Sleep on This: Shaking in front of the microwave
Good evening, friend!
Most mornings I start my day scrambling two eggs in the microwave. It only takes 55 seconds and produces a surprisingly yummy…and quick…protein shot. But if you decide to try it, be forewarned: it must be carefully monitored lest you blow the whole thing all over the inside of the machine. Trust me… I know!
So, I scrutinize the final 20 seconds very carefully. But here’s what’s weird about my microwave. The window is covered with tiny little black dots. I’m not even sure why they are there. BUT, if I just look straight at the growing blob of eggy delight, I actually cannot see it clearly. Because of the dots. The only way I can REALLY see the whole thing clearly is to move my head from side to side as I watch. I imagine I look like one of those wobbly-headed dogs in the back of a car; if someone saw me doing this they’d think I had palsy.
But if I’m going to get a really clear picture of what is going on inside there, I have to continually and intentionally look at it from all sides. Looking from only one perspective not only doesn’t help me…it can actually end producing quite a mess that I’m left to clean up.
One of the things I have come to realize as I have reflected carefully and prayerfully upon the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest is this: in order to see clearly what is really going on in our nation, I must look at it from more than my one perspective…which is not easy to do when you pastor a predominantly white church in a predominantly white community that is predominantly ignorant about the realities of life as a black American.
This was driven home for me when I considered inviting a black pastor from Tacoma to come and talk to us about what is going on…and realized…I don’t know a black pastor from Tacoma. Not one. I couldn’t have linked arms with an African-American brother in this time of racial upheaval even if I’d wanted to. Which I did.
So, I have decided to remedy that. I have begun to pray for a black pastoral friend. Really! And I have taken the first steps to meet a well-respected black pastor in Tacoma. I’m sure it’s going to feel a little weird; like racial speed-dating. But I don’t know how else to do this…and I’m convinced that I will never see things clearly until I have someone who can help me see the bigger picture.
This weekend and next in our worship services, you will have a chance to see things from a different perspective. You will hear from two of our African-American members as they share a part of their story. And I’m going to preach something that is rising up from the bottom of my soul; a conviction that I feel deeply about one thing we MUST do as a church. The sermon will be a little raw, it won’t have any cute stories…but it might be one of the most important sermons I have preached. I hope you’ll tune in at the premiere so that, together as a body, we might receive God’s word to us in this fiery moment.
Here’s one thing more I ask of you: this Monday, our denomination is calling us to a day of lament, prayer, and fasting. Prayer and fasting we understand. But lament? It is the biblical tradition, right out of the psalms, in which we tell God that we are sad. Our culture tends to medicate sadness away. But the Bible encourages us to embrace it, face it, and lay it before God.
This link will provide you with resources to prepare you for that day. As you will hear me say this Sunday, if the circumstances of our lives right now…a global pandemic, an uncertain future, racial unrest, anarchy in the streets… if THIS won’t drive you to your knees, I’m not sure what will. And if God’s people won’t go to their knees for our poor, broken world, then God help us indeed! So, snap yourself out of your spiritual lethargy and, even if it is awkward, get on your knees with your spouse and family, and join us as we cry out “Mercy” to our great God.
One final thought for you. I began writing Sleep on This on March 17 near the beginning of the “Corona” outbreak. I did it because, at a time of uncertainty and isolation, I wanted my sheep to hear the voice of their earthly shepherd. I hope it has been helpful and I hope you’ve shared it with others. I’m going to take a hiatus for a few weeks as I enjoy being with my daughter who has flown here from North Carolina. In fact, Rachel will be preaching for me in two weeks…and she will BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF.
Anyhow, I won’t be showing up in your inbox every weeknight for a while. I hope you miss me! But I WILL be praying for you every single day, claiming that greatest of Pauline promises from Romans 8:37 ff.
“…. in all… things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, (AND, I WOULD ADD, NOR RACISM, NOR CORONAVIRUS), nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, I pray that you will use my unconscious hours of restoration to clarify my thinking and brighten my vision regarding the things going on about me. Every day, will you help me to see more clearly what it is you are doing through these present crises. Provide new friends that can help me see life from a different perspective and give me the courage to allow my view of reality to be shaken. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.