#changetheconversation

I just came in from my morning walk.

My devotions led me to this.

We got back from our most recent trip to Haiti about eight hours ago. I, and three very humble, gifted, generous, funny, faithful friends had a full day of travel and retrospection. As is true after pretty much every trip the conversations kept steering to what could we do to “fix Haiti.” We didn’t use those words but that is the bottom line.

There are many responses rolling in your mind right now.

“Heal thyself” might well be one of them.

I digress.

By “fix” we are pretty much skipping over some of the greater truth to chase an economic solution.

Economic change is greatly needed there.

That’s exactly the thing we cannot fix.

To dwell on that is to come to a level of frustration that leads to spiritual stagnation that leads to defeat.

There is a line in a Book I read fairly regularly that says “the One who began a good work in you will see it to completion…”

We aren’t called to finish the job. We don’t even have a good grasp of what the beautiful result should look like. We are simply called to be participants in the project.

If we lose sight of this we also lose sight of something very sweet.

The good work is exactly that.

We can’t fix Haiti (or Anderson for that matter) but there are over 600 children going to school through the work that was begun in us. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti (or Washington for that matter) but there is a young woman with new clothes going to college. New clothes and college weren’t even an option, not even a dream. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti (or even change one hair on my head) but there is a very bright young man who is back in classical (secondary) school who’d dropped out because he didn’t have the $250 for the annual tuition. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti but I also can’t get the image out of my head of several people leaving our outdoor woodworking area with chairs, tables, stools, and HUGE smiles. That means something.

We can’t fix Haiti but there is a freshly painted building with new pews to sit on where people gather to praise and draw strength and find hope in a place where these things are as essential as air and food. That means something.

I can’t fix Haiti but I can believe in a Friend who is in the process of doing that very thing - and fixing me in the process.

I got to the church building here in Rogersville about 11 last night. I checked my messages and mail. There was a note from a sweet lady who had a serious injury and several surgeries last year. She had no money for food - or for Christmas gifts for her children. You gave generously to her. The note she sent included the words “you have no idea how much that meant to us.”

She’s right.

As our Friend and I were winding up a fairly brief stroll this morning I felt compelled to confess the part of my life that wants to see everything fixed. He smiled at me the way he does and said…

“I prefer to look at the fixers.”

Your move.

Brother Pat

#changetheconversation

I just came in from my morning walk.

My devotions led me to this.

Perhaps a pastor friend or two can relate.

It was a disaster and I was in the middle of it.

I knew it was happening but somehow couldn’t alter the course.

It was Trinity Sunday last and I had prepared my sermon as usual. Maybe better than usual.

I haven’t been able to see well enough to read for quite some time so I don’t have a text and seldom do I have notes. The folks who attend both of our Sunday morning services can attest that the sermons are the same.

Normally.

Trinity Sunday not so much.

At MSLB I didn’t feel well, things distracted me that normally I convert to an emphasis, I got started in the middle (don’t ask me why), I fumbled my illustrations and missed my points, and I could not for the life of me get it back. In all the annals of sermons preached there has never occurred such stumbling, mumbling, and bumbling.

The ending was painful for me but surely an enormous relief for the beautiful and long suffering folks who had gathered.

Only the strong of heart and faith among them will return next week.

I kicked myself for an hour, indulged in a goodly bit of self pity, then faced the largest and most attentive crowd we’ve had at the 11 o’clock since pre pandemic.

It certainly wasn’t the greatest sermon ever preached but at least it was the sermon I intended to preach.

In the hour between the close of the MSLB and the beginning of the 11 o’clock, besides a butt kicking, I didn’t review my notes and I didn’t write my resignation letter.

I sat outside in the sunshine, listened to a mockingbird sing an aria, sipped a cup of coffee, watched the cars streaming into the parking lot, saw the saints hugging and greeting one another, smelled the fresh breeze, came to terms with something past I cannot change…

And prayed.

As our Friend and I walked a memorable hike we were talking about disastrous sermons and dramatic reversals. He smiled at me the way he does before his words from Sunday at 10:59 a.m. echoed…

“We got this.”

Your move.

Brother Pat

Posted 9 weeks ago