A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Driving Miss Daisy

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

I have heard of driving Miss Daisy,
but  driving Miss Crazy???

A friend’s mother was moving
and needed help loading and transporting
her furniture and household supplies.

Two things concerned me immediately……..
it was raining, 
and with the exception of two other people,
everyone else involved with the move was substantially older.

I inwardly accepted that I was going to get soaked,
and when it came time to
move a sofa up a flight of steps,
it was going to be me, and not Mary, providing the muscle.

Mary was a friend of the woman we were helping..
She had brought her Suburban van to help transport goods.
When it came time to make the drive to the new home,
she insisted that I drive her vehicle.
She didn’t feel comfortable driving  the van when it was loaded.

I was going to have 40 minutes of uninterrupted time to get to know Mary.

I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers,” she said.
Oh” I said.

“You’ve never heard that before?”
That’s from Arsenic and Old Lace.
I can’t believe that you’ve never heard that before. Fiddle-dee-dee
What a great picture!”

I’m not sure if it was the reference to a movie that was 70 years old,
the “fiddle-dee-dee,” 
or that she referred to a movie as a “picture” that concerned me the most about the next 40 minutes.

“Now turn the wipers on” she said as I started the van.
I suppose she thought the downpour wasn’t enough of a clue for me.

“Don’t lose sight of the moving truck.
We don’t want to get  lost.
I am not familiar with these parts.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I put the address into my smart phone.
It will tell us how to get there  if we get separated,” I said.

“I don’t like those things. Too complicated.
I liked the days when you called the operator,
and she would help you with what you needed.”

The better part of restraint suggested that
explaining Siri to Mary might not be wise.

Are the lights on? Make sure the lights are on.
Such a dreary day.”

“Would you like some coffee?”
she said as she pulled out a thermos.
“I percolated it this morning.”

I think that was the first time I had heard about percolated coffee
since my grandmother died………….twenty years ago.

Turn right onto Route 851 West”  Siri said.

When I was your age, we had party lines,” Mary said.
None of this talking to strange people.”

Are the lights on?”

At the risking of talking to a strange person,
I quickly said, “yes, Mary.”

During the next 35 minutes,
I learned that vacuum cleaners cost $39 when Mary was a child
(as low as $34 if one used green stamps),
that Saturday evenings were reserved for radio shows,
that Gary Cooper was the best thing since sliced bread,
that Elvis started this country on the road to hell,
and the worst thing about World War II is that woman joined the workforce.

There are many things that cause us to view life differently……
Gender, age, culture to name a few.
During those 40 minutes, I learned a lot about how Mary 
saw the world, saw life, and saw faith.

As Christians, we have a great challenge
in sharing the gospel with a world 
that increasingly sees and hears things differently than we do.
Does that change the story? 
No, but it might change how we express it.
Our method has been changing for the past 2000 years.
The New Testament epistles are filled with episodes where
the faith had to be defined in new ways as it encountered a diverse and reluctant world.

When in Athens, Paul spread the news of the gospel
by starting with what the Athenians understood.
Eventually, the unknown God became known.  (Acts 17:16-34)

In England, John Wesley spread the gospel in a way the church could not,
to the poor and marginalized,
to those who had every reason to feel God had passed them by.

In  21st century America,
we live in a time of post-Christendom,
where we no longer can claim that our nation is Christian,
and that many other religions dwell in our midst,
as do less defined movements of “spirituality.”

So what are we to do?
What others have done before us.
Find what is common and start from there.
Eventually, that takes us to what is distinctively different about us….

that the tomb was empty.

Our God holds full authority over death
and promises that resurrection is not only for God, but also for His children.

As the day of Easter fades into last month’s calendar,
let the spirit of Easter live with each of us daily
so that we can share it with a world who has yet to believe
that a tomb marked “occupied”
can indeed be empty.

Mary thanked me for driving.
As she got out of the van she said,
You are one good egg.”

I looked at her and said,
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a @%#!”        *

She smiled and said,
Now make sure those lights are off!”
I think we finally connected.

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone,
I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach
a wide range of people:
religious, non-religious, meticulous moralists,
loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized-whoever.
I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ-
but I encountered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.
I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.
                                                             I Corinthians 9:19-22   (The Message)

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