I’m learning a lot about healthcare these days — no, not the healthcare insurance everyone’s fighting over — this is actually about the process of caring for someone’s health. I have stepped in numerous times while the one who was giving care is down with a fracture. One is bedridden, the other is in and out of bed into a wheelchair. Some of this is part of the job of being a pastor, some of it we may all be called to do for someone at some time.
In the last two days, I have experienced, twice, the benefits of my wife’s good advice. Wednesday night we discovered what it’s like to send the old man out the back door in order to welcome the new one in the front. That is something Marti recommends often in her counseling, and it has had a significant impact on a number of relationships, ours included.
Something else Marti recommends is that couples carry out a tradition of Date Night — a regular time to be together and go out and do something fun — something that interrupts the demands of daily life and reminds you why you are together. She recommends you put it on the calendar or you will put it off, and if you have to buy tickets to an event in advance, all the better, because it will force you to go. Last night we were “forced” to go enjoy a local theater version of the musical, Hairspray that Marti purchased tickets for a few weeks ago. Hairspray was a 1988 movie that was made into a Broadway musical in 2002 and won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2003. In 2007, a new version of the movie was released starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah and Zach Efron.
Somehow we missed all those versions of this very high energy show, so we were highly entertained by the story and the music we were enjoying for the first time. Hairspray, set in Baltimore in 1962, is the story of an overweight “pleasantly plump” teenager, Tracy Turnblad who pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and ends up rallying against racial segregation. It’s a totally fun and entertaining show that surprisingly showcases higher values of respect, worth and anti-discrimination — all things that Jesus cares about.
Themes of anti-bullying, equality, and making a difference in the world run throughout this show, and we have to remember, there doesn’t have to be a spiritual message to justify every experience. There is much to appreciate in the world if we would just look for what we know Jesus cares about.
Last night I walked out the back door of my house and came in the front door a different man, thanks to the generosity and faith of my wife and Grace Turned Outward. Here at the Catch, we talk a lot about Grace Turned Outward in our dealings with the world, but this is when you really experience its direct effect in a relationship.
Relationships are only possible when we give each other a break. No relationship can survive without repeated forgiveness and another chance. We are creatures of habit and some of those habits are bad. The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons and will perpetuate themselves without an awareness and an attempt to change.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free … But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1,13-14
The Fourth of July is all about freedom and independence. But the Fifth of July is even more important. The Fifth of July is when we find out what that freedom is for.
Independence is not an end in itself. Freedom is not autonomous. It does not stand alone. Freedom’s fulfillment is not in creating an environment where everyone can do as they please, but in setting people free to serve something higher than self.
Those of our Catch community in America are going to be seeing a lot of red, white and blue in the next couple days. Since, as followers of Jesus, we are members of two kingdoms, and since a brief study of the origins of those colors and what they mean in the history of the nation is largely ambiguous, I’m going to take the liberty to take the colors in our national symbol and give them significance in the kingdom of God. This is not necessarily right or biblical, but simply a way to think about our faith in light of all the red, white and blue we’ll see in the next two days.
Christmas in June actually stands a chance of meaning what Christmas is really all about. Not that I think all of Christmas is hype or phony, but I think just about everyone would agree that Christmas is more than chestnuts roasting on an open fire or Jack Frost nipping at your nose. And in June you might stand the chance of finding out what that is because the things that can distract you just aren’t there like all the shopping and the lights and the music and the ice skating and the expectations and the traditions and the snow (real or fake). What you’re left with is the fact that God is here. Emmanuel. That’s truly Christmas. Christ came, accomplished His Father’s perfect will, saved us, and enlisted us in His service for what He wants to do in the world. Merry Christmas.
A couple weeks ago, on Father’s Day, my oldest son and I attended a Los Angeles Angels game at Anaheim Stadium. They were playing the Kansas City Royals and they lost. That didn’t really matter since it was an opportunity for the only two living dads in our family to hang out together. I wrote about that experience the next day — some reflexions about three Kansas City fans who were sitting behind me. That Catch ended with “You can learn from the past; you just can’t go live there.” Which is a little ironic since that is what I want to do today for a minute. We’re going to relive Christmas in June.
I am not pleased when I realize how often I forget that prayer is a viable option. Sometimes it’s the last thing I think of. Sometimes I never think of it. And by this I don’t mean my own personal prayer in which I am undernourished as well, I am thinking of corporate prayer — the knowledge that there are people I can pray for and people praying for me, or even people available waiting to pray for me. Am I doing anything about that? Are you? Am I just complaining about the world and my situation in it, or am I doing something about it? Prayer is doing something about it.