Marvin Repinski: A promise for today

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, December 23, 2021

“I will leave as a remnant in your midst, a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord.”  (The Bible, Zephaniah 3:12)

It may seem that only a few people share our commitments and give their spare time to the many problems of our community.  Not so.

There are many among us who care mightily. Who sacrifice their efforts, talents and give often out of the little they may have. That’s to be deeply appreciated, especially in this Christmas season!

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A story that reveals the use of remnants, thought to be the faithful few out of the many possibilities, is as follows:

“My grandmother had an old black Singer sewing machine in the corner of her big kitchen.  She saved bits and pieces of fabric from her projects so that she could sew small and stylish dresses, jackets, and pants for our dolls.  I would marvel that she could neatly attach a little pocket or sew an armhole the size of my little finger.  We loved hunting through her unused fabrics to find just the right remnant for her to use.  She knew how to use something “left over,” something that was small and insignificant, to make of it something new and fresh and sturdy.”

Driving by many of the streets in Austin, Becky and I have been amused, delighted, captivated and pleased by the variety of ways citizens have brightened their homes and businesses with creative lighting. Your own drive, with the intention to focus on the lighting, will give you a response:  “How wonderful, how thoughtful.  A lot of families are celebrating!”

Are the thoughtful persons part of a holy remnant? They want the wider world to recognize the season when our attention is drawn to One, who many of us embrace as the Hope of the World, Jesus!

Can we find, if we have open hearts, a detour from the saying “that’s the pits!”  to view a larger life? The healing of many ailments can be accomplished by the support of others. I wish to be part of supporting the community. And you? You do have it in you!  Teachers, city council members, our library staff, the singing groups, the orchestras, the workers at organizations that provide our bread and butter and those in law enforcement all make Christmas possible. Thank you!

One teacher has written:  “I was tempted to cancel a teaching engagement at an American writing school.  I had an abscessed tooth, and I was depressed because of the constant pain. Only the thought of the people I would not be able to work with kept me from canceling at the last minute. On the eve of my departure, a friend telephoned.  “You are in my heart, dear. Are you burdened with something?” she asked.

I then poured out my troubles.  “You are depressed because you are looking within.”

We, of course, all look within,” and cannot escape looking on the outside.

Can we affirm that a phone call, an email, a lovely note in a Christmas card, hearing the radiant voices at the Paramount Theatre, can place a carol on our lips?  It’s not only “Away in a Manger,” but the metaphor of “manger” is in our living rooms, our yards. Even for the remnant of believers, in the hearts of those humble enough to say, “I accept outside help!”

We live by promises! This season is to enable us to forgive the promises broken or given by a false voice, and say: “Christmas welcomes a new year. I’ll claim it as a new possibility, a promise that the Light of the World, will be a light to my path!”

Staring me in the eyes is a Bible verse:  Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.”  The rebel spirit that is part of me says, “Impossible!”  Yet I know that is our challenge.  But we agree, I assume, in the kind of world we live in.  We acknowledge, that unless by a special grace, we will remain brittle, hostile, difficult to work with, and having too many whirlwinds in our life.

In my reading about the social conditions of Shakespeare’s time, I note similarities to our present time: “Observing the society, there was an astonishing variety; it contained, for example, not only Anglicans, but also Catholics, Puritans, skeptics, and atheists.  It was grimly ascetic, wildly licentious; it reached extremes of brutality and refinement, and a building that offered bear-baiting on Wednesday would be playing “Romeo and Juliet” on Thursday.”

Is it OK with the readers of this to say:  “Cheer up!”  The remnants are universal. I’m persuaded that the love of God is universal. That may be a leap, but what else is new?  Friends send us cards and notes that tell us we are loved. Do we need more?

A prayer:  O Desire of All Nations, instill in us a pure sense of wonder as we contemplate how you fashioned the human heart to desire You.  In these days of Christmas and entering a new year, enable us to give witness to your strange, but available mercy.  Amen.