

Later, in her adult life, she came to understand the rich spiritual meaning of the song – and the circumstances of its writing.

Horatio Spafford lived in Chicago in the 1800s. He was a successful lawyer, a Presbyterian and a devoted Christian. Mr. Spafford and his wife had four young daughters. Mrs. Spafford was in poor health, so the whole family planned a trip to Europe, hoping the change of climate would cause improvement in her health. At the last minute, Mr. Spafford had to stay home, but he sent his wife and the four daughters without him. Unfortunately, partway across the Atlantic the ship they were on was rammed by a larger vessel and sank just 12 minutes later.

Mr. Spafford waited apprehensively for news of survivors, and finally, from Cardiff, Wales, came a cablegram from his wife. Two words: “Saved alone.” Their four daughters had perished at sea.

Mr. Spafford set sail for Paris to join his wife there. As the ship neared the general area where the first ship had been destroyed, he sat down and wrote:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billow roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

“It is well with my soul.” And two more stanzas.

Mother cherished the rich spiritual meaning of this song, with its profound statement of confidence in our gracious God. So when Daddy passed away unexpectedly in July 1982, Mother requested that this would be one of the songs used in the funeral service.

During the service, when the congregation sang this song, her oldest son Delbert was seated beside her and observed her singing loud and strong, and he thought: “Here is my Mother, who has just lost her husband to an untimely death, and yet she can sing ‘It is well with my soul.’ She has something I do not have. “

That led Delbert to a time of serious reflection. In the days after the funeral he listened to that song repeatedly on tape, and it was instrumental in his committing his life to Christ in a life-changing way.

So for all these reasons this song has become the theme song for our family, and we would be pleased to have you sing it with us.

 

 

 

 

Travels in the Middle East

October 4, 2014 - Leave a Response

We have been spending nearly two weeks in the Middle East.

First we went to an unnamed nation, where we met some friends, spent time with them, reviewed the work they are doing, and went to a few local sights.

Then we came to Istanbul, Turkey, where we are staying in Orient Hostel for about a week.

If you enjoy eating tomatoes and cucumbers, then the Middle East is the place for you. In our experience restaurants serve fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers every breakfast and at many other meals.

The major attractions of Istanbul are as magnificent as you have heard.

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Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), above, was first a Christian church, then a Muslim mosque, and now a museum. Restoration is going on in the interior, so you see gigantic scaffolding on the left in the interior view.

 

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The Blue Mosque, above. so called because of  the abundance of blue tiles in the interior. It is properly called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

I was surprised to learn that Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are one block apart, facing each other across a lovely walking area with grass, trees and a water fountain.

One day we took a side trip to the ruins of ancient Ephesus, traveling by plane to Izmir and then joining a bus tour group to Selcuk and Ephesus. The excavated ruins are extensive. The original city must have been a wonder.

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The facade of the Library of Celsus. Three arches on the right (although not all three are seen in my photo) lead to another street.

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The Grand Theater, or amphitheater, which figured prominently in the riot started by the craftsmen who sold images of the goddess Artemis, as told in Acts 19, part of the Apostle Paul’s experiences on his missionary journeys.

According to tradition the Apostle John lived and served as a church leader in Ephesus. The Church of St. John is at what is now the town of Selcuk, and a marble slab marks the place in the front of the church where John is buried.

It was huge privilege to visit this area and try to imagine the important Christian events that took place here.

I suggest that you add Istanbul and Ephesus to your list of “must see” places!

 

 

 

Learning about London

June 12, 2014 - Leave a Response

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lots of daylight here. Sunrise at 4:44 AM, sunset at 9:16 PM.

Weather: mostly sunny, cool wind, no rain!

We and the Paul Kiss family spent some time in East London. At the Liverpool Street Underground Station we saw this.

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This is the Children of the Kindertransport Statue. The plaque has this inscription: In gratitude to the people of Britain for saving the lives of 10,000 unaccompanied mainly Jewish children who fled the Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939.

After this we met, by previous plan, our friend “Mr. Wikipedia,” so that he could lead us on a walking tour of Whitechapel and Tower Hamlets, two boroughs in East London.

Some of the highlights of the tour were:

This is the area where the serial killer Jack the Ripper murdered five women in 1888 and then disappeared.

The hospital where the “elephant man” was a patient.

The changing demographics of these areas from mainly local British people to Jews to Asians, primarily immigrants from Bangladesh. This is the largest population of Bengali people outside Bangladesh. Tower Hamlets is affectionately called Bangla Town.

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The large East London Mosque.

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A poster promoting the Qur’an.

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The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, where Big Ben, and the Liberty Bell, and the bell for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II were cast. The Foundry was established in 1570.

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Christ Church in Spitalfields, an evangelical Anglican Church that is reaching out to the people of the community. Spitalfields is a former parish in what is now Tower Hamlets.

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A building that was once a Methodist Chapel in the days of John Wesley and is now a Muslim mosque.

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Creative art on the street.

We had a buffet lunch at a restaurant that serves Bangladeshi and Indian food.

Then JoLene and I went to the home of the Kisses to review their five years of service here in London and to project what might be done in the future after the Kisses return to Canada this month.

 

Back in London

June 9, 2014 - Leave a Response

Monday, June 9

We arrived in London this morning. We are here on assignment for Brethren in Christ World Missions, to meet with our personnel and the two groups that cooperate with us in ministry here.

On the plane ride here, for recreational reading I started Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott – a novel of chivalry, prejudice, conflict between ethnic groups, history and romance. Robin Hood is one of the characters. Have any of my blog readers ever read this novel? If so what are your comments?

As we did last year, we are staying at Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel in the Leytonstone section of London, that is, in the northeast.

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The room is small and on the third floor, but we have a small table and wicker bench, which is more that some small rooms have.

After naps to adjust for jet lag we walked for about 15 minutes to the High Road (main street) and had dinner at a typical restaurant (pub) called The Walnut Tree.

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Across the street is a large McDonald’s, but we chose British over American!

The amazing street “carpets”

April 23, 2014 - Leave a Response

We are still in Antigua, Guatemala, for this report the processions of Holy Week. One of the beautiful and creative elements in the celebrations is the street art, the creation of designs on the streets where a procession will pass through. These “carpets” (alfombras in Spanish) are designed and created by anyone who wishes. Here is a sampling of what we saw – and the work as it was being done.

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The elements in the carpets are typically colored sawdust, flowers, flower petals, pine needles, leaves and pieces of fruit or vegetables.

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The above two views feature the Quetzal (ket-zal), the national bird of Guatemala. I talked with students from The University of Texas at Austin as they worked on two alfombras. The Quetzal may have been one of their projcts, but I can’t trust my memory on that point.

As you see, many of the carpets present themes from nature or geometric designs. But some show a religious theme.

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Do you see, in the distance, Jesus on the cross? And in the middle left, is Jesus in Gethsemane, with an angel appearing to him, as one of the Gospels says.

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The most elaborate  alfombra I saw was the following.

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Take a second look at the roses. They are made of turnips, with some of the root tips still showing. You might try making this at home.

The beauty of the carpets is short-lived because of the processions. The first walkers in a procession, including the banner carriers, early trumpeters (if there area any) and rows of robed escorts, all walk on the sides of the streets, carefully avoiding stepping on the carpets. Then the float carriers walk right through the carpet, destroying it. Similarly, the band members walk over the carpet remains, then the general pilgrims, then the carriers of the Mary float, and finally the second band.

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Last of all comes the cleanup crew with their front loaders and dump trucks, shoveling and sweeping the street clean.

For me, the symbolism of the alfombras is profound. All of earth’s beauty and much of our creative efforts are temporary and short-lived. But we should not  lament this fact, for we know from the Scriptures that only the kingdom of God is forever. And God invites everyone to enter this kingdom through repentance and faith. Though our bodies, through death, return to dust, they will be raised in a new and glorious body like our  Savior has.

To God be praise and glory for ever and ever.

Good Friday in Antigua, Guatemala

April 22, 2014 - Leave a Response

Here are some further insights into our time in Antigua during Holy Week 2014.

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St. Joseph Cathedral at night. It faces the small park in the center of the city.

The first church was built about 1541 but suffered several earthquakes throughout its history, so it was demolished.

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La Merced Church, located three blocks north of the square (park).

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A floral and fruit tribute to Jesus, in Merced.

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As you walk to La Merced, you pass under this arch, an iconic symbol of Antigua.

Now we come to our experiences on Good Friday. In the morning all the men in the procession wore distinctive headdresses, different from those worn earlier in the week.

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I saw four processions. As on the other days, each procession is sponsored by a different church or school.

FIRST PROCESSION. By La Merced Church.

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You see many local Mayan women wearing their typical elaborately embroidered blouses.

Carrying the float is hard work, so you rest when and where you can.

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Later, I learned that this procession involved 7.000 volunteers as carriers, replacing each other at intervals. Can you imagine the work of coordinating this?!

SECOND PROCESSION. By St. Joseph Cathedral.

This one began at 3:00. As usual the processions began inside the church, and the float was carried out into the street.

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For this procession the purple robes are gone, and the carriers wear black, for mourning obviously. We are standing on the cathedral patio, looking out on the huge crowd in central park.

Later Genesis and I went for a walk and, by coincidence, were on hand when the float was carried backwards into the cathedral.

THIRD PROCESSION. By Christ School. Earlier in the day a bystander told me that this would be the most elaborate procession of the day. It started at 3:50 PM on the outskirts of town and is to end at 1:50 AM tomorrow. We saw it after dark.

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I was speechless. A very long float – ornate gold and silver work , giant candelabra, and four seated figures that I guessed represented the four gospel writers, but I can’t be sure.

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And in the center Jesus, as if buried, in a gold and glass coffin.

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And giant silver angels guarding the rear.

Not far behind this float and its band was another elaborate float devoted to Mary. All in silver, glittering brightly, with candelabra and other candles. The candles all had electric lights, not actual flames.

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I would have to agree with the bystander who told me that this would be the most elaborate procession of all.

 

I joined the pilgrims, behind the Jesus float. But in about an hour I returned to the square in order not to miss the…

FOURTH PROCESSION

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The photos are not ideal, but the spiritual impact was profound.

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The body of Jesus in a shroud, in a glass case, is carried by statues of mourners dressed in dark gray. In front of this are several broken-down columns and capitals and weeping angels. I took this to be a sign that heaven and earth were mourning the death of Christ, as if the end of the world had come.

Behind the body of Christ was a striking figure, of which I could not get a clear photo because of the night and the massive crowd. I had to ask a bystander to be sure what this figure was. It represented God the Father, reclining, stretching his hand toward the dead Son.

Always, following the floats and bands, night or day, are the street vendors. Most of them are not selling religious items, but food and toys.

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Foam geckos are a favorite item. I bought one for the girls.

For me, the spiritual impact of the processions  was profound.

Here is my observation: You can miss the real Jesus in the Holy Week processionals. You can find the real Jesus in the Holy Week processionals.

 

 

Holy Week in Antigua, Guatemala

April 18, 2014 - Leave a Response

We arrived in Guatemala on April 15 to spend ten days with our daughter Melanie and family. We are all spending the first three days in the town of Antigua, a famous tourist spot, to see Roman Catholic processions that celebrate Holy Week.

First, here is a photo of Melanie’s family.

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Then, about the processions, from Palm Sunday through Easter there are one or more of them each day. They start anywhere from 4:00 to 11:00 AM and continue from eight to twelve hours, following a path through various streets and around the central park and past the cathedral.

The processions  are a beautiful spectacle. Usually, a small brass group leads the way, playing occasionally. Then one or two statues of biblical characters  on small platforms, carried on the shoulders of a few volunteers. Then there are men dressed in purple robes and headdresses.

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They line the sides of the streets. Note the one using his cell phone!

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And some of them carry censers. The aroma is very strong.

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Some of the censor carriers are quite young.

Some processions feature Roman soldiers.

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From Wednesday through Friday the large decorated floats all have to do with the suffering, death and burial of Christ.

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From this float I noticed a detail that I got in a close-up shot.

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Do you see two butterflies? Symbols of hope, I presume.

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The large floats are carried by men and boys, with 40 or more carriers per float.  The floats move forward very slowly, with many pauses along the way. After several blocks a new row of carriers steps in and trades places with the previous carriers. The carriers keep in perfect step and sway from side to side both while walking and while standing still.  As you see, the photo above is a night scene.

Behind the float and the band is a generator, pushed by hand, that powers the lights on the float and also powers floodlights so that the musicians can see their music.

On Wednesday and Thursday the men wore the robes you see in the above photo.

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Sometimes “Roman soldiers” carried the floats. Other soldiers marched as an escort. On Good Friday several soldiers rode horses,and there was one chariot.

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Here is a partial view of the band. Typically, the band had 30 or 40 instruments – brass, woodwind and percussion. The music as slow and a bit mournful, fitting the somber mood of our reflecting on the suffering of Christ. The booming drums and strong tubas gave an emphatic cadence. The band played a song, then walked in silence for awhile, and then played again.

After the band that followed the main float, anyone who wished could walk in the procession, so I did a few times on Friday, reflecting on the Scripture: “For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

The next thing in the processions was always a float with the Virgin Mary.

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These floats were always carried by women. Another music band (of men) followed the Mary float.

Smaller floats of individual Bible characters or saints appeared at various places in the processions.

The entire pace of the procession was slow. All the participants were silent an respectful. Most of the bystanders were silent also.

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The last element in the processions is a practical one – two front loaders, two dump trucks, and a crew of workers to clean up street litter and the destroyed alfombras (decorative “carpets”) that people created.

There is more to be said about the processions, but that will have to wait for my next blogs.

 

 

 

About Air Travel

March 30, 2014 - Leave a Response

On a US Airways flight last week I learned a few facts about air travel.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel. The first commercial airplane flight took place on January 14, 1914, from St. Petersburg, FL, to Tampa. There was one paying customer!

Now there are 8 million air travelers every day all over the world.

Enjoy your flight!

More about Nappanee

March 9, 2014 - Leave a Response

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I am still in Nappanee, IN. This morning I spoke at Nappanee Brethren in Christ Church on the theme “Seeing the Peoples of the World through Jesus-glasses.” The pastor here is Jeff Williams.

Nappanee has half-apples all over the city, decorated with various themes. The one below sits, appropriately, outside a bank.

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Tomorrow I will have lunch in Fort Wayne with our long-time friend, Martha Rickman, and then fly home.

Trip to Indiana

March 8, 2014 - Leave a Response

On Friday, March 7, 2014, I flew to Fort Wayne, IN, and then got a rental car to drive to Nappanee for two meetings relating to my work for Brethren in Christ (BIC) World Missions.

On the drive through the country I saw many small flocks of Horned larks. They flit low above the ground in open fields. The Horned lark is our only native  lark. It “horns” are little tufts of feathers, visible only at close range, so as I drove along, I was not able to see the horns. I see a few Horned larks occasionally in my part of PA in the winter, but I saw many here in IN.

On the internet you can see many beautiful photos of this bird, but I couldn’t find any that were not  copyrighted, so I cannot  post any here for you.

At Kendallville I saw signs advertising the Mid-America Windmill Museum, but it is closed for the winter. I think I would have enjoyed the museum, recalling the functioning windmill that we had on the farm where I grew up at Chambersburg, PA.  The windmill still stands there but is no longer operating. Here is a photo of a typical small-farm windmill, not far from Nappanee.

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I am staying at The Inn at Amish Acres in Nappanee.

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Quilts are for sale in the lobby. And the rooms have a quilt-like touch.

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Amish Acres is closed for the winter, but in other seasons you can visit buildings with Amish furnishings and a theater in a  round barn.

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On Friday evening and Saturday I attended the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church. John Zuck is the bishop. We met at Union Grove Church, which is a former grade school building (think modern, not old-fashioned). The pastor is Darin Simms. I also met several pastors whom I had not met before.

I set up a display of books and literature about BIC World Missions. I had many meaningful conversations with individuals about missions. On Saturday I gave devotional thoughts and an update about the work of our missions department.

On Saturday evening I drove to nearby Bremen to have dinner in the home of David and Sabina Rosentrater. I first learned to know Sabina years ago at Manor BIC Church in Lancaster County, PA, when I was pastor there and she was a teenager.

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