Marvin Repinski: Unearthing gifts that are lost

Published 5:45 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

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A news article recently printed in Rochester, cited some information that moves this commentary.  “There are roughly 11 million undocumented persons in the United States and about 60% of them have been here more than ten years.”

Among these individuals, we may add the people of our country termed American Indians, who hold jobs, pay taxes, and are involved in the culture of our communities. Their children may be seeking to improve their lives.

We will for years live with the discussion, pros and cons, of immigration and especially, the settlement of new residents from the war in Ukraine. The issues seem never-ending, in our limited perspective, we have eyes of recognition and hearts of compassion.  Mercy, rather than judgment, is seemingly a juggling act, but not to be involved is our own folly.

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I recall a Bible verse attributed to Jesus:  “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.”  This brings to my so-so musical mind the song by Pete Seeger, “Turn, Turn, Turn.”  Did you sing it in the 60’s and 70’s?  Did you, with me (in memory), sing it along with the musical group, The Byrds, released in 1965?  Recall please, these words:

“To everything, turn, turn, turn,

There is a season, turn, turn, turn,

And a time to every purpose under heaven.”

It trails through the seasons, and we have known many, if not all, of them.  Look, then, at the last verse of the song and see what it says to you:

“To everything, turn, turn, turn,

There is a season, turn, turn, turn,

And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to gain, a time to lose

A time to rend, a time to sew

A time for love, a time for hate

A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”

Some songs with words that are ever new, pierce our present. We are the recipient of the gift of music that encourages our action, our prayers, our struggles with what some would call “the wiles of the devil.”  That phrase is used by devoted, peace-loving people in Biblical times!

Over and over, I go back to the several books that Becky and I have in our library.  In his second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln said, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

This high bar of ethical composure, is thought for many of us, a time to blush; it is a reminder of what we prize!

The guide riding ahead

A story shared by Lee Ann Zanon has many applications and speaks of help she received. Lee Ann’s story fits into, I believe, many of our lives.

“I pushed myself to ride rugged single-track bike trails far beyond what I’d ever done.  Switchback turns, jagged rocks, tight spaces between trees, quick inclines and descents just kept coming.  I barely navigated one obstacke before another was right in front of me.  What had I gotten myself into?

Thankfully I had a kind and experienced guide riding ahead of me.  He let me know what was coming and gave tips on how to navigate each obstacle.  At one point, he told me about target fixation, a term I’d never heard.

He explained that our bodies gravitate toward our point of focus. If I kept my eyes fixed on the rock in the trail, I would likely hit it straight on and be launched off the bike. But if I concentrated farther down the way, aware of the rock yet not staring right at it, I would safely veer around it.  After a while, I began to understand.  Rather than nervously approaching a narrow passage between tree trunks, I forced myself to look ahead.  I cleared it with no problem and cheered out loud!”

One of the gifts to each of us are those who have assisted us in the many challenges and hardships of our lives?  I think back to a friend of years ago, Bruce Talso, who encouraged me to stay with my employment at a Sears store.

Not only were my friendships formed in seminary years, but earlier in my four years of college studies at North Central University in Minneapolis, a world-expanding growth took place. Among the points of light were the hours of conversation with Linton Scott and comparing lecture notes with a focus on being a leader. In viewing last month’s Black History Month, Scott has a gift of community pastoral gifts and compassion that extends to the lives he touched. I was so elated to get a note one day, that Pastor Scott was a member of the staff at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we thank You for Your comfort by night and Your strength by day,.  We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.  For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever, Amen.