Response

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Have you ever considered that your responses to life’s situations can be considered a spiritual discipline? Keith Drury in his book, With Unveiled Facescomes to this conclusion: that at the end of all spiritual disciplines is this one final ‘discipline’ called response. He states that “a right response to life is not automatic. If anything, our natural responses are more often the wrong ones. Thus it is a spiritual discipline to respond the way Christ calls us to respond.” So to the list of spiritual disciplines, Drury suggests that we should add Response. Aspiritual disciplinethat calls for us to manage or exercise discipline in our reactions and responses to what life brings us, be it good or bad. I have come to believe that this is an important ‘discipline’ that aids us in our ministry.  Like any discipline it needs to be cultivated and exercised in and through our relationship with Christ.

As I look back at my own life and the way in which I may have reacted in any given situation, I have to admit to the truth of Drury’s conclusions. I think back to my last appointment as an active officer and contemplate what some of my responses were to some decisions from THQ. For example, if I were to disagree with a given decision and choose to complain about it loudly and publicly it is easy to see how this negative response would cause me stress personally but consider the negative stress that my reaction could cause to those around me.  Worse still my responses could then cause negative reactions in co-workers; and could lead to divisiveness in a number of areas: officer to officer, DHQ to THQ, employee to employee, officer to employee, etc.  Like a pebble thrown into still waters, the ripples of effect could have reached far and wide. Conversely, should I choose to exercise the spiritual discipline response and simply accept the decision given by THQ and look for ways of reconciling myself to it then instead of a ripple of negativity the waters would remain much more calm. It then becomes easier to keep relationships strong so that focus on mission and ministry maintains its priority.

I remember being in the fall months of a new appointment when our daughter was struck by a car on the way to school.  I remember coming to the scene and seeing my daughter stretched out on the road being attended to by EMTs.  I clearly remember the stab of fear that went through my whole body.  My first reaction was prayer for my daughter’s life and health. As I stood there alone praying, unable to move, unable to reach or touch my daughter, a stranger simply placed a hand on my shoulder and uttered a comforting word.  I realize now that, at the moment I instinctively recognized in that stranger God’s comfort and reassurance.  In the ambulance ride to the hospital, I once again gave my daughter back to God and prayed for strength to accept what lay ahead. Somehow, in that moment, my past relationship with the Lord guided my response to the horrific crisis that was facing me. (Praise God she was and is totally fine—a miracle that I still marvel at. And in fact was privileged to experience with my son. Am so grateful that God is still a God of miracles.)

About a year later I discovered that the people of our new corps had noticed my response in this situation and my reliance on God.  In their observations, (that were shared with me by an awesome woman of God.) my response indicated that I had the God-given resources to deal with difficult situations. The outcome was a greater ability to minister to our people and to help them through their own difficult or tragic situations.  I am not sure what the effect would have been if I would have allowed fear and bitterness to be my response.  Responses such as: How could this happen to my daughter, I’ve been trying to be a good Officer, witness, etc.; they should throw the driver who hit her in jail, it’s all his fault; and on and on. Responses such as these lead more to self-pity and help no one. In fact I would maintain that they do more to harm ministry because the focus is on self and lacks trust in God and His control of circumstances.  On the other hand exercising spiritual response looking only for the best outcomes in a tragic or difficult situation demonstrates trust in God for whatever the outcome may be which brings to the individual a calmness and peace that is attractive to those around them.

I still praise God and marvel at the peace that carried me through an ambulance ride to the hospital not knowing what awaited my daughter there. In all of that I do know that my spiritual life was deepened and enriched in and through this very real life and death experience. And today—thank you, Jesus—I have a beautiful daughter who loves and serves the Lord as well as a loving son-in-law and two extraordinarily bright and beautiful grandchildren.

In his book, Drury, goes on to explain that: “Each of our responses becomes a thread that weaves together the rope of our character. Our character is the sum and total of our choices. In the spiritual discipline of response, we braid into that rope Christlike responses to life’s situations.”

My continued prayer is that God would continue to work in me in such a way that my response, even in the smallest most unimportant situations, will be appropriate and in keeping with His will.

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”                              —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

In His Image

It’s funny the things that give pleasure within the same activity/genre.  I like to make quilts. Which is a sewing activity, right?  But I do not care to sew clothing as I once did. What I have come to realize is that it is not the activity of sewing that I like, it is what I am sewing or better said, creating.  Even in sewing a quilt I can quickly come to dislike it if I do not like how color or patterns are progressing.

Creativity if a funny thing. It can inspiring or frustrating; it can be challenging or   easy; it can be a driving force or lassez-faire. God gave this marvelous gift, I believe to give us a measure of understanding about who He is and what He is like.

Since we are made in the image of a creative God there is a measure of creativity within each of us. Yet there are those who seem to be bereft of this creative gene.  In my first appointment it was part of my responsibility to work with kids ages 7 to 10.  During an art project I suggested that they use their imagination to draw a picture about some part of the story we had just read that they liked. I was astounded (and heart broken) at the lack of imagination within these poverty-stricken kids whose parents were themselves educationally limited.  For example, several of the kids parents could not read nor write or even sign their own names.  We had a number of adults using some form of an X to sign their vouchers when receiving assistance from us.

It took these kids to help me realize how insidious poverty can be. From that point forward I made it a priority to try and stimulate and help these kids awaken their imagination and to begin exercising their creative gifts. I will never forget their responses as they began to actually create something from their own imaginations with no help from mine. It was an experience that as I think back I cannot help but to ponder how much light came into the life of those kids as they began to learn to create.  Even if it was to simply draw a fish/whale.

I recall reading an article about creativity that spoke about Adam’s creation. Part of it read something like this:

Imagine day six of creation. God has formed the very first man but he lays lifeless. The outer shell has been formed and the body made but there are eyes without sight, ears without hearing, lungs without air, and a heart without a beat. There lay God’s            creation jewel the period of His work. Finished?

God’s creation was done. Finished. Finished? Man formed, yes. But finished, no. Creation would not be complete until the first gasp of breath. God had ‘imagined’ how He would create this human and like all artists paused knowing that the work is almost complete but just what does it need added to be finished. Ah, yes, I need to add breath. But how to get breath into the body of His creation? I’ll breath into it and he will become complete.

Creativity challenging and easy….for God.  And even frustrating as the Creator God realizes that the human was not finished even when breath and life had been added because he was alone. And so our Triune God created another human to complement and finish His human creation.

I absolutely love the idea that my Creator God did not simply speak Adam and Eve into existence as He did with the rest of creation but He formed us by His hands. Creating us with the abilities to think, reason, feel, and create. Created in His Image.

I love this quote by Max Lucado, “God must’ve had a blast. Painting the stripes on the zebra, hanging the stars in the sky, putting the gold in the sunset. What creativity! Stretching the neck of the giraffe, putting the flutter in the mockingbird’s wings, planting the giggle in the hyena. And then, as a finale to a brilliant performance, He made a human who had the unique honour to bear the stamp, In His Image.”

 

 

 

 

Tiling…in Embroidery

I have done some tiling in my time–backsplashes, fireplaces, etc.–but this is the first time I have done it in an embroidery project. It is almost as challenging as tiling with porcelain tiles.

 

My first project, “Dashing through the Snow” was quite a challenge but one undertook with enthusiasm and ignorance of the process. I loved it frustration and all. I want to do this pattern again and next time do it correctly.  There are some minor errors in the one that I completed that I would like to correct. Nevertheless it still came out well and I love it.

In fact I enjoyed the process so much I purchased another pattern that I absolutely love and, for the most part, is progressing well. But boy! the stitch count is up there!

This one is called “Santa’s Workshop.”  So far I have 17 out of 32 tiles completed. It is a lengthy process. One of the tiles took 97 minutes to complete. Patience is a very necessary ingredient in this tiling process.  Well, really I guess it would be necessary in any kind of tiling process.

In case you have not noticed, I love to sew, quilt, embroider. I love learning new techniques and new ways to create old patterns.  Needlework requires lots of patience if your goal is to create a flawless (almost flawless) piece.

Patience is something that I have come to appreciate through the quilting process. Take the time to do it right then you won’t have too many mistakes to correct. And don’t expect to complete your project in one sitting.  Since I’ve learned this lesson the quilting process has become much more enjoyable.

I approach my work time with anticipation of working on a particular project with the added bonus of listening to a book, podcast, or music.  TV is great for keeping you company when you don’t need to pay attention to it.  As the mother of four I still find some kind of noise (voices) in the house somehow soothing.

Patience also allows you to enjoy the process along the way. Worry over completion of the project is removed and the love of the creative process becomes dominant. In addition I have discovered that a by product, for me, of learning  patience is contentment.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (4:11).” This is so much more difficult than it sounds because contentment is something that we learn. It is not a natural part of us. We’re not born with it. It is not a gift. For some of us it may take years and for others, not so much but it is something that is learned by those who choose to pursue it.

Generally we tend to  look for things that will make us content; those things that we deem better or the next rung in our career rather than putting forth the effort it takes to learn how to be content. If only I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone (and myself) say, I will be happy/content/satisfied when I am promoted; when I am married; when I am single; if I were rich; if/when I am healed; so forth and so forth.

Contentment is not about denying one’s feelings about wanting or desiring something they can never have, rather being content brings to the individual freedom. Freedom from being controlled by the feelings of always wanting and never having enough.

Contentment is not pretending that every thing is all right when it is not, but rather contentment brings about the peace that comes from knowing that God is bigger than any problem and that he will work all of life’s problems and difficulties out for our good.

“Contentment isn’t a feeling of well-being contingent on keeping circumstances under control, but instead it promotes a joy in spite of circumstances, looking to God who never varies. Contentment is not based on external circumstances, but rather on an internal source. Contentment is of the heart” (Rick Ezell).

Let me leave you with a John Wesley story of contentment and gratitude. John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet, in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley’s heart. While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed. Yet, he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley, being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes. ‘And what else do you thank God for?’ he said with a touch of sarcasm. The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, ‘I thank Him that He has given me a life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!’ Deeply moved, Wesley recognized that this man knew the meaning of true contentment.” (Source unknown)

Who knew you could learn so much from quilting? Or from a railroad porter.

 

The Quilt Shop

This past weekend we spent some time in Berlin, Ohio attending the Hostetler family Quinquennial (every 5 years) Reunion. During down time I went to as many quilt shops as I could. Now that I am on my way home I have been thinking about the pleasure I get from going to these shops. What is it about these places that give me so much pleasure is the question I’ve been contemplating.

Part of it is the array of colors, patterns, and textures but it is more than that. What I like most are the possibilities and challenges that the quilt shop represents. What kind of project will I discover? Quilt, throw, table runner, wall hanging or something totally different like an embroidered “tile” wall hanging. When the project is discovered then comes the creative joy of material selections–colors and print patterns–as well as all the bling and stuff that will complete my creation. Next comes the challenge of bringing my project into being when I get it back to my studio.

Then there are the discoveries of some beautiful material that you just need to have and can figure out later how to use it. I just finished a project with material that I had purchased in Oregon about ten years ago. I have more material that falls into this category. That too provides me with the joy of anticipated discovery of a future project.

It is at this point that I want to heap lots of praise and love on my husband who understands my joy of quilt shops and my need to “create.” If he is with me he will wait patiently for me to complete my visit especially if we are traveling he will make it possible to visit the area quilt shops. (Thank you New York Times Crossword puzzles that makes his wait time more pleasant!)

In my visit to Berlin’s quilt shop I found a few gems that I am looking forward to using. Unfortunately, I know that I am going to have to keep reminding Don that I cannot charge $600 to $1200 dollars for the quilts that I sell!

Ravi Zacharias in his podcast on Pleasure points out that true pleasure is derived simply from enjoying the intrinsic goodness of the activity. It is like taking a walk to enjoy nature versus walking for exercise purposes.

What is it that gives you pleasure? Sewing, music, art, walking, reading….? Enjoy without excuse.

“May all your ups and downs in life be with a needle and thread.”

The Joy of Creating

To quote Breen Brown,  “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”  I totally agree with this.  Anytime I am creating–painting, quilting, crafting–there is within me a sense of peace and contentment. There are times when I look at a piece I’m working on or I’ve finished and I wonder where that came from and how did I do that?  I find this especially true when I am painting.  At times it feels almost as if I am “birthing” some new thing.  There are those things that I create that absolutely come from a special place within me; my soul perhaps?  Other items come easily and bring a simple sense of satisfaction simply through the creative process.

This blog is a different kind of creativity for me.  I do like to write but it is almost always more laborious than any of my other creative efforts. I have not written much here this year as I have been trying to determine the direction I would like to take with this blog or even if I wanted to keep it.

I have finally decided how I want to use this website.  It will serve a duel purpose. I will combine writing with the sharing of my other creative processes and projects. I will also be using it more in connection with my little cottage industry venture, Arvey’s Creations. 2018 will be the first full year of operation (taxes and all!).

“How did you do that?” is a question that is a tough one to answer.  Now I could say, ‘well first I did this and then I did that,’ but that doesn’t answer the question that is being asked.  The questioner is really asking, “how did you come up with that idea” or “how did you think to do ‘it’ that way.” Someone once said that, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they really didn’t do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”  

However creativity happens, it requires an openness and flexibility to totally change directions. For me it requires living with a certain amount of chaos that has a way of floating around me until it begins to fall into place.  The chaotic times of creativity are the difficult parts and it is only as it falls into place that the sense of accomplishment begins to make its appearance.

There are times when I approach a project in fear and trepidation.  I have a vision of what I hope to do but I know that the finished piece will be different than what I had envisioned–sometimes spectacularly different. Sometimes there is total failure and I grieve what could have been. I absolutely love the times when things turn out spectacularly better than I could ever have hoped. It’s kind of like looking into the eyes of your newborn and marveling at the part of you that has just been birthed.

I believe there is a creative gene in all of us and when we express ourselves creatively we become a true reflection of God. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

 

 

 

Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” No doubt that this is true but these days I am discovering the effect that a ‘name’ can have on you.

Very often the first piece of information we have about something or someone is derived from its name. We tend to form judgements very quickly so that the first bit of information, the name, is important. It can lean you in a positive direction or a negative direction. And those first bits of information can set the stage for future interactions.  

So why am I “waxing eloquent” about names? In my retirement I have undertaken, along with friends, the development of a small business venture. As a group we call ourselves, Cranstetler Crafts but each of us have our own individual selling space and inventories and individual event names. I recently decided to change mine to Arvey’s Creations. 

As I have begun the ‘branding’ process I began to notice the effect that the name change was having on me. I found that I am drawn more to the process of creating and what I am creating rather than crafting something that I believe might sell. While I always care about the quality of a piece I am finding that quality seems to have taken on increasing importance. In the past I felt more driven to get things done and tended to overlook very minor defects. But I find that I am not comfortable doing that any longer. I believe that it is because it bears my name which indicates that it is my creation. I want to be able to take pride in each and every item that I create.

Scripture reminds us that, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1) At the end of the day my reputation for quality work is more important than the number of sales that I can generate. And I agree with Rachel Ingber when she says, “A name represents identity, a deep feeling and holds tremendous significance for its owner.”

Preach

I am discovering, and learning these days to deal with random thoughts and memories that seem to come at me from out of nowhere. In Sunday Bible class we have been studying from chapter 5 in Matthew within the context of holiness. At one point in the discussions I was reminded of the Salvation Army College for Officer Training and my own training experiences there. Perhaps my most powerful encounter happened to me there. 

All Christians have been called to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:14) God called me to do ‘my preaching’ through The Salvation Army as an officer. I was fearful of this call for so many reasons but the greatest worry for me was that I was terrified to speak in front of people. (I was so painfully shy that as a child I would skip school on the days when oral reports were to be given.) Nevertheless, with the intent to obey Christ’s command I answered God’s call to officership.

I will never forget the first sermon I ever preached. It was as a cadet during my field training assignment at the Times Square Corps. It was bad enough that I had to stand at a pulpit and preach to a group of people in the chapel, but I also had to contend with the fact that it was broadcast outside. While the message (and the meeting in general) was going on inside, there were cadets outside handing out tracts, talking to people (about the message, etc.), and inviting folks to come inside. This assignment to preach became a powerful turning point for me.  
As I stood to read the scripture I was so scared that I was shaking all over and could barely speak—I could even see out of the corner of my eye that the bow on my bonnet was shaking! I sat down in great fear and near panic. As the next item on the program, a band selection, was taking place I began imploring God. I prayed this simple prayer: “God you have called me and I want to be here but I can’t do this without your help. Please, help me!” At that moment I felt the peace of God envelop me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. No more shaking, no more fear. The band finished playing and I stood and delivered that sermon with confidence. I even remember the opening line: “Have you ever stood in the midst of a crowd and felt completely alone?” Now I don’t know how effective that sermon was for anyone else (or the grade I received) but it was a game changer for me. God showed me very clearly that He had indeed called me and that He would equip me and help me to do the work and ministry involved in that calling. 
Not only was this experience a confirmation of my calling I believe that it was a second work of grace much like the those at Pentecost experienced. The power of that moment brought about profound changes within me that enabled me to do the work that I had been called to do.

The constant prayer of my life has been captured in the chorus of Richard Slater’s song:

I have not much to give thee, Lord,

For that great love which made thee mine:

I have not much to give thee, Lord,

But all I have is thine.

Discerning “Ought”

Another post from Lt. David Hostetler that is too good not to share. 

There isn’t much current TV that I watch these days, so if it isn’t sports I’m watching it’ll likely be re-runs on either Netflix or Amazon prime, and recently Presvytera Nora and I have been watching the old sitcom “Frasier” on Netflix. One of the long running themes of the show was Frasier’s brother Niles’ unrequited affection for their father’s live in therapist Daphne, an affection known only to his brother and father. At the conclusion of season 7, however, both Daphne and Niles admit their amorous love for one another, but only after Niles has recently married and on the eve of Daphne’s wedding to another man. What to do?

The dilemma made me think of the climax of the movie Casablanca, wherein Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick faces a similar dilemma with a married woman. They had been in love once—and seem to be again—she wants to stay with Rick rather than escaping with her husband to neutral Spain, but he won’t let her, saying she’d regret it, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” They did the right thing, not what was easy, but what they ought to do.

I thought Niles and Daphne would also, since that is how the show and season ended, but the next season began with Daphne jilting her fiancé at the altar and Niles telling his new bride that he wants a divorce. They did what they wanted, what they thought would make them happy, not what they ought to have done.

Whether or not the span of time between the movie and the TV show, and the social changes during that time are to blame for the difference is impossible for me to tell, but I am certain that modern audiences could not fully appreciate what Rick and Ilsa did, and are more likely to understand and approve of Niles and Daphne’s decision. More and more these days, as we erode every common morality in favor of individuals’ self-determined ones, we become unable even to discern an “ought.” Rather we replace the “ought,” that ideal model for right thoughts, feelings, and actions, with the self, making our ultimate aim self-fulfillment, what makes me happy.

When the self replaces the ought we are unable to value properly the kind of work we do, so rather than find joy in the work at hand that must be done, we seek more “fulfilling” and “meaningful” work. In other words, work that pleases me and makes me proud to tell others what I do. It’s no longer sufficient to see work as a means to the ends of providing for one’s needs, work becomes an end in and of itself; we are what we do.

When the ought gives way to the self we also fail to evaluate our relationshipsproperly. Rather than offering ourselves to others, we seek relationships that feed our self-esteem and avoid those “difficult” people. Rather than doing the hard work of living in community, we isolate ourselves in enclaves of like-minded people and thank God we’re not like that man over there. We hide behind our phones and computer screens, refusing to stand face to face.

Until we recognize that there is a way we ought to act, and that our self is fulfilled only in relationship with God and others, then we will continue to confuse our desire, which is disordered by sin, with our need, which is constant. Self-denial used to be a cornerstone of Christian faith and practice, now it is done if we can fit it into our schedule. The 5k this weekend will make me feel better for doing something for others. But we need the other more than we need to feel good. And we need God more than we need our self. The cosmic irony is that we only becomefully ourselves when we surrender fully to Christ first. So, the next time we find ourselves confronted with a choice, the best question to ask is not “what do I want?” or “what feels right?” or “what makes me happy?” We should ask ourselves and each other, “What ought I to do?” “What is the right thing to do?” Only with our self in its proper, subordinate state can we have healthy relationships or be truly fulfilled. Several episodes later Niles and Daphne are still picking up the pieces of relationships broken by their selfish choice. Rick walked off camera with Renault saying, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

In Two Worlds

I have spent the day in Maggie Hope’s world while putting together a quilt top. Maggie Hope is the main character in a historical fiction novel, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. I am adding her to my favorite authors list and am looking forward to reading the next five books in this series … well, listening … as my eyes don’t let me get much reading done anymore. She has authored many more novels than these six and look forward to reading them.

It occurred to me at some point how neat it is to be able to indulge in two favorite pastimes simultaneously, reading and sewing! I noticed today that it felt as if I was slipping easily in and out of two worlds, reality and imagination. Imagine the start I received when I left to pick up Don from work and heard the news about the attack in London. I had just left Maggie narrowly escaping a London bombing and here, in the real world, London is still under siege! It almost felt as if these two worlds I had spent my day in merged together in some weird and improbable way.

Lord, I thought, have we made so little progress since Maggie’s time? Winston Churchill’s rhetoric once again speaks truth when he says that, “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.” 

Let the Truth be the Truth

This is well worth reading.  It is my son’s latest post.  He is stationed in Okinawa and is a Naval Chaplin.

I once read a bit of graffiti that redefined the acronym USMC. Rather than United States Marine Corps, the author claimed USMC really meant “Uncomplicated Stuff Made Complicated.” It is true that any organization will over time tend to complicate things it once did simply—one only needs to look at the tax code to see that. Such complications have become so common place that it often surprises us to find simple solutions to anything, and it is the assumption that important truths must necessarily, if they are to have substantive meaning, be complicated or hard to understand that leads to elitism. There is, of course, a place for scholarship and erudition, but more and more we allow people to use complicated terms and arguments to explain why what I can see for myself to be true is actually false. The problem is with me, you see, I am incapable of understanding. It may be that sometimes things are difficult to explain simply, but often artists and intellectuals make me think of Ambrose Bierce’s poem about fellow poet Robert Browning’s style:

Words shouting, singing, smiling, frowning–Sense lacking. 

Ah, nothing, more obscure than Browning, save blacking.

St. John Chrysostom, I think, would agree that intellectual elitism is a problem. To him “There is nothing clearer, nothing simpler than the truth, if we deal not perversely; just as (on the other hand) if we deal perversely, nothing is more difficult.”

In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 7:37-52; 8:12)) reading Jesus is teaching in the temple, and within his hearing are officers that have been sent there to arrest him. Upon listening to what Jesus has to say, however, they cannot bring themselves to nab him. The officers then went back to the chief priest and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” To which they answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!”

Jesus’ words were direct and clear, they carried meaning without need of a dictionary, and they were few. Jesus’ words had impact. They impressed people not because of his education, for they “marveled, saying ‘how does this Man know letters, having never studied?’” (John 7:15), nor because of where He lived, since some said “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (John 7:41-42) No, Jesus’ words had impact because they were true, even if the elites could not make sense of them.

As Chrysostom notes, the officers were not convinced by syllogisms, logic, or argument, “Yet they had not heard a sermon either, but a short one; for when the long mind is impartial, there is no need of long arguments. Such a thing is truth.”

The officers, once convinced, didn’t keep the truth to themselves, either, but went back to their masters. They could have avoided the hassle and been on their way, following Jesus, but instead became heralds of the wisdom of Christ to men who wanted to complicate matters. And all because “No man ever spoke like this man!”

When is the last time you spoke such impactful truth? How was it received? Have we been impacted enough by the words of Christ to want to share them with others? We cannot use our lack of education or our address as an excuse to keep to ourselves our experience with the risen Lord. We can’t let people with lots of letters after their name intimidate us into believing that lies are true. It is time that we, as the Church, speak Truth plainly into the world around us. To do so these days will likely prompt others to say of us “No one ever speaks like they do!” At least, it should.