Our little guy is obsessed with symbols these days, especially numbers. It's amazing to me that interest in symbols could begin so soon. I know there's no higher math going on in there yet, but he does count. He IS the Count!
Daniel Handler (of Lemony Snicket fame) has a funny and perceptive piece in this weeks' New York Times Magazine about wealth, charity and one of my favorite websites, the Global Rich List, which allows you to find out just where you stand on a global scale. Handler, who knows he has a lot of money, ably demonstrates what we all know about human nature, that no matter how much you know you have, it's always easy to pass the buck to those "other people" who have more than you do, and assume they'll do the heavy lifting for whatever cause you're presented with.
This is of course on my mind because our congregation is getting ready to do a feasibilty study for a potential capital fund campaign. It's amazing how quickly, faced with a potentially big fundraising effort, people quickly lapse into the reasons why THEY can't be the ones to give much. The model of scarcity reigns in our country, even among the very comfortable, in part because we know, we always know, that someone out there is doing better than we are.
But of course, comparison is never the point. The point, which I think Handler gets, is that generosity is about what I need to give, not anyone else.
Thanks to Will for sending me this (satrirical) rant about amateurism, and how a consumer economy encourages everyone to leave everything (except work) to the experts. I particularly liked the part about children's play. Seems that adults are suffering from the same lack of play, and his point is that politics does too.
I can never get it in my head that Father's Day is the THIRD sunday, not the second like Mother's Day. So in preparing yesterday's sermon I gave a modest nod to parenthood before I realized it wasn't Father's Day. That's fine. It fit anyway.
Here's the end of the sermon, on Galatians and Paul's witness to how he gained his life by losing it:
I look at pictures of my parents when I was born and am completely awed at how young they look. The reality of parenthood is that you lose as your child gains. Your physical prowess slowly declines as they grow bigger, stronger, faster. Your knowledge of things like geometry and cell biology fades as they learn these things. Your memory gets less reliable as theirs gets more so. I used to think that my parents grey hairs were merely accidental, their heads just happened to get greyer as I got older – now I’m not so sure there wasn’t some correlation.
But perhaps that is indeed exactly how agape works – love is poured out on the other, transferred from the lover to the beloved. And the miracle is, that love never runs out.
That is the real miracle of resurrection, the miracle that life and love are given away, and yet never run out.
I suspect that if we were to interview each one of you, we would find evidence of this love in your stories. If we could get past the voices that say that our stories don’t matter, get past the worry that someone will think we’re a religious nut if we name Jesus, we would discover that the real worth of our lives, the real pricelessness of God in our lives, is a lot like Paul’s, which means it is a lot like Christ’s.
The worth is in the stuff that is hidden, and baffling to the world, and turns the world upside down – like why a respected financial analyst would get up every Sunday morning and sit in a chair waaaay to small and play guitar for 3 year olds, and why busy professionals and parents whose lives are already too full would give over every Wednesday night to sharing faith and pizza with middle schoolers, and why people who could just as easily sleep a little longer get up earlier on Sundays to drive someone to church who can’t drive themselves.
It’s the miracle that in a culture that will always, always present you with more stuff you can get for yourself, hundreds of people here give away for the sake of community, for the sake of others.
It’s the miracle that after spending all week on matters where we are being graded and evaluated, chasing wins and profits and customer approval, in this one time of the week when no one is keeping track, anyone shows up here on Sunday morning at all.
That is the miracle of resurrection, the miracle of God’s love.
You are part of God's resurrections story. Tell someone. It’s the only way the gospel has ever spread.
Just to complete our sweep of "things that can go wrong when Dad is out of town," Johannes and I spent the second half of Sunday morning in the ER, getting a gash on the back of his head stitched up. It was a classic parenting event. One moment, he's on the chair at coffee hour in the fellowship hall, I'm right behind him talking to a member, and the next moment he's on the floor, having fallen, all fours in the air, into another chair just so that his head hit a metal edge. Not a long fall. Just a fast, bloody one.
What scared me at the time was that Johannes, who usually cries hard for 30 seconds and then moves on to the next adventure, was inconsolable for a good 10 minutes. When we finally did get him calmed down, we figured out that he was distressed not so much from the open wound on his noggin but because the crackers he'd been clinging to had broken in the fall -- which is of course why he fell so hard. Better to take it in the head than lose the beloved crackers.
Will and I used to have this joke that whenever he left town for work, it would snow. The "best" weather (and in his mind, bad is good) always happens after he's gotten on the plane and flown some place mild and boring.
This week seems to be a different kind of Will effect:
A massive bough fell from our elm tree during the night and took out a neighbor's phone line.
We got said bough and phone line taken care of by the end of Wednesday, but then our own phone line mysteriously stopped working later in the day.
Said phone line finally started working again just as I learned I was expected at a meeting I could no longer attend because I was stuck at home with no babysitter (longer story here, but the whole thing would have been easier if Will were home and I could just pop over to church).
I spent 12 hours or so at synod assembly today, which was 70 miles away (and therefore not IN the synod) and required getting 2 babysitters to cover what would normally be my day off.
A mere 10 minutes from home I got a flat tire, inconveniencing not just me but said babysitter who had somewhere else to go and the person who was carpooling with me from St. Peter
All in all, I'm doing OK with all this. I just can't wait for Will to come home.