--Billboard at the New Bethel AME Church complex
Highway 90, Quincy
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He's gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
--Spirit in the Sky,
It must have been the cool night
new moon, new sight change
more than to figure but I feel like I should
--New Attitude, Patti LaBelle
Do not wait for the last judgment.
It takes place every day
A crow on a bare branch.
On this road,
No one will follow me
In the Autumn evening.
Not every one that saith unto me,
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven
Sunday Homily: Have You Called God Lately?
For the past couple of weeks the marquis at the roadside Bethel AME church has admonished us with the message, "God Can't be Manipulated!" Which got us to thinking: What do we say when we go to church or pray, and why do we think or say it?
Church is all about manipulation! We go as children with a list for Santa, asking on occasion for something for mom or brother just to make it look good, but really it's all about you. And that very human impulse sets you diametrically at odds with your supposed redeemer.
Now we are not Bible-thumpers here, but we are asking in the ecumenical sense, when you commune with your Source -- the new, acceptable blah term for your God -- what is your purpose? Do you go like a beggar, bribing God with all manner of things and actions you think He would like if only He would grant you this or that, or take away this or that affliction, or make you more likable, successful, approachable . . . whatever.
Do you look for penance, light candles, put money in the plate, always hoping to get some favor or at least to be looked kindly upon? What if, when you screwed up, you were just stuck with it?
Yesterday was Yom Kippur, when Jewish people must directly and earnestly ask the people upon whom they have transgressed for forgiveness. It is only through the act of personal repentance (tushuva) that they may be forgiven. Forgiveness is not a given. One only hopes to learn and refrain and be given another year to do better. One asks to "be inscribed" in the Book for another year, but one never knows . . .
Have you ever said, "God, I'm doing fine today, how 'bout you? What can I do for you? How are you bearing up, what with the weight of the world on your shoulders?" (o.k., technically, that would be Atlas.) "Gee, seeing as you're old as sin, have you indulged in an Epsom salt soak lately? I mean, we all get arthritic at a certain point. Taken your vitamin C, have you?" Well, you get the idea.
Just an idea for a new attitude. You are not God, despite what the dopers might report back. You've created God so that he could be better. But maybe you could just stop whimpering so often and get on with it. Give God a breather now and again, and don't ask silly questions like "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?"
Things happen, that's all. We are not all that strong, but we're not all that weak, either.