Pastoral Ponderings June 2014

Dear God,

     I was thinking of “Daddyisms.”  Every daddy has them…oftentimes more than one.  They are the things kids will smile (or grimace) about and say, “That’s something my dad would always say.” 

     The sayings can be about nearly anything.  “Brush yourself off” is a good one (which is generally spoken when the child is on the ground bleeding).  “When I was your age…” is timeless.  “Listen to your mother” (which is oftentimes used so the dad doesn’t get into “the middle of things” and ends up in hot water with the child’s mother).  “Just do it” (which Nike stole from dads and made a fortune with…money that should rightfully be distributed to every day in the world).  And, of course, “Pull my finger” (which many dads may not have wanted to say, but were under a historic obligation to speak after hearing it from their dads…who heard it from their dads…etc., etc.  You get the picture.).

     So I was wondering, what will my kids remember from me.  I suspect they would include things like, “Always stop at lemonade stands”  after all, if kids are willing to set up Kool-aid and sit in the sun, they deserve your business.  The corollary of this is to always buy ridiculously large quantities of candy bars, nuts, and cookies from kids who come to the door.  “Always be generous” (with church, the Salvation Army kettle, and people in general).  And, “Pull my finger” (reference above historical obligation.  What self-respecting father would not want to pass that one on?).

     But one saying my kids will likely always remember me saying is, “There’s no story so good that you can’t embellish it and make it better”  I want that one on the inside of the little pamphlet at my funeral service and on my tombstone.  I love stories, and I love stories that have a firm foundation in something that actually happened, but which has embellished “facts” added to it over time to make it both captivating and laugh-inspiring.

     For instance, I recently told Brianna the story of when I got shot at while at church in Monticello Wisconsin.  No, seriously, Lord, I have the shotgun slug to prove it!  The actual story was that it was deer season and two (drinking) hunters were shooting from the road at a deer that was in the cemetery just outside my office.  I heard the popping of the guns, looked up, and the slug came in the window must a few feet from me.  It came right through my office window! 

     However, the story is better told this way, “While I stood in the aisle of the small, country church in Monticello, WI, preaching the Word of Christ (with tremendous passion and skill, mind you), surrounded by the faithful members of my congregation who were, as always, clinging to every word which the Holy Spirit drove deep into my heart, a wild-eyed man, clearly possessed by the Devil, burst into the church and discharged a gun in my direction.  Fortunately I was holding the bible in my hand and just as he shot I lifted the bible which stopped the slug precisely at John 3:16.  The man, having witnessed the miracle, fell to his knees, soon after which he accepted Christ, started singing in the choir, and became the Council president.”  Tell me that’s not more fun to share with people!

     So now we have the story of the resurrection. 

     Some people likely think it’s been embellished over time, but for two thousand years it’s been read and re-read…told and re-told…as written in the Gospels.  Unlike my stories (most of which are true, of course) it tells of injustice, confusion, confidence, sacrifice, betrayal, faith and a lack of faith, true hope, and life after death.  My stories are good and fun to tell, but this one is amazing if we believe it.

     This story reminds me that you don’t need embellishment to make the story more interesting.  I believe it because I have seen metaphorical resurrections in situations which seemed to be filled with death.  I have seen hope come from seemingly hope-less situations.  This story has given me strength and peace I never knew existed within me when I was most power-less and with a troubled spirit. 

     Thank you for the story of life you’ve offered to the world.  It will always be up to us to choose to believe it or view it as simply a story.  And thank you for my parents who handed it down to me. 

     As always, thanks for listening.  I love you.

                                                                                    Dan