I just returned this past Tuesday from a ten day trip to Cuba. I taught in the Methodist seminary in Havana and did some preaching in the Methodist church in Guanabacoa, which is a municipality of Havana. I have been traveling to Cuba for ten years, and every time I go I am struck by two things: the abject poverty and how much ministry the churches in Cuba accomplish with so little monetary resources. The church in America exists in plenty and often complains about scarcity, while the church in Cuba exists in scarcity and emphasizes plenty. Focus does indeed determine reality, or in this case effectiveness in mission.
Speaking of Cuba, while there my friends spoke of thawing relations between their government and the U.S in hopeful ways. They know it's going to be a long process, but for them this is good news. I believe this is a step in the right direction. All the embargo has done is make impoverished Cubans even more impoverished and made the Castro brothers billionaires. At some point we need to ask ourselves the Dr. Phil question: "How's that working for you?"
NASA's New Horizon spacecraft has taken the first color images of the planet, not-a-planet, possibly-a-planet-again Pluto. It took New Horizons nine years to get to its current position of 117 million miles away from the dwarf planet. When it reaches Pluto, it will have traveled 3 billion miles. I find it astounding that we can catch a close-up image of a celestial body so far away. It's a vast universe we live in, but not nearly as vast as the God who created it.
Speaking of space, it was exactly forty-five years ago that the world was caught-up in the Apollo 13 crisis. Astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise almost never made it back to earth after an explosion crippled their spacecraft. In April of 1970, I was eight years old, but as a boy interested in space exploration, I remember watching the news reports. This is one story where the geeks are the heroes. If you are not familiar with the Apollo 13, you can read about it here.
So, Easter has come and gone. What is all too often forgotten is that now we are in the fifty day season of Easter. We Protestants seem to do a good job in our emphasis on the four Sundays of Advent and Christmas and the forty days of Lent and Holy Week, but we tend to treat Easter as one day and not a season. But until Pentecost comes on Sunday, May 24 this year we are in the season of Easter. Let us make sure that we carry the message of resurrection throughout these fifty days and not drop it after Easter Sunday. We must remember that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, there would be no Advent or Lent to observe.
Scientists are now suggesting that eating bacon can help one live longer. I'm not sure about that, but I do know that eating bacon makes life more enjoyable.
Karen Spears Zacharias has some wise words for Millennials who think they can have Jesus without the church.
We always understood that we are the church.
It's failures are our failures.
It's successes are our successes.
It’s health is our health.
It's hope is our hope.
To abandon it would be to give up on one another.
To say to Jesus, there is no power in the blood.
More of Karen's wise words can be read here.
Quotes of the Week (Possibly, but Not Necessarily Said This Week):
"He was big because he was the guy who orchestrated the transfer of billions of dollars out of Iraq to Syria for the purpose of bank rolling insurgency activities,"--Paul Hughes, a retired Army colonel on the killing this week of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the top deputy to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"It is hard to overemphasize the importance of a shared context when it comes to understanding. Even face-to-face, two people from different cultures are prone to misunderstand each other. The greater the difference in their culture or their expectations, the more likely it is that they will miscommunicate."--Ken Schenck
"Don't worry if plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet."--Anonymous
"Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, 'Send one of my bags to New York, one to Los Angeles, and one to Miami.' She said, 'We can't do that!' I told her, 'You did it last week!'"--Henny Youngman
Interesting and Somewhat Useless Trivia:
The last person hanged for witchcraft in the American colonies was executed on September 22, 1692.
Antarctica is the only continent without reptiles or snakes.
Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 golden goblets of hot chocolate every day. It was thick, dyed red and flavored with chili peppers.
By age sixty, most people have lost half of their taste buds.
Big Word of the Day:
Saxicolous: Growing on or living among rocks. "The moss is saxiclous."
I Love Irony. It's So Ironic:
Discovered in the 9th century by the Chinese, gunpowder was found by alchemists attempting to find an "elixir of immortality."--yourdictionary.com
This Week in History:
April 18, 1521: Luther makes his bold declaration, "Here I stand!" at a second hearing before emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms.