Grounding Our Life and Faith

Simeon is the typical dog when it comes to attention. He thinks the world revolves around him and seems to believe that our existence in the house is simply to keep his food and water dishes full and to give him a rub and a scratch and a walk.

   The only odd part of his routines is how he likes to be cared for in terms of those rubs and scratches. I know other dogs are similar as I have been around some of similar breed. He really likes to stand and get a good scratch on his, well, rear-end. If I do coax him in head first he will often hang his head low and if I try to “pick it up” it seems to weigh a ton. He will tolerate a good ear rub and a head scratch but it isn’t long before he turns away and turns around.

   I have often wondered if it is a large dog issue, whether it is something about Labrador’s or Shar Pei’s that have a tendency to not want their head messed with. On a more serious issue I wonder if it is a symptom of abuse. Perhaps the owner he had before us when he was just a pup had chosen to get him to mind by striking his head or worse yet I have wondered if it was me. I do not recall ever striking Simeon, especially on the head but what I may consider a “hit” and what he considers “hit” may be two different things and I wonder if something I did in his early training made him sensitive to my hands around his head.

   I think about Simeon and other animals and especially dogs as I tend to be more of a dog person than other animals. I see abuse of animals and so often the result of that abuse in the tenor and temperament of a dog that has been trained with a focus on what the dog has done wrong and a back hand rather than encouragement and reward, it can be a scary thing to witness. Dogs tend to continue to love unconditionally even those who would abuse them for a time, but after a while can often be seen turning on their masters as well.

   I have been pondering this because of our upcoming theme for this Sunday in the series “Rethinking the Way; An Emerging Faith,” we will be “Rethinking Sin.” I have been pondering the relationship between a faith journey grounded in how bad we are and the threat of punishment and a faith journey grounded in the gift of who we are and affirmation. In my pondering I have wondered if we continue to witness the symptoms of religious expression that continues to focus on our fallen-ness, a journey of faith grounded in the idea that we are none of us good, not one, even from the moment we are born. How does such a faith affect our own self-understanding and how we relate to others and the world?

   I have to wonder if the better way is an acknowledgement of our blessed-ness, our beloved-ness, our goodness that resides within each of us and a journey of faith that recognizes that in ourselves as well as others. This seems a better “Way,” to exist in the world. A Way of healing for relationship, of affirming relationship, of nurturing relationship, and a Way of Life, Love, and a world that is indeed Good!

   I am glad Simeon loves me regardless of the practices he has encountered along his way. And I know he knows he is loved even when he reflects my own stubbornness back at me. He is a spot of grace in our lives and in our home.

   I hope you will join us this Sunday as we “Rethink Sin,” as we look at our journey of faith and the relationships that shape and mold who and whose we are. Within this time together we will also take time for a special Blessing and Celebration of all the Relationships that make up and are represented her in our Community of Faith, College Hill United Methodist Church, Not Your Ordinary Church.

   It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family.  Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.

   Until next time, God bless, and know you are never alone.

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