Thankful for Safety | 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 12

At church this morning, we were introduced to an off duty police officer who will be on guard during services.  It was a project, according to our pastor, that has been in progress for several months now, and not something that was motivated by recent events, though recent events certainly make me consider the change in a different light than I would have before.

The knowledge that an armed officer will be standing at the entrance of our sanctuary both leaves me thankful, and a little sad.  Thankful because I don’t see any reason why we should leave ourselves and our church family open to attack.  Perhaps the recent shootings in Texas, Nashville, and South Carolina could have been avoided had their been an armed guard already on sight at the time of the event.  Indeed, the attacks in Texas and Nashville very likely resulted in fewer casualties due to the nearby presence of a courageous, armed citizen.  Thus, I am thankful that our church family, at least, is no longer as vulnerable.

Still, my heart aches a little at the realization that we have to take such measures.  It aches for the lives already lost in the church families that have seen bloodshed.  It aches for the knowledge that we are so much deeper in our sin than we know, or perhaps than we can even comprehend.  It aches a little too, in a nostalgic sort of way, for the sleepy little village churches of American antiquity, doors open and lights on, ready to welcome any sin-weary wanderer to be received, forgiven, and renewed by the transforming power of Jesus.  Somehow, a church sanctuary with an armed guard at post outside of it doesn’t give me the same welcoming vibe, but then, perhaps those sleepy little churches of American antiquity are figments of my imagination anyway.

Either way, I’m not willing to sacrifice members of our church family merely for the sake of a potentially more “welcoming vibe”, so I’m back to being thankful.  We don’t live in a culture now where it is prudent to go unprotected, certainly not in a city of 700 thousand, and I trust Jesus when he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Protecting one another is part of loving one another, so even in a day an age when we must set armed guards outside of our sanctuaries to protect our church family from attack, I am convinced that Jesus’ love will shine through, and for that, I am also thankful.

Scotland Trip: Scottish Food, Floors, and Violence (By Oleta Renee)

Mom asked me to write this post tonight, as she says she’s exhausted, and needs her beauty rest for tomorrow… and I don’t? That’s alright though, as she’s not let me write in quite a while.  I’ll pick up the story where Shea left off.

So, Saturday… we finally got off the flying machine at around 9:30 that morning.  I was glad to finally get up, as I’d been curled in the same position for about 6 and a half hours on a barely carpeted floor.  Honestly, the least they could do is provide a cushion or something, or maybe just include built in beds for we canine passengers.  Why not?  They provide humans with seats after all.

Anyway, when we got out, the friendly immigration staff (Mom says that’s an oxymoron) gave me some water, and a lot of attention.  I don’t know what Shea’s talking about.  They were beyond civil toward me.  We waited around for a bit, then went to a room where a man scanned my micro chip and check my papers, to make sure I’m not a criminal, and we finally headed outdoors.  The air was cool and crisp, nothin like the hot, sticky air we had left behind in Maryland.  We got in a little car, and Shea tried to convince me not to sit next to her on the seat; she was not successful, as usual.  Car floors are dirty, cramped, loud, and uncomfortable; the only possible benefit lies in the possibility of food left by previous passengers.  I caught a nap while Shea chatted with the two people in the front of the cvar, Beth, our hostess, and Patrick, our team leader.  When we finally arrived at Beth’s flat, as they call it (which I don’t understand because it’s definitely not flat, you even have to go up stairs to get there!), and put down our things in our room.  I immediately got to work (this is a mission trip after all) cleaning her kitchen and living room floors.  

After a shower and a baked potato for Shea, we settled down for another nap, which for Shea turned out to be five hours long.  Can that be considered a nap?  That evening, we walked to the church for a prayer meeting for the unsaved.  There, we met two more people with funny accents, (there seem to be a lot of those around here), the church pack leader, as it were, and one of the elders.  Thankfully, the room we were in was carpeted, and I fell asleep again.  Traveling is an exhausting business.

Sunday we woke up at a relatively reasonable hour, though Shea woke up before me, which will not be happening again.  We went to the church for a morning bible study, prayer meeting, and worship service.  There were lots of new people, and a few asked if they could give me a “clap”, which apparently translates to “pet” in English.  Either way, I got lots of them from people in the congregation, especially the kids, or, as someone called them, the weans (pronounced wanes).  Human language is fascinating.

After church, we headed over to a friend’s flat, which was also not flat, and I cleaned her floors too while Shea, Beth, Patrick, and several people from the church had a home-cooked meal.  Apparently it was delicious,, steak pie.  Shea didn’t give me a taste, although I would imagine that anything with the word steak in it would be delicious… mm.

Sunday night was another church service (which meant more attention, Win!) and then the younger people gathered at Beth’s not flat for some hang out time.  For me, that meant floor cleaning duty again! and boy was I successful!  She didn’t have to sweep up one popcorn kernel after that shindig.  Oh, and Shea got pegged in the head with a mobile phone.  I wasn’t worried, since she was laughing, and since I know she has a really hard head, but I do understand now why Shea has to have international insurance.  I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on people in case of violence from now on.

Right then.  Shea can put this up later.  I’m off to get some rest.