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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: What’s the buzz?

One morning last week I went to practice some music for my son’s wedding.  I ran into Mr. Jones, our music director’s dad, who was feeding his bees.  I asked him what mixture he was feeding them, and he said, “I’ll probably be reading about this in the newspaper next week.”  May bee.

After some reflection, it seems that Christianity and beekeeping have many parallels.  Keeping bees is very unpredictable.  If you try to get them to do one thing, they will usually do the exact opposite.

Winnie the Pooh is quite the expert on bees.  He says, “You know, you never can tell with bees.  The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey... and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.”

You can never tell about bees of faith.  No matter how many good things happen to them, one bad thing or mistake, and they may fly away.

On the other hand, they buzz around the world all over the place.  There are billions of them that are not a part of the hive.  If God is doing good things at a particular church, and they see it, they come and join the colony.

Psalm 19:11 says, “The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Sooner or later, we come to realize that spiritual things are the most precious in the world.  We begin to pass by all that we once thought was valuable and shiny to find the honey of eternal life for us and for our families.

We resemble the bee in reverse if we don’t join in the wonderful work of the kingdom.  What goes zzub  zzub  zzub? A bee flying backwards! Just doesn’t seem right, does it?

Faith has been studied for centuries.  All kinds of things have been thought about and proposed.  Some of them go awry, even against the forces of nature and creation.  But the lessons the bees teach us as they go about their daily task of gathering honey are sometimes far and above what we can discover.

Perhaps it is best to keep it simple.  We know that bees are usually calm.  But if we make a mistake, or if someone else does, they can swarm and sting us.  So we must plan for every contingency.  For instance, beekeepers should never work on ladders...you cannot run on a ladder.

In an old Aesop’s fable, a bear comes across log of honey and is stung by one little bee on his nose.  He swats the log, is attacked by the entire swarm and only saves himself by jumping in the lake.  Moral:  It is better to bear a single injury in silence than to bring about a thousand by reacting in anger.

We must bee careful not to think of ourselves too highly.  

A young man shows up to work for the old beekeeper.  First day on the job, the beekeeper says, “Paint all those bee hives.” 

The young man looks at all that work and says, “You don’t seem to realize - I have a college education.” 

The old beekeeper thinks for a minute and says, “I’m sorry.  I’ll show you how to hold the paint brush.”

Humility is one of the first ingredients of a dedicated Christian/bee.  We are a precious creation, but only one of millions, billions, even trillions who must go about our daily routine of bring life-giving food to the world.  When we get to thinking too highly of ourselves, we usually end up out of the hive or dead.

Sue Monk Kidd, in her book “The Secret Life of Bees” tells us a little bit about how to act in the beehive.

“I hadn’t been out to the hives before, so to start off she gave me a lesson in what she called ‘bee yard etiquette’.  She reminded me that the world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.  Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.  Don’t swat.  Don’t even think about swatting.  If you feel angry, whistle.  Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.  Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.  Above all, send the bees love.  Every little thing wants to be loved.  Bees have a secret life we don’t know about.”

We are all bees in the process of discovering the secrets of God’s kingdom.  Never assume we can be the beekeeper until we have learned what God wants to teach us about the entire process.  Even pastors and church officials are just bees, nothing more, nothing less.

To bee or not to bee — Shakespeare 

To do is to bee — Nietzsche 

To bee is to do — Sartre 

Do bee do bee do — Sinatra

I will bee with you always — Jesus.