Monday, March 17, 2014

A little help from my friends

When I was a latch-key kid, I would hurry home from the bus stop, call my mom to reassure her I had made it home, then turn on the TV. One of my favorite shows was about to come on, and I would just have time to feed our dog as the theme song played.
          “What would you do if I sang out tune?
          Would you stand up and walk out on me?
          Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
          I will try not to sing out of key, yeah
          Oh, baby I get by with a little help from my friends
          By with a little help from my friends.”

I later learned it was Joe Cocker’s cover of a Beatles’ tune that opened every episode of The Wonder Years. I just remembered loving the story of an ordinary boy with an ordinary family. There were squabbles, friendship, first love, and everything in between. It was life, translated and broadcast in a way that was sometimes more honest than the stuff we get with all the “reality” shows we have now.

This was the song that came to mind this past week as I had a little “procedure” at the hospital, their code word for surgery, just like “minor discomfort” means pain. I had mentioned it to a few people in my church as well as my friends and family. Mostly for their prayer support since my mother was coming to town to take care of me. But what continued to astonish me was the response, “If there’s anything you need, just let us know.”

And they meant it. I could see the sincerity shining from each person who offered food, childcare, lawn care, or just a hand to hold, in addition to their prayers on my behalf. In our American culture, it’s easy to fall for the myth that we’re all supposed to be self-made men and women who pull ourselves up by our boot straps to earn everything we have. That’s just never the case. Yes, hard work can pay off, but there’s also a lot to be said for inherited opportunities such as married, educated parents who chose to have a child or the socioeconomic status of your family of origin. Those things are going to offer opportunities for one child that may not come easily for another.

None of us do life alone. That’s just not how we’re made. God created us for relationship – with God and with each another. The echoes of our American mindset can be seen in our faith when we emphasize the personal relationship with our God over the relationship between a believer and their community of faith. Yes, my relationship with God is important, but God is going to make God’s self known in my life through the hands and feet of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Our spiritual journeys are poorer when we go it alone.

“If there’s anything you need, just let us know.” It can be hard to take up the offers, to admit that we don’t have it all together and figured out, and that we need someone’s help. It can wound our pride. It can make us worry that others will think less of us. It can give us the opportunity to feel vulnerable when we’d rather pretend to have it all under control.

This past Sunday was the second Sunday in Lent and if you follow the lectionary, we had the opportunity to follow Nicodemus as he comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness to ask questions of this young rabbi. He gets confused and he misunderstands, but he has the audacity to admit that, even as a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews, he has questions. While he may not yet have faith in Jesus, he has faithful curiosity, which is a great start.

Which leads to one of the best, most often quoted scriptures in our Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). It can be hard to hear a familiar verse say anything new, but consider this – God doesn’t ask you if you need anything. God doesn’t ask if you need to be loved. God doesn’t ask if you need to be saved. God loves you, loves everyone, whether you like it or not. And that’s good news.

1 comment:

  1. Your a breath of fresh air. If you need anything just ask, I am not that far away.


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