I attended the biennial convention of the American Political Items Collectors in Springfield, Illinois, recently. This group enjoys political memorabilia including buttons, ribbons, books, autographs and 3-D items, and share a passion for history.
I got acquainted with the club many years ago and have attended some meetings over the years, but never one this far from home. The location this year afforded opportunity to see the sites associated with President Lincoln who called Springfield his hometown. He lived there for 20 years before moving to the White House, and his tomb is in Springfield, too. The new Lincoln Museum is a spectacular place as well.
The APIC has a number of sub-chapters. I’m treasurer for the Republican Political Items Collectors, and vice-president and newsletter editor for the Jimmy Carter Political Items Collectors. The Carter group has had a banquet meal with the Carters every year for the past 20.
I wish I’d known about these groups years ago and had opportunity to learn history and make friends outside my normal circle. Everyone needs a diversion. On one occasion, Jesus told his disciples to turn aside and rest (Mark 6:31). As the late Vance Havner used to say, “We need to come apart and rest, or we’ll come apart!”
A biographer of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy told of a visit by Ambassador Joseph Kennedy to the Oval Office, accompanied by his son, Bobby. Learning that the lad also collected, President Roosevelt called Bobby to his desk, showed some of his albums and gave him stamps for his collection.
How striking that the president who directed the course of World War II and held the weight of the world on his shoulders found some respite with his stamps.
I think about FDR when I read the media criticizing presidents taking time for rest and relaxation, such as Reagan retreating to Rancho de Cielo or Bush 43 to Crawford or Obama to the golf course. Everyone needs a diversion, especially those who carry nuclear codes in their pockets.
I’ve met scores of displaced ministers over the years through the Ministering to Ministers organization. Their stories of crisis are heartbreaking. Many have been through involuntary termination and have exhausted hope, options and finances. One recurrent theme in their stories is how they worked relentlessly, neglecting families and health. Therapists who guide these discussions often chide ministers and spouses for not finding healthy diversions and making friends outside their congregations. After all, if you lose your congregation, those friends outside the church may be the only ones left.
The reformer Martin Luther once told his friend Philipp Melanchthon, “Come, Philipp. Let God run the world today. Let’s you and I go fishing!”
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.