This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord – Jeremiah 9:23-24
I will be so happy when this election is over. The campaigns are making my stomach churn and hurt. There is so much anger, hatred and fear out there and it’s hard to be inspired by any of it. Or inspired at all. I don’t want to talk about it and, by this time next week, it will be over. Please God. How shall apprentices of Jesus behave in times like these. These are important times. These are life-changing times. All of us want life to be better than it is right now. Violence is erupting everywhere with the promise of more to come. And sometimes a writer who tries to follow Jesus must say something.
An incident that happened yesterday caused me to pause and discover that if you can get people to talk about their fears and truly listen to the desires of their hearts, you might find that even though we are on opposite sides of the political fence, we basically want the same things. We just disagree on how to get there. To listen well, I have to put my fears, anger and even hatred – oh how I wish I didn’t have those – into the hands of Jesus.
Even though this will make Friday Meditation a bit too long, I want to share with you a bit of a meditation by Terry Hershey that I read today.
“Every Christmas I used to go home to west Tennessee. (Fred Craddock tells the story.) An old high school chum of mine, I called him Buck, had a restaurant in town, every year it was the same. I’d go to the restaurant, ‘Merry Christmas Buck,’ I’d say, and he would give me a piece of pie and a cup of coffee for free. Every year it was the same. I went in, ‘Merry Christmas, Buck.’
But this year he said, ‘Let’s go somewhere for coffee.’ ‘What’s the matter? Isn’t this a restaurant?’ He said, ‘Sometimes I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder. Let’s go.’ So we went for coffee. We sat there and pretty soon he said, ‘Did you see the curtain?’I said, ‘Buck, I saw the curtain. I always see the curtain.’
Now what he meant by curtain was this: they have a number of buildings in that little town that are called shotgun buildings (we saw them in New Orleans). They’re long buildings with two entrances, front and back. One is off the street, one is off the alley. In Buck’s restaurant and other restaurants in town, the entrances were separated by a curtain, with a kitchen in the middle. If you were white, you came in off the street. If you were black, you came in off the alley.
He said again, ‘Did you see the curtain? The curtain has to come down.”Good, bring it down.’ He said, ‘That’s easy for you to say. Come into town once a year and tell me how to run my business.’ I said, ‘Okay, then leave it up.’ He said, ‘I can’t leave it up.’ ‘Well then, take it down.’ ‘I can’t take it down.’
After while he said, ‘If I take that curtain down, I lose a lot of my customers. If I leave the curtain up, I lose my soul.’ (Moment of silence)”
So, what to do – I remember that God told me at the beginning of this process to bless both candidates. Have I been good about doing this? Um, not consistently, but I have a few more days. In addition, I need to add blessings for those with whom I disagree and who disagree with me. That is one thing that a follower and apprentice of Jesus can do. Another is to set aside my own fears and listen well. I might bring some light into the darkness and the curtains might start to come down and the love of Jesus begin to shine.