A couple of days ago, I woke up without the alarm and decided to go for a bike ride. While leaving through my backyard, there was a homeless man standing outside the gate. We exchanged smiles and a quick hello. And then I strode off into the world through the crisp morning air. However, lingering in my mind was both doubt and shame. I wasn't sure what was going on other than an uneasy feeling of leaving my family behind while a homeless man is hanging out in the alley next to our house. But I had to trust everything was going to work out, otherwise the shame would have ruined my ride.
I was home about 40 minutes later, and the guy was still there. Again, I began to feel uneasy. This time, it was because I didn't want him to discover my secret way of unlocking the gate (in spite of the fact that it wouldn't take anyone long to figure it out). Instead I engaged him in some conversation, and learned his name was Andre. I learned he was a retired auto mechanic with a drinking and drug problem. He had a wife and some kids in Las Vegas and a daughter who was trying to get him to move in with her in Houston. He couldn't do anything just yet until he finished his AA meetings (he had 23 more to go) for getting busted with a beer in public. He was drinking a beer in public as we spoke. But what I learned about him was what I learned from him. He already knew me because I had given him some bottles in the past. That was last summer! Again, more guilt for not remembering him until he pointed out to me. We;;, we talked and laughed a bit longer, discovering we knew a few common people at the local shelters that I drop food off to. Then out of the blue a l oud crashing sound happens around the corner. A car horn stuck on loud, blasted down the alley way. I rode off to see what happened with Andre, pushing his grocery cart, bringing up the rear.
A car had swerved off the road and hit a parked car and a truck, which had someone inside. The front wheel of the truck had been sheared off the axil and the side door of the car that hit him was nothing more than a metal skeleton. Both men were shaken up, disoriented and bewildered. But while I tended to the men, Andre pulled out some pliers and took care of the car horn. In an effort to show how kindness can play a big part in helping these two strangers resolve their problem, I asked them to introduce themselves to one another. As they did, their anger and fear began to wash away. As they kind of laughed at the weirdness of the situation, I told them "Accidents happen every day, you never know what this one will bring." Perhaps they learned a lesson on human kindness and gentleness in the face of hostility. If anything, I hope it brought them peace in a time when all they could feel was anger and fear. I wonder what could have happened had I not stopped to talk with Andre. Are accidents
Today is Holy Thursday which represents the last day Jesus spent with his 12, breaking bread and sharing wine. At their Passover meal, Jesus revealed that one of his chosen would betray him. He knew who it was, but the others did not. During the meal, Jesus strips off his cloak and tunic, pours water into a basin, and begins to wash the feet of his disciples. Including Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. What I find most interesting is this, that Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him, have him handed over to face a violent death on a Roman cross. Yet still, he stooped at the disciples feet and washed them. He humbled himself before those who should be serving him, and served instead them. In a world of violence such as ours today, in a world where human life is eliminated or marginalized for absurd reasons, what are we called to do? Are we called to retaliate, or vendicate, or judge, or ignore, or demand from others what we think we are entitled to receive? Jesus says to his disciples, whose very dirty feet he was washing, "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you" (John 13:15). Whether or not you believe he is the Son of Man or the Son of God or God or just plainly a man, the example he set is an example to live by. Who are you willing to serve? If it is someone you know, than serve them without any expectations of receiving something in return. If it is a stranger, make sure you serve them with your heart to help bring a little gentle peace into a violent world.
This quarter in school it seems like there is a lot of discussion on culture, what it is, who is part of it, how we are part of it, how the church fits in it, and so on. But after spending the last 22 years working in advertising, observing "culture," studying "trends," and watching the great marketing machine feed the masses their media manna, I ask this: is culture really anything more than just another word for humanity? If so, then by replacing humanity with another word, what do we (and the church) gained or worse, what have we lost? If it is safe to suggest that by calling it "culture" we place the emphasis (and blame) on the individual, do we lose a deeper purpose for the community or humanity as a whole? The church can either accept or reject culture, but can it do the same with humanity?
How we partake in culture is up to the individual, but how we partake in humanity is how we build a world where culture can be enjoyed by all.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”