The 6 Train and the Church

Today we will take the 6 train up to the Bronx to work in the World Vision Storehouse. Yesterday we took the same train up to Harlem to purchase some supplies at Costco’s for our servant evangelism project. On our return trip, I was fascinated by the different passengers that boarded the subway.

The 6 train route runs through the heart of Harlem, down through the upper East side, continuing through the shopping district, midtown, Rockefeller Plaza, Grand Central Terminal and on to City Hall in downtown. There is such an interesting diversity of passengers, from the kids from the hood, to the preps on a field trip, from the Spring breakers to the shoppers, and from the nannies and maids to the executives and young lions headed to the financial district, all traveling together, not only on the same train, but in the same car, side by side. Some are laughing and talking while others quietly read or nap. It all happened together.

This got me to thinking about the church. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all journey together, celebrating the diversity of God’s Kingdom, without feeling the need to divide the passengers into different denominational cars?

zoom-midtown-963

Leaving on a Jet Plane

abu-dhabi-plane-fly-sky

The pilot is on the intercom announcing our cruising altitude when Sally starts rummaging through her seat pocket looking for a barf bag.

“I need a bag, I’m feeling sick,” my wife says. She leans back in her seat. I quickly find a bag in my seat pocket and hand it to her, but she doesn’t take it. A bit perturbed, I nudge Sally’s arm, but she still doesn’t respond. When I look up, I see her ashen face staring blankly into space; her mouth gaped open as if she has suddenly been frightened to death.

“Sally, what’s wrong?” There is no response. She just sits there frozen. My heart is pounding in my ears as I begin yelling her name and patting, no, slapping her face for signs of life.

“Sally, honey! Wake up! Sally!” my mind is frantic. People around us start taking notice that something is terribly wrong. I push the flight attendant button, but no one comes, so I push it again and again, then yelling and waving my arms for help. The feeling of helplessness overwhelms me.

I turn back toward Sally just as she comes to. She looks at me with confusion, wondering why in the world I am in her face. As the flight attendant arrives on the scene, Sally leaves me again. What is going on? Is she having a seizure, is she dying? I fumble for a pulse, but my heart is beating so loudly, it is impossible to tell if it’s her pulse or mine.

Another flight attendant runs up with oxygen, but it isn’t working, so they call for another tank. They place the mask over her nose and mouth, but I keep removing it to see if she’s breathing. Finally, the flight attendant has me move away since I am obviously hindering their efforts to help.

I hear the announcement over the intercom seeking assistance from any medical personnel on board and then I see the angel from five rows up stand up and walk toward us. Her name is Lori and she’s a nurse. She sits down next to Sally and begins checking her vitals. Low blood pressure. Clammy skin.

The flight attendants are discussing the need to divert the plane when Sally finally comes back to us, the color quickly returning to her face, but mine will take more time to recover. I’m pretty sure, I just aged a year or two. She spends the rest of the flight wearing an oxygen mask while I sit and watch her breathe. My heart slowly reboots as I see my love, my life returning in her eyes.

She’s fine now, thanks to God, Nurse Lori and two calm flight attendants. We’re chalking it up to no sleep the night before, not enough hydration and a pattern of fainting spells that occur once every 15 to 20 years.

I write this as she sleeps in bed next to me. She’s breathing and I’m grateful.

Accusatory Living

Photo by purpleslog

Photo by purpleslog

Zealots, eager to take St. Paul’s challenge;
Hunting down heretics,
And wolves in wool blazers,
Suspecting snakes in the baptistry.

Pharisees gobbling down Sunday dinner;
Dining on southern fried preacher
Smothered in peppered gravy,
Serving rhubarb pie a la goad.

Critical analysis, parsing the pastor;
The sermons are too long, too short,
His over-worn necktie
Becomes a hangman’s noose.

Churches filled with Inspectors Javert
Spiritual guard dogs unleashed
Smelling fear, tasting blood,
Unending hunger for dirt.

Where is grace? Where is God?
Where is trust and brotherly love?
Lost in the forest of suspicious minds
Dead is accusatory living.

1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.      Mark 3:1-6