Posts by Taylor Lewis Guthrie Hartman
This is a story about seeking after the holy; this is our story.
There was once a rabbi who had a son. Every day, the rabbi’s son would wander in the woods. At first, the rabbi didn’t mind but after a while, it began to concern him a bit. He sat his son down. “Son, I notice that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder – why do you go there?”
The son replied, “I go there to find God.”
Relieved, the rabbi exhaled and gently said, “Son, that is a very good thing. I am glad you are searching for God. But my dear child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?”
“Yes,” the boy answered. “But I am not.”
Very truly, I tell you, we, too, are not the same everywhere. Take a moment and remember yourself as a twelve-year old or if you are around that age, as a four-year old. What did you know about God, Christ, the Spirit? What was holy to you? Now relocate yourself to the present – are you the same as you were then? When I remember the phases, the waxing and waning, the wondering and wandering, I see an undeniable grace that washes over me with steadfast love. I can do nothing but give thanks to God for all the pieces of my faith that fit together in some magnificent, not yet fully seen picture. It seems the psalmists knew this thanksgiving, too when she wrote, In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them – they are more than the sand; I come to the end – I am still with you.Read more....
When I was in college, my dad began to re-explore the faith of his upbringing. One night over the phone, he told me that he thought he was a Christian. I responded, “But you don’t go to church. You don’t have a community of faith.” He said, “I don’t need one to be a Christian.” This was foreign to me – me, a child of the church, who only knew the sweetness of a community of faith. I retorted in full on theological sass, “Yes you do. You can’t be a Christian alone. You need people with you.”
Thank God I was talking to my dad, who knows that the fullness of my vigor comes from the fullness of my heart even if it translates poorly. It wasn’t that I thought my dad wasn’t a follower of Jesus but I wanted my dad to know what I knew deeply: we belong to the Good Shepherd and we know this most intimately when we belong to the whole of Christ’s flock – when we have a place and a people to whom we belong. In the chaos of my youth, the good shepherds of Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church showed me what belonging looked like – it looked like teaching me in Sunday School and giving space for my plentiful questions; it looked like inviting me into the lectern because they saw me come alive when I led worship; it looked like chaperoning mission trips and doing energizers with me at Montreat. It looked like Jesus: tending to me, gathering me back up when I strayed, knowing me personally out of our entire flock.
I am the first to say that this sheep-keeping business – this belonging business – is hard and messy work. Being part of the Good Shepherd’s flock bears a responsibility to live out our claim, our belonging-ness to all those within God’s generous fold. And it is deeper than a feeling of welcome or inclusion. Scottish theologian John Swinton helps me to understand it. He studies and teaches on how the church can respond to dementia and disability but his work casts a broad vision for what belonging looks like.Read more...
The psalmist cries, “From where will my help come?” and responds with faith to her own lament: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth…The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” My help comes. It does not tarry or wait or take sides but protects and keeps. Does it?Read more...
Let’s play a word game to get us started with this text, shall we? What are the first words that come to mind when I say Jonah?
These images and words have likely been floating around in your heart and mind since childhood, haven’t they? The story of Jonah is one of those texts that everyone – great and small – can hold on to and recall with vivid detail.
As children, the story of Jonah is spun like a fairytale: Jonah defies God and is thrown overboard a ship, only to be rescued by a giant fish that swallows him up whole. Once Jonah prays, the fish spits him out on land and all ends well.Read more...