Monday, July 23, 2018

"Any discussion of how pain and suffering fit into God's scheme ultimately leads back to the cross." ― Philip Yancey

                     I wrote in the blog yesterday about the cross made from the cholla cactus that was a part of Karen I added to the lectern.  What I didn't talk about was the cross that was around my neck (see picture at the right).  That cross is an Ethiopian cross that is over three hundred years old and is one that Karen bought for me over twenty years ago.  We were in the Caribbean on the island of St. Thomas, and Karen went shopping without me (my decision) and found it in an antique shop.  It seems that several hundred years ago the leader of Ethiopia declared it a Christian nation and called on all males to wear crosses around their necks.  Each cross is different depicting a different tribe or clan.  The one I was wearing for the last two Sermons from the Serengeti was worn by an Ethiopian slave who was transported to the West Indies and died there.  It was found by an archeologist, and the antique shop owner gave Karen the issue of National Geographic that showed the discovery of that cross.  Karen wanted to get it for me for my birthday in November.  This was in February, but she didn't have enough money to pay for it outright, so she put it on lay-away and promised to send the rest of the money.  She came home without it but faithfully sent money until it was paid for in June.  The shop mailed it to her, and she got it in July.  She was too excited to wait for November, so she drove from the post office straight to my office at the church and handed it to me, saying, "Happy Birthday, my love."  I've worn it ever since.
                    She was thrilled to hear about an incident that happened on my flight to New York in 2015.  I had a lay-over in Dubai and was having a meal in the lounge.  Since I was flying on a Muslim airline and in a Muslim country, I kept the cross under my shirt, out of sight.  During my meal, my waiter was obviously African, and I tried speaking to him in Swahili, but he explained that he was Ethiopian.  At this point, I unbuttoned my shirt and showed him the cross I was wearing.  He broke into a huge smile, unbuttoned his uniform shirt to show me the Ethiopian cross he was wearing around his neck.  We hugged and wished each other well, having formed a Christian bond in the middle of Muslim country.  I will wear it till I die, but hope one of my sons will continue to wear it after I am gone.  It's too good a story to let come to an end.  I think there's a sermon there, too. 

Thank to those who watched the sermon, commented, subscribed, and "liked" the video.  God bless.

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