28 Nov 2009
The door to my office exploded as hundreds, at least it seemed that many to me, of children surrounded my desk. My defenses were down and the merry mob held me captive. Wisely, I decided to surrender and throw myself on the mercy of the gang.
Simultaneously, and in hi-fi stereophonic sound, the children assaulted me with questions.
"Pastor, what's ya doin'?
"Pastor, is that your computer?
"Pastor, who's that in the picture?
"Pastor, why? ... why? ... why?
As soon as I answered one question, three more emerged and it seemed as though the supply was endless. Should the little crowd run out of questions, they could always begin all over again. Moreover, I believe they did — several times.
Admittedly, to hear and answer each question would have required a Moses-proportion miracle of parting the Red Sea. I chuckled to myself when I realized they did not need me, or even want me to answer all their questions, as strange as it seemed. The little pack really wanted to know if I had an ear for them. And I did — two, as a matter of fact.
We see the tragedy of life in the fact that as people grow older they seem to lose their sense of inquiry. Answers replace questions. My friend used to say, "Beware of the person who has more answers than questions. Life must truly be a bore to them. I know they're a bore to me."
I think he knew what he was talking about. No person is poorer than the man who has ceased approaching life with a question. Or, better yet, the man who has an answer for everything. The man who has all the answers has not heard all the questions, yet.
Throughout the years, I have been plagued with many questions. Theologians have an overwhelming desire to explain everything and put everything into a nice, neat little package. The less they know, it seems, the more dogmatic they are on what they know.
Questions are an essential ingredient of life. During my short career as a human being, and it has been a full-time job, I have pondered many questions.
Questions such as:
"Can God make a rock so big He can't lift it?"
"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"
Some questions seem to be silly and do not deserve an answer. A question, as I see it, requires an answer, and answers lead inevitably to choosing.
I do not know about other people, but choosing is a little difficult with me. When I choose something, it means I must forfeit the other.
The discouraging aspect of this whole mess is, it usually boils down to an either/or kind of situation. Either I choose the one, or I must choose the other. I much rather prefer both, if there is really a choice about the matter.
This week at Thanksgiving, it all came to a head — mine. The culprit behind the whole issue was none other than the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Just when I think I have my beloved all figured out, I am forced to go back to the drawing board and start all over.
My wife, knowing my addiction to theology, posed a query to me. The difficulty expressed itself in a three-fold choice. I still am a little confused about the whole thing, but somehow I maneuvered through the theological quagmire.
The Master Chef at the parsonage put it to me like this; which do you prefer? A pre-Thanksgiving turkey, a mid-Thanksgiving turkey or a post-Thanksgiving turkey?
To me there was a slice of truth in all three, which is why I staggered at the predicament.
What do I really know about things like this? As far as I was concerned, a turkey is a turkey is a turkey. Moreover, a turkey by any other name is still good eating at Thanksgiving dinner.
My nutritional philosophy is rather simple — do not confuse me with options. Just set the blessed thing before me, give me a fork and let me go.
Unlike other years, this year a shortage of turkey threatened our little domicile and my wife was not sure there would be enough to go around. For this reason, she suggested I, who bought the turkey in the first place, should choose.
This is the basic difference between the sexes. Women love to plan the meals ahead of time and in microscopic detail. Men just love to eat those meals without the necessity of any noodle-work.
The biblical adage is my motto: "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46 KJV.)
My theological mindset notwithstanding, my life companion insisted I choose between roast turkey and turkey salad sandwiches. What a choice.
There are other choices in life far more serious.
Joshua, in the Old Testament, understood this and challenged the people of his day.
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15 KJV).
I'm with Joshua on this one.
Rev. James L. Snyder