Bread – Whistle

November 26, 2012

Readings for Monday, November 26, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Zech. 10; Gal. 6:1-10; Luke 18:15-30; Psalm 106


There are many people who read this Bread who will remember what it was like as a young child. When it wasn’t a school day, you would roll out of bed, get some breakfast (if there was any), and then go outside to play. There was nothing particularly to keep you inside unless you were sick, and you were always nudged along by someone saying to you, “Now, go outside and play.” And that is what you would do … until you were called home for lunch or dinner.

There were three basic ways we were called home for lunch or dinner, none of which included a cell phone. One was that the dinner bell would be rung. This was particularly necessary on the farm, because you might be a ways off and you needed something which would carry. Another way you were called home was by someone yelling “Come home, now,” or something like that. That worked best when you were in line of sight because you were playing on the front lawn or right across the street. The third way fit in the middle, when you were close enough to sort of hear but far enough away that you might not hear a voice. When you were in that intermediate position, a whistle would work. Some parents or older siblings were in fact so good with a whistle that the sound could travel farther than the bell, so they would always use the whistle. The whistle meant, “Come home right now “ and typically meant “because dinner is ready” but it might also mean that one of your parents had discovered something deserving of a time of discipline. Every parent or brother or sister had a different whistle, so each child could hear their own and respond.

In any event, while you were out playing, when you heard the whistle you always stopped what you were doing immediately and went home, because something was up and you dare not be late.

This memory is prompted by our reading today from Zechariah – “’I [God] will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them…I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in His name,’ declares the Lord.” Zech. 10:8,12.

“I [God] will whistle for them, and gather them in…”

What a visual! While we are out playing, doing our own thing with our neighbor, God is at home preparing our dinner, our feast. When it is ready, He calls us with a whistle. We hear the whistle and recognize that the call home is for us. We immediately respond because we know Him and we know His call. He gathers us in, His children, home where we have warmth, protection, food for life, living water, and eternal love. It does not matter where we are or what we are doing, if we belong to His family, we recognize His whistle carrying on the wind.

There are several ways in which Satan tries to screw up the communication. First, he might try to draw us off to a playground far away from our home, out of range of the whistle. In that far playground, we might have so much fun that we lose track of time, we lose track of Him, and we don’t hear the whistle. Another way Satan might try to interfere with the call is by creating a lot of noise – the noise of fun, of debauchery, of merriment, of yelling and screaming, of excitement, of busyness, of business. When we are surrounded by noise, it becomes increasingly difficult to have a conversation or hear a pure tone. A third way Satan might try to destroy the power of the whistle is to tell us that the whistle we hear is not coming from our home, but from another kid’s. In this way, Satan tells us that we do not need to respond to God’s whistle because it is not intended for us, but for someone else.

But God intends His whistle, His call to come home, for those whom He calls His children. These means simply that when we hear His whistle, it is intended for us to hear and to respond.

We are entering into a time of the year which God intends for feasting, celebration, hoping, expecting, loving, and resting in His provision. The world and Satan intend for it to be a time of busyness, of buying, of exhausting “to do” lists, of too much to do in too little time.

It is OK to be outside playing, because we are doing what God intends for us to do. It is not OK for us to miss the whistle, the call to come home, because that is what God intends for us to do too.

There is a final thought here. How is it that we can be playing so hard and yet also hear the whistle? It is because we are prepared for it. We know the time is getting close to dinner because our “internal clock” is telling us so. We are ready for the whistle because we are aware that it is the “season” for dinner, it is the time of day for dinner.

And that is one of the other messages of our readings today. In Galatians, we read “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap …” Gal. 6:9.

We hear God’s whistle, His call to come home to the feast, because we recognize when we are in due season, when it is about time to be called home.

Are we in such a “due season?” I don’t know, but I am listening. What about you?


© 2012 GBF


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