Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh how we like shiny stuff

I was back being a plumber this morning. It is Saturday and I went in relatively early to do some plumbing repairs at the Church. I thought I would save the church the high cost a plumber would charge his time out at so I left my "minister" hat at home, gathered my tools and went in to the Church back doing my old trade. Of course as I was working away I was stewing on my sermon for tomorrow. The passage is "deny yourself", "take up your cross", and "lose your life to find it." They all point to profound paradox, which, if you take them seriously you discover to be true. If you don't, or shy away from the concepts, my sermon no matter how eloquent will mean nothing to you. I asked myself in frustration,"What is the point of my trying to communicate what people will not likely heed anyway?" Many Christians refuse to take seriously such teaching of Jesus and we continue to live by the secular values of the world about us, and dabble in a little bit of religion on the side. We miss out by doing this.

I was thinking deeply about how to communicate this radical yet profound truth. I grabbed a spanner to undo a pipe joint. It was a black steel crescent which I as a first year plumbing apprentice purchased in 1966. I recalled the events. When we started as apprentices we were given a list of tools we should purchase and the firm's shop allowed us to pay these off with payments coming out of our pay packets. I bought a range of three shiny chrome crescents. Within a few weeks all of these crescents were stolen out of my tool box. They were very expensive. An old plumber wheezed his sympathies and said, "Buy normal old black steel ones, nobody pinches those!" This black steel 12 inch crescent is one I then purchased and it has never been stolen, even on Habitat for Humanity jobs. (where I have lost a number of tools)  Forty six years later it is still as good as new. Those who steal go for the flash looking tools. We humans like things that sparkle. We get sucked in by advertisers who present the flashy sparkly things of life, because we are told they provide happiness. A fancy car, flashy house, expensive gadgets and clothing. We fail to see that happiness is not in the house we live in or the car we drive or the clothing we wear, but what's in our inner spirits as we live or drive.  Happiness or real "life" is found in the tough challenging day to day less flashy looking, life of living a giving lifestyle. In this day by day giving, losing ourselves, true depth of life, character and real identity is found.  ... We hear Jesus' teaching and sing songs about it, but still the shiny things of life and the values of the world about us distract and draw us away from really living.  A bit sad really. We end up with insipid imitation christianity, dysfunctional churches and a grossly distorted religion.

1 comment:

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