Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”

Our middle daughter Kelsi is currently walking the pilgrim walk known as the Camino de Santiago in Spain. She is walking some 500 miles alone, on a spiritual journey of endurance and personal reflection. She is immersed in a foreign culture, joining pilgrims from every corner of the world as they follow in the 800-year-old footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. Kelsi texts me regularly to assure me of her safety and to share her musings. Midway through the journey she sent me a note reflecting on a cultural tradition that she experienced in the Roman Catholic Church of Spain saying, “Seems unnecessary, but what do I know?”

What a wise response from a visitor to a foreign land. How might our world be better if we were more aware of what we don’t know? Humility should be a mark of the Christian life; we do after all follow the one “who humbled himself.” The foot washing servant, the one who ate with known sinners, the blue-collar small-town Rabbi who died on the cross. Saint Augustine said, ”Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues.” The Philosopher Socrates said, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

“What do I know?” Would it hurt our egos to admit what we don’t know? Or might we be freed from our judging and excluding by humbly owning the limitations of our knowledge. What do I know? Anytime we visit the Bible we are visitors to a foreign land and culture. We time travel back thousands of years, daily life would be unrecognizable to us. Anytime we visit the Bible we return to a prescientific era, where every drought was a judgement of God, every disability was attributed to sin, and mental illness was viewed as demon possession. What do I know? The 20th century Protestant theologian Karl Barth was asked what was the most important thing that he had learned after devoting his life to the academic study of theology. His response was, “I have learned Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Humility is a beautiful thing. What do I know? What do I know about the journey of a divorced mother trying to raise two children on her own? What do I know about the journey of parents who know that their child will never be able to live on their own? What do I know about the journey of those who have to wrestle with their gender identity? What do I know about the trials and tribulations of those struggling with addiction? What do I know about the foundational beliefs of other religious traditions? What do I know about what it feels to walk the streets as a black teenager in this country? What do I know about the Palestinian and Jewish people? What do I know about the lifelong consequences of being abused as a child? What do I know? Not much. “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

And what do I really know about God? I see in a mirror dimly. I know almost nothing of the one who is mostly hidden, the Master of the Universe, the Author and Creator of all life. What do I know? Jesus loves me. But Jesus also loves my neighbor, my neighbor of a different color, orientation, religion or party affiliation is equally loved by God.

Would it hurt us to admit what we don’t know? Can we keep it simple? Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.

I know nothing, I am one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread, I am your,

Pastor Jim

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