References to: John Halford
Just across the road from our home is a beautiful church. Many of our neighbors go there on Sunday morning to worship. My wife’s parents were married in that church, and her great grandfather donated the land on which it is built. I like the worship service. It is dignified and meaningful, and the congregation shares my preference for traditional hymns and music. The pastor is a good friend, and from time to time he has asked me to stand in for him.
My favorite movie of all time is The Miracle Worker, the story of blind, deaf Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, whose love and patience taught Helen to read and speak. My favorite scene is the moment at the well where Helen suddenly grasps the link between symbols and objects. Today I was able to visit the place where the miracle happened.
The wise men who came from the East to worship the infant Jesus were the scientists of their day. Known as Magi, they studied the heavens and the earth, seeking to understand the natural world, and make sense of the supernatural.
When they observed a mysterious sign in the sky, they knew it was significant. Exactly what they saw is not known. Was it a comet? A conjunction of planets? A unique special creation? Whatever it was, it guided these Magi to Jerusalem, and eventually to a house in Bethlehem where the infant Jesus was staying. There they worshipped him and gave him gifts.
An important part of learning to drive is depth perception. Drivers need to know where they are in relation to the other vehicles around them. I think depth perception should also be a part of a Christian education. We are Christians in a certain moment in time. We need to understand our time in relation to what has gone before and what may come after.
Shortly after you die, you will find yourself in a queue outside the pearly gates, waiting for an interview with St. Peter. If you pass muster, you will be invited in, given a white robe and a regulation harp, and assigned your own cloud. As you begin to strum, you may recognize a few (perhaps not as many as you’d hoped for) of your friends, and probably many people you tried to avoid in your lifetime. And so begins your eternal life.
Grace, Communion, and International
When our church decided to change its name from Worldwide Church of God (WCG) to Grace Communion International (GCI), some were puzzled. The new name didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. We found ourselves stumbling over it, often getting the words in the wrong order. But more to the point—what did it mean? The name WCG may have had baggage, but it at least described what we were. But GCI?
Back in 1970, as a young minister working in Melbourne, Australia, I read a book titled Future Shock. The author, futurist Alvin Toffler, forecast that the next few decades would bring unprecedented change, and that this would have a disorienting effect on those who would live through them.
As a young man with my career ahead of me, I found this fascinating. If Toffler was right, we could expect the remainder of the 20th century to be turbulent, and the wise approach would be to prepare for change, however unsettling that might be.
I would like to introduce you to two remarkable people I have met. They reminded me of something that we all know, but too easily forget. May I show you what I mean?
Brian Gault is in some ways an average man. He lives in an average house, in an ordinary town and drives a small car. What makes Brian unusual is that he was born without any arms.