Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Slowing Down

It certainly wasn't the boldest and most prophetic act to preach on slowing down on the second Sunday in July, but since my colleague Brad Clark had preached on showing up the previous Sunday, it seemed the right thing to do. The sermon wasn't only about slowing down, but about what we can get to do when we refuse to make hasty decisions. We get to ask an important question. Not "What would Jesus do?" but "What does Jesus want me to do?"

Of course we can never answer either question with absolute certainty, but we ought to be able to make a humble attempt at discerning what out faith requires of us in the many decisions we make every day, and, having discerned, act. Not only is there a chance that if we don't act no one else will, but there is the much more likely consequence of inaction, a missed opportunity to share in God's transforming work in the world.

Several years ago a parishioner asked me to help him discern whether or not he had done the right thing during an encounter in a supermarket. He had been in the checkout line and the customer in front of him was giving the young lady at the cash register a very hard time. The young lady was being very patient with the customer, but my parishioner could see that it was upsetting her. When it was his turn to check out with his cans of cat food, he asked the young lady, "Would you please gift wrap them?" For a moment the young lady looked confused, maybe even angry, and then she broke into a broad smile.

What does Jesus want us to do "to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us?" The Swiss philosopher Henri Amiel urges us to "be quick to love and make haste to be kind" and, I would add, be always ready to forgive.

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