Friday, July 31, 2009

Get Out of Town

Her face radiated with the vitality of goodness and superiority. She carried her age with the grace that only the insulation of money could give.

“I’m ready,” she said grandly, “to be more active in the church. God has given me gifts that should be used. I've decided it's time to give more of my time and talent.”

“How nice,” I said.

She meant that she wanted to stand before the church and quote her insipid Helen Steiner Rice poems and talk about how good life can be if only we have the right attitude.

“Just let me know when you need me.”

I needed to open a window. Her cologne was making me gag.

“As a matter of fact,” I began, “I know a young woman whose husband beats her when he drinks too much. She desperately needs an older friend who can just listen and be of emotional support. Would you like me to introduce you to her?”

Her smile became a tad strained.

“She lives just around the corner,” I pressed. “Want to come with me now and meet her?”

She took a step back and wrinkled her nose like I made a rude noise and a bad smell.

“I have to be out of town a lot,” she stammered. “I’m not really going to be able to do that.”

And she left. There was no poetic eloquence to explain her sudden reversal. She just got the hell out of my office, which suited me fine.

Okay, I confess that I enjoyed that too much. I got a lot of satisfaction out of piercing through the insulation of her pompous comfortable life.

Satisfaction or not, sometimes it’s my job to pull people out of their comfort zone. If you want to do God’s work, be aware that you’re going to get your hands dirty.

In almost any town, you can walk out your front door and see the houses of people who are going through great difficulties. Some are violent. Some are suicidal. Some have children who are violent or suicidal. Marriages are on the verge of breaking up. Little children hide under their covers and try not to hear their parents fighting. Many are looking at huge bills and tiny checking accounts and just wish they could run away. Family members will have to take turns eating today because there’s not enough food to go around.

One of the gospels tells of Jesus getting sick at his stomach as he looked on people in similar circumstances. Then he challenged his disciples. “They are like sheep without a shepherd. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord that he will send forth workers.”

Perhaps Jesus calls us through the prayers if his first followers. Are we one going to be some of the workers the disciples prayed for? Or will we just try to get out of town?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Like I said...10% of the members doing 90% of the work...

  3. So, how do we find a way to love and minister to people we just don't like?

    'thoughtful piece.


  4. You know, on one hand I am less patient with foolishness. On the other hand, I am a professional and know how to act even if I don't feel like it. And on the one hand, I feel less connected with people; on the other, I am even more committed that people, even the ones I don't like are worthy of respect.

  5. You're like an octopus. A lot of hands.

    So how do you know what part of the bible to incorporate? Didn't J-Dawg get pissed at the money changers in the temple? They were self serving.

    I don't think all people are worthy of respect, but all people are certainly worthy to be treated as a creature that has only one life to live, with no second chances. And a kind word may be the only they've ever received in life.
    My old pastor used to say that we may be the only Bible a person may ever read. Unfortunately, when you're a pastor,(or a pastor's wife) people read more between the lines than they should. That you are above feelings and emotions.
    It sucks that you are held up to a standard that I don't think anyone can really achieve.

  6. "You're like an octopus. A lot of hands."

    My wife used to say the same thing--LOL.

    Don't know how to respond to everything you just said, but I'll take a stab at the question about which part of the Bible to incorperate. If one uses the Bible as a rule book, then he has to pick and choose which rules are relevant. Even if one is a Fundamentalists who swears the Bible is inerrant, he still has to pick rather carefully what he'll adhere to. Well, that's crazy and silly.

    I think we have to look at scriptures differently. We're seeing how people viewed God through the lens of their own culture. I find parts of it fascinating, horrible, beautiful, and yes, inspiring. Somewhere in the words I get a glimpse of a God I'd like to know better, and I'll confess to great disappointment that this God is not nearly so evident as people say he is. I also see something in the words and deeds attributed to Jesus.

    Sifting through all that takes lots of sense and wisdom, there's very little black and white to it. And it requires a great deal of responsibility on our part to decide what is right and good and moral.

    Wouldn't it be nice if things really were black and white. Then again (on the other hand) maybe it would be horrible.

    Enough for now. I always appreciate your support, sistermoons, even if we see things a little differently.