A woman calls up her friend. She says, “Becky, l understand you’ve got a new apartment.”
Becky says, “l do. It’s great! Just moved in. Hey, why don’t you come visit tomorrow morning?”
“I’d love to visit,” the friend says. “But you gotta give me directions.”
Becky says, “Great! I live on 1486 Eighty-Sixth Street. You’ll take the train, get off at 86th Street. You’ll see a big apartment complex, 1486. Outside. you’ll see a double door. With your right elbow, press down the handle from the door. Push open the door, and you’ll be in what is called a vestibule . . . And there’ll be a list of bells. I’m apartment 4B.
So, with the left elbow, press 4B; it’ll ring upstairs. As soon as I hear the ring, I’ll buzz you. When you hear the buzz, use your right elbow to press on the inside of the door, push open the door, go straight ahead to the elevator. And then, with the left elbow, press UP. Get in the elevator; and with your right elbow press 4 for the fourth floor. The door will open up; you’ll go straight into my apartment. 4B. Ring the doorbell with the right elbow. Or give it a couple of knocks with your left elbow. I’ll be waiting for you and have some coffee ready for . . .”
Her friend interrupts, a little frustrated. “Becky, what kind of directions are these, with the elbow? The left elbow, the right elbow! What’s with all the elbow stuff?”
Becky says, “What? You’re coming empty-handed?”
For the past few Sundays I’ve been talking about how we are to love in a divided, fearful, anxious time: first recognizing that the Kingdom of God is about loving in the risky, uncomfortable, awkward places; and second, the Kingdom of God reminds us that loving sometimes means breaking the rules, breaking through our own self-imposed and destructive limitations.
This Sunday, I want to conclude the series exploring what it is that we bring to love as we think about being the “salt” of the world. We rarely come into the moments of our lives “empty-handed.” So, what are we carrying and is it helpful, harmful, or even conscious to us?
The story is told that the great 20th century Protestant theologian Paul Tillich often went to the ocean. And when he got there, he would pile up a mound of sand and sit on it gazing out at the ocean waves advancing and receding. It was an intentional ritual for him. And every time, as he watched, tears ran down his cheeks. Every time. Perhaps he was becoming conscious again, remembering the source of life, where all life originated, the mixing of salt air and salty tears, as he experienced the fullness of the Ground of Being. Some would say that wherever Tillich went, he carried this sense of connection to God, to the vastness of life as close as our breath and tears, and that you couldn’t help but feel it when you were with him.
I hope to see you Sunday as we explore being salt and love in a world filled with both beauty and bitterness.
August, Augustus, Augery —
“I Think This is Why We’re Here”
with the music of Sheryl Crow, Trevor Hall, and James Taylor
See you then.