Monday, July 12, 2010

Respecter of Persons

This week, we looked at the R of our acronym C.R.E.A.T.E, standing for respect. The kids made cards for someone they "held in high regard," using a process called Suminagashi. Placing dots of ink on the surface of water, they then placed the fronts of their cards on the water's surface, allowing the ink to soak in. The best part of this Thursday was the reaction of the kids when Rob, after his tutorial, held up the front of his card. Swirls of green and black laid permanently on the paper, resembling the Doppler radar screen of a hurricane. With this project, there was no right or wrong. Even mistakes (dipping the brush too deep into the water, mixing too many colors of ink) resulted in beautiful swirls of color. I wanted to make a card for my dad, who had always taught my brother and I what it meant to respect others.

My dad is not an educated man. In fact, he barely graduated from high school. His senior year, he had skipped so much that he didn't have enough credits to graduate. So he transferred to a school in Pensacola, FL, where his sister and brother-in-law lived. According to Florida State requirements for graduation, he had just enough. They mailed him his diploma from a high school he never even set foot in.

He was always full of advice, though, straight from the "Dan Kaiser School of Hard Knocks," as he called it. If you "register" in time, you might just be able to sit in on one of his "Backyard Seminars." He'll invite you to relax in a lawn chair on the back porch and will tell wild stories from his past over a cold beer. These are some of my favorite nights at home.

I can remember riding in his brown S-10 truck, my little brother and I, on our way to the beach one summer afternoon while mom was working. I was 9. "If you two never remember anything else I say, remember this: Treat others how you want to be treated." Later that afternoon, we had stopped at a little grocery store to get drinks and snacks for the ride home. As we parked in the alley next to the store, a woman slipped and fell as she walked across it. My dad rushed out of the truck and over to her, knees bent to the ground and a hand stretched out toward hers. He did his best to live out his advice in front of his kids.

In a culture where education and "makin' it" are the goals of American life, my dad is lacking. But not in the Kingdom of God. As Peter tells us in Acts 10, God does not play favorites.

Peter at first cannot understand why Cornelius, a leader within the Roman Army, and not a Jew, would want to meet with him. But it is God who instructs both men to meet, and they do. Cornelius receives the Holy Spirit while with Peter, and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right," Peter says. (Acts 10:34-35)

When word spreads to Judea, Peter is criticized by fellow Jews for eating and drinking in the house of a gentile. But Peter recounts to them what the Lord had said to him in a vision: "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 11:9) When Jesus died on the cross, a sinless man taking the punishment for all the sins of mankind, those considered "unclean" where now acceptable to God. Educated, uneducated, black, white, male, female, diseased or healthy, it didn't matter. God's chosen people were no longer his "only" people. And that is something to celebrate!

I pray that all of us would remember what an amazing God we serve, that because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are accepted in a kingdom where elitism has been abolished. All hail King Jesus!

Love in our Gracious King,

See photos here from our 3rd week, themed "Respect".

Also, some photos from our trip to the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Saturday.

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