So, I have been making a habit for the last 5 weeks peeking out the window almost every couple of hours. Why in the world am I doing this? Snow… Yeah, that’s right, snow. I have never been so paranoid about snow in my entire life. It’s weird, I know… borderline nuts, I know… But what can I say?
Central PA has been hit with this glorious white stuff for the last 5 weeks. And it’s not like there was a mega storm and then done. It was like two or three days straight of flurries, and slowly and steadily mounted to 6 to 8 inches, then we would get a couple of days break, then another hits bringing 5 inches, and then a day break, another 3 or 4 inches, then a couple days break, throw in some ice, and then a little bit of snow… I mean, man… I peek out the windows wondering when is the next one coming or when is this one going to stop, so I can shovel the snow, only to be hit with a storm again. I have been strategizing the best time to get out and shovel, trying to measure my endurance to the amount of snow that is on the ground that it wouldn’t be hard labor.
So today, it was like 50 degrees outside, which is bonkers. I am trying to figure out right now… whether all that winter storm has passed. I see grass on the edges, and giant puddles at the bottom of my driveway. Are we done?
This winter was nuts… well actually just the last five weeks. Not just here in PA, but in Texas too! Man… I used to love snow as a kid… but it’s just not normal here in PA to get 5 weeks of kinda winter snowy weather. Since I have lived here we would get snowstorms, but not quite like this. This one was different.
And to top it off last Sunday was the first Sunday we have in the past 4 weeks that we didn’t dumped on with snow. Hehe… For the 12 or so people who did come to worship on those weeks you might remember me coming into service, drenched with sweat because I has been shoveling our sidewalks and stuff. Not the image of a well groomed pastor, I know! And each one of those Sunday’s I keep thinking, should I have closed church? Tough decision because it was like snow just appeared that morning, about thirty minutes before worship? It’s not like it came the night before, and I can make that judgment call early that morning. And I think that is what was unique about he winter storms that rolled through… the timing of it’s occurrence seems to put so many people, and businesses at a disadvantage. It was as if snow storms just happened during the time when everyone seems to be busy, like morning commutes, school times, not like the night before. It makes planning ahead difficult.
So, winter, I am asking you… are you done? We love you, and sure stick around, we don’t mind, but can you give us a bit of a break on the snowy stuff? And maybe give us a few good weather Sundays… that would eb nice, like the last one… just repeat that for the next few weeks.
So, we are now in the season of Lent. And it may seem early for Lent this year, but keep in mind every three years we will have an early Easter. But I have decided to do something slightly different to prepare for each week for Lent. I was talking to Rev. Braun from Providence Presbyterian Church and he had a good idea about preparing for Lent, which he got from First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg.
Each week of Lent I will be focusing on Covenants. And the covenants we find will all be in the Old Testament! We rarely get the chance to focus on the Old Testament as our primary text, but I think we should try. And as I was preparing for this week’s sermon, which is about how the “Covenant defines God.” I had to re-read and study the beginning chapters of Genesis. I don’t want to give too much away about what my sermon is about, but it does focus on God’s covenant to Noah after the great flood. But thinking about, how God came with the conclusion to flood the earth is kinda heartbreaking. But again, I am not going to re-iterate my prepared sermon on here, you all just got to tune in on Sunday!
But I was trying to figure out what led God to bring the great flood. And during my studying, I came upon the story of Cain and Abel, which is from Genesis 4. We may all be familiar with this story. The story in which Cain takes the life of another human, which happens to be his brother. This was the first murder committed in the Bible.
I wonder how God must have felt, when He realized that Cain’s anger and rage towards his brother would be the outcome of murder. God must be wondering whether the people He created were capable of such a gruesome and heinous act. Makes me wonder if it is just human nature to act in such ways of violence? We always assume that the way that we raise our children will reflect what they will become in life. Some cases can be true, there is a lot of learned behavior when it comes with raising children. But there are also unlearned behavior, the behavior that just seems impulsive. Are acts of violence considered to be unlearned behavior?
The reason I bring this up, is that I had my “Cain and Abel” sort of moment. No it’s not murder… but I just witnessed my son Ben, hit my daughter Norah for the first time. I was a bit shocked because he had never done that before, and I can’t figure out how he learned to behave in such a way. It’s not like he learned it from preschool since he was only there for a few weeks about a year and a half ago. And mostly he has always been with me and any time the TV is on I watch it with him so he doesn’t watch anything he is not supposed to watch. But somehow he knew that if he got mad, you show your anger through a fist.
I wondered if god felt the same kind of disappointment with Cain in Genesis. I wondered if God said things like, “I never taught you to do that?!” Makes you also wonder how many times we break God’s heart when we ignore people in need, talk behind people’s back, hurt each other physically or psychologically. And God had to think, “I never taught you this?!”
In this world, we will have to realize that when it comes with our children, grandchildren, and young people, we can raise them the right way, but sometimes things can happen that we never expect. Not everything we learn in this world is learned behavior. Teaching our young ones and ourselves how we deal with anger, disappointment, and depression is key for a healthy environment. I never taught Ben how to hit anyone, but it happened. Not everything is learned, and somethings are involuntary reactions. Here is another example of unlearned reactionary behavior.
I was watching the Special Olympics a long time ago and there was a runner competing who was born blind. He ran the race and when he finished, he raised his arms in arm to celebrate victory. How in the world did he know how to do that?
Like God, we set up a prefect place for our young ones and do our best to protect them from danger and give them the right example of behavior. Like God, we made our little Garden of Eden. Like God, we taught our children what is good and what is bad. Like God, who sent Jesus Christ to us to be an example of tenderness and care and wisdom for us, we do with our children. We show our children the example to be. Yet, even all of this taken place, God knows, we will find our way that is prone to sin and possible violence. The question is when violence and misfortune and aggression happens, how will we react to what we witness. Will it be revenge? Will it be compassion? Or will we just ignore it. That is the choice we can make. And maybe our choice to how we react to cases of aggression will make all the difference in how our young ones will behave in the future.
Let’s go back to the Cain and Abel story. What did God react to Cain when he found out about the murder? God had compassion over Cain. He gave Cain a mark of protection and sent Cain on his way. I am sure if we changed the way we react to something shocking and unbelievable we can make a difference in the world. If instead of being angry to witnessed acts of aggression, we do what God did, which was feel hurt, sure, but also send guidance and protection against other acts of aggression that could happen in the future.
As we move into Easter, each week in Lent will teach us something about how God will continue a covenant with us. We will explore how God will find ways to reach out to us and why Jesus was the perfect answer to all learned and unlearned behavior and social interactions.
What Wrong with Being a Redneck?
The term “redneck” is currently being used to denigrate, demoralize, and stereotype a group of Americans. The stereotype is that if you are white, male, living is rural areas, means you are poor, classless, and racist.
Let’s just say it, being called a redneck may have it’s negative characteristics, but some people have embraced it, even if they do not fit in the stereotype. Stereotypes can be painful and burdensome and I think it is always important to judge the person by their character rather than where they live, occupation, education, economic status, family background, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, or race. Get to know the person before you make any judgement calls. Just because they look different from you doesn’t mean ya’ll can’t be friends.
But the term redneck is an interesting one. What makes a person a redneck? Is it because you live in the countryside, drive a pickup truck, hunt, fish, chew tobacco, go muddin? All those sound fun, honestly! But because one person’s choice in lifestyle can be often be called a redneck and that carries the burden that they must be racist. But the term redneck never really had it’s racist connotations.
I originally thought redneck got its meaning for people who worked all day in the sun and burned their neck. Most of these laborers were working class or farmers. But actually the term redneck may have origins we never expected. Possibly the term redneck was used as early as the 1600’s in Scotland.
Now before I write the rest of this passage, I want to make clear that I am not a historian whatsoever and I usually do not do any research when writing this stuff. I am writing what I have been told through word of mouth. You can look it up if you want. What I am writing isn’t “gospel” but it may have some truth. Nonetheless, it’s food for thought.
Ok, let’s continue. Redneck term may have it’s origins as early as the 1600’s in Scotland. From what I was told I believe people wore red scarves, clothing, around their neck as a symbol of rebellion from the Bishop’s rules. The Scottish ruling class called these rebels, “rednecks,” because of their identification of wearing red around their necks. This term “redneck” became the identification of Presbyterians. Presbyterians were the ones against the Bishop of Scotland’s rules.
The term redneck carried over as early Scottish immigrants arrived in the United States during the pre-Revolutionary War Era. The Scottish immigrants found themselves residing on the mountains and plains that may remind them of their hometown, and continued to wear the red cloth around their necks to connect with one another on their similar religious beliefs. So, the first rednecks could possibly be Presbyterians in the 1600’s.
So, redneck may have it’s origins from religious roots in Presbyterianism. Kinda neat and weird right? Nothing to do with being uneducated and racist. I thought I’d share with everyone, what I thought might be interesting. So if you feel upset in being called a redneck, just simply respond, “Thank you, I am Presbyterian, how did you know?” or respond, “You must be mistaken, I am not a Presbyterian.” Or if you don't want to be religious, just asked them if they want to go noodlin'. Yeah... that's a real thing man. But gotta try it before you judge, it's umm... an experience.
What Have You Done, Phil?!
So Groundhog’s Day was yesterday (Feb. 2nd) and I can only assume what Phil predicted according to our weather in the past 3 days. It doesn’t take a genius or a groundhog to tell me that we are in for a long winter.
I can’t get mad at Phil right? I mean, this is kinda typical Central PA weather right. At least once a year, since I have lived here we get one big snowy storm. It just means I get exercise outside. It also means I am constantly telling the snowplows (in my mind) “don’t cover up my drive way (ain’t their fault either)!” But winter has finally hit the northeast region after having a somewhat mild winter prior to our snow storm.
So what does that mean? Is the long winter metaphorical for something else? Not too sure. I don’t like to think that a longer winter is going to mean I have to feel gloomy. It just means I can take really cool pictures of the kids playing in the snow. Well Norah loves the snow. Ben doesn’t like being in snow, but likes looking at it. So I get a bunch of pictures of Norah happy and Ben crying. Longer winter means more chili to munch on and hot chocolate to give to the kids. Longer winter means I have to wait to catch big largemouth bass, but the great trade off is watching TV shows with my wife, picking on the days we can just binge watch. Longer winters means I have an excuse to leave my Christmas lights on outside and not hassling to take them down so quickly. Longer winters means more time in front of the fireplace. Longer winters means I can easily convince my kids to go to bed at 6:00pm, because, “Look! It’s dark outside, which means it’s very late at night, time to go to bed!” Kid’s sleeping early, which means more time to myself and more time binging TV shows with Eunkyung. Longer winters means finding more excuses not updating the church bulletin board outside that still says “Merry Christmas.” Yeah, that board is going to get changed… I’m just waiting for the snow to stop coming down… Really… it’s going to be different this week. Longer winter just means more time for Phil to sleep… I think (they hibernate right?).
I think it is always important that we look at the bright side of life when we feel down. Spring will get here, we just have to wait, so relax, and start thinking about all the good things we can do with a longer winter. God has always taught us to be patient and wait, and usually through patience we really appreciate what is to come. I mean the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years before coming into Canaan (God’s promised land for them). I don’t think God is going to let winter go on for 40 years, so that’s good for us! Be optimistic in all circumstances of life. Keep your head up and even in those times you feel down and stuck in darkness, force yourself to think about something good. And if you can’t think about what is good, write it out.
Writing about your feelings and then make a list of things that you can look forward to, like make a list of goals. Writing your goals that you want to accomplish means you have to work towards it and those goals may not happen immediately. But focus on the goals you want to accomplish during a longer winter, and be patient, and by that time while working on your list, Spring will be here. Birds will be making a nest on your porch, flowers will bloom, trees will give life, and the sun will be up longer during the day.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).