The photograph was poignant. It seemed to illustrate a contrast of world views. In the photograph was a crowd of people at a Fourth of July celebration with their eyes turned upward, watching a fireworks display. Dispersed among the crowd were a few sisters with headship veilings and their less noticeable male counterparts from the “peace churches,” exclaiming at the beauty of the display.
It could be said that value is in the eye of the beholder. Value is described as the importance or worth that we place upon something. We measure worth by the qualities we perceive. While viewpoints and perceptions vary greatly in the world today, most people place family and friends high on the list of what they value.
There are signs upon the earth that God is warming it once more according to His promise of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat. Wild geese flying north and other warm weather birds are responding in like manner. Flowers are pushing the ground away from above them and making their beautiful appearance.
Many years ago, a certain fisherman was caught in a sudden storm. As he desperately made toward shore, the sea grew rougher and wilder. Alas, before he could reach safety, a huge wave capsized his boat, plunging him into the roaring sea. He knew that without help, his life would soon be over.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Col 2:2).
May 26 is Memorial Day. This day honors the memory of those who lost their lives in battle. These men and women did offer the ultimate sacrifice to a cause. It probably inspires people to want to be brave and loyal like them. Some may even become soldiers; others will probably display Grandpa’s medals and apply his code of ethics to their lives; still others may simply brag about Grandpa and live lives that he would never endorse.
The Christian, for reasons not totally visible to him, is called to walk through the land of an enemy king on his way to the Celestial City. Christ in His high priestly prayer acknowledges the difficulty of this journey and prays not that we can detour, but rather that we can endure. “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from the March 1992 issue of The Pilgrim Witness.
Fasting generally means to refrain from taking nourishment from food or food drinks. Matthew 4:2 states that Jesus “fasted forty days and forty nights.” Luke 4:2 describes His fasting with the words, “In those days he did eat nothing.” Before Jesus fed the multitude who had followed Him for several days, He said, “I will not send them away fasting,” meaning, or course, that He would not send them away without giving them some food to eat (Matt 15:32).
The young man’s expression was confident as he approached. Tucked under his arm were the folders and books he needed for his next lecture at the university where he was attending. It was also where a number of us had gathered for street meetings. As he pulled his ear buds out, he courteously extended his hand, and with a slight grin he said, “I understand you are Christian?”
I replied, “Yes, I am a Christian, “Are you”?”
How recently have we heard a sermon on the dangers of strong drink? How often do we study a Sunday school lesson on temperance? How many of us are even tempted to drink alcoholic beverages?
We can hardly imagine an era like the 1890’s when it was deemed necessary to include a temperance lesson in every Sunday school quarter. Since that time, several generations of American Mennonites have taught and practiced total abstinence. For most of us, that is all we know. We could say that our Mennonite churches have generally succeeded in winning the battle with drunkenness.