From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

Hi everyone,

Well, this week certainly looks better than last week. The sky is clear, there are no moths on my windows, and the kids have gotten back into the swing of things at school (or maybe “back” isn’t the right word as things are pretty different… but it’s still school). We are starting to get into a routine of dropping the kids off and picking them up, and they have gotten into the routine of waking up well before the 5 minutes before we have to leave (like they did all summer… all 6 months of it).

There was a mishap though one of the mornings when we were rushing to the car, I was loading their bags into the trunk and as I turned toward the car, one of them opened the sliding door on the side of the car and smacked me in the face. Pretty hard too. I was afraid there would be a mark or a lump or something, but I guess my skin is more resilient than I thought (or it actually didn’t hit that hard and I’m just feeble because it really hurt). And I’ll admit that a certain 4-lettered expletive escaped my lips (because it really hurt) and the perpetrator of the mistimed door opening felt really bad and was on the verge of tears.

Although I kept reassuring them that I was fine and that I knew it was an accident, it took a while for those tears to subside and it actually took a dumb fart joke to get them to start laughing again (to be clear, the joke didn’t come from me, but from another of the journey-mates on the way to school).

But I have to be careful when to let out those 4-lettered expletives, as while to me they seem harmless (and frankly helpful as yelling out seems to ease the pain… you know what I’m talking about), to a child rushing to school it could mean a lot more and be understood in a way that it was never intended (in that particular moment, anyway). That, or I should drop those bombs more often so they get used to it and understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m angry at them or they did something horrible.

Sigh, a kid’s mind sure is difficult to please.

Here are the readings for next week:
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

Now, I’m not saying that God swears when we make mistakes or inadvertently do something to hurt God (that I know of, at least), but I am saying that sometimes God does things that we don’t understand or fit into the mold that we think God should fit into. Sometimes things happen that leave us scratching our heads or maybe even angry that God could be so unfair. Sometimes we see things and automatically assume that it can’t be God because God would never do such a thing.

Well, the problem with this mentality is that we aren’t God. So it would be borderline arrogant of us to presume to know what God wants to do or is doing, especially when our only way of gauging it is our own opinions and feelings of how God should be (to our benefit). This kind of misunderstanding isn’t uncommon (probably more common than double negatives). In fact, I think many people (pastors included) would use this as a basis of interpreting much of what God says, does, and is in our world today.

But a good way I think to gauge to see what God is doing in the world is to find how God’s character is being revealed. The Psalm for this week gives us a glimpse of that character. It tells us that God is compassionate and loving, welcoming and forgiving, good and gracious. So when things seem unfair, is it because it’s unfair for us? Or is it actually welcoming of all people and so it only seems unfair for us in our privilege? When things seem too different from how we knew them, is it wrong because we’re uncomfortable with the change? Or is it actually something that needed to be changed that all people could more clearly see the love and grace of God? Or when we feel like God is angry with us because many something happened to us that looked like a punishment, is it because we feel like we shouldn’t be punished (or tested)? Or are we given the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and allowed the opportunity to accept God’s forgiveness?

Life is full of ups and downs and we sometimes like to attribute things to God that we really shouldn’t, and perhaps not attribute things to God that we really should. I think the important thing is to remember that God is about love, about grace, and about mercy and forgiveness. That is always a good place to start when we want to see God in the world.

Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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