Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is there a doctor in the house? (Part 3: Smarties)

We need to see each other as Smarties. 
At one of my monthly meetings with my spiritual director, I told Therese about someone who was putting me under pressure. Therese said, that’s not really her that makes you feel that way; that’s her shell. Her inside loves and accepts you. But we’ve all got hard shells we put around ourselves for protection, and it’s those shells that want to control others so we’ll feel safe.

I said, you’re making me think of a Smartie. I like the idea that everyone in my life has a chocolaty centre!

Therese said, It’s the soft insides that Jesus sees. That’s what we need to look for in each other too. Look past the hard shells that keep knocking against each other and look to the centre. Eventually we’ll all lose our shells anyway: either by allowing the Spirit to open them, or by become too weak to hold the shells on. 

What does inclusion look like?

Here’s an example from the Hobbit. The wizard Gandolf, 13 dwarves, and the small hobbit Bilbo are on a quest to recover the dwarf kingdom from the dragon Smaug. The dwarves are unsure of timid Bilbo’s worth and usefulness, holding him at arms’ length. Just before this scene, during an attack by Orcs, Bilbo protected the dwarf king Thorin, and the company, including an unconscious Thorin, have been rescued by giant eagles.      

Thorin wakes and tells Bilbo: “What were you doing? You could’ve gotten yourself killed. Did I not say you would be a burden? You would not survive in the wild? That you had no place amongst us? I’ve never been so wrong in all my life.”

At the same Hope Centre conference where I heard about the puzzle pieces, I met worship leader Brian Doerksen. We sing many of his songs in my church, including "Faithful one" and "Refiner's fire." He was there not first of all as a song leader, but as a dad of two sons with Fragile X. He said his greatest need in the church was for people to see his boys. Parents of children with disabilities tell me over and over “We feel so invisible.” Jesus saw and spoke up for and ate with the tax collectors and sinners as a sign of acceptance. 

In our story, Jesus the doctor is healing not only individuals, but a fractured community. He’s piecing us together into a multi-coloured puzzle, calling men and women to arise and follow in a new resurrection life, to become his assisting physicians, in recovery together, to be a community that looks past hard shells to sweetness within, to welcome others to the table.

RESPONSIVE READING  by Lynell Bergen (Hope Centre)
Lord, we come to you today with gifts and challenges.  We are a diverse group, but we can all agree:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some us of struggle with the realities of aging:  ears and eyes, knees and hands that don’t work as well as they used to.  But some things stay the same:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some of us can’t keep up with reading the PowerPoint, or with all the words in the sermon.  But we do understand:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some of us live with depression or other mental health challenges.  It can be hard to believe:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some of us are strong and independent.  We assume our hard work earns:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some of us are made fearful or anxious by crowds or noises.  Can you say it quietly:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Some of us can’t speak.  But we can hold up our hands to say:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
Weak or strong, worried or self-assured, lonely or cared-for, we all need to experience Jesus’ love through others around us.  So let’s say it together:
                Jesus loves me, this I know.
                Jesus loves us, this we know.
Thanks be to God.