Monthly Archives: January 2009

Christianity Simplified

Christianity, Simplified (Kind of)

1/27/2009

Basic Teaching of Christianity, as I see it:

God Loves You

Basic Command of Christianity

Therefore, Love God

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Inauguration

Inauguration

1/20/2009

Kenneth Burchfiel, fdHG

 

Walls of outhouses split crowds of black red white yellow, most blue

With Potomac-freezing cold. Undeterred,

They swarm around obelisks and monuments and televisions on stilts.

But nothing changed.

No room to cheer, but they try anyway

As politicians walk (and wheel) in and out of history.

Cellists, vice presidents, judges—the Jumbotrons do not see

The one/two/many millions fixated on the screens.

But nothing changed.

The applause turns to silence, the dream turns real

As Roberts leads an oath heard round the world

And 43 gives way to 44, 2001 to 2009.

But nothing changed.

Because the sky was blue at noon,

And I only had to look up and away today

To remember our true President’s term is eternal.

 


 

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The Missionary

1/12/2009

Kenneth Burchfiel fdHG

 

He gently pried the book open. Hardcover. Leather binding. It was the only type he would buy. Paperbacks never held up well to God’s message.

The man reached off his couch and picked up a glass of wine. A stroke of luck that his blanket was deep purple; if he spilled a drop, it wouldn’t show a thing.

It was his intention to make Sunday nights peaceful. There could be social events the other days; these evening hours belonged to God. He skipped past the introduction and focused on the first page.

“What are we, then, as servants of God? It is simple: we listen for the call of the Holy Spirit, and seek to answer it always.”

A rude knocking sound came from the front door. He rolled his eyes and looked behind the sofa.

“Miranda? Miranda, would you get that?”

Miranda’s chair was empty. She had made a second trip to the wine store.

He shook his head and looked back at the book. This was no time to be outside. If more people kept God’s Sabbath, there would be less grief when he wanted to.

“This is an oft-referenced point among Christians, but what does it add up to? I wrote this book because, all too often, members of Christ forget their call to serve the One who bought them into His kingdom.”

The knocks came back again. Hard, brutish pounds on the door. Obviously not from the neighborhood.

“Before we get into the theological material, however, I would like to address what it means to ‘listen’ for the Holy Spirit. Only the reader can answer that question. God’s Love fills some of us in bursts of revelation, as shown in Acts. Others find themselves with a quiet “Inner Light,” namely, those of the Quaker faith.”

And some found the call interrupted by uncivilized people at the door. He wedged a pillow in between his ear and the seat.

It was about time he trained to become a missionary. The church could use a man of his caliber: responsive; intuitive; apt to new surroundings. His best quality, of course, was how he reached out to people.

“Regardless, everyone who seeks Christ hears the call. That is the easy part. More difficult, of course, is heeding it.”

At the moment, he couldn’t hear any call at all; the knocks at the door were too loud. He picked up the wine glass in between his fingers and swirled the purple substance.

His eyes tripped over the same words. The wine glass vibrated in his hand. There was no escaping the dreadful noise from outside. The man groaned, threw off his blanket and walked over to the front door.

The person at the door looked positively foreign. Unkempt white shirt. Pants too large at the waist and too small at the ankles.

“What was all the knocking for? This is private property.”

The loiterer pulled a small book out of his bag. Paperback.

“I don’t want your reading material, whatever it is. I’ve already got books.”

“Sir, do you know Jesus?”

The man looked at the cover. It showed a gold cross against a back background.

“Oh, trust me, I know Jesus. In fact, I’m training to become a missionary.”

There was a strange smell to him. It was no use for this character to proselytize in this part of town. Better that he preach to the slums.

“Well, I give you God’s blessing. I hope you have a good night.”

The fellow took his Bible bag and left. Before he crossed out of view, the man called:

“And what are you doing, walking around on a Sunday night? This is a day of rest.”

He held the plastic bag with both hands. “I was called.”

 

The door shut, and he the night was his again. He would have to read faster to make up for the lost time.

With the blanket pulled up to his waist, he opened up to page two. At least the font size was large enough. His eyes needed to last into old age.

But as he read, the man found that one sentence blurred into another. His eyes bounced from paragraph from paragraph, sometimes going back, sometimes going further. “Holy Spirit,” “service,” “mission,” “commission”– the words blended into one another, but his mind was focused on the plastic bag and unkempt shirt.

He forced his eyes to continue on, but they kept snapping back to the closed door. His legs were impossible to calm. Wine splashed in the glass he strained to hold onto.

And finally, the man threw off the blanket, set down the book and rushed over to the door.

Pulling it open, he raced out into his yard.

“Wait!”

The sidewalk was empty for as far as he could see. No white shirt stood out in the streetlight.

The man stared down the empty street. And then he began to walk.

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The Unforgivable, Forgivable

The Unforgivable, Forgiven

1/7/2008

It was the coldest night of his life, though he had been in freezing weather before. A frenzy of sleet and icy rain beat his shoulders until they were raw; blowing snow made it impossible to see his legs, let alone the trees in front of him.

And so he stumbled on, refusing to change his path. If he turned his steps and walked in another direction for a while, he would have realized the ice and the cold were not inevitable. Instead, his feet took him deeper into the snow and ice.

A little ways down the path, he saw a light.

It was an interesting sight. The House had three Windows, all lit brightly enough to pierce the fog. A few steps would have gotten him to the front door, which was not locked shut—as he might have assumed—but instead cracked open. Hard as the winds and sleet blew against it, the entrance would not close.

He stared at it. The warmth, the shelter—the House was an unexpected fortress against the elements he was living in. All he needed do was turn his feet. Push the door open with a frostbitten hand.

But to the sorrow of the One inside, the man turned away from it and continued walking in the same direction.

The storm turned thicker and thicker until grape-sized chunks of sleet bruised his whole torso. His bare legs sloshed through the ever-deepening snow. If he bothered to dredge up a foot and look at it, he would have found it black beyond recognition.

The mix of sleet, snow and rain, which had long since taken over most of his body, now threatened to drown out his heart. Despite all this, he refused to turn back and head for the refuge.

There was no telling how long he continued. His body turned numb to the cold and the sleet; he had been in it too long to realize it was hurting him.

But just as the snow threatened to suffocate him, he realized his path was wrong.

It took some exertion to bring his body back around, and greater exertion yet to fight against the direction of the sleet. After a few hard steps, he was on his way.

One fear remained, however. Some of his peers had told him that the door to the House, once rejected, would be locked forever; and he would have no choice but to freeze for the rest of his life. Seeing no light in front of him, he began to despair—thinking that the Occupant had closed it off.

And his pace grew faster and faster until his knees were out of the snow; but still, there was no light. The man began to cry, now sprinting through the light accumulation, but still, no House was to be seen.

Exhausted, he came to a stop. Looking nowhere in particular, he said:

“I’m sorry. I repent. I repent.”

The moment he finished those words, a House appeared in front of him with the same Windows he had seen before; except that they were brighter yet against the storm.

To his rejoicing, the door was
open. He had no trouble walking inside.

By Kenneth Burchfiel, out of gratitude

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