Sunday, March 12, 2006

What is today's challenge?

This morning we heard another brilliant sermon. There are a lot of them, which you can read or listen to here. But the part that challenged me today was the following characteristic of the righteous.
By the way, this is "righteous" in its biblical sense, as in "when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices" -- not in the sense of "take a look at that righteous babe" (or hunk)...
Anyway, one characteristic of the righteous, a character quality of a tsadiq (or maybe "tzaddik," if you prefer Potok's transliteration), is that he disadvantages himself for the benefit of his community.

This made me think, how do I disadvantage myself for the benefit of my community?
Well, I don't, much. Well, I write checks. I volunteer for service projects occasionally. But I wonder if what I've been thinking lately about a possible career change is some kind of direction from God. Or if not a career change, maybe something to think about in terms of taking a day off without pay once a week, to do more things for the community. And maybe for the long term, I'd really better call on my buddy Kim to see what she has to say about her life as a teacher...
This was part of the overall theme that the gospel must be good news for all, or it is not good news at all. The gospel is not primarily "Here are the minimum entrance requirements to get into heaven" (which would be good news for me); it is rather, as Jesus said, that "the kingdom of God is at hand" -- that what is up there in heaven, is coming down here to this sorry, dark world; it is good news for all -- which reminds me of the angels' announcement at Jesus's birth: "I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people." That's good news even (or especially) to shepherds -- to the underclass, the outcasts. To people whose testimony wasn't even acceptable in a court of law.

The picture our pastor painted this morning was compelling: that we become the kind of people of whom it will be said,
That guy Collin -- I don't necessarily think the same way he does about God, but I'd hate to think what this department (neighborhood, classroom, etc.) would be like without him.
In other words, that what Jesus does in the lives of us, his church, should be good news to all the people. Ha -- like the words of that old song:
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
What does it take for Jesus to be born in me in such a way that it really would be "good news of great joy which shall be for all the people"? Maybe he already is, and my next step is simply to take the next step? How about for you?


Kay said...

I've been enjoying your postings recently reflecting on how we can better serve our community. And also about how easy it is to fall into a pattern of taking the easy way out - just writing a check, for example. There's a lot of food for thought in this area, and it's something I've been thinking on for a while as well. I think your consideration of a career change really shows you're willing to take this task seriously. Have you also thought perhaps about approaching other fields that complement education? I guess I have in mind the various social services, non-profits, etc. that work so hard to support kids that are falling through the cracks and get them back on the right path. Just a thought. Sometimes it seems like these kids are the ones in particular crying out for direction in their lives...the ones a single person's mentoring and/or efforts might mean the most to.

Whatever you choose to do in the future, I am encouraged to see someone striving to actively be a more positive influence in our community.

And thanks for sharing your thoughts here online.

collin66 said...

thanks for your note. one idea that came to mind was... to drop by one of those nonprofits and say: i don't know how to help, this is what i know and what i like to do, these are my strengths and weaknesses, here are a few things i care about; is it nuts to think that with maybe a few hours a week, i can help somebody move in the right direction?