Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do you want fries with that?

A few of you may have seen where I posted a video of my daughter last week. She was throwing one of those terrible two tantrums earlier this year because we had left the playground at McDonalds. She really doesn't like the food so much as the toys and play place that are part of the eating experience. In case you missed it, here it is:

To be fair, she does have a good side. She can be quite gentle and funny. Here's a clip of her putting her baby bunny to sleep:

I'm not sure that these huge mood swings ever leave us as we get older. I think we just learn to control them in public. I can tell you that I sing my daughter a lullaby every night. She's one of the only people who requests my magnificent serenading on a daily basis so I'm more than willing to help. But I also know that if one of my boys blows up a latex balloon in my presence, I will turn into the Incredible Hulk (and they don't like me when I'm angry).

It took three kids for me to actually be able to laugh at the tantrums and to realize that they really are funny if you sit back and watch. Perhaps I should have someone record my Hulk moments so that I can then laugh at myself.

I was reminded recently that anger is not really a bad thing. We always think of it as a "sin" because it is usually directed at someone and we really don't want others to direct anger toward us so why should we be angry at others?

But Jesus got angry. He got angry a lot. He turned over tables. He called people names. I think he even got a bit snarky at times.

But what most of us want to remember is the Jesus with the children around him. The one who tells stories. The Jesus who holds a lamb. The Baby Jesus who doesn't cry.

And what we really have is both. Jesus the angry and Jesus the gentle. Jesus the just and Jesus the giver of grace.

So the next time your child throws a fit and later on gives you an unsolicited hug, remember that they are being Jesus-like. Its our job to help them control their emotions so that they will be the most effective at just the right time.

Or you could just ask them if they want fries with that.

Until Everyone Hears,
Shannon is a Deacon in full connection in the North Georgia Annual Conference. Her specialty is Family Ministries and is serving at Hopewell in Tyrone, GA.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I AM - The Gatekeeper

"I am the gate for the sheep." - John 10:7b

I went to a wedding last weekend where the reception was in a gated community's country club. It was a beautiful place and I felt very posh as I rolled up to the gate house. I had on my wedding finest. John was in a suit. Dori had on an Easter Sunday dress and the boys had on pants that weren't sweats or jeans. We were looking good!

As I got up to the gate, I rolled my window down and told the attendant we were here for the wedding. I expected her to ask which wedding or my name and check it off of some list, but instead we were just allowed to proceed.

In a way I was a bit stunned. Where was the security? Can I dress up and try this at other gated communities? Part of me was let down too. Here I was invited to this fancy event and you don't even want to know who I am? I must be important or on a list somewhere right?

Jesus talks about sheep and gates in John 10:1-6. I don't always like the idea of Jesus keeping people out or in but there are some great things about gates that I do like.

1) Gates keep us together. We may not want to be in the same pen as the black sheep but we're all in this together. Maybe that's for a good reason. Perhaps we should learn how to live together and support each other. Togetherness can be a good thing if you have the right attitude about it.

2) Gates set us apart. There's a very different image of sheep wandering along a mountainside grazing for food then of sheep together behind a fence. If we pass a farm in America and see a few cows in a pasture we'd say "Moo!" but if we saw hundreds of cows behind a fence we'd say "Wow! Look at all the cows!" There is something to be said for being set apart and how others will notice our behavior.

3) Gates help us to be at home. I don't live in a gated community but I do have a garage door. After a long journey, I'll hit the button to open up the door and know that I am home. When I"m at home and I hear the garage door opening I know that one of my family is coming home. For me, being at home is a great feeling of comfort and grace. At home, I'm loved for who I am and not for whom I'm supposed to be.

If Jesus is the Gate, then he keeps us together, set apart, and helps us feel at home because he loves us for who we are. He doesn't care what we are wearing or if our name is on some list. He invites all who want to come in and tells them "Welcome Home."

Until Everyone Hears,

Rev. Shannon Karafanda is blogging devotional thoughts daily during Lent. Check out her site by clicking here.