Friday, February 29, 2008

Life’s Worst

Six couples at a baptism workshop on a Sunday afternoon. I take the guys upstairs to talk about the big questions of faith. When they bring their kids to be baptized I ask them to make a statement to the congregation about “Why I am here.”

So far, their confession of faith goes like this “My wife wants me to be here.”
Not exactly the courageous stand that a follower of Christ might make before being torn apart by lions in the Coliseum.
But I like it.
I like the truth of it.
And if you think about it – it says a lot.

The lions of today are far subtler but far more commonly found in the jungles guys walk today. There is an incredible pressure and constant voice that tells guys “Stand alone.” Those voices claim that being a man means standing in defiance of domestic demands. The tenderness of childcare and the quiet noticing of a power and wisdom so much greater than my own are female domains. The pull to keep standing against the wall while the girls dance alone together is very strong – the lions of peer judgment wait crouching to pounce.

So, when I hear “I’m here because of my wife.” it rings in my ears more courageous and true than any national anthem. It is a profound statement about dedication to home and the community that sustains the home and….

I stopped there because I don’t want to start putting words where they aren’t yet formed in hearts.

I found a Statement of Faith this morning in my daily readings from Frederich Buechner’s “Listening to Your Life” entitled “Christian”

“Some think of a Christian as one who necessarily believes certain things. That Jesus was the son of God, say. Or that Mary was a virgin. Or that the Pope is infallible. Or that all other religions are all wrong.

Some think of a Christian as one who necessarily does certain things. Such as going to Church. Getting baptized. Giving up liquor and tobacco. Reading the Bible. Doing a good deed a day.

Some think of a Christian as just a Nice Guy.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). He didn’t say that any particular ethic, doctrine, or religion was the way, the truth, and the life. He said that he was. He didn’t say that it was by believing or doing anything in particular that you could “come to the Father.” He said it was only by him – by living, participating in, being caught up by, the way of life that he embodied, that was his way.
Thus it is possible to be on Christ’s way and with his mark upon you without ever having heard of Christ, and for that reason tobe on your way to god though maybe you don’t even believe in God.

A Christian is one who is on the way, though not necessarily very far along it, and who has at least some dim and half-baked idea of whom to thank.

A Christian isn’t necessarily any nicer than anybody else.
Just better informed. "

I am excited to discover what I believe written down by a guy of a previous generation. It is like finding a gem that I held once in a dream but lost and have been looking for – and there it is!
The freedom that these words express feels like the peeling off of heavy winter coats and sweaters and feeling the sun on bare skin again. We use our church conformities and statements of truth like coats against the harsh cold of evil winds that life blows our way. The harder they blow, the tighter we clutch to their protection.

But Christ is the fire in our bellies that burns all the brighter when we find the courage to face those unjust chaotic winds and like Forrest Gumps’ legless hopeless alcoholic buddy Major Dan - at the top of a Shrimp boat’s mast in a hurricane – screaming in defiance “Is this the best you can do?”

1 comment:

Richard C. Choe said...

Hi Al!
Thank you for the thought provoking articles. :-D
I wish I were in your neighbourhood to be part of the discussion group.
I pray that the "Holy Week" be a meaningful one for you.
Richard C.