Friday, May 25, 2012
I was reading a devotional today and it talked about the man that Jesus healed of a speech impediment and deafness. He took him aside and healed him and then told the healed guy not to tell anyone. But of course the healed man went around telling everyone. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't you, if you were made whole, run around telling EVERYONE about it? It's better than winning the lottery! To be made whole. I've often wanted to be made whole. There are times when I curse my hearing loss and times when I feel justified in feeling sorry for myself. The funny thing is, I don't talk too much about it. I don't write about it much. I'm not really looking for sympathy, I don't think. But healing would be nice. To be able to hear the birds again outside the window? Yeah, that'd be really great. To know when someone was walking up in back of me instead of jumping 10 feet in the air as they innocuously pass me? That would be great, too! To be able to hear the television without the closed captioning would be nice for my family as well as me. And to hear my family's voices without the machines plugged into my ears would be worth just about anything. I remember Paul asking in one of his letters to have some kind of burden removed. I think there is speculation about what that burden might have been. But even Paul in his splendor didn't get to have his wish. For whatever the thorn in his side, it was always there. Just like not being able to hear. Most times I'm used to the lack of hearing. My hearing aids do help enormously. Most times I'm immune to the fact that there is a distinct lack of noise when I take them out at night. But once in a while, I think, why me? Why do I have to have this disability? Is there something I'm supposed to learn from this? Something I'm supposed to "teach" other people? I hope not. I've been dismal if this is my ministry. I prefer to do those things that are in the background or things that don't need much interaction for fear I wouldn't hear the interaction anyway. I do not like to trumpet that I can' hear and don't want to be the "poster girl" for those who are hearing impaired. And then there's this: when I pray and ask God to watch over those I love and care about, I don't really ask to be made whole. It's tempting. Asking for that miracle cure. But I have a feeling I'm supposed to be like this for whatever reason. And I guess when I finally get to meet God, I can ask, "what was that all about anyway?" But the funny thing is this, when I pray it doesn't matter whether I can hear or not. It's usually quiet, and sometimes I talk the hearing devices out of my ears so it's even quieter than normal. Because really in the silence of my prayers it doesn't matter whether I can hear or not, just so long as God does.
Monday, May 14, 2012
We were having a discussion on Sunday in our Sunday School group about introverts, extroverts and the combination of those two things. It was observed that if all someone hears are the extroverts, then those who are the "strong, silent type" whose ideas are innovative and well reasoned will never be heard over the din. The conversation was winding around this way and that, when someone said the one thing that was guaranteed to make me get mad. They didn't say it to make me mad, I doubt they were even aware it was a "hot button" for me. But I've heard it most of my life now and it never ceases to really aggravate me. The statement was that young people say there are so many hypocrites in church nowadays they just don't see the reason to come to church. And there it is. That statement. Spoken with authority from whomever utters it. As though it was the gospel. There are so many hypocrites in church. I would like to spell it out for those who think this way. You're absolutely right! There are pews full of them. There are entire congregations full to the hilt of hypocrites! And you wanna know something else? No one is surprised by this. Except perhaps those who aren't attending church. You see it's like this. If Christians were all so perfect, so holy, so above reproach, they wouldn't have needed a savior. Jesus would not have been necessary. In fact, God could probably have gone away on a vacation to outer Andromeda and come back and not even noticed a difference! I would like those who make this statement to find one institution of man's making (or woman's making for that matter) that doesn't have hypocrites in it. Name one. Just one. Any one. Yeah, that's what I thought. See there isn't any. There can't be. Because man, woman, humans are made imperfect. They aren't going to be holier than thou, because thou is just as unholy as the next guy. No one is holier than thou except Jesus. No one. The world is made up of hypocrites and sinners. Everyone alike. Some have their sins laid bare for everyone to see, some hide them and appear to be pure as the driven snow. But no one is perfect. Everyone needs saving. From themselves. Which is why many of us are in church to begin with. We recognize that we are not perfect. We recognize the need for saving. We really, really want to be better people. But despite all the greatest of intentions we do stupid things. We are mean and petty. We are inconsiderate. We are selfish. But we are almost always contrite afterwards. But we do these things anyway. And we come back each week to the one place where we can ask for love and forgiveness to go out and try again the next week. I saw a bumper sticker which says, "Christians aren't perfect, we're just forgiven." There's a certain smack of smugness in that that I don't really like, but it reminds me that each week when I come back to church with my head hung low to my chest in embarrassment and remorse, God has already forgiven me. Grace has allowed me to come into the presence of the Almighty and be made clean once more. So yes, young people, old people, non-church goers alike, we are a hypocritical, complaining, whiny bunch. Prone to sometimes judge quickly; we give the impression that we have the right to judge. No one of course, has that right, but we do it anyway. Is your workplace any different? Your school? Did you think that church was made up of someones other than those same people? We are the same people in your businesses, your schools, standing in line at the grocery store right along side of you. We get annoyed with people who are taking too long in line, people who cut in place in traffic, we even sometimes use bad language when we're mad about something. And yes, we get mad, and sarcastic, and grumpy. We are the same as you. Are you saying that because we're part of the church we cannot be human? I hope not. Our humanity is what we share in those pews. We are a community in Christ, a loving group nonetheless because how can we be anything other? When we have the best example of love before us; Jesus? Instead of complaining about our hypocritical ways, come and see us for the way we really are. We are the body of Christ on earth, trying to find our way to the heaven that awaits. And sometimes we're cranky that it's taken so long to get there, but the journey with the people of our congregation is a mostly loving one. Even with a few whiners in the back.