Visits

Dave Smith

            I browse through a pamphlet received as I hosted a rummage sale last weekend.  I hope for inspiration for writing, hope for thoughts about Memorial Day and the great sacrifices made to allow for such a place as America.  I come across a forgotten, but familiar epitaph found long ago by a stonecutter on a tombstone.

“All you people passing by;

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you must be;

Prepare for death and follow me.”

The cutter quickly took out his chisel and added these words:

“To follow you, I will not consent,

Until I know which way you went.”

To know which way we go – as Shakespeare said – “There’s the rub.”  But really, in faith, true faith, we DO know.  We drop our sins and wrongs to others at the foot of a cross and the Father forgives when we do so in faith.  That thought holds the heart of us, our most core value.  In Jesus we are forgiven and can come to the Father in confidence that heaven is our home.

Living, daily faith came to me on a weekend a few years ago.  My feeling going into the event was, “Well, here goes.  Another preach at me couple of days about what I need to do to be a true Christian, about how much I need to give to be right in God’s eyes, be it money or moments.  Pastor Molly wants me to go and I can’t make any more excuses.  Yep, here goes.”

Wrong.

“Way of Christ.”  Via de Cristo.  A three day weekend designed to strengthen and renew faith.  But MORE IMPORTANTLY, create a new awareness of LIVING IN GOD’S GRACE.  I lived far too much of my life living in God’s anger and seeking a way to find His favor, His love of me seemingly hidden in the cloak of wrongs I wore.  Via de Cristo’s life inspiring gift comes in a simple concept.  God loves you – period. 

Thirteen “lessons” occur during the time there, that is, testimonies from lay people and clergy, about how each has come to know walking with Christ every moment of every day.  Even in sin, He strides, perhaps pushed a bit back, but at our back and ready for an outstretched hand.  Small group discussions follow, meditation time, chapel time – and most of all, music and celebration of the joy of Jesus in our lives time. I revisited my baptism and its significance.  I communed with a stronger understanding off this forgiveness achieved at such a price.  I chatted with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as loving friends and mentors.  I did not hear about tithing, attendance, duty to God – about the shame of my ways.  I was touched by the gracious love of God every moment.  And that seed grew when I left, grew into daily efforts to walk with Jesus and know the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Initially, I figured I should really get involved here at VELC.  Be a president, be on Council, do this, do that.  I was not listening to the Hand that held mine.  My life can give to faith in different ways and the Holy Spirit has shown me, shown me now that I listen instead of using my own futile mind ideas.

I encourage everyone, young and young at heart, to pray, be open to the Spirit and attend the weekend coming in October.  The men’s weekend is October 27 – 30 and the women’s weekend is November 3 – 6.    This walk with Christ is close by, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lake Geneva.  The “Sonrise 95 & 96” events whisper invitation.  No, Via de Cristo never shouts, never proclaims to be epiphany.  Each pilgrim responds uniquely.

The great news is, “To follow Christ, with faithful flow, you certainly will

be assured of where you go.”  Feel God’s love for a weekend, know it in your heart and realize His presence all the time, for all the time He is Good.

 

visits tombstone