Thursday, March 24, 2016

Guest Post: WHY FEET?

(I could not say it better. I welcome you to meditate deeply on this meaningful GUEST POST) Pictures added.

Tonight I Will Kiss Feet

 March 24, 2016 by 


Tonight’s liturgy is the most poignant and tender of the year. We gather to commemorate the Lord’s Supper, and at the heart of the liturgy is the solemn ceremony of washing feet.

The ceremony adds weight to the Chrism Mass earlier in the day when the priestly ministry is re-affirmed because the twelve men whose feet are being washed represent the twelve apostles. The other  (and more important) emphasis is on Christ the servant. To show that He is among us “as one who serves” the priest kneels to wash feet, and part of the washing of the feet is traditionally to kiss each foot.

Why feet, and why does this ultimate act of service touch my heart so each year?

Because feet are the most humble of our appendages. Few feet can be called beautiful. They are rough hewn, angular and practical parts of the body. Often oddly shaped with bunions, corns and callouses, the feet are homely and humble.

The feet are how we connect to earth. 
  Nor can foot feel being shod. The bare foot or the sandaled foot is in connection with God’s good earth and so man is reminded with his feet that he comes from the earth and to the earth he shall return. The feet keep (literally) down to earth. They walk. They run. They plod. They trod. They stand. They do humble work and for all the weight they bear day after day feet have relatively few complaints. Keep them warm. Keep them dry and they will do humble service for ages. Feet are the Samwise Gamgee of the body.

But feet can also dance.
They can tap. They can waltz. They can do the rumba. They can skip. They can hop. They can do the cha-cha-cha. How beautiful are the tender and innocent feet of a child at play. They gambol and run, they trot and leap, and my heart shall skip like hind’s feet on high places! You can be fleet of foot and flight of foot and use those feet to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Finally the prophet sings, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The powerful and poignant paradox is that these beautiful feet are the ones that bear the nail prints. These beautiful feet of the one who brings good news and proclaims the gospel of peace are the ones nailed to the wood of the cross. Then in a day or so we see those wounds healed and one day glorified–the bright scars turned into bright stars, and the red wounds transformed into roses.

So I [Father Dwight Longenecker] will kiss the feet of twelve men because in those feet are the beautiful feet of the Savior.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


My life has been like a jigsaw puzzle. From before my birth, all the separate pieces were sealed up in a box so that none would be missing. 

The Scriptures say that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,” and “we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” “The days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of Thy book they were all written.”

Usually the picture of the finished puzzle is on the top of the box. In my life-puzzle the box top picture was missing, known only to God. It has been up to me, under His loving plan, to put it together along with others who helped shape my life and the circumstances in which the drama of my life has taken place. Even now in my summit season of life the puzzle is still unfinished and parts of the picture continually surprise me.

Putting together puzzles was one of the traditional fun things we did with our family of four boys. Sometimes our pet dog would find a piece that dropped under the table and chew it up! When children are small, they start with puzzles of only a few large, simple pieces. Our family progressed to puzzles of a thousand or more pieces. Now you can buy circular puzzles, 3-D puzzles, and other complicated variations. I think my life-puzzle is more like those complex ones—and it seems to have taken longer. Most recently one of my sons and his son spent hours in inclement weather working together on a thousand piece Mega puzzle which I photographed here. It features a famous artist's painting from his “Hometown” collection. It is still unfinished....

As in life, God gradually gives me more pieces to fit into my life puzzle, but He still hasn't let me see the cover of the box. All of God's people-pictures are unique. It takes a lifetime to assemble all the pieces into a meaningful whole. It is incomplete at any point, even now. Sometimes it seems as if there are too many confusing dark pieces and they are the most difficult to fit in. In my life, where would cancer and widowhood fit in? No experience is wasted in God’s picture. There are many small pieces that are critical to the whole. And some are look-alikes, they almost fit, but not quite. I try to force some into the wrong place but the time is not right. I must wait for the context to become clear. Some are the ordinary looking ones, the trivials, the routines, the unremarkable ones of daily life. But if even one piece is missing, the puzzle won't be complete. 
Mine will eventually be complete, and so will yours. “In Him [Jesus] you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10). “He [God] who began...will perfect it...” (Philippians 1:6). “I [Jesus] am the Alpha [A] and the Omega [Z], the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13).

I may not see the finished picture until God Himself fits in the final surprising piece and I view it from Heaven's side in the dimension that is Eternity. Then I will understand that every single piece had its purpose and place. Without a doubt I will see that under God’s control my life will have turned out just like the picture on the box that is me. “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome” (Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified Paraphrase).

When I am in the full presence of God, I will see how He answered my beloved godly grandmother's prayers for her little granddaughter as she held me in her arms as an infant during my baptism. I was marked as God's child and confirmed by my own decision to follow Jesus Christ in late childhood. And I would wonder and praise God to discover how her prayers and the prayers of my godly ancestors continued to be effectual as they reached all the way down the corridors of time to me and then through me to our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and on through generations yet to be born!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Who wants to live in a tent as his permanent residence? For a vacation in the woods maybe, and for about a week max. Having raised four boys, yes, that was the cheapest way for our family to vacation on a budget. It was the late fifties and our tent was army surplus olive drab and the six of us crowded into it with sleeping bags. And I had to prepare meals on an open fire and wash dishes in the creek! To tell the truth, it took me as the Mom and chief-cook-and-bottle-washer out of my comfort zone and reluctantly away from my modern conveniences.

If we are human, however, we have no choice. We are all tent dwellers; we are tents!   While on earth, no matter how impressive are our actual living accommodations, we spend our lives being flimsy tents. That's how the Scriptures describe our mortal bodies. Our “earth suit” body is a perishable dwelling subject to deterioration. We are pilgrims always on the move, not settlers; we are sojourners not permanent residents on this planet, travelers not colonists. We are just passing through as living tents.


To be realistic, EVERYTHING is going to pass away. The WORLD itself is temporary. Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away. (Mark 13:31) He could say that with no fear of contradiction because “All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being....” (John 1:3). He created it all in the beginning and He tells us of its sure demise. “The world is passing away, and also its passionate desires” Saint John declared. (1 John 2:17) In his second letter Saint Peter echoes that thought. (2 Peter 3:7-12) Whatever is visible and tangible will literally pass away. The passing of the earth at the end of days is described by John in detail in Revelation chapter six.

The world's WORKS will pass away by being burned up—all the grand constructions of man's hands and labor through the ages will be in ashes. And so will MY WORKS, whatever you and I have been laboring on all our lives—our possessions, savings, our property, our investments. That is, if God deems it “wood, hay, or stubble” at His judgment.

My FRIENDS AND FAMILY are passing away, as is the entire generation in which we live, along with all the generations of humanity that have ever lived in history.

And I am passing away because I am mortal. I am flesh with my five senses that belong to this material, passing world. I will move on from my tent and so will you. We are here on earth for an abbreviated, fleeting moment of time. The Word of God describes our finite life in terms of the grass of the field that thrives for a moment and then is gone.

Are all these thoughts about our transitory, impermanent sojourn too morbid and depressing? Is all truly vanity of vanities? Absolutely not! God encourages us with His eternal spin on the passing of all things. He assures us of His plan and its redemptive aspect. Our lives are not futile. Our works are not futile in spite of their transience. There is meaning and purpose to all of His creation.


Good news! The HEAVENS AND THE EARTH will become new again! “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away...the first things have passed away...and He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new'…these words are faithful and true” (Revelation 21).

My FRIENDS AND FAMILY—AND ME—AND YOU! We have bodies that pass away eventually, but that is not all there is to us. God breathed into us indestructible souls. We were born for eternity although our mortal bodies are dust and to dust they will return. My flesh with its earth-senses will pass and will no longer be seen and touched by other earthlings. However, we will not pass away in the sense of being permanently destroyed. As we approach the celebration of Easter, listen again as Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25). In the Communion of Saints we are still bonded with our loved ones who have gone before us. We are forever part of the Body of Christ, the Church, forever alive. And in the resurrection we shall be reunited with our bodies again, as part of the “making all things new” which Jesus promised.

Some of our WORKS will not pass away either. It is God's will that our good fruit will remain. (John 15:16) If the works that we build upon the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ are like gold, silver and precious stones, they will be revealed and endure. It is God's own plan that these good works will be rewarded. (1 Cor. 3:9-17)

“The things which are seen are temporal,” so let them pass! “But the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 5:18). Our loving God's ETERNAL promises far outweigh the things which will PASS! “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1-9).

We're destined to exchange our fragile tent for an immortal “dwelling from heaven” which Jesus the Risen Christ promised He was going to His Father's House to prepare for each of us. THAT'S SOMETHING WONDERFUL TO CELEBRATE AT EASTER!

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Unremarkable? That's a strange, unfamiliar word. Not really a word I tend to use regularly. But it was used recently repeatedly about certain inner, unseen organs made visible on a screen during an ultrasound I had and then transferred to a written report by the radiologist. It's sort of a bland, confusing, making-me-wonder, non-descriptive, unsatisfactory, un...well... remarkable word. Does that mean good news or bad news?

1. not worthy of note or attention. ordinary, not special. not notably or conspicuously unusual. not extraordinary.

Well, then I should like the word! A lot! "Unremarkable" is quickly working its way up the ranks of my favorite words. Personally, I had not necessarily wanted to be referred to as unremarkable. But referring to medical tests for a health concern, unremarkable is the word I do want to see.

Radiologists and surgeons consider a result unremarkable if that means there is nothing to report on it. ie. "Leona, we have your scan results: the report says each organ we looked at is unremarkable."

Phew, the particular organs they scanned are unremarkable. Hhmmm... yes. Those organs are apparently there and accounted for, but there is no particular, visible problem with them. Yay for unremarkable! Thank You, God, for “nothing” to report! ;-) That IS a praise shout!

In my long life I have had my share of good reports and bad test results. I'm a lung cancer surgery survivor years ago already. During the early post-surgery years, every time I went for a 3 or 6 month or annual check up or X-ray I have felt the same apprehension. Would there be “something” or “nothing?” Afterward I have thanked God once again for the unremarkables.

Every unremarkable that God sends my way, and yours, is just as much an answer to prayer as a healing. And a cause for thankgiving. When God keeps my organs in good health is equally a mercy and goodness of God as restoring a disordered organ to normal. The Psalmist wrote In Psalm 139 King David wrote, “For Thou didst form my inward parts...I will give thanks unto Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God not only made all my parts, but He keeps all my organs running for decades and scores of years. That IS remarkable!

Every “unremarkable” report I receive is also a tap on the shoulder as a reminder that God requires my cooperation for my health. I can't violate the principles of good health and get off scot free without consequences. If I have been abusing my body through poor nutrition, overindulgence, or neglect, I will reap what I have sown. If God gives me an unremarkable report anyway as a merciful blessing in spite of my negligence, it should motivate me to shape up and pursue serious cooperation with Him for my health. He's given me a second chance!

Each test result reported as negative in the meaning of there being nothing to report is a cause not for TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Friday) but TGIU (Thank God It's Unremarkable!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


A hot button issue these days is the condition of our nation's infrastructure—among the hazards are antiquated plumbing lines, unsafe previous century electrical wiring, falling bridges, potholed highways, and rusty underground waterlines which spew dangerous lead into drinking water.

Listen to a typical conversation around the lunch table in a restaurant. Characters (no pun intended!) are miscellaneous calendar seniors qualified by age to join AARP – (Actually, they've set the age limit pretty low to identify membership, which scares away some of the younger folks from joining. They are still in denial and would be embarrassed to take advantage of senior discounts. So...let them pay full price!)

The chatter to that point had been about how many doctor appointments per week we all had on average and how many different “-ologists” we consult. We compete for who has found the pharmacy with the shortest waiting line for prescriptions, whose doctor is most user-friendly (or not!), which imaging center has the best MRI, who has most recently had a pacemaker installed, and who has the latest CPAP machine.

Overheard: “It seems that as soon as I turned (pick any age!) everything about me started to fall apart!”

Possibly true, but our crumbling bodily infrastructure didn't happen overnight and it's not something person-specific to you or to me. Nor rare. In fact, our gradual, delapidating, deteriorating, mortal “earth suit” (human body) is just following its natural disordered track since the Fall of man. What is happening to all of us from the time we were young is “common to man” (and woman too, of course.) Did you realize that some of our major, ordinary, human infrastructure diminishments are vividly described in the Bible, in the Old Testament? There is nothing new under the sun, I guess. Aging and its growing limitations happened to Adam, Abraham, Daniel, Obadiah, Luke, Paul, and everyone else all over the planet throughout history. Try reading what follows:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

You didn't understand all of that poetic language? What does that have to do with our bodily decline and aging condition? The skillful author, called The Preacher, probably King Solomon, used analogies, similies, and metaphors. A little research into biblical commentaries and cultural history sheds light and brings us some understanding. I'll do the research and you can do the search in the above Scripture passage. Okay?

Evil the sense of declining ability as one ages
No pleasure...of a sensual kind
Out of the windows...eyes, before sight is impaired
Cloudy eyesight...cataracts
Keepers or guards...hands and arms, now they have tremors
Strong men...feet or knees, our supporting pillars begin to give way
Grinders...molar teeth, cease to chew because they are few
Doors...lips and mouth kept shut so you can hardly hear your chewing
Song of a bird...the least noise wakes one up
Crowing of a cock...sleepless nights, can't wait for dawn
Daughters of music...voice and ear, organs that produce music, grow deaf and singing voice gets raspy
High places...the elderly fear heights, find it difficult to climb stairs
Even on a level way...fear of falling from poor balance
Almond blossom in grows white in the winter of life
Like grasshoppers...even little things become a burden
Desire for food appetite, no motivation
Longing for everlasting Home...detachment from this world
Dust...out of which God created man
Spirit leaves...returns to God, is immortal, survives the body
Silver cord...spinal cord attached to brain
(In ancient days a lamp of frail material but gilded over, customarily hung from house roof by a cord of interwoven silk and silver; beautiful as it is, eventually it crashes down and is broken)
Fountain...a cistern, spring, or well from which water was drawn by a pitcher let down by a rope wound around a wheel. Life ceases when the pitcher and wheel are broken, when vital energies are gone.
Another commentary interprets the fountain as the right ventricle of the heart, the cistern as the left, the pitcher as the veins, the wheel as the aorta. Circulation of blood which sustains life ceases.

Get it now? One commentary offers: “Aging is inescapable. Life seems futile, vane, empty, meaningless unless you remember your Creator from your youth, not waiting to remember Him until all you have left are the dregs of life. On the contrary, a good old age is not a vanity or an impossibility but a blessing with which God satisfies the godly. God expects us to 'bear fruit in old age.' (Psalm 92:12-15) Moreover, our Everlasting Home awaits us!”

Saint Paul takes it a level higher: “ Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, [our mortal infrastructure is crumbling] yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Despite our mortal decline, we are on the Upward Way in Christ!

Saturday, March 5, 2016


The story goes that one day a professor announced that there would be a surprise test that day. He handed out the papers on which there were no questions, only a tiny black dot in the center of the paper. He told them to write what they saw. When the papers were handed in, the professor read them aloud. Every student had written what he imagined about the significance of the black dot!

“You will not be graded on this, but I want to bring something important to your attention,” he said. “None of you wrote about the white part of the paper which takes up nearly all of the space. All of you concentrated on the black dot.

“The same happens in our lives. We each have been daily given, as it were, a fresh, white piece of paper to observe and enjoy but we always seem to focus on the dark spots. Our lives are a gift from God and He chooses with love and care to bless us. We always have many reasons to celebrate—nature renewing itself everyday, our friends, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see every day. However, we are preoccupied with our dark spot: the health issues that bother us, the lack of money or other provision, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend. The dark spots are very small compared to all the other positives and blessings we have in such abundance, represented by the white space. But the negatives are what hold us down, occupy us, and consume our minds.

“Learn to take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Occupy yourself with and enjoy each of your overflowing blessings, each precious moment that God gives you. Fill your life with love and thanksgiving.”

The little story above packs a big punch. Truly, some of us specialize in looking through the binoculars of our lives through the smaller eyepiece that magnifies something small into something way out of proportion larger than it is. When we focus in on the tiny “black dot” it begins to loom immense so that we forget God's overwhelming abundance of blessings and positives. Let's rather turn the binoculars around and look at any black dot in our life through the larger eyepiece that minimizes it or brings it into proper perspective. 

Whatever our passing human affliction that is disordering our “earth suit” (mortal body), or our seeming lack of provision, or disturbance of earthly relationships, or our growing limitations, or however many "black dots" are scattered in our God-ordained "white space," they are not worthy to be compared with the glory that God has in store for us in the Eternal realm.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:1). Left to our natural, fleshly tendencies, we are mentally programmed to view a half-filled glass as half empty, not half full. Let's not be “black dot” fixated people but lift our eyes to look on things from above, from God's perspective.

Blessings are also the things that haven't happened, the tests that came out normal, and the things that we are still able to do and enjoy, and ways that we can still please the Lord and serve Him--in spite of and even through our "black dots."  Let's pay attention to which end of the binoculars we look through!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Whenever I read Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name,” I think of the many “-oscopy” tests performed by doctors and medical technicians. Whatever one's “earth suit” (mortal body) disorder, it seems urgent for the physician to peer within me to see what can't be seen from the outside.

Have you ever considered how wise and thoughtful God was in creating our mortal bodies by not using see-through skin stretched all over our skeleton and flesh? Had He not used opaque skin, all of our organs would be visible to everyone! Our naked insides, “all that is within me” would continually be exposed!

Since I'm a cancer survivor, I've had my share of -oscopy experiences starting with multiple X-rays through the years. Many have had broncoscopies, colonoscopies, endoscopies, laparoscopies, gastroscopies, ultrasounds, sonograms, MRIs, and other diagnostic non-surgical procedures. Only a site-specific “scope” is used by the doctor or medical technician and the findings are displayed seemingly magically on a monitor to be read by a radiologist. Medical science has advanced to the point where a pre-born child can be observed while still in the womb by touching the mother's body from the outside with a special scope to see the child in motion.

David the psalmist used medical terminology in Psalm 139 far advanced of the times in which he lived. He described “scope” findings referring to the physical body with spiritual analogies. “O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me (“-oscopy” language). “Thou art intimately acquainted with all my ways...behold, Lord, Thou dost know it all...For Thou dost form my inward parts [literally, kidneys] Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame [literally, bones] was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, [literally, out of sight]....Thine eyes have seen [X-rayed] my unformed substance and in Thy book they were all written...Search me, O God, and know my heart....”

As marvelous as all the technological medical “-oscopies” are these days, they can't compare with how intimately God searches, sees, and knows me right through my skin, all the way to my inner being, to my spiritual heart. His invisible touch without any scope can see “all that is within me” and whether there is any disorder in me and can heal me as I surrender myself to Him. “Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

Sometimes a doctor sees a problem but it is beyond his skill to do anything about it. The Lord does not search us to expose our sin and disorder and then leave us that way. Thank God He is The Great Physician, our Creator and Sustainer, and there is healing in His loving touch!