A friend of mine, Pastor Roger Bruns, tells about the great fun he had as a kid playing with his cousins in his aunt and uncle’s attic.
“At the top of the steep old stairs we entered a wonderland of old travel trunks, dress forms, a rusty iron bed, Christmas decorations, stacks of yellowed magazines and more,” he said. “But the best treasure in whole attic was the tottering old Victrola phonograph that leaned majestic and dusty in the center of the room. We would play with it for hours.
“There were stacks of 78 rpm discs next to the machine, but they remained covered with cobwebs. We used the old record player for a launching pad instead. On the edge of the turntable, cranking the spring as tightly as it would go, we arranged paper clips, buttons, thumbtacks and anything else that would fly. Then we pressed the lever on the turntable and ran for cover.
“Although I did not realize it at the time, I learned an important principle of both physics and theology. The principle is this: The closer an object is to the center of a spinning force, the less likely it is to fly off.
“The center of the turntable for all of us is our faith in God. The closer we get to living life by the example of Christ the more we find the stabilizing force we need. Jesus came to show an out-of-control world how to move back to the kind of things that center life again.”
The apostle Paul teaches us the things that are central in the book of Colossians 3:12-17. In this passage Paul reminds us to dress up with important things. The well-dressed Christian puts on: compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, love and peace.
Let’s look at three of these things, first of all compassion. Compassion is an attitude that keeps us humble and shows us the needs of others. A large Midwestern research and interviewing firm helps corporations and employers find the best individuals for their management positions. One of the key factors investigated in the interview and selection process is the level of compassion the candidate has for other people. They find that people with a high level of compassion are best able to work with others and assist them in their work. We always are in need of compassion in the world.
The second element is kindness. If compassion is an attitude, I think kindness is something we do. I visit with many couples who have a pile of “good intentions” but a poor record of kindness. For example they may talk about calling home if one or the other is late, but they don’t follow through and call each other. One of the greatest kindnesses we can do is listen to each other and then show we heard the other person by the way we act.
The third element I think is very important is patience. If kindness is doing something, patience may be restraint to do nothing. It’s the ability to wait and trust. It can be as simple as keeping the mouth closed at the right time. Often, if we simply wait, the things that are really out of whack will fly off the turntable.
There’s much we can do in the world, but patience we need for the rest. Patience will keep us centered in life even if everything around us is not.
Prayer: Our Lord, thank you for showing us in word and deed the things that keep us from flying out of control. Amen
The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Dan Safarik serves St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lincoln. Email him at email@example.com