Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’

by Rev. John H. Farmer

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Celebrating the Son on No-Sun Days

From late summer to early fall, morning daybreaks are wondrously meaningful for me. Many a gray “good morning” is invested in sitting in my front porch rocker while holding a cup of lukewarm coffee and staring off through the dew draped haze.

The damp of evening is slow to leave the field across our road. The thick grass that threatens our flower gardens, our weed populated lawn won’t begin to dry until mid-afternoon. The lawnmower threshes down silver green stripes. Pads of mown green huddle ‘neath the mower deck, to jump off at all the wrong places in the lawn. They work for the family rake.

So, on many a hazy, lazy, morning, I develop sermons and Reflections articles on the tablets in my mind. Seriously, I really do. Sounds better than procrastinating eh?

Sounds on gray mornings also take on new crispness. Birds and fuzzy tree-dwelling creatures announce with a certainty that day awaits.

Peering off to the far margins of my threatened day’s horizon, I can focus on the turkeys and deer which step from the forest to feast on the carpet of harvested corn. Bean fields will call and, goodness knows, the deer will pack away those tender last-of-the-season pods. Sparkles of sundance search for the last vestige of our drying pond. There is little water to announce movement. Look skyward and old Sol is hidden from view. In a few minutes he will light the trees at the road’s edge in a halo of daytime. The warming morn hints at his presence.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a sunny day. I am fond of blue skies, fluffy clouds and verdant green fields and thousands of miles of Northern Neck waterfront shores. But sunny days do not evoke much emotion from this aging preacher. Bright azure days leave little to the imagination. Everything seems so in focus. Those days are for processing, cataloging. The clear light of day illuminates soul and body. Clear sunny days are a blessing, they just don’t require as much help from God to get me through. I am less dependent; therefore less productive and less faithful.

Much of my life has been lived out in the shadows. Rainy days, just ordinary cloudy days, pull me forward. I suppose it just takes more investment to survive the perceived dullness. Yet, in fact, most of our days are like that. We, who want such concise contrasts, who wish for things clearly delineated, may come to admit that much of life is painted in shades of gray.

The often controversial, author and professor Joe Fletcher (1905-1991), late of the University of Virginia, used to write about how we should learn to make decisions based on the gospel. Rather than await a crisp this or that, right or wrong, black or white, either/or, breakthrough, Fletcher suggested that we make decisions based on “what does love dictate?” For him love was defined in the familiar vernacular of: “What would Jesus do?”

Quite simply, Fletcher held out for our best decision-making as that which was weighed in the balance of what is the loving thing (i.e., Christian) to do in a present predicament? Since much of life is not within easily defined perimeters, “What does love dictate?” gets us more involved in the process. No matter what the process is really about. Mind you we are talking about the love of Christ…

Well now, I am back to gray, hazy mornings. Peering into the panorama of similarly hued entities makes me focus more on that which I am trying to see the hardest. It requires more concentration. It asks deeper questions. It begs me to become a more serious student of the day. I will have to work to pull from the sameness that which needs bless me most. Sure it’s work, however, it’s rewarding. It is both physical and spiritual.

Once a popular songwriter gave us a tune which bespeaks volumes about the norm. Sing the words: “On a clear day, on a clear day, you can see forever… rise and look around you…” Yes, it sings well enough. But the former Broadway show tune hints at sight, which is hardly more than optical. One cannot see forever, unless one’s heart is matched to the heart of our Lord Jesus who becomes our Christ.

We invest in forever by placing our hands in his in the very present “nowness” of life. We must stop waiting for that special time, that clear day, that right moment. The God of the ages sent his son to die a cruel death. It was to purge our sin. It was to call us from gray days and sunny days, into days of purpose, to days of optimum usefulness.

A few church singers will remember the popular “I found the answer, I learned to pray…” as a tease toward aiding sunshine by warbling about our son shine, or “There is sunshine in my soul today…”

I am convicted that when congregations gather to worship, marvelous constructs await. The corporate peering into hopeful hues, when many hearts and eyes are focused on the divine, causes us to spiritually help each other to see better: live better. Decisions come more easily. Answers to many of life’s unasked questions fall nicely into view. We get a sense of forever, a sense of Christ’s love, and it elevates our spirits and punctuates our existence.

Invest yourself in a family of faith this week. It will actually invite the son to come out.