April 2012

Dear Fellow Christian:

Your recent posting on today’s social media concerning people who ‘speak in tongues’ was highly distressing to me. It is a pretty lofty position when someone claims to have a superior Bible knowledge, and by that knowledge adjudge an extremely high portion of the current Evangelical Christian Community as, (and I use the terms you used,) “a carnal and satanic show of the flesh,” “an evil and adulterous generation,” “apostate,” and “devoted to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,”

In your postings you use I Corinthians 13:8 as a ‘proof text’ for your claim that ‘tongues would cease.’ The same verse also states that knowledge would “pass away.” When I called you out on that, you claimed that the “knowledge” was in fact “prophetic knowledge” and that, yes, it also was gone. This seems as an extreme oversight on the part of God; especially in this evil world that seems so sorely lacking in spiritual knowledge.

An exegetical look at I Corinthians 13 has clearly established that faith, hope, prophecy, knowledge, and tongues are all five closely linked together in this chapter, and would indeed pass away; pass away when “that which is perfect” comes. Unhooking three of the five and making them pass away before the other two is an old trick that some of God’s ministers came up with a long time ago. Unfortunately, those ministers somehow missed getting the word back upstairs to headquarters. In the meantime the Holy Spirit pays no attention and keeps right on giving unction to the church by using the same faith building tools that have worked for the last 2,000 years. Signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts are still dealt out severally as HE chooses. They still operate through humble people, and are still effective in illuminating the written word of God and getting kingdom results. The letter still kills and the Spirit still brings life.

Not knowing you personally, I at first thought to dismiss your posting as just another thoughtless rant. But then I stopped: What is the possibility that you are perhaps sincere and that your outcry as actually (and unwittingly,) a call for help. Should I hide my candle under a bushel at a time like this? I should at least say what I can. I should at least pray for you.

But then how should I pray?

Knowing your aversion to Spirit anointed utterances and your claimed esteem for the “written word;” here, straight from the apostle Paul and his writings to the “first-love-lost” church; here is my prayer for you.

…remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…. Amen

There is just something about kneeling on the ground, smelling the fresh earth, and trying to nourish growing things.

Or maybe it’s the green plastic water bucket with KB carefully stenciled on the side. That, and the new garden tools bought with a birthday gift card from my children.

Or than maybe it is about being stuck in the generation between someone’s past and some other people’s future.

Maybe it all came down to some old woman living in a nursing home; spitting five plum pits into a napkin and thinking, “With the right care those pits could become an orchard.”

Somehow, almost in another lifetime; I found myself (almost resentfully,) responsible for the care and nourishment; the future, of five plum pits; and – even being held to a degree of accountability for them. And she, who couldn’t remember whether the pits came from raw or cooked plums; couldn’t remember what I had just told her about how I was caring for them; somehow remembered that she had given something to me that was important to her and kept asking me, over and over again, month after month, visit after visit, whether I had planted them yet.

And so it came to pass that almost exactly a year ago I took five plum pits out of the freezer and lovingly placed them in the ground beside my red raspberry bushes and carefully watched over them for an entire summer with urgent fervency. The fervency was heightened soon after the planting when we also planted that dear person’s body on a hill overlooking a field of growing things. We planted her there awaiting a resurrection day. I watched for life for an entire summer and sadly saw nothing.

This morning!

This morning, with my mother’s green plastic bucket and my children’s birthday-present garden tools, kneeling on the grass, pulling weeds from my raspberry bushes, and caring for growing things; this morning, almost pulling it out for one of the weeds, I spied one slender red/purple stalk with perhaps ten delicate leaves; something that was not there last summer and was most assuredly not one of the weeds with which I was familiar.

I am not sure what a plum tree seedling is supposed to look like but if you were here I would gladly take you back next to the alley. I would be glad to let you vote whether you thought the carefully protected thin little stem and its little green leaves was actually a young plum tree. Together, we might voice opinions about whether it might someday become something. What is not up for vote is the effect that young plant had on me. What is not up for debate is “Whispering hope, like the voice of an angel. This morning, kneeling in the grass amidst growing things, that little sprig of life was “making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”