My dad was a pastor. After serving in World War II, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and then on to seminary. Like other mainline denominations, the Presbyterian Church was in full growth mode back then, and clergy ranked high in polls among the nation’s most trusted and respected professionals.
One day a few years ago, when I realized that my hair was falling out from chemotherapy treatment, I leaned against a wall and sobbed, “This is too much.” In the silence I heard, “Where does my strength come from?” and I heard myself answer, “From the Lord . . . but this is too much!”
Preachers who glance at this Gospel lesson and contemplate the delights
of contracting swine flu just before Sunday could be forgiven, but a
second look reveals an opportunity to teach about Christian community
and behaviors that imperil it.
This past Christmas, I wished for and received a chainsaw. On New Year’s Eve, while I was engaged in a woodworking project, the chainsaw slipped, grabbed my left sleeve, threw me to the ground, and in a matter of seconds dug into my arm, cutting my hand and wrist to the bone for about six inches. I began bleeding profusely. My arm looked like a piece of fresh, badly butchered flank steak.