Life lessons from the inspector
You don’t expect to find wisdom about life from a homicide detective in a novel. (Or at least I don’t!) When I began to read Louise Penny’s Still Life, about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache’s attempt to solve a murder in the small Quebec village of Three Pines, I was surprised to hear the homicide detective tell a younger colleague about the four sentences that can guide us to wisdom.
Four sentences to wisdom
Chief Inspector Gamache is coaching a young female colleague as the former Chief Inspector once coached him about life and doing good work as a homicide detective. Here are the four sentences to wisdom, according to Gamache of the Surete du Quebec:
- “I’m sorry.”
- “I don’t know.”
- “I need help.”
- “I was wrong.”
Which of these sentences easiest for you? Which of these sentences do you find yourself having to work extra-hard to voice? How would our lives be better if we were ready to voice our sorrow at the misfortune of others, admit the limits of our own knowledge, be honest about our need for help, and face our own mistakes?
A gift to be given away
The Chief Inspector remembers how the previous Chief Inspector, Comeau, sat him down and told him all these things in one session. Gamache remembers the older man sharing the four sentences to wisdom, and he concludes: “It was a huge mountain of a gift; one I continued to unwrap each day.” The Chief Inspector realizes that this is a “gift designed to be given away.”
One of the temptations each generation faces is the temptation to start from scratch, to learn all of life’s lessons by trial and error. The wonderful thing about life is that we don’t have to start from scratch – the lessons learned by previous generations can give us a head start in living an abundant life (John 10:10).
Those open to wisdom, those blessed with a teachable heart, benefit from conversations that are a “huge mountain of a gift” while some of us fight the truth and wisdom that come to us. As we go along in life, we have the opportunity to share this wisdom with a new generation.
I’m curious: which of those four sentences would, if you learned to say to it more easily and use it more frequently, would make the biggest difference in your life?
Soul songs are a mountain of a gift
Near the middle of the collection of the books we call the Bible; you’ll find a collection of songs. There are one hundred and fifty psalms. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the 23rd Psalm. If you look beyond that beautiful, familiar song, you may be surprised by what you will find.
My experience of Christians is that we often feel a great need to be polite and restrained in the presence of God. We put on a mask when we approach God, pretending to have faith when we are struggling, going through the motions of praise when we feel like cursing at life (and God), acting like all is forgiven when we want God to strike down those who have wounded us in cruel ways.
The writers of this sacred poetry, which was used in ancient Israelite and Judean worship, were honest – often shockingly so – in their prayers and their songs. The psalms, as one scholar observes, were appropriated “not only as records of human response to God but also as God’s word to humanity.”
Over and over again in the psalms you will find people coming to God to say they are sorry, shouting their praise, begging for God-given wisdom, appealing for help, singing songs of trust, and demanding that a just God punish the evil ones. The honesty of it all may take your breath away. You may be shocked…and then you may start wondering what it would be like if you had a more honest relationship with God.
Soul review (or revue)
Join us this Sunday as we begin a series of sermons based on the psalms. We’re calling the series of messages “Soul Songs.” This weekend we will look at Psalm 42 and the title of the message is “Real Songs.”
As we begin this series of sermons, I would like to encourage you to do three things. First, pray for the preacher of the morning. Sermons are something that a preacher does in partnership with the people of God. So pray for the person who does a courageous thing like stepping out to preach!
Second, begin to look at the psalms. Each day read a psalm in the morning and one in the evening. Don’t race through them. Slow down and let the song get inside you.
Third, let us know if you have a favorite psalm and why. You can write a note on the back of your Connection Card in the Sanctuary or on your Flap at the Open Door. Or you can send an email to Ms. Cath Foreman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for “Soul Songs.” I’m convinced these songs can change your life, and offer you life lessons you will never forget. I’m confident your relationship with God will never be the same if you let the songs get inside you!
Building presentation – June 12th and 15th
Two identical presentations will be held. The first will be Sunday, June 12th, at 10:30 a.m. in the Great Hall. (Open Door attendees may want to come to the Building presentation before heading to worship, and Sanctuary attendees will come after worship.) The second presentation will be on the evening of Wednesday June 15th at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall.
Be in prayer for the children, parents, staff and volunteers of our Vacation Bible School which begins this Monday, June 13.
Remember the Summer Worship Schedule: Sanctuary service is at 9:30 a.m. and The Open Door community of First Methodist Church gathers at 11:15 a.m.
Grace and peace,
Join us this Sunday, in a Jesus community where all are loved and welcomed, as we begin our series Soul Songs: A Journey Through the Psalms. Invite a friend to join you.
UMC General Conference news
Nearly one thousand UM delegates from around the world have been met in Portland, Oregon for the once-every-four-years General Conference. This is the highest decision-making body for the 11-million member denomination.
If you want to get more information you can go to www.umc.org/topics/general–conference-2016.
A Building Vision
JOIN US AS WE SEE THE NEW THING GOD MAY DO IN THIS PLACE!
Late in 2014 our congregation voted to undertake a comprehensive building study and explore possible solutions to challenges presented by our current facility.
Late in 2015 we received a report on needed structural repairs (estimated cost between $2.8 and $3.5 million).
Now, we have the opportunity to see some exciting possibilities about the building and ways it can be a ministry asset to future generations.
Join us in the Great Hall on Sunday, June 12th at 10:30 a.m. or Wednesday, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. for a report (with virtual fly-through tour of some elements of the possible redesigned building) by architects Kevin Stuckwisch & Mary Krupinski.
We encourage you to come and join the conversation!