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Vol. 78 - No. 5
MAY 2007

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

Bees, Stinging and Disappearing

        One of the best-received Messenger articles I ever wrote was about bees and their role as a symbol in Christianity. In that article, I pointed out that one sometimes sees a beehive in stained glass windows. The hive is a symbol of Christian fellowship and cooperation. Just as the bees in the hive work together for the good of their colony, so Christians work together as brothers and sisters for the good of God’s Kingdom.

        I’d like to offer some further bee-related thoughts in this month’s newsletter. The Easter season is an appropriate time to reflect on bees, since they have a role in our celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The Paschal candle–the large candle that burns during the time of Easter–is made of bee’s wax. One of the traditional prayers at the Easter vigil declares that the candle was made "by Your servants, the bees". So while that bee-made candle burns during this holy time of Easter, I’d like to look at a few bee-related themes that can illuminate Christian truth for us.

        The bee is a stinging insect. And bee stings hurt! I remember the first time I was stung by a bee as a child–it felt like my finger was dissolving! (For people with allergies, bee stings can be fatal). The intriguing thing about the bee sting, though, is that it injures not only the creature stung–it also fatally injures the bee itself. Bee stings are barbed, and thus are torn off when the bee stings. And the tearing of the sting proves fatal to the bee. When a bee stings to protect its colony, then, it automatically surrenders its life. Perhaps this can remind us of the self-giving of Jesus, who surrendered Himself on the cross to protect and save us from sin and death. Perhaps, too, it can inspire us in our self-giving. If the bee can give up its very life for the good of the colony, certainly we can give time, attention and energy to our community and our congregation!

        The bee’s sting can also be used to illustrate another aspect of our faith. Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from the sting of death. "O death, where is thy sting?" St. Paul cries in I Corinthians 15:55. And how did Jesus save us from the sting of death? By taking that sting upon Himself. He died so that we might live. Once death has stung Him, it can’t sting us. Death is like a bee–it stings only once, then it’s powerless.

        Imagine a father driving in a car with his small son. A bee suddenly flies into the car through an open window. The bee quickly stings the father on the neck, and then begins buzzing around the car. The little boy goes into a panic, screaming and crying, afraid the bee will sting him. But the father says, "Calm down, son! The bee already stung me! Its stinger is gone! It can’t sting you!" And that’s exactly how it is with us and Jesus. Jesus has endured the sting of death for us. After stinging Jesus, death has no sting left for you and me! For us, death is the entrance into the sweetness and beauty of heaven.

        There’s an interesting and disturbing trend afoot among our nation’s bee colonies. Bees are disappearing. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder. The bees fly away and never come back again. They die somewhere far from the colony. This is a much more serious problem than it seems at first. It doesn’t simply mean that Winnie the Pooh is going to come up empty the next time he goes honey raiding...and it doesn’t just mean that the devotees of Burt’s Bees are going to have to find another cream to keep their skin young. It could have serious implications for our food supply–because we depend upon bees to pollinate our crops. The loss of bees could have a major impact on agriculture and the food we buy at the grocery store. Scientists aren’t sure what causes the phenomenon–theories have ranged from parasites to global warming to cell phone radiation. But I think we should pray that they find a solution.

        Even the loss of bees has a spiritual lesson to teach us. Because what happens in Colony Collapse Disorder is that the bees can’t find their way back to the hive. Somehow, their navigational abilities are compromised–and, cut off from their hive, they die. There’s a message there for us. We need to be connected with God and His life-giving truth. God is our home, and if we are separated from Him, we weaken and die spiritually–just as bees weaken and die when cut off from their home. We don’t want to be cut off from the source of peace and joy and salvation! We want to be always connected to the One who gives us life.

        Come back to "the hive"–God’s holy church–whenever you can...to hear the Word, receive the Sacrament, and work together with the rest of God’s people. With the strength you receive there, your life will be abuzz with joy!

        God’s hive
        Is where we thrive.
        God loves you and so do I!

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