Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Things I know about prophets:
They make a big ruckus.
They are relentless.
They stand up for the oppressed.
They refuse to go unheard.
And - we mostly don't believe they exist anymore.
Well, I met a one the other day in the most unexpected of places. He wasn't proclaiming in a church, nor was he leading people through the wilderness (at least not literally), nor was shouting, "Thus says the LORD,"on top a mountain. And he most certainly wasn't clothed in camel's hair.
There he stood on the sidewalk to his grandparents house. The Sidewalk Prophet I will call him.
He stood as tall as he could, shaking a ceramic bell and holding a tupperware container; he wore a T-shirt that said, "Raised by Elves". Not the usual paraphernalia for a prophet, I guess.
Oh, and I forgot to mention he's five.
As in five years old.
A young age to have such a big voice.
But he sure knows how to use it and get what he wants.
Our congregation adopted area families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We promised to provide meals for them at Thanksgiving and gifts for children at Christmas. We started with 12 families, which recently expanded to 17 families, which translated to about 50 children, which ended up being 52 bags of toys.
We are a small congregation and I'm not very good at saying, "No," when people need help. And, actually, the congregation I serve isn't very good at saying, "No," either.
Well, I was worried about where the toys and money and food would come from. I just didn't want to fail these families and I most certainly didn't want to fail God. My faith faltered a bit as I tried to manage all the needs, and fathom where the money would come from.
I may possibly be telling this story to remind myself that what's needed for God to spin a miracle into being is very, very little. A few loaves, a few fish can be turned into a feast.
Well, my worry and pragmatic side may have gotten the best of me for a few moments, but not so for the Sidewalk Prophet.
As money began pouring in, I talked with the congregation about the abundance of love that was pouring out. My voice always seemed to crack as I held back tears of heartache mingled with joy.
The little Sidewalk Prophet must've heard God's call in those words, because what rose out of his little body was a voice that everyone would listen to, whether they wanted to or not.
Sometimes I think we believe a prophet is someone who predicts the future. Maybe. But I actually believe a prophet is someone who points to how what we do today will impact the future. They point out that which we don't see.
Sidewalk Prophet sees more hope than many people I know.
On this particular Sunday there was something special going on at his grandparent's house (whose house is across the street from the church). It's what they call, 'Cookie day!' So, from what I understand, 'Cookie Day' is basically when the entire extended family gathers at grandma's house and bakes Christmas cookies all day. Dozens and dozens of cookies. Relatives come from all over the town to bake cookies, eat cookies, and the men...they seem to watch football.
Well, the little Sidewalk Prophet had an idea and seized the moment.
He grabbed a glass bell from his grandma's shelf, stood on the stoop with a bucket and rang his bell as loud as possible. He'd hijack people as they tired to knock on the door. People would come over to bake cookies and....
he wouldn't let them in.
At least, not until they put some money in his bucket. "A buck to bake cookies," he told them.
I'm sure he got some weird looks. But everyone gave.
I actually had no idea that any of this was going on until he confidentally marched back into the church about an hour after worship, carrying his bucket and his bell, with his mother walking alongside him and his cousins all trailing behind, as if they were following in his footsteps.
His little body weaved through the adults to find me seated on a chair. "Here you go," as he hands me a bucket of money.
His mom filled me in on the story as I looked at the $40.00 sitting in my lap.
"For the homeless people," he says, "so they can have toys too." A big smile erupted on his lips. Sidewalk Prophet.
And a smile erupted on my lips.
I think that often we hide behind the veil of wanting to help, but not knowing how, so we don't do anything. I think I forget sometimes too - or maybe I get scared. The Sidewalk Prophet reminds me to just go, do God's will. It doesn't have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn't always have to be well thought out.
There's one thing this little prophet can't begin to understand yet, but maybe you will.
He not only called a bit of justice into the world that day, but he prophesied to me, reminding me that there's nothing too wonderful in this world for God.
Make some noise, cause a ruckus in the name of God.
Prophets exist today. I met one just the other day.
My name is Christine Stephan, although I answer mostly to Mom or Pastor.
I am a Lutheran pastor for an amazing group of Jesus' disciples just outside Washington DC AND a mom to 3 of the best boys in the universe.
I blog here about family and faith and frustrations....That thing we call 'life'.
My boys are passionate about all things legos, anything involving a ball, video games, and chocolate.
I am an avid runner, a lover of interesting books and deep conversation, a very amateur writer, and also a lover of chocolate.
I also love theology (which is weird, I know), but I don't love theology more than Jesus.
This blog is hardly ever profound, but it is real. As a pastor and I mom, I find 'real' to be more helpful in my journey with Jesus than crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's.