Thankful Notes (#325)
Today was good and hard. It was good because we got some important things done. It was hard because some of those important things weren’t easy.
We planned for an early staff meeting first thing in the morning with everyone. This Friday is our first Campfire Gathering event, so we had some details to work out and assignments to make. I also shared about my concern/anxiety about our tentative plan to start having indoor in-person services in August with limited numbers.
To be honest, I wish I knew what to do… but I’ve never lived through a global pandemic before and I’m just trying not to kill people via church services.
Being honest isn’t always easy. And saying “I don’t know” isn’t being weak or copping-out.
We also had a staff clean-up day planned because the church playground was overrun with tall weeds and some of the equipment had been broken. Pulling weeds is not exactly hard work but it’s not exactly easy either. We worked hard together and got it done.
The reward was seeing our campus come back to life and no longer look on the edge of apocalyptic… and also, pizza. After sweating and doing a bunch of manual labor, pizza is the perfect reward with its bread and sauce and cheese!
Not long after our pizza reward, the USDA Food Bank delivery arrived, and it was time for all-hands-on-deck to unload and unpack and organize and refrigerate the dairy and produce. Again, this work isn’t terribly hard… it’s just manual labor (and I think it will be one of my happy memories of the pandemic).
I’m an Enneagram #5, which is often called the “Observer” or “Investigator.” Basically, #5’s have a rich and complex interior life and are generally pretty satisfied to live within the safety of their own “mind castle.” This is true for me… I always have a lot going on in my mind and I don’t often feel the need to say much about it.
However, there are a few things I’ve been thinking about and I do feel a compulsion to say something about some of these thoughts I’ve been kneading like dough in my brain. There are three different rounds of dough (thoughts) I’ve been working on and they are not necessarily connected, so I will just share them as individual potential loaves of bread… like a baguette and some ciabatta and some naan.
Here’s a preview: the baguette thought is “I’m happy to be a sheep,” and the ciabatta thought is “nowhere to lay our head,” and the naan thought is “news outlets.”
The “I’m happy to be a sheep” thought comes from my Christian faith and the recent popularity of using “sheep” and “sheeple” as derogatory terms by, weirdly, Christian figures on social media… like, “Don’t be a sheep!” or “Quit being sheeple!” Honestly, I don’t know what they are advocating for (wolves? another predator?). But every time I see sheep used as an insult, I’m insulted because this is exactly my identity as a follower of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. The Lord IS my shepherd. We ARE the sheep of his pasture. His sheep KNOW his voice.
So, this is my baguette: I’m happy to be a sheep. And I will continue to be a sheep. Amen.
The “nowhere to lay our head” thought comes from a Scripture that has always kinda bothered me because the easiest way to understand the Bible is to take everything literally but that’s not actually good interpretive work. Of course not everything can be taken literally.
In Luke 9.58, Jesus replied (to someone who wanted to follow him), “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” But we know Jesus did lay down and sleep. He slept on a pillow in the boat during a storm. In the Gospel of John, it says: Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
In fact, some of the translations say, “Where do you dwell?” or “Where do you live?” Obviously, Jesus had a place (or places) to lay his head. And that’s what has always bothered me about this verse.
However, if we ask what it might mean in a less-than-literal sense, I think it might have an even richer and deeper meaning. Jesus said the “nowhere to lay my head” line to someone who wanted to follow him. I think Jesus could have been letting this person know about the discomfort of following him.
Jesus didn’t fit neatly into all the beliefs and practices and values of the Pharisees. And he didn’t fit neatly into all the beliefs and practices of the Sadducees. Neither party wanted to claim him as theirs. Jesus wasn’t claiming to be on one of their sides either.
He had no place to rest his head. He couldn’t tune out and stop thinking and just wholesale accept a party line.
This makes me wonder if it is possible that some of us (followers of Jesus) are bedding down with a party and their ideology and value system that Jesus wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t, and won’t. If we’re really following Him, we can’t get comfortable with the left or the right. No political candidate is ours, because we have nowhere to lay our head.
That’s my ciabatta. I just can’t cozy up to a party and actively follow Jesus at the same time… it’s either pillow talk with a party or on my feet with Jesus.
The “news outlets” thought is one I probably cannot fully unleash today for lack of time and space. I’m just going to be bold and get right to my thought: anytime I hear the words “mainstream media” uttered, I recoil. It creates so many questions for me. Who defines mainstream? And what is the alternative? Is it conspiracy theorists and obscure podcasts and fringe perspectives?
When I have to go to the doctor, I pretty much want what the mainstream, consensus medical perspective is of the day. I don’t go looking for a fringe practitioner, or worse, someone who has no official or recognized credentials at all. And I don’t go seeking a treatment that was really popular in the days of the wild west, like a bottle of whiskey and a stick to chew on during a surgical procedure.
What I’m saying is this: please, for the love of all things holy and good… please check your sources and be discerning. It seems ridiculous to even mention it, but, “I saw this chart on Facebook” isn’t doing your work.
Whenever I’m tempted to share some spicy article I’ve just read, I slow down for a minute and check the source. What news outlet did it come from? And where does that news outlet fall on the media bias chart? Do they skew right or left or in the center? And are they high on the accuracy ratings or do they rest down in the unreliable / inaccurate / misleading / propaganda bowels of the chart?
If that spicy article didn’t come from an outlet that sits in the center at the top of the chart, I’m not going to propagate it because I don’t want to be like the Anthony Crispino character on SNL.
Anthony Crispino was a recurring character on Saturday Night Live played by Bobby Moynihan. He served as Weekend Update’s “second-hand news” reporter who speaks with a New Jersey accent and usually wrinkles his nose while talking.
He repeats news from unreliable sources, like his cousins and friends. For example, Crispino reported what he had heard about “The Protestants trying to occupy Walgreens because they want 99% off.”
Obviously, his information was just a little bit off. The real story was about protestors occupying Wall Street.
That’s my naan. “News outlets” matter and we should be honest about where our information is coming from. A meme is not news. And, pretty please, check your sources.
Here’s a helpful resource for checking your news outlet’s right/left bias and reliability rating: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart/
On a final note for the day, my bread for dinner was not a baguette or ciabatta or naan… it was Jimmy John’s. Shari picked up our favorite sandwiches and we took my dad out for his first tour of the lake on our floating dock. Some ducks and ducklings followed us around because they thought we were sharing our bread.
“Jesus never intended to change the world through battlefields or voting booths. The kingdom of God does not come by bullets or ballots, but by baptism and bread.” —Brian Zahnd