By Al Herman, RE (along with Elder Board Ruling Elders: Brad Brautigam, Matt Jones, Calvin Lee, Bruce McMordie, Duane Smulling, & Doug Wesney)
“Having it all together” HIAT is a highly overrated and mostly misunderstood life goal. Many of us spend way too many waking hours concerned about appearances, about “How will this look?” and “I wonder what they are thinking about me?” and “O my, what will they say to others about me?” Having it all together calls for super-human resources, kryptonite immunity, an “unbruiseable” ego, and a trampoline-like bounce-back personality. In short, nobody fits the bill!
Why is it, then, that so many of us try and try and try to give the appearance of being bullet-proof, flawless, and dare I say it, approaching perfection? In my 7+ decades of living, surely I’ve gotten caught up in my fair share of this daunting self-deception dance… and after all of these years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should listen to something my wife lovingly told me many years ago: “It’s OK to have two left feet on the dance floor… I love you anyway!”
We are best understood, by ourselves and by others, when we’re open and transparent; and not coincidentally, that’s when we are the most teachable. At the State of Our Church meeting on January 31st, I mentioned the Covenant sermon series a few years back, with the theme that We are deeply flawed, yet even more deeply loved. That truth was true then, it’s true now, and for all of God’s children, it’s true for all of our tomorrows until we’re taken into glory, when we will be made flawless.
If the HIAT hypothetical picture sounds vaguely personally familiar, or if not you, having “a friend” (read with air quotes) who meets that striving descriptor, then you’re reading the right blog. You see, truth be told, there’s only One who “has it all together”… and that’s who we’re here to celebrate.
As your elders have begun the delightful opportunity of meeting with the members of our elder folds, so much of what we are hearing is gladness for being part of the Covenant Church community. For certain, the past 12 months have had us all upside down and discombobulated and definitely not HIAT in a number of ways… and yet what we’re witnessing are themes reminding us that Covenant Church has an abundance of connection points, of safe places, of nurturing, of reasons to come and engage in relationship.
We thank you for openness, for your willingness to join us in the sheep pen as we all look to The Good Shepherd to guide us, guard us, gird us, and use us. Wherever we work, live, and play, God delights in using us right where we are, in our “untogether” humanness. While corporate worship is a cornerstone, the children and student ministries, community groups, missions, creative arts, and service opportunities are just a sampling of the many ways we can come together to worship and serve The One Who HIAT!
This week, Pastor Rob Bloss will open The Word with a sermon entitled “Jesus meets the tormented”. In Matthew 8:28-34, we encounter two men plagued with demons. It’s hard to imagine what they were going through, what storms of life they had experienced, and how isolated and disconnected they were from the townspeople all around them. They would have been viewed as “those guys to stay as far away from as you can”, the bedeviled ones on the other side of the proverbial tracks, the untouchables, the social outcasts. Their very behavior drove away any and all human contact, only making their reputation all the more unappealing, and their plight all the uglier. These relationship-impoverished men definitely didn’t HIAT … they were simply canceled by any and all who knew of them. However…
…Immediately before Jesus arrived on the scene, He had calmed the stormy seas, stilling the wind and the waves that were plaguing his disciples. By this time in His ministry, these very same disciples had witnessed Jesus’ calling, appointing, preaching, teaching, and healing many. They were “leaning in”, anticipating what Jesus would do next. After all, He’d changed their lives and the lives of many others. How would He handle these two demon-possessed men? What could Jesus do with them, when virtually everyone else stood their distance? Jesus engaged! While these men had been demon-dominated, the demons did not have the final word… The Word has the final word!
We read in the Mark 5 parallel passage, that once Jesus purged the demons, He commanded the healed to Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. So [they] went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done… And all the people were amazed. Jesus declares delight in our worship of Him… of Him alone. He was and is and will always be all together… pre-manger -> for 33 years -> at the cross -> forever after. His desire for us? That we desire Him above all else… above all others... above all things… just as we are. We invite you to come and worship this week, whether in-person or livestream, and be together with Him and His flock.