“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart….No one who believes in him will be put to shame. …. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved…..So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” –Romans 108b-18
A few days ago many in the church around the world celebrated Andrew, the one who introduced his brother Simon Peter to Christ. We all know of the principal relationship Christ had with Peter in building the church. Andrew is most often remembered for his wanting to place his own fingers in the wounds of the risen Lord. Many think it was his personal doubt that caused the quest for proof. I wonder. Did Andrew do that for himself….or did he do that for you and me?
Last week I shared with you how much I enjoy Thanksgiving. It’s simpler and less complex. Advent runs a close 2nd in my book. We get to look for the One Great Hope. We get to imagine the possibilities with Christ among us. This is also the time of year when we read lessons from the Gospels about “end times.” Have you ever thought about how we can make the “end times” happen ourselves? I don’t think predicting global thermonuclear war due to the rants and actions of dictators is the answer. Rather I feel it is in our speaking in real time, in first person with others about, to and of the Christ we know. That’s the answer. Sometimes it is as bold as literally praying with a hurting soul. At other times it is in sharing the milk of human kindness.
I remember the absolute despair a friend and colleague had over the horrific auto accident his mother fell victim to, the half dozen surgeries over several days and the end result of her being bound to a wheelchair with one eye looking one direction while the other looked the opposite counting on her breath in a straw to move her wheelchair. The air in our office was so thick with grief you could taste it. One morning I walked into his office and asked could I pray with him. The reply was immediate: “Please. This is just killing me.” I don’t know what I said or how long it took. What I do know is it was probably with good sentence structure (being the child of an English major), and that when we were done both our eyes were leaking. He said he would never forget that moment and thanked me again for the peace it gave him.
About two weeks ago I ran into this friend at the hardware store. I miss this guy. We hadn’t seen one another in about two years. Neither of us smelled so good as we’d both been working outside, but oh how sweet the moment was. Yes, perhaps it’s true “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news” even in the midst of grief. I think we have multiple chances to declare the “end times” when we “get our Andrew out” and point the way among our own doubts and despair.
As Paul writes in this epistle, we can preach the good news where ever we are by living the Gospel in the here and now. Those kind of “end times” lead to “happy feet” indeed.
Tending the vineyard,