Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
When I was a kid, we ate a Midwest diet. Chipped beef on toast was a favorite, white bread, white food, meat with every meal, and some of the nastiest vegetables that you have ever seen. I had lots of battles with my parents. I would sit for the longest time looking at Brussels sprouts, pushing them around my plate with a fork, hoping they would disappear. Yes, we had a dog, but the dog was not stupid. She would eat bread or meat but not veggies. There I was, a prisoner of unreasonable parents, unable to leave the table, and unable to squeeze down the three tiny cabbages that I was expected to consume.
I was raised on a Midwest diet. When Felicia and I first came to the Northwest in the fall of 1984, the Internship Committee at our church on Bainbridge Island hosted a dinner for us. The dinner was at a swanky house looking out on the Puget Sound to the floating lights of the Emerald City. The wine was good, certainly better than anything that we had been drinking as poverty-stricken students weighed down by debt. As dinner approached, I could smell the charcoal briquettes, and I imagined a nice rib eye steak.
When I inquired, I was told that they were grilling salmon. The image that popped in the mind of the new intern, who had never been west of the Mississippi, was of my Mother’s infamous salmon patties pan fried, fresh from a can, crunchy little vertebrae hiding in the flesh. I had never had grilled salmon before. In the year that followed the world opened up to us in new ways. We set our sights on returning to the Pacific Northwest.
When I was a kid, we ate a Midwest diet and attended church every Sunday. There were no preachers in my family. I was surrounded and mentored by middle class, hard-working, high school educated, salt of the earth people. Travel was a luxury that most could not afford, and the only relatives of mine who had visited Europe or Asia did so with Army boots on.
I took little interest in religious study; Confirmation was mostly a waste of a Saturday morning, and I was not very proficient at memorizing the Small Catechism of Martin Luther. I was proficient at sleeping during the worship service. That is until my father, tired of my slumber, decided that if I needed more sleep then I could spend the entire Sunday afternoon in my room napping. My brother and I rebelled and took up sitting with a few other trouble-makers in the back row of the sanctuary underneath the balcony. Let’s just say that did not end well.
But my ears perked up one Saturday morning as we were studying the Bible in Confirmation class. Pastor Sven Thompson said, “Jim, will you read the next four verses?” It was not a question, and no one messed with Pastor Thompson, a rugged immigrant from Norway who cut his teeth on the streets of New York City. Reading was not my strong suit, but I had no choice but to read aloud before my classmates, risking the giggles, and waiting for Pastor Thompson to correct my attempt at destroying the written word of God. “Please Lord, if you are really there, let there be no words that I cannot pronounce.”
It was then that the heavens opened and God answered my prayer. It was the moment that I knew there was a God, and perhaps first felt that I could trust God.
“Jim Lindus, please read Romans 14:1-4.”
“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of judging their opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.”
I stopped on a dime, my eyes were opened, and I sensed that I had been set free. I grabbed my pencil and took the word of God home to dinner. “The weak eat only vegetables.” Take that Mom! God has spoken. I am fairly sure that this isolated text was taken out of context, but my Mother was encouraged that her “slow son” had at least showed interest in something besides baseball.
Funny, I like Brussels sprouts now.
I am going to continue this story tomorrow.
But for now, eat your vegetables and know that we are one day closer.
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