Subject:  Bear
   Date:  Wed, 14 Jul 1999 22:35:52 EDT
"The Lord Shall Return To Jerusalem"
Copyright © 1997 by Larry Holder and Elton Smith

Click here to play the RealAudio file with vocals  (Be sure to turn off the midi first)
Larry Holder playing the guitar and singing lead. Elton Smith singing backup.  .Elton's daughter Veronica is
wandering around the room clapping.  Elton's mother Patsy Stevens on keyboard.

MIDI Copyright (P) 1997 Elton Smith

     I was born, as many of you know, in Switzerland, during the time that my parents were serving the Church as
missionaries in Yugoslavia.  They were working hard and traveling a lot, so my mom wanted me to have some
kind of constant reminder of her love for me.  As she thought about what to give me, she came upon a store where
the hottest new item was a teddy bear from America.

  "Perfect,"  she thought,  "a reminder of home in a far and distant land."  So she bought the bear and in giving it to
me said,  "No matter where you are,  no matter where I am, remember I love you; you are mine, and I will always be
with you."

     At barely over 5 lbs., I was too little too understand the words, much less remember them.  but I could feel the
soft fur of the bear against my stomach;  I could lean into his arms (for the bear was

bigger than i was),  and i could feel myself being held....even when my mom could not.  and the words were repeated
to me as my mom would leave in the morning and put me to bed at night.

 Until one day I knew those words too.  and could say them to myself until they were written on that bear's heart,
 and mine too.

"No matter where you are, remember I love you;  you are mine,  and I will  always be with you."

     I took that bear with me everywhere I went.  It returned with me to the States, began nursery school, started
first grade.  And always it reminder me that my mom loved me, that i was hers, and that she would always be
with me.  And I loved that bear.  Oh, how I loved it!

     One summer, my family took a long trip up to Prince Edward Island, hundreds of miles from where we were living
at the time in Troy, NY.  By that time, bear had made it well past first grade and into fifth, had gone off to
summer camp and on class excursions.  As we packed, my dad said,

"Why don't you just leave bear home this summer? Isn't it tiime to leave him behind?"

"NO!"    I said.

"You're just going to lose him,"  cautioned my dad.

But my mom gave him one of those looks, you know,  and bear went along.    Riding all the way up to Nova Scotia,
and around Prince Edward Island, and out into the ocean depths,  until it was time to pack up and head home.

     As we started to pack, a heavy storm was rolling in and we needed to get off the island quickly, or be stuck there.
 We packed in record time and headed off, glad to be returning home.  Us kids slept most of the way back,  until
we were jolted awake by a raspy, caustic voice,

"And where were you born?" forced its way into my dreams.  Coming to, I looked around to see that we were on the
border heading back into the good ol' USA.  "Where were you born,"  came the voice again.

"Oh, Switzerland," I replied,  and as I did, I reached for bear, only to find an empty space beside me.  "Where is bear?"
 I said, and then my stomach dropped and the world turned grey all around as i remembered setting him on the
picnic table while we hurriedly packed up the tent.

"Oh, no,"  I moaned, and while he never said it, I could hear, loud and clear, my dad's warning not to take bear, and
a taunting 'I told you so' rang in my ears.

"Mom,"  I started,  "We have to go back."

"You can get another bear," responded my dad, the voice of reason.    "Why there are billions of bears out there."

"But not that bear,"  I insisted, tears spilling out of my eyes.  "not that one!"

"Chuck," prodded my mom.....

And you know,   nothing more was said.  My dad quietly turned that car around and returned to a far and distant
country to pick up a lost bear,  one of billions and billions.  But that bear was special, valuable because of the love
that was given, and the love it recalled,  a mother's love.

and all the way back, those words of love rang in my ears:

 "No matter where you are, remember, I love you; you are mine; and i will always be with you."

     Years passed.  I graduated from high school, went off to college,  got married,  had kids, and ,  sadly,  got divorced.
  and somewhere along the way, bear got pushed aside.  But each time my parents moved, and agonized over what to
take and what to leave behind, that bear was saved.

     Saved, because of the love that was given it, and the love it recalled, until one day, my mom pulled it out and said,
"Here, it's time for you to have him back."

And with tears in my eyes, I took him,  this battered and bruised bear,  one of billions but special,  valuable because
of the love that was given it, and the love it recalled.

     We are each like this bear in many ways,  broken, battered,  bent by the world,  but blessed,  bonded, and loved by God.
 one of billions, yes,  but special, valuable in God's eyes,  YES!  and God,  God will travel any distance, and got to any
place, even to a far and distant country to bring you home.  because God loves you!

    My own children now play with this bear.  And as they play they hear the words sewn in his heart:  "I love you;
you are mine;  and I will always be with you,"  words passed on from the heart of God, to my mom, to me, and now
to them.

 And they know this bear is special, valuable because of the love that was given and the love he recalls.

     We celebrate that love that makes us valuable,  a mother's love.  but more than that we celebrate the Source of it all:
God, father and mother of us all, in whom we live and move and have our being,  Who says to each one of us,

"I love you;  you are mine, and I will be with you always!"



Rev. Pat Hernandez

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