Archive for the ‘ sharing things. ’ Category

Music from Mason Jars

Meet “Mason Jar Music.”  I can’t stop listening/ watching this stuff.  It’s art.  It’s beautiful.  Take a couple moments (maybe a lunch or snack break??) out of your busy day to watch some of these videos.  Make sure to watch them in full screen (HD if possible), preferably with your headphones.

If you want to know more about what they do with their music, click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy your break:

First Official Prayer and Support Letter

Hi friends and family!

First off, this is long. I apologize. Okay, now you can read. =]

This is my first of many prayer letters you will be – Lord willing – receiving in the coming years. I’m writing this note mainly to ask for your prayer and to let you know where I’m at in terms of graduating, my degree, and future plans!

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, I have my first of two interviews here at Azusa Pacific University for a program that the Office of World Missions (OWM) offers called H.I.S. Years (hearing, investing, serving).  7-10 applicants are chosen from the pool of 20 who submitted the application.

To give you some insight and explanation surrounding this important interview, let me begin. If you are reading this, the odds are that you most likely know that God has placed in me an immense desire to reach the unreached people groups in the world with God’s redemptive plan of salvation, the Gospel.  I have spent the last three years as an undergraduate student majoring in Theater Arts and minoring in Philosophy.  God has so incredibly blessed me by condensing a top-of-the-line four year undergraduate education program into three, significantly reducing my loans for tuition (which as it stands is a little under $40,000/year), and further enabling me to fastidiously get to the field to “fill up what is lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24) and to fulfill my ambition for preaching the gospel not ONLY where Christ has been named, but also “to preach the gospel, NOT where Christ has already been name, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:20)

In 2007, the Lord struck me with a sense of my finiteness and short period of time I have here on this earth, “For [I am] a mist that appears for a little time and vanishes,” and I need to redeem the time and pursue the Kingdom of God, not only here and now in the comfort of my relatively easy American life, but also in places where they have zero access to any resources that would even remotely point them to the Gospel.

Graduating this coming spring, I will have $43,000 in student loans in my name.  This is fantastic considering what it would be if I had taken on all four years.  However great this financial success may seem, it is still a heavy financial burden to bear and would most likely stall me from getting to the field for several more years.  As it now stands, I was planning and will continue to move in the direction of New Tribes Mission and attending their 4-year long cultural/linguistic acquisition and Bible school as well as Mastering in Education and quite possibly Intercultural Studies elsewhere using an online degree program.  This is not to mention the years I will be spending paying off my school loans before any of this can even begin to take place.  This is where H.I.S. Years comes into the picture:

H.I.S. Years is a two-year cross-cultural program designed for seniors seeking to serve cross-culturally after graduation.  It provides them with emotional and spiritual support during their final year at the school, financial assistance through means of paying student loans during the two years of service, and an assigned mentor to each student preparing to enter the cross-cultural mission field.  It is designed to give students an opportunity to serve in a missionary role in a cross-cultural context in order to prepare them for full time ministry abroad.   Ultimately, being accepted into this program would enable me to get to the field in the most efficient and time-redeeming manner that is accessible to my faculties.

My request is that you pray ardently for me this afternoon and as often as the Lord puts it on your heart.  Pray that the Lord would vindicate His Holy name as I explain the passion that he has put inside of my heart for the supremacy of his glory among the nations.  Pray that he would continue to humble me over and over and that I would joyfully accept it without bitterness or complaint.  Pray that my answers to these questions would be a reflection of the power of the Gospel and not my abilities, desires, or hopes for my own life.  Pray also for direction in the next 10 years.  My plans are at a conceptual and tentative stage, but I’m willing to take other avenues to reach the destination that I prayerfully know the Lord has for me.  And be praying if God would have you support me in anyway He sees fit in the years to come.

I love you all and pray that this letter finds you joyful, encouraged, and delighting in the Lord.

Sincerely,

Miles

The “Lure” of College (from last semester)

So, my cynical junior self wrote this post last semester when I thought the world was caving in around me.  I never finished it, so it’s quite undeveloped, but I think that it definitely had some potential.  I’ve learned quite a bit in the meantime, naturally, and will most likely post a response later.  From what I can tell, the main ingredient missing in this well-written critique, now that I look at it, is grace.  What do you think:

After attending college for any number of years (albeit, one-and-a-half, personally), you might notice an assortment of unofficial bandwagons that are immediately at your disposal.  Some of these include items, hobbies, pass-times, classes, and even causes.

There are plenty of them.  Longboards, ultimate frisbee, intramural sports, hipster clothing styles, weight (yes, weight), clubs, and the list goes on and on

For instance, almost everyone would agree that the chances of a person owning a Sector 9 Longboard after 3 weeks into their first semester of college are ridiculously high compared to pre-college years.  Most college-goers would accept this as fact.  Another adoptive bandwagon that has even enticed myself on more than one occasion is the pass-time commonly referred to as ultimate frisbee.  Yeah, sure, we all play ultimate outside of college too, but are there intramural teams that predominantly reign supreme outside of college campuses?  No.  Whether it’s an intramural or just a pick-up game, you can always find groups of people playing this on campus somewhere.

Now, this brings me to my next bandwagon.  It’s called “love.”  Fortunately, I was able to avoid this one altogether, for the most part.  You see, the drawbacks to this bandwagon are broad and all-encompassing, due to the extremely broad definition of the term.  And, unfortunately for the Christian community, it can all to easily become a buzz word… in my opinion, it already has.  The drawbacks actually allow you to be safe with your faith, allowing you to not step outside of your comfort zone (or if they do allow you to step outside your comfort zone, it’s only for a very short allotted amount of time).  They include causes like Invisible Children, and TOMS shoes, and short-term, VBS-saturated, prayer- walking mission trips, and other popular mainstream awareness programs that are readily available to all who have a few bucks to buy a t-shirt.  They, ultimately, eliminate the gospel message of salvation and replace it with feel-good-about-yourself copout deeds that can be done from the safety of your facebook account or three week adventure trips outside the US, ultimately undermining the very love that they wish to share with the world, replacing it with a selfish shallow love that is meant only to make the “doer” feel good and have a rich “spiritual experience.”  If you are a college student and you are not a part of one of these organizations, are not participating or supporting one of these short-term mission trips, or are not helping to bring our nation into an equilibrium of wealth, than you are looked down upon as being heartless and void of love.  This is what confuses me though:  I understand why these types of causes and organizations would be so popular on a secular campus, but why are they predominant on Christian campuses, such as APU?  These programs are just hitting the surface of the water, in my humble and yet strong opinion.

In my estimation, one of the main human drives and desires is to be a part of a movement that is outside and bigger than yourself.  This, as I understand it, is the corollary between the numbers of people flocking to social justice causes (and the like) and the reason for them doing so.  Think about it.  If we are going to be downright honest with ourselves, we can attribute this to the reason behind all religious movements around the world, INCLUDING Christianity.  Unfortunately, I have a blatant example:  Haiti Aid has been HUGE everywhere, including Azusa Pacific University, as it well should be; however, when a predominant chapel leader says something to the effect of, “I know that a lot of you guys are praying for the people in Haiti, but for those of you that want to step out and do something… ” I might get a little worried.  What this chapel leader just told a congregation of college students was that prayer isn’t equated with actually “doing something” to help Haiti.  I’m sorry, but the crux of the Judeo-Christian faith holds that the only way for God to start interceding and changing things here on earth is if we acknowledge that we can do nothing and only he can bring about change.  But you see, when our religious fervor is lacking, when we feel we haven’t done enough with our faith, when we feel like God is distant and we need to do something to get the “good [I might as well say emotional] feeling of God” back, we resort to scrounging for other things to fill the void that only Christ’s message of salvation and reconciliation can.  This is my explanation of the need to be a part of anything outside of ourselves.

Again, I must clarify that I in no way am opposed to social justice or the potential good it can facilitate.  I want to make the observation, though, that if you have probably read this far, you either completely agree with me, or you are shaking your head at how intolerant and ignorant I am.  This brings me to my next point:  I cannot speak against “love,” because of how broad a term “love” is.  If I do, I’m the bad guy.  This word masquerades itself as the all-encompassing “love is all you need” idea.  What we have on our hands is the new hippie generation, without the sex and drugs (well… more or less).

Alright, it’s unfinished, but I was tired of having it sit in my drafts folder for months.  What do you think? Am I right on? Should I be more gracious? More understanding? Something you disagree with vehemently? Let me hear it!

my friends are believers!

I just received word that a bunch of friends that I met in Papua New Guinea have become believers! That is so exciting. Rich and Dawn Foster are missionaries to the Bena Bena Tribe right outside of Goroka. The tribe surrounds a fenced off ‘campus,’ of sorts, dedicated to mobilizing missionaries (basically a tool for recruitment). I wrote about it earlier in my blog, but I just want to reiterate how life changing this program was for me. Completely altered my course of direction and COMPLETELY transformed my worldview. In case you’re wondering, that’s why I’m almost anti-social justice, and pro-gospel preaching, Christ-transforming social justice. Each is called to what the Lord has for his or her life.

But ANYWAYS, please check out this video (watch with HQ) and this website if you’d like more information about this awesome, 5 week, college-level, hands-on, missions course in the heart of a tribe.

Anyways, here’s the letter I recieved via email from the Fosters.  Kokore and I are pictured below.

Begin Letter:

Dear Praying Friends and Family,

Once again, much time has passed since we last wrote.  Thankfully, however, this time we do not have any tribal fighting to report.  The children are currently enjoying their “summer” break and the count-down has begun — yesterday Hannah counted 50 more days until school resumes.  She was sad to think of all the time left before she begins 7th grade, but when Jordan heard that 50 days were left, he broke into a huge grin and was very excited for the many days left of summer break.  We are looking forward to some good learning and growing times together this summer with garden work, house work, daily chores, time in the Word, and lots of fun times together.  Hannah, as I said before, will be moving into 7th grade, Hadassah into 6th grade, Jordan into 4th grade, and Havannah into 2nd grade.  Where has the time gone?

This past week, Rich and a couple of national believers were involved in checking chapters 12-28 of Acts with a translation consultant.  The check went very well, and this week, they will be checking Romans 1.  Rich was wanting to have chapters 1-2 of Romans ready to check, but things have not progressed as he hoped.  There is the possibility of someone being available to do some more translation checking in the Fall of this year, so hopefully more of Romans can be ready for checking then.

We are nearing the end of Acts in our teaching to the Bena believers and they continue to grow in their understanding of who God is and in their daily walks with Him.  Each of them face many temptations — especially during the coffee picking/selling season (which we are in the middle of), and we are looking forward to moving into Romans with the teaching to get them further grounded in the doctrines of their new faith.

Baptism:
We are excited to think of our first baptism coming up in another couple of weeks.  Heti, Kokore, Efeke, and Buka have all expressed interest in being baptized and there may be more…  including some of our children.  We have purposefully gone slow in having a baptism because of all the misunderstandings and wrong teachings regarding baptism that permeate our area.  Many people believe that baptism = salvation;  even more believe that baptism places you into church membership;  almost everyone believes that you have to live a clean life before being baptized.  It is with a whole new understanding that the Bena believers realize that baptism is a picture of our new life in Christ and is a testimony to those around us that we now have life in Him and that the only stipulation for baptism is belief in the finished work of Christ.

Individual updates:
Heti and Janet continue to faithfully attend the teaching and Heti is also one of Rich’s main and most faithful translation helper.  Several times over the past months Heti will break down in tears over something that God is teaching him or over a fresh realization of what God has done for him.  It is amazing to see his heart become so soft as he was a very hardened man before salvation.  Janet has nearly completed the literacy course and is excited to be able to read God’s Word on her own.  We just had some books of the Bible in Bena (Genesis, Exodus, Jonah, Mark) printed in nice, spiral bound books, and Janet wants to purchase them all with her next paycheck.  I asked her which one she was going to buy, and she looked at me surprised and said, “I’m going to buy them all — they each have a different talk in them!”  Please continue to pray for growth in their husband/wife relationship. Although their relationship is slowly improving, there is still much room for growth.

Efeke has also nearly completed the literacy course and is thrilled with her ability to read.  She has had some hard times over the past months with her husband, Fred, not wanting her to have anything to do with our teaching.  She went through a period of not coming because he was upset with her, but she has recently returned to hear the teaching over the past month or so.  If you remember, Fred was one who attended most of the teaching from Creation to Christ the second time we taught in our village and seemed to understand what was taught.  When asked recently what his thoughts were on the teaching, his response was that he has not chosen to believe.  Please continue to pray for Fred’s salvation.

Morobe is also a believer, however, he has attended none of the teaching for the past couple of months.  Please pray that he will see his need to hear God’s Word.

Buka and Anita as we mentioned in our last letter had chosen to go back to attending the local “church” that is located next door to their home.  Since that time, Buka has expressed a need to return and also a desire to be a part of the outreach coming up sometime this year.  He has been coming to the teaching and was a part of the translation check this past week.  Anita, however, continues to remain aloof and disinterested in the teaching.  Please pray that God will show her the fallacy of what she is being taught and give her a hunger to hear the truth.  Pray also that she will not be afraid to stand up to opposition.

Kokore and I
Kokore and Mena continue to come to the teaching on a fairly regular basis.  Mena has also nearly completed the literacy course and is excited with her ability to read.  Kokore, though a very quiet man, has a good understanding of spiritual things and also has a desire for his family to understand the truth.  We are unsure of where Mena is in her understanding of baptism, so we would appreciate prayer for discerning her thoughts in this area.
This letter has become quite long, so I will close for now.  We would appreciate your continued prayers for knowing where to head for an outreach later this year.


In His Love and Care,
Dawn for the Fosters

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“christian” holy wars and the social gospel

Interesting. I’m reading this book called ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,’ and Mr. Foxe just informed me of the medieval inquisition which included the Papal Inquisitions.

As you can probably guess, the book is about Christian persecutions as they’ve happened throughout history, starting with the early church, much like dc Talk’s ‘Jesus Freaks’ that was published some years ago.

I can’t tell you how interesting and inspiring this book is.  These witnesses bring a whole new meaning to Colossians 1:24. Not recanting their faith even to the point of excruciating pain. Incredible and invigorating. Not only is it inspiring, but the facts are very intriguing as well.  Take the movie ‘Gladiator’ for instance.  The philosopher and Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (A.D. 162-180) was known as the last of ‘Five Good Emperors‘ of Rome.  You might remember him in the movie as the murdered father. He was responsible for the fourth general persecution against the Christians. Weird, right? He ordered and allowed (despite what wikipedia might tell you) countless horrible and unthinkable tortures.  Dang. He seemed like such a nice guy in the movie.

Now what I’ve just been reading is about the papal persecutions.  The history teachers leave out detailed information about these. ‘Christians’ were the villains; however, Christians were also the direct victims of these persecutions. Wait, what??

So before this era of Papal-ity (1208 A.D.), most of the persecutions against the believing church came from the pagan world. The church in Rome began to set aside scriptural doctrines such as holiness, piety, humility, charity, and compassion, and instead took up the sword along with pagan superstitions and practices. All of this in order to benefit the clergy of the Roman church.  ANY who disagreed with this doctrine (true Christians being the “any”) were labeled as heretics to the faith, and if refusing to recant “heresy,” were executed.

So now the world tells us that Christians were going around slaughtering heretics. False. Heretics were going around slaughtering Christians labeled as heretics. After all, 2 Timothy says, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Now we get into persecution and suffering.

Oh the agendas of the social gospel.  To be quite honest, Azusa Pacific University upsets me when it comes to this issue.  This idea of “preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”

WHAT?! NO!

And unfortunately, I hear too much of this at Azusa. God is behind it, maybe. I’m sure it pleases our Savior that the needy are being cared for; however, I’m convinced he’s more concerned about their eternal futures. I feel like many students at Azusa (or the mainstream students anyways) are taking the easy road, copping out and buying shoes for kids, rescuing little children from enslavement, sending monetary savings to feed some others. THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Let me quote a friend of mine:

What is happening today in our Christian culture is the thought that the application of the gospel is to simply come to the monetary assistance of those in need.  This is an aspect, but it is not even the central aspect, but a corollary of the gospel.  I fear that there is a growing belief that the preaching of the gospel to those who are sufferers of social injustice is secondary to the remedying of these people’s situation.  Or, to look at it another way, that the remedying of social injustice is the preaching of the gospel to those who are its sufferers.

Oh friends!  Do not be deceived! Let us not usher in temporal comfort but everlasting. Or at least couple social justice with Christ’s message of redemption.  One without the other is meaningless. More so social justice without the gospel (not all third-world countries are needy fyi). And do not be deceived into the thinking that “loving” can indefinitely take the place of “witnessing.” If you are afraid to share the gospel because it will offend… that’s the whole point. The truth is offensive. It’s edgy, difficult to cope with. God’s gospel was seen as heretical. Christ was seen as a blasphemer. “PREACH THE WORD!” (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s a command straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ who died for everone’s sins and beat the heck out of death.

And in terms of staying safe and protected from disease and sickness and third-world maladies:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall TRIBULATION, or DISTRESS, or PERSECUTION, or FAMINE, or NAKEDNESS, or DANGER, or SWORD? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death NOR life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35-39

Have I made my point clear? If you disagree or anything, I’d be happy to politely discuss it with you anytime. I have skype (milesgrimes), twitter (milesvincent), and aim (mgrimes08@mac.com), and my email is mgrimes08@apu.edu.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.
-Gordon Macdonald

EDIT (6/13/09): In regards to the last statement/quote: The world can offer the avenue to grace. The means by which the grace is offered. Grace, the seed planted by the church waiting to be broken and made fruitful by the Holy Spirit.  The church: the workers who must usher in the harvest. Thank you Mr. Mark Montgomery =]

easter

My oh my. I haven’t blogged in a while.  REALLY blogged.  Well the topic of this post is somewhat of a broad one and I think I’m going to be jumping all over the place, but that’s okay.  I want to start off by saying that this is going to be more of a personal reflection rather than a “try to teach you something” or “try to be exegetical” blog.

Right now it is 7:38am on Easter Sunday Morning.  I was planning on going to the sunrise service that was orchestrated by the college group, famously known as “The Well,” at EFCC.  It was a facebook event, and I completely misread it.  It said meet at 6am at 7-11.  It did NOT say meet at 7am at 7-11.  My bad. Well, I’m a little disappointed, but not too much because I think it was God ordained.  He wanted me to blog. =] So here I am, saddened that I missed the beautiful California Sunrise on the most appropriate of days, but content to know that it was not meant to be.

So what am I getting at?  Well in the past week, I have been vacationing in the most awesome place.  A good place of relaxation (ish) and reflection commonly known as Yosemite.  I brought a couple books to read, one being Surprised by Hope. In an earlier post that was written during Christmas break, I criticized the work a little too harshly, quickly reading through it and not paying attention to the important details that Wright has to offer.  Reading this book and paying close attention to detail, I learned so much about Christ and specifically his purpose here on earth as it pertains to the resurrection (I have finally digressed).  What an earth shattering thing, Christ’s rising from the dead.  The implications of this event are far greater than I could ever hope or imagine to put into words, but I think Wright does a fine job.
I want to share some of what I am learning from this book.  It is amazing.  I highly recommend it.  I have not completely finished it yet, but I am close, and it is so good.
God and the world are not the same thing, nor is everything simply held within something called “god.”  Within biblical theology it remains the case that the one living God created a world that is other than himself, not contained within himself.  Creation was from the beginning an act of love, of affirming the goodness of the other.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good; but it was not itself divine.  At its height, which according to Genesis 1 is the creation of humans, it was designed to reflect God, both to reflect God back to God in worship and to reflect God into the rest of creation in stewardshipHumans were made to be God’s stewards over creation, so the one through whom all things were made, the eternal son, the eternal wisdom, becomes human so that he might truly become God’s steward, ruler over all his world.  Equally, if you tell the story from the point of view of human rebellion and the consequent sin and death that have engulfed the world, this again emerges as the moment all creation had been waiting for: the eternal expression of the father’s love became the incarnate expression of the father’s love so that by his self-giving to death, even the death of the cross, the whole creation can be reconciled to GodThis is the real cosmic Christology of the New Testament:…a retelling of the Jewish story of wisdom in terms of Jesus himself, focusing on the cross as the act whereby the good creation is brought back into harmony with the wise creator. (pages 94-96)
Did you put all that together?? Wright took 3 pages to explain all that, but I condensed it down and made it more concise.  It took me a long time to read through these pages.  Re-read the bold sections.  Because of Christ’s resurrection, the whole creation was reconciled back to God.  I cannot quite explain it how Wright does, but if you do not fully understand what this passage is saying, please ask!  What a magnificent God! What an all loving and forgiving God, that he would become his own creation, love us so much, and be willing to die and defeat death so that we might one day be resurrected in bodily form like he was along with all creation!  That is the implication of his death and resurrection.  Death is the last enemy.  Jesus Christ has defeated it and therefore, we have all the hope in the world! Hallelujah! What love.
The world is created good but incomplete. One day, when all forces of rebellion have been defeated and the creation responds freely and gladly to the love of its creator, God will fill it with himself so that it will both remain an independent being, other than God, and also be flooded with God’s own life.  This is part of the paradox of love, in which love freely given creates a context for love to be freely returned, and so on in a cycle where complete freedom and complete union do not cancel each other out but rather celebrate each other and make one another whole. (page 102)
Wow.  Thank you Jesus.
I guess I want to confess publicly here.  I have been struggling with selfishness for quite a while.  Selfishness is an awful thing because the way I see it, it plays out in every corner of my life.  My entire motivation is all about me.  The only reason I do things and the only way I look at some situations is by how much I will be benefiting from those situations.  It is is remarkable to me how selfishness manifests itself into so many different areas.  Please, as you think of it, pray for me.
Lord I confess to you my wrongness and my sin.  I have chosen to follow you and in doing so have committed myself to you.  I am not my own.  Forgive me.  Thank you for humbling yourself by entering creation and reconciling it to yourself.   And thank you for your sacrificial love.   You are alive today, and I celebrate and live in the hope that one day I will be raised up to spend eternity with you.   Thank you!

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
BUT in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
-1 Corinthians 15:16-24

the parable of the orange tree

THE PARABLE OF THE ORANGE TREE
Dr John White

I DREAMED I DROVE ON A FLORIDA road, still and straight and empty. On either side were groves of orange trees, so that as I turned to look at them from time to time, line after line of trees stretched back endlessly from the road, their boughs heavy with round yellow fruit. This was harvest time. My wonder grew as the miles slipped by. How could the harvest be gathered?

Suddenly I realized that for all the hours I had driven (and this was how I knew I must be dreaming) I had seen no other person. The groves were empty of people. No other car had passed me. No houses were to be seen beside the highway. I was alone in a forest of orange trees.
But at last I saw some orange pickers. Far from the highway, almost on the horizon, lost in the vast wilderness of unpicked fruit, I could discern a tiny group of them working steadily. And many miles later I saw another group. I could not be sure, but I suspected that the earth beneath me was shaking with silent laughter at the hopelessness of their task. Yet the pickers went on picking.
The sun had long passed its zenith, and the shadows were lengthening when, without any warning, I turned a corner of the road to see a notice “Leaving NEGLECTED COUNTY – Entering HOME COUNTY.” The contrast was so startling that I scarcely had time to take in the notice. I had to slow down, for all at once the traffic was heavy. People by the thousands swarmed the road and crowded the sidewalks.
Even more startling was the transformation in the orange groves. Orange groves were still there, and orange trees in abundance, but now, far from being silent and empty, they were filled with the laughter and singing of multitudes of people. Indeed it was the people we noticed rather than the trees. People–and houses.
I parked the car at the roadside and mingled with the crowd. Smart gowns, neat shoes, showy hats, expensive suits and starched shirts made me a little conscious of my work clothes. Everyone seemed so fresh, and poised, and happy.
“Is it a holiday?” I asked a well-dressed woman with whom I fell in step.
She looked a little startled for a moment, and then her face relaxed with a smile of gracious condescension.
“You’re a stranger, aren’t you?” she said, and before I could reply, “This is Orange Day.”
She must have seen a puzzled look on my face, for she went on, “It is so good to turn aside from one’s labors and pick oranges one day of the week.”
“But don’t you pick oranges every day?” I asked her. “One may pick oranges at any time,” she said. “We should always be ready to pick oranges, but Orange Day is the day that we devote especially to orange picking.”
I left her and made my way further into the trees. Most of the people were carrying a book. Bound beautifully in leather, and edged and lettered in gold, I was able to discern on the edge of one of them the words, “Orange Picker’s Manual.”
By and by I noticed around one of the orange trees seats had been arranged, rising upward in tiers from the ground. The seats were almost full-but, as I approached the group, a smiling well-dressed gentleman shook my hand and conducted me to a seat.
There, around the foot of the orange tree, I could see a number of people. One of them was addressing all the people on the seats and, just as I got to my seat, everyone rose to his feet and began to sing. The man next to me shared with me his song book. It was called “Songs of the Orange Groves.” They sang for some time, and the song leader waved his arms with a strange and frenzied abandon, exhorting the people in the intervals between the songs to sing more loudly.
I grew steadily more puzzled.
“When do we start to pick oranges?” I asked the man who had loaned me his book.
“It’s not long now,” he told me. “We like to get everyone warmed up first. Besides, we want to make the oranges feel at home.” I thought he was joking but his face was serious. After a while a rather well-groomed man took over from the song leader and, after reading two sentences from his well-thumbed copy of the Orange Picker’s Manual, began to make a speech. I wasn’t clear whether he was addressing the people or the oranges.
I glanced behind me and saw a number of groups of people similar to our own group gathering around an occasional tree and being addressed by other well-groomed men. Some of the trees had no one around them.
“Which trees do we pick from?” I asked the man beside me. He did not seem to understand, so I pointed to the trees round about, “This is our tree,” he said, pointing to the one we were gathered around.
“But there are too many of us to pick from just one tree,” I protested. “Why, there are more people than oranges!”
“But we don’t pick oranges.” the man explained. “We haven’t been called. That’s Pastor Orange Picker’s job. We’re here to support him. Besides we haven’t been to college. You need to know how an orange thinks before you can pick it successfully, orange psychology, you know. Most of these folks here, he went on, pointing to the congregation, “have never been to Manual School.”
“Manual School,” I whispered, “What’s that?”
“It’s where they go to study the Picker’s Manual” my informant went on. It’s very hard to understand. You need years of study before it makes sense.”  “I see,” I murmured. “I had no idea that picking oranges was so difficult.”  The well-groomed man at the front was still making his speech. His face was red, and he appeared to be indignant about something. So far as I could see there was rivalry with some of the other “orange-picking” groups. But a moment later a glow came on his face.
“But we are not forsaken,” he said. “We have much to be thankful for. Last week we saw THREE ORANGES BROUGHT INTO OUR BASKETS, and we are now completely debt free from the money we owed on the new cushion covers that grace the seats you now sit on.”  “Isn’t it wonderful?” the man next to me murmured. I made no reply. I felt that something must be profoundly wrong somewhere. All this seemed to be a very round-about way of picking oranges.
The well-groomed man was reaching a climax in his speech. The atmosphere seemed tense. Then with a very dramatic gesture he reached two of the oranges, plucked them from the branch, and placed them in the basket at his feet. The applause was deafening. “Do we start to pick now?” I asked my informant.
“What in the world do you think we’re doing?” he hissed. “What do you suppose this tremendous effort has been made for? There’s more orange-picking talent in this group than in the rest of Home County. Thousands of dollars have been spent on the tree you’re looking at.”
I apologized quickly. “I wasn’t being critical,” I said. “And I’m sure the well-groomed man must be a very good orange picker but surely the rest of us could try. After all, there are so many oranges that need picking. We’ve all got a pair of hands, and we could read the Manual.”   “When you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you’ll realize that it’s not as simple as that,” he replied. “There isn’t time, for one thing. We have our work to do, our families to care for, and our homes to look after. We. . .
But I wasn’t listening. Light was beginning to break on me. Whatever these people were, they were not orange pickers. Orange picking was just a form of entertainment for their weekends. I tried one or two more of the groups around the trees. Not all of them had such high academic standards for orange pickers. Some held classes on orange picking. I tried to tell them of the trees I had seen in Neglected County but they seemed to have little interest.
“We haven’t picked the oranges here yet,” was their usual reply.
The sun was almost setting in my dream and, growing tired of the noise and activity all around me, I got in the car and began to drive back again along the road I had come. Soon all around me again were the vast and empty orange groves.
But there were changes.
Something had happened in my absence. Everywhere the ground was littered with fallen fruit. And as I watched, it seemed that before my eyes the trees began to rain oranges. Many of them lay rotting on the ground.
I felt there was something so strange about it all, and my bewilderment grew as I thought of all the people in Home County.
Then, booming through the trees there came a voice which said, “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers. . .”
And I awakened because after all, it was only a dream.
Author: Dr. John White
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