Beth and I went to a small church a couple hundred yards from our home this morning. Even though we’ve been in our house for almost 3 years we hadn’t visited and thought it’s about time. It is an old church complete with white wooden siding on the outside and wooden pews along with an altar rail on the inside.
The people who met us were nice and inviting. One woman was “too inviting” as she forced a hug from me, a notorious non-hugger. We settled in our pew and waited for the service to begin. As a one-time pastor of a small church I’ve witnessed what folks do when they spot someone new; descend on them like kids on ice cream. They kept coming, shaking our hands, telling us they were glad we had visited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the service began and everyone found their seat. I whispered to Beth; “We should’ve arrived late so as not to attract so much attention!”
The service was loose and unorganized. There was no doubt these families had worshipped a long time together and knew each other well. After the singing, prayers, a kids moment, and offering the pastor stood behind a big pulpit and began to preach. As he did a woman stood up who was sitting in the front pew, holding a basket and began to go to everyone and offer them something. When she got to us I noticed it was candy. She offered me a piece, I took it and she moved on making sure everyone had a piece before sitting back down.
I had never experienced a church doing that before. Was it distracting? A bit. Was it necessary? No. Was it nice to have a piece of candy while listening to the preacher? Certainly. It was a fresh way to feel united with a bunch of strangers. It almost made up for the hugger!…almost.
The last several days have been tense! Words of threats, warnings, retaliations, and war are being thrown back and forth between leaders of nations who are acting like petulant children. It worries me but angers me more. Both men seem to think it’s a game and forget the millions of lives which would be impacted, endangered, and ended if this fiasco goes further.
I wonder how leaders can become so distant from the people they represent? It isn’t just dictators and presidents but people in businesses, families, churches, and organizations in all shapes and sizes. The penetration of power into our spirits seem to corrupt whoever tries to yield it. It is why all wisdom leaders flee from power over people. They understand the grip and the destruction which can be wrought by good men turned and twisted by power and its propensity for evil.
I hope one of the two “leaders” will take a step back and take a deep breath. I pray they think of the people and not their egos. I want to see humility, not hubris. I’d like to be surprised by one of these men showing wisdom.
Maybe a Mexican!
Earlier this week I was in a store looking at shirts for summer. As I perused a middle-aged white woman walked up to me with a shirt in her hand and blurted out; “Isn’t this the ugliest shirt you’ve ever seen? Who would wear it? Nobody I know. Maybe a Mexican.” She laughed, I grimaced, forced a smile and choked back the question; “You’re a Donald Trump supporter aren’t you?” Instead I moved on, saddened by her attitude and aggression.
Too often people associate the unsightly, problematic, ills and woes of our families, communities and societies with certain races, religions, sexes and ages. Our biases and judgments automatically see the worst in others and the ugliness in ourselves stops us from beholding the beauty that exists in us all.