Among my many personal crises, I am going through one that will affect you too: the neighbor who so graciously let me pirate off his Internet has taken it down or moved or something, and so I am stuck snatching at what little Wi-Fi faintly penetrates the walls of my brick apartment.
Basically, I might not be blogging as much.
OK. Let me tell you all a little something about me. I like outrageous. I heart absurd. I laugh out loud at random. I cackle at irony. The more lewd it is, the less sense it makes, the more I love it.
(This could explain why my relationships tend to go the way they go, but I promise this post is not about that)
So imagine my sheer delight when I found myself in church this Sunday listening to a pastor who somehow managed to combine the outrageous, the absurd, the ironic and the downright bawdy into a sermon that uplifted my spirits to the point where I found myself reexamining my whole outlook on my life thusfar, and coming out of it feeling like Ricky Bobby–a winner.
It was college day at my church, and the congregation gathered in their college gear, hooting and woofing for their schools and booing rivals within the sanctuary.
We had a guest preacher, a classmate of the current youth and young adult pastor; they’re both working toward their master’s in theology I guess. I was sitting in the choir pews–for the first time in my life, I had been persuaded to face the congregation from the other side of the altar (basically, I’d been asked if I wanted to participate in the college choir).
I knew it would be an interesting sermon when he bowed his head and led the church in a prayer that said, with all the solemnty of a practiced pastor, “Lord, make it do wat it do. Amen.”
…and moved on.
This man did not acknowledge the joke. Just dove headlong into his sermon.
I laughed–I have a knack for bursting into laughter in uncomfortable situations. Everyone looked around, half-laughing, half amazed.
But after that laugh, I was rapt. You have to give a guy who doesn’t pause for the outrageous stuff he says your full attention–or else you’ll be wondering why everyone else is shaking their head in disbelief.
What he talked about though was even more amazing than his raucous delivery though–the message that just because you’re wounded doesn’t mean you won’t end up a winner. Or, as he put it, after preaching about “Mep”, the crippled son of the slain Saul and Johnathan who was restored to honor by King David,
“Just because you lost yo’ stride don’t mean you lost yo swag.”
He talked about how people sometimes get bitter after going through things that weren’t their fault, that they don’t understand, that they have no foreseeable way of fixing or changing. He talked about how it makes people hard inside to be inflicted with these wounds, how it makes them want to quit. How it makes them know nothing better than to bitterly wallow in a dysfunction that happened so early on that it seems normal to them–and he talked about the ways God will fix it, if you just don’t quit or become bitter.
Easier said than done and I’m way oversimplifying it here, but it was amazing. He talked about how, if people could just first open up and understand that they have wounds, and then after if they could show themselves to be trustworthy people when they received their second chance, then their woundedness would prove to be, like everything else in life, just a season–just the long, hard winter that precedes a mild and blooming spring.
It made me think about my life, about how sometimes I sit and get to thinkin bout all the if-thens that I could let make me really angry, sulky, jealous, discouraged, bitter, unmotivated.
Everybody has these ifs that linger, and they range in severity of deed and consequence but they’re all in their own way maddening. But something about how the way this pastor got up in front of the church and pointed out how this crippled man still had some parts workin cuz he got a son,
and then the way he tied that into the real-life story of Wilma Rudolph, a woman who overcame polio to become the first woman to win three gold metals running track in the Olympics (and the last one with a sprained ankle, at that!),
just had me shaking my head, like man. I gotta blog this.