The Sunday Lesson
On most Sundays, I publish a short [Sunday Lesson]. It’s usually nothing more than an observation or an idea or an application from something I’m studying. I feel deeply blessed and deeply responsible for writing this. I schedule the posts to publish at 1:35. Don’t worry about the time: you can sign up to receive a notification any time I publish something. Just enter your email address into the bar at the top of any screen. I’m up for all comments and try to respond to them all. Be forewarned that I reserve Sundays for my family. It’s a work in progress, but a goal we’re all growing into. So, if I don’t respond, I’m probably playing chess with my daughter or watching lousy TV with my wife. On an outstanding day, I might catch a couple innings of Braves baseball. With my wife, of course. It’s Sunday.
Another story for you to apply as you see fit:
Young Max, our eight-month-old kitten, is all tom and wants only to fight, eat, or get it on. For the good of all females and birds, and for our pocketbook, we keep him inside. We’ve already coughed up a down payment on in 1982 Pinto on belly surgery. We noticed the problem when he ran through the living room with a four-inch red string hanging out of his rear-end. He ate a piece of string, and even from inside his intestines, it was wrapping around and binding him up. Later, he lallygagged, flat and lethargic, until we took him to the vet. Dad chose the heroic route and had him operated on, trading hysterical sobs for hugs. So, we protect our investment.
On most mornings, I drink lots of coffee, and Max sits at the window to the backyard dreaming about fights and sex. At least, that’s what I assume: I’m not privy to his inner workings. He saw something and shook like he wanted outside in a hurry. I went to investigate. It rained the night before, and the backyard was still damp. Our water table here is about three feet deep, which gives fits to swimming pool installers. Birds flourish, though, as any drizzle floods the ground, bringing worms up with the rising tide.
A robin had lit and was spearing wiggling morsels from the lawn, exciting and entertaining Max. I assume he knows nothing of the worm, but the imagined taste of warm robin flesh and the thrill of the chase lights him up. I scratched his head to console him. He purred, and then jumped again when another fat redbreast landed to join the meal. In a few minutes, ten more robins landed in the backyard with cardinals swooping over the melee.
It got me thinking. Well, most things get me thinking, but I started wondering about the importance of community. Okay. It’s a weird comparison, but I’m an evolutionist. I wonder how hard it was for that first bird to land and what courage it took? If Max were outside? No question: it would have been that bird’s last flight. Not so for the other birds: they roosted in safety. Maybe they each had their own moment of bravery somewhere, or maybe they always follow the same leader.
Individuality and Community
In grand American Protestant manner, I’ve always bowed at the altar of individuality. In fact, I was married once before, and my then-wife, a Christian all her life, remembered when she ‘asked Jesus into her heart’ as a three-year-old. There was never a question for her: she was a Christian, and the ethic and truth she’d grown up with were how she lived. For me? I was proud to have sorted out the logic of faith as a teenager – teenagers are so good at logic, you know – and became a Christian on purpose. I still carry that ethos with each decision, choosing what is best for me. I admit it: I’ve done what I want, when I want, and have done it how I wanted to. It was all me. This is how I’ve lived life and Christianity.
During my three-month hospital stay, though, unbeknownst to me, our church was taking care of our home and my family. Friends and family gladly chimed in as needed. You could say that friends and family and the church saved us, but I think it’s more accurate to say that community saved us. It sounds the same but has a different feeling. It goes back to the earliest church, just after Jesus’ ascension, when the disciples lived together and owned all things in common. It was the reasonable next step to the Baptist’s admonition that “If you have two cloaks, give one away.”
It makes me want to swoop in with the robin posse. Maybe it’s pandemic isolation, but I feel out of sorts, unable to see people or be a part of normal activities. I miss my Sunday School and small groups and everyone at work. We are made for and need camaraderie.
By way of explanation, I label myself as an agnostic Christian. I attend a Southern Baptist church and am comfortable with Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology and all kinds of Protestant thought. For Bibles, I generally use the Jerusalem Bible, the English Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible. A favorite verse is Micah 6:8 where the prophet says:
G has already told you what is right and what to do: do what is right, love loyalty, and walk humbly with G.