Scents of Summer

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I love the smell of gardenias. Don’t you?

Their distinctive perfume transports me back to evenings on Pear Street when we threw open the living room windows to catch summer breezes.

Hear the murmur of voices? Mother and Daddy talking with someone–maybe Miz Batson or Chapman, the Spauldings, Lily Fay & William, the girls from the office, aunts and uncles, my in-laws–or even you.

Mom is probably encouraging someone to talk about their latest endeavor, little one, job, love of their life . . .

Someone else could be telling a fish story—dare I say embellishing it like Daddy did so well when he related how he accidently tipped both mother and him out of the boat? (I wish you could have heard his version of events.)

Opinions aplenty–Please Do Not get the men started on politics.

But it was all done in fun.

Gardenia2For me, somewhere along the way, gardenias became synonymous with laughter and stimulating conversation. Their aroma conveys simple hospitality—something my folks were gifted at extending.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always wanted a gardenia bush near my front door. The only problem is I haven’t had much luck growing them. Where Daddy could make a gardenia thrive so it was loaded with shiny green leaves and blossoms, mine offer only a few blooms each year.

But I’m no quitter. We moved our two bushes last summer, and I have hopes for abundance this year.

Plus this week, I planted another gardenia in the large pot by the front porch where it will get plenty of sunshine.

GardeniaPot

I’d like to think folks will be enveloped in its luscious fragrance when they come to visit.

I hope you’ll stop by to test it out. I’ll fix us something to drink and offer you a cookie. Let me know ahead of time, and I’ll make something special.

I promise to ask you about your latest endeavor, your kidos, or your main squeeze. And I’ll listen to what’s on your mind.

I think I can smell the gardenias already.

How about you?

Is there a summer scent that reminds you of home and hospitality?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,

for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2

Waiting in the Dark

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COME, SON OF EASTER MORN

 

How easily old wounds creep out of ancient tombs,

seeking resurrection power in my imagination.

My heart cries, “Forgiveness is too hard, too much to ask.

Yet, it cannot compare to Your suffering, O Lord of Life.

How did You manage in your humanity to forgive Your tormentors?

They gloried in Your pain, laughed at your suffering,

sought to extinguish Your light, without understanding

they were a necessary part of the Father’s plan.

Come, Son of Easter Morn.

Send Your Holy Spirit.

Break the shackles of resentment.

Bind up my broken heart.

Unstop my deaf ears.

Spread Your healing balm upon my darkened eyes

that I may walk in the Power of Your Resurrection Glory.

Dorothy Johnson
©copyright 2017

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Hebrews 1:3

REFLECTIONS ON HOLY WEEK

As we enter Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll follow along.

Saturday, a devotional I use invited me to read Matthew 26:14-27:66. Then on Palm Sunday, the congregation followed a little donkey across the church grounds to the front doors as a minister led us in a dramatic reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

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We were given palm fronds to wave like the crowd that called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Once inside the sanctuary, the dramatic reading continued using the text from the same scripture I read on Saturday. Chosen for this season in the life of the church, the long passage lays out events from the Last Supper to Jesus’s burial.

What transpired that week rocked the world, especially Jesus’ disciples and other followers. As I read and then listened to the account of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I tried to put myself in their places. How confusing and frightening it must have been. Even though Jesus attempted to prepare his followers beforehand, they couldn’t begin to understand until after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Birds: Five Points to Ponder

Thought Provoking Question

Saturday’s devotional asked me to identify the “threshold” moments I saw in the account. (One definition of threshold is a place or point of entering or beginning, doorway, entrance, portal.)

I thought more about what had been ripped away from Jesus’ followers than a new beginning. The actions of Judas and Peter are so well known, they were the easiest to identify.

How could Judas betray Jesus for money?

And blustery Peter — all talk.

Then there were the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed, the Jewish officials bent on killing Him, members of the mob, mocking soldiers, Pilate, the thieves crucified with Him, the Centurion, casual passersby, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who watched from a distance.

All had a role in what we’ve come to call the The Passion of Jesus.


Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matt. 27:55-56 NIV


MAKING IT PERSONAL

How easy it is to judge poor Peter through hind sight, until I ask myself how often I have run away and hidden. The truth is, I doubt if I could have summoned the courage to follow and watch the proceedings in the face of such danger.

I don’t think I’m alone.

The reading stirred questions about the Church in 2017.

I HAVE TO ASK

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Does maintaining the status quo ever justify packing the court in favor of our position?

Does our need for acceptance prevent us from thinking for ourselves?

Are we tempted to use our power to humiliate someone with a differing opinion?

Do we avoid accepting responsibility by pawning if off on others and washing our hands of unfair consequences?

Are we brave enough to honor someone who falls out of favor and is “crucified” by public opinion?

Are we strong enough to be as faithful as the powerless women who kept watch during the worst day of their lives?

Are we humble enough when we’re guilty of wrongdoing, to admit it and seek forgiveness. Or do we make excuses because we’re too proud to admit our misdeeds?

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Don'sCrossEach time I

fail to stand up for the truth of the Gospel

seek to work out my own plan

vote with the crowd

look out for myself first

I deny and betray Him.

GOOD NEWS

But the Good News is, even when I’m at my worst, Jesus understands my frailty. And thankfully, His resurrection didn’t depend on undependable followers.

I look forward to Sunday when we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But until then, I invite you to remember with me what He suffered on our behalf.

Through the power of His cross, he still invites us to step across the most important threshold of our lives — the one that leads into eternity with Him. All we must do is acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept His sacrifice.

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Faith is a mystery that each of us has to explore. But this I know from experience, when we honestly seek Him, He will come. Whatever happens, I want to be found faithful like those women who kept watch — especially when I don’t understand.

flower-crossI hope you will consider Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.

If you’ve met Him, I am certain you will be honoring Him come Easter morn.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Romans 5:10 JUB