Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nasty Houses and Unbroken Colts

This has been an interesting Palm Sunday weekend. It has been busy in the extreme, and it has felt as though every moment has been planned out and scripted. I am ready for the weekend to be over, so I can slow down and breathe. Still, it has been a good weekend in many ways. First, much work was accomplished. Second, I got to go out for breakfast with hubby, which is always cheap fun. Third, we got to go to church for the first time in quite awhile, and finally, our friends came over to eat and play with us this afternoon and evening. So over all it was just too much fun.

The interesting part is how totally unrelated events seem to mesh, as you sit in church, and let the service wash over you. Yes, that's how I felt today. I was tired, and unaccustomed to being there. I had to go to the bathroom when we arrived, so I was the last person in the family to slip into the pew. I was sitting next to Hippie Boy, who happens to be fairly low maintenance. I knew I ought to insert myself into the midst, but it just felt so good to stay on the end, by myself, where no one was breathing my air. So I did, and nothing horrible happened. In fact, as I said, the service just washed over me in the most comforting way. I don't think I listened to more than a quarter of it. Small bits would fall on my ear, and I would begin to consider them. Time would pass, and I would find that I had missed a good deal as I let my thoughts meander. But still it seems I caught more than I could process in a week.

The text was appropriately about the triumphal entry. They read the words about the donkey and her colt, and as always, I thought about the strangeness of this text. Since I was a child, I have always thought it odd, that Jesus instructed his disciples to go and fetch these animals, with only the explanation, "The Master has need of them." I always pictured myself as the guy who owned them, wondering who was taking off with my livestock. It seems presumptuous. I know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all, but I would find it very challenging to let go of my animals with an explanation like that. And I always run through this mentally, every time I read or hear this passage. It's just this thing I can't let go of.

But today I got to thinking about that phrase, "The Master has need of them." How many times does the Master have need of something, and He prompts me to go and get it, but I feel so my explanation is just too weak. So I don't go and fetch it with authority. Instead, I hang back, all insecure, and convince myself I am being ridiculous. I convince myself that God has no need of that thing. I convince myself the thing itself is ridiculous, which is interesting in light of part of the sermon today. One small part anyhow, which is how I took it in today. The speaker was explaining in a scholarly sense, that the donkey was a lowly animal which might carry a lowly person, and an untried colt would be apt to not only make you look lowly, but also possibly foolish.

So maybe that is the crux of the problem. Maybe I am just afraid of looking lowly or foolish. God does seem so prone to asking me to do things that seem to make no earthly sense, and sending me in with what sound, to me, like weak explanations. And I just cringe with all manner of discomfort, because I suspect I know exactly how this will go. I will go looking for the thing tentatively, and when I find it I will offer up my explanation apologetically. Then I will go my way, lugging my awkward burden through crowded streets, while folks look on and scorn me for my foolishness. Things never go easily. I stumble and struggle, and sweat and puff. Smart, well groomed, rested people stare, and wonder why I do not put down my cumbersome load. And all the way I avert my eyes, and wish my burden away, because I am not so sure why the Master has need of this load, or why he would send someone so unsuited as me to fetch it for Him. If the way is long enough, I would generally even get angry and begin to resent my load, or worse, the Master Himself.

Knowing this about myself, I am surprised to still hear the echoes of, "The Master has need..." in my ears. I am so very bad at this fetching business. So what, you may ask, does the Master have need of? I can't say for sure, but I think it's a huge, filthy, run down, former drug house. I couldn't say I know beyond a doubt, but it has all the earmarks of one of these fetching missions. Absolutely nothing about it makes sense, and it will doubtless leave us sweating and puffing. Surely it will leave many well groomed and well rested, wise folk scratching their heads in puzzlement. I guess we will set out, and see if the donkey and her colt are where He says they will be, and if our explanation for making off with them is accepted.

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