Pastor's Blog
September 29, 2017, 12:50 PM

October Blog


One of my favorites to ponder.

Ragman- by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Even before the dawn one Friday morning I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking the alleys of our City.  He was pullling an old cart filled with clothes both bright and new, and he was calling in a clear, tenor voice:  "Rags!" Ah, the air was foul and the first light filthy to be crossed by such sweet music.

"Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags! Rags!"

"Now, this is a wonder," I thought to myself, for the man stood six-feet-four, and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular, and his eyes flashed intelligence.  Could he find no better job than this, to be a ragman in the inner city?  I followed him.  My curiosity drove me.  And I wasn't disappointed.

Soon the Ragman saw a woman sitting on her back porch.  She was sobbing into a handkerchief, sighing, and shedding a thousand tears.  Her knees and elbows made a sad X.  Her shoulders shook.  Her heart was breaking.

The Ragman stopped his cart.  Quietly, he walked to the woman, stepping round tin cans, dead toys, and Pampers.  "Give me your rag," he said so gently, "and I'll give you another."

He slipped the handkerchief from her eyes.  She looked up, and he laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shined.  She blinked from the gift to the giver.

Then, as he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing: he put her stained handkerchief to his own face; and then he began to weep, to sob as grievously as she had done, his shoulders shaking.  Yet she was left without a tear.  "This is a wonder," I breathed to myself, and I following the sobbing Ragman like a child who cannot turn away from mystery.

"Rags! Rags! New rags for old!"

In a little while, when the sky showed grey behind the roof-tops and I could see the shredded curtains hanging out black windows, the Ragman came upon a girl whose head was wrapped in a bandage, whose eyes were empty.  Blood soaked her bandage.  A single line of blood ran down her cheek.

Now the Ragman looked upon this child with pity, and he drew a lovely yellow bonnet from his cart.  "Give me your rag," he said, tracing his own line on her cheek, "and I'll give you mine."

The child could only gaze at him while he loosened the bandage, removed it, and tied it to his own head.  The bonnet he set on hers.  And I gasped at what I saw:  for with the bandage went the wound!  Against his brow it ran a darker, more substantial blood -- his own!

"Rags! Rags! I take old rags!" cried the sobbing, bleeding, strong, intelligent Ragman.

The sun hurt both the sky, now, and my eyes; the Ragman seemed more and more to hurry.

"Are you going to work?" he asked a man who leaned against a telephone pole.  The man shook his head.  The Ragman pressed him:  "Do you have a job?"  "Are you crazy?" sneered the other.  He pulled away from the pole, revealed the right sleeve of his jacket --flat, the cuff stuffed into the pocket.  He had no arm.

"So," said the Ragman.  "Give me your jacket, and I'll give you mine."  Such quiet authority in his voice!  The one-armed man took off his jacket.  So did the Ragman -- and I trembled at what I saw: for the Ragman's arm stayed in its sleeve, and when the other put it on he had two good arms, thick as tree limbs; but the Ragman had only one.  "Go to work," he said.

After that he found a drunk, lying unconscious beneath an army blanket, an old man, hunched, wizened and sick.  He took that blanket and wrapped it round himself, but for the drunk he left new clothes.

And now I had to run to keep up with the Ragman.  Though he was weeping uncontrollably, and bleeding freely at the forehead, pulling his cart with one arm, stumbling for drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted, old, old, and sick, yet he went with terrible speed.  On spider's legs he skittered through the alleys of the City, this mile and the next, until he came to its limits, and then he rushed beyond.

I wept to see the change in this man.  I hurt to see his sorrow.  And yet I needed to see where he was going in such haste, perhaps to know what drove him so.

The little old Ragman -- he came to a landfill.  He came to the garbage pits.  And then I wanted to help him in what he did, but I hung back, hiding.  He climbed a hill.  With tormented labor he cleared a little space on that hill.  The he sighed.  He lay down.  He pillowed his head on a handkerchief and a jacket.  He coverd his bones with an army blanket.  And he died.

Oh, how I cried to witness that death!  I slumped in a junked car and wailed and mourned as one who has no hope -- because I had come to love the Ragman.  Every other face had faded in the wonder of this man, and I cherished him; but he died.  I sobbed myself to sleep.

I did not know -- how could I know? -- that I slept through Friday night and Saturday and its night too.  But then, on Sunday morning, I was awaked by a violence.  Light -- pure, hard, demanding light -- slammed my sour face, and I blinked, and I looked, and I saw the last and the first wonder of all.  There was the Ragman, folding the blanket most carefully, a scar on his forehead, but alive!  And, besides that healthy!  There was no sign of sorrow nor of age, and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness.

Well, then I lowered my head and, trembling for all that I had seen, I myself walked up to the Ragman.  I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him.  Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with dear yearning in my voice:  "Dress me."

He dressed me.  My Lord, He put new rags on me, and I am a wonder beside Him.  The Ragman, the Ragman, the Christ!

God Bless you!‚Äč

Pastor Becky

 


 

 




September 1, 2017, 12:37 PM

September Blog


Fall is in the air.  The nights are cooler, the grasshoppers are busy and trees are beginning to show their fall colors.  There is something about September that get's me excited and fired up.  It may well be because there are always new things happening this time of year.  Some of our children will be moving from the children's worship to our IGNITE! Youth Group.  There will be opportunities for you to volunteer in new ways.  We are welcoming a new staff member and interns.

The week of September 10, the Sunday morning Adult Class will begin and the IGNITE! Youth Group will begin.  On Wednesday of that week the Adult Small Groups will be held in the afternoon and evening, our FIRST KIDS! Praise & Worship will start that evening.  The Chancel Choir practices will be beginning and they are always looking for those who love to sing for the Lord.

Be sure to check the different adult small group offerings listed in the newsletter and on our website.  In Peter's second letter he challenges us saying, "you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)   We have had our summer vacation and now is the perfect time to become a part of a small group.  As disciples of Jesus Christ we are to be growing in holiness.  Just like a flower, growth takes time.  We don't reach full bloom overnight.  Our spiritual formation takes time and energy.

Some years ago, an agricultural school in Iowa did a study.  It reported that production of a hundred bushels of corn from one acre of land required 4,000,000 lbs. of water, 6,800 lbs. of oxygen, 5,200 lbs. of carbon, 160 lbs. of nitrogen, 125 lbs. of potassium, 75 lbs. of yellow sulphur, and other elements too numerous to list.  In addition to these ingredients are required rain and sunshine at the right times.  Although many hours of the farmer's labor are also needed, it was estimated that only 5 percent of the produce of a farm could be attributed to the efforts of man. So it is with our spiritual lives:  God causes the growth.  But we have to be willing to learn and allow God to cause the growth.  Make the time to learn and grow in your faith this fall.

I know you will be blessed in the process, for not only will you grow in your knowledge of Jesus--you will grow in your relationship with Him and with those in your group.  Come and be blessed.

Pastor Becky

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