"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Glimpses of Grace 24: Shaking hands

     This morning at church I was able to make eye contact with Jesus Eyes. His eyes no longer shine with the light of Jesus; usually he gives me a sheepish glance or lowers them in embarrassment. I know that, early in Lou's administration, JE himself was singled out and threatened with discipline for not coming into conformity with the elders' agenda. He gave in--and now for years they have had him doing to others what they did to him.  
     I held out my hand and told him I forgive him. Taking it, he said, "I don't know what I did to offend you. I don't really think I badgered you--"  
     "I was there--," my husband said firmly.
     "I know."
     "--and you did!"
     He murmured an apology.
     Three Sundays ago, Jerry and I were impressed by one of Lou's sermons. Impressed may be putting it a little strong; Lou presented parallels between the garden of Eden and the temple. They  were new to us but seemed legitimate. He did start out with a premise that made my jaw drop, as an author: If you know the end of a book you know the beginning (or was it the other way around?). I thought, If you don't have conflict, you don't have a plot, and it you don't have a plot, you don't have a book. The Bible has conflict and a plot--God loves man, man spurns and abuses that love, God gives His life in the ultimate act of love to restore man to His good graces.
     Anyway, Lou went on to stress, with many examples, God wants to be with us--He was with mankind in the garden and He wants to be with us through eternity. He implied that the Bible flows directly from one to the other, but in the middle of this talk he did actually stick in a bit about Jesus rescuing man through His death and resurrection.
     We thought that merited our approval that he is going in the right direction. So we moved against the flow after the service to go forward and thank him. He always has three or four people asking him questions after his sermons; I didn't think anything of it. I didn't notice they were all members of the Executive Board of Elders and that they were not there casually but as bodyguards.
     So there was an interesting development as we approached him. Everything went into slow motion. Remember that we have sent out emails about false teaching and the response of our shepherds, which is to flog the flock. As I came toward Lou from Lou's left, with Jerry right behind me, and, smiling, held out my hand, the bodyguards apparently went on high alert. The one who served as their Communications Consultant at an EBOE meeting I haven't told you about yet was standing at Lou's right shoulder. By the time Lou turned, smiled, and took my hand, CC had moved completely around Lou's back and had interposed himself between us.
     I have to laugh, remembering. I am a grandmother, five feet tall and 118 pounds. My hand was open so they could tell it didn't have a weapon in it. But they still felt it necessary to protect our senior pastor from me.
     Go figure.

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