Marvin Repinski: We need to have conversations

Published 5:59 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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“Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh . . . everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” — (Joel 2:28, 32)

“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.” — (I Corinthians 10:1-3)

Many of the memorable times that linger long in the living of our days are those exchanges that either confirmed our thinking or pushed out to the breaking point of the limb we are sitting on.

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In the last two years of my mother Mildred’s life, I drove a few extra times (nearly 160 miles to see her) with the trips satisfying a couple of days. Why? Talk, converse, reminisce, repeat, recall, joke, laugh and all the questions of my four brothers.

They had, for a long period of time, left home but they too were, in mother’s late years, desiring to keep informed of her health needs. And there were many. It was Pastor “Marsh” Schroeder who helped her find comfort through his visits. My mother’s conversations about the courage that brought her some relief from pain and anxiety, reminds me of the following prayer:

“Sovereign of the universe, your first covenant of mercy was with every living creature. When your beloved Son came among us, the waters of the river welcomed him, the heavens opened to greet his arrival, the animals of the wilderness drew next as his companions. With all the world’s people, may we who are washed into new life through baptism seek the way of your new creation, the way of justice and care, mercy and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.” Amen.

A story: Two youth, Kyle and Justin, each about 12 years old, spent sunny days skateboarding in the church parking lot. I heard their boards while they tried skateboard tricks and then I could hear their laughter. As I walked out of my office, I said “hello,” introduced myself, and told them if they needed a cool place or a washroom, they were welcome. This became our routine; we would exchange our thoughts, have conversations. One day Justin asked when I was entering the building, “what do you do in there?” “I do church work” was my answer; not very helpful, but more was to follow. On another day I walked to the community garden. The boys asked me what was in the garden. I showed them the tomatoes, kale, pepper plants, and flowers. Responding to the interests of Kyle and Justin, I said, “If I work at this garden, it will supply our family with some veggies; it takes a lot of time and cultivating to develop this little garden. That’s kind of like how our church works?

The boys joined me in cheer. In fact, a strange laughter erupted when they saw me on my knees digging out weeds! It reminds me of something in the Bible: “Now Sarah said, ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’” Looking up the passage later, I found it in Genesis, Chapter 21, Verse 6.

It was when I was in P.J. Jacobs High School that I just heard of Corrie Ten Boom. A recent reading about her life impressed me with the manner in which she, in occupied Holland, risked her life to enable Jewish people to escape death.

In 1942, it was dangerous, because of the Nazi persecution, for Jews to live in Haarlems. Corie, a watchmaker and repairer, went to the homes of her Jewish customers to pick up and deliver work. One evening these trips took her to a doctor and his wife. They were conversing over cups of rationed tea stretched with rose leaves, when from upstairs, a child’s voice was heard, “Daddy, you didn’t tuck me in!” While sitting at the table with these friends, Corrie silently dedicated her life to the Jewish inhabitants of Holland. Her words: “Lord Jesus, I offer myself for Your people in any way, any place, any time.”

Conversations may lead us to unexpected impressions, volunteerism, and a way to assist in the mending of lives.

The writing by Claudia Gary, “The Postponed Conversation,” may pierce our quiet slumber, to push us into the arena of necessary cooperation.