Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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May 13 Post

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People are peculiar creatures, God love us. When my beloved Uncle Marvin died many years ago, we found shoe box after shoe box of ink pens that mostly didn’t work, and enough flashlights to illuminate a small village during a hurricane. Cleaning out my parent’s home of fifty-five years with my brother six years ago, we agreed on what to do with almost everything.

Honoring my father’s request to clear the way for the sale of their home, my brother and I got stuck in the process down in the basement. Standing in front of a series of metal shelves in my Dad’s workshop, we shifted on first one foot and then the other. We both knew that the other wanted what we wanted. You would think the shelves were lined with gold for all our angst. But no, the treasure lining those basement shelves was simply dozens of rocks: big rocks, little rocks, beautiful well-formed rocks, quartz crystals and petrified wood.

When we were little kids, there wasn’t much money to go around. Family vacations meant camping and picnics with ham sandwiches made on sticky park benches in small towns along the way. We couldn’t afford fancy motels or restaurants, tourist traps with entrance fees, or souvenirs. We collected what we could to remember this precious family time: rocks. We stood together, my brother and me, telling stories. Each of us wanted to take home these reminders of who we were and where we had been.

As the people of God, we share this tendency toward peculiarity. We collect stories about how God has been with us through this or that. We read the Bible to remember the stories of those who have preceded us. We recall that other flashlights have illumined our way through various dark nights, and other rocks have marked our trails when we’ve been unsure about the road ahead.

I’m curious about what evidence our children will find of the peculiarity of our faith when that day comes. I hope the remains of our lives will tell a story of faithfulness towards God and love of neighbor.

On that day in the basement, I gave my brother the rocks, because I promised my mother we’d never fight about stuff. As it turns out, my brother promised my mother the same thing. Six months later, he paid a lot of postage to ship them half way across the country back to me.

Prayer: God of heaven and earth, remind us this day of essential things. Help us to let go of that which we do not need, and to hold lightly all that we have received. Create in us new stories of faith, that our lives may honor you and one another in all ways. Amen

God’s grace, mercy, and peace,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland

May 6 Post

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“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” -- I John 3:18

How did you know that you were loved as a child? When we were little kids, our Dad could make anything or fix anything. He built our house and dog-house, poured the concrete for the driveway, seeded the dirt of our 100-foot lot and mowed the grass when it came up. Every morning he got up and went to work while it was still dark, and came home every night for dinner. In short, he kept us warm and safe and dry, and though he did not say so, we knew he loved us.

Mom’s love for us was more complicated. She saw us through every illness, scraped knee and school project. A stay-at-home Mom, she made sure we had clean clothes, lunch money and our homework completed. Occasionally she would rush it off to school mid-morning when we forgot it on the kitchen table. She was funnier than Dad, and sent us into fits of giggles from time to time over nothing. She also told us often that she loved us.

So it came as some surprise that my brother and I got so mad at her when we were older. She shrugged. “Why wouldn’t you be mad at me? Since I was always there, you associate me with every bad thing that ever happened to you.” She meant it to be funny. We laughed.

How wise was the writer of the letters to John. “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” He knew the great power of showing love. It’s not that words don’t matter. We certainly all love to hear someone say: “I love you.” But as we approach Mother’s Day, what we likely remember the most is how our mothers showed us love, by what she did for us, by her example, through some action that may have seemed inconsequential to her but shaped our lives, as we grew up watching.

When Jesus said, “love one another”, we need look no further than our mothers who showed us the way.

Prayer: God our Mother, thank you for showing us love: by forgiving us, cherishing us, championing us, healing us, and provoking us to our best selves for your glory.

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister, Community Church of Vero Beach