Seek a Salem … July 16, 2012

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Seven Mile Ferry — a well-traveled path with, I’m sure, a tale to be told. Yet I was not in the mood for the ramblings of some roadway. I had come to share, and hopefully to be shared with, by some of God’s good folk. My destination was Salem.

The word has two meanings for me. First, “Salem,” from the Hebrew, means peace. Of course, any good reader who has spent any time in the gospels will tell you there’s really no such thing as an actual location for peace. Matter of fact, there’s a warning that those who pursue such a utopia will often find “sudden destruction”–or a “sword.”  No, the Good Book tells us that peace requires a maker.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Which, by the way, is a far cry better than being referred to as the “Brats of Beelzebub…”)

The second image that pops into my mind when I think of “Salem” is the town in Massachusetts, which for one reason or another, decided to begin looking on its young lasses as witches. Although we might be tempted, after an evening of perusing reality television, to sympathize with these forefathers, it’s rather doubtful that any of these characters are possessed with much more than themselves. Yes, Salem, Massachusetts, went on a witch hunt–and even though the conclusions were rather dubious, there was an awful lot at stake, so they went ahead a burned a bunch of ’em anyway.

So I was curious, upon arriving at this new sanctuary of possibility, which Salem lay before me. Would it be a building filled with peace-makers or those who are just making pieces out of everything, breaking their world apart into black and white?

The difference is really quite simple. Those who have decided to make peace always arrive in life with anticipation. They have discovered the key to making the human journey pleasant and plausible lies in determining that God is ready to bless instead of curse or ignore. If you really believe that we have all fallen so short of the glory of God that He’s basically abandoned the human part of His creative mission and is searching for the nearest whack to destroy us, then you will find it very difficult to want to make peace. You will also find it unnecessary to have “ears to hear”–because one of the true signs of a peace-maker is that he or she has taken their anticipation and has put on ears because they believe there are blessings to be had.

On the other hand, those who make pieces out of life, looking to fragment everything into its parts for careful scrutiny, always lead with suspicion. Let’s be honest–if you’re convinced the world is evil and God is doing battle with iniquity, then the only conclusion you could possibly come to is that most people you meet are flirting with darkness, and it is your duty to expose their bleakness and proclaim them to be transgressors so as to do the will of God and protect yourself from destruction. It is a fascinating fact that those who have suspicion crawling up their spines only have ears to fear. It doesn’t matter what you tell them–they will translate it into some sort of horror or pending doom.

So you can imagine–I was curious upon arriving at this beautiful, well-constructed, country church, whether I would find Salem, the peace makers, or Salem, occupied by those trying to make pieces out of something truly holy.

Walking into the building, I was greeted. That’s always a good sign. A hand should always come our way before a stare. At least that’s my opinion. I was engulfed by a sea of hands, and proclamations from people’s lips that they had been looking forward to what God was going to be doing. The comical part of the preamble to the service was that these delightful human beings were so anxious to communicate their excitement that I got prayed for three times. Usually, in a United Methodist Church, if you get one prayer, you are fortunate. But I got a triple anointing. So that put a giddiness in my heart–that the message my Father gave to me to share with my brothers and sisters was actually going to be heard instead of being criticized by those wanting to find something absurd. Because as I told you, when there’s anticipation in the room, there are ears to hear. And as Jesus said, “when people have ears to hear, let them hear.”

Salem United Methodist Church has discovered a great truth–God doesn’t bless us. Blessing is everywhere and we either arrive to receive it or we stand firm in our stubbornness, to reject it. It really comes down to one question–is peace in my control? Or in the control of God and the devil?

If you think that the heavens or hell are manipulating what happens next in your life, you will very suspicious and have ears to fear. But if you know that we are the peace makers, the children of God, then you will show up in life with anticipation, with ears to hear. Ears to hear? Or ears to fear? It’s the difference between finding God or fearing life.

I had a beautiful morning. People were touched and likewise with me. But it all revolved around the fact that this little chapel out on Seven Mile Ferry Road decided to be filled with anticipation instead of suspicion. They made a decision not to hunt for the witch, but to be a congregation which hunts … for peace.

   

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I was in that service yesterday morning at Salem, and it was so amazing and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your love of God and your talents with us.

    Like


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