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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, November 11, 2013

God and a wool sweater

I don't like scratchy clothes...unfortunately I live in climates that have many days like this

 consequently I have a lot a wool fabric.

But wool is scratchy (which I don't like), so I have solved this problem by having a few sweaters that are soft...but expensive.

I say this because most of my clothes come from this brand  and his stuff is not the cheapest. But the wool is not scratchy!

Because of this I have very few clothes...years ago I adopted the "new one in old one out, another given to charity" model of keeping my closet organized...so I don't have a lot of clothes. But every now and then I need a new sweater.

A few years ago my youngest daughter found ourselves in the Ralph Lauren store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was Super Bowl Sunday, there was a blizzard, and we wandered into the store for no good reason. Barreling through the doors, the six clerks were astounded that we were out on such a day. They asked if we were looking for anything "special?"

After a few jokes about Ralph Lauren watches for a couple thousand bucks, me asking "Who uses watches anymore?" and the clerk saying, "I'm sure we have an app for that!" I mentioned that I might not be able to afford anything in this store. The clerk scoffed. "I bet you we have something you can afford."

A half-hour later, after looking at  7 different shirts, I walked away with a traditional blue/green plaid shirt, with French cuffs for $17.90. And it was gift wrapped.  I reminded my daughter as we walked out of the store that money--unlike democracy--makes everybody equal.

Jesus and the cross makes everyone equal too. The big difference between Jesus and money is that money makes us equal when we're living, the cross when we're dead. This is the main reason why teenagers would rather go to the mall than to church. (I am not saying everyone has equal AMOUNTS of money. That would be stupid. I am saying that IF you have the money for something that something is available to you. But I only needed $17.90 for that Ralph Lauren shirt, and as long as I had that I could have that shirt. It didn't matter whether that was all the money I had, some of the money I had, or whatever, the money was what sold the shirt, not my status or personality.) And kids know this...

They know they can go to the mall and feel good because they can buy something that makes them happier, sexier, funnier, cooler, hipper, and more handsome. If they have the money they can buy whatever they want to feel now! Church, not so much...

Church is all about patience, waiting, watching, and wondering. In the eyes of God all are equal, but there is nothing you can buy, do, sell, or improve to validate that statement. It's only when you die--something teenagers don't really think will happen to them--that you see that statement is true. So nobody goes to church, and everybody goes to the "mall." (By mall I mean anything that you can buy to make you feel equal, if not superior, to the rest of the world.)

The Church has tried to counter this consumerist money mentality, but at best all we give people is a "bait and switch." We make promises on stuff we cannot deliver, and soon our newest program or idea sinks into debt, as people once again turn to that which truly makes them equal--money.

If--and when--this great capitalist, consumerist society we have collapses and there is nothing left of our great palaces and domes, our shiny cars are rusting on forgotten Hollywood backlots, and my clothes have been eaten away by moth and mildew, there will probably still be some Christians somewhere gathering together around the dying and offering a prayer to God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit for eternal rest for their equal. Our lives will be validated not because we bought something, but rather because we received something...God's love.

The very love that makes us all equal not only when we are dead, but when we are living too. How do you celebrate being loved by God regardless of how much money you have?

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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