Monday, December 24, 2007

With a little help from. . .

Last week the oldest member of our church turned 95. I went over and saw him. He is still as sharp as a tack and rye as Irish whiskey.

"Ninety-five," I said, "You know, Abraham had a child at a hundred."

"Yeah," he said, "and he might of had a little help too."

I almost fell out of my chair. "Well, that's not quite the orthodox understanding of the story, but that is about the funniest thing I've ever heard," I said.

But I got to thinking about that. Wait a minute. He was exactly right. What he said was entirely orthodox. Abraham had a little help. In fact, he had a lot of help.

And I suppose that is the whole meaning of this story we are living into over these next few hours. We needed help. And God gave us a child.

Letting Tony Speak

You know that I was born to be a preacher because I actually like to listen to sermons. I’m hopeless I know. Sometimes I go to St. Mike’s where they have really fast internet connection, and I log in under my wife’s name and I just sit back and watch three or four sermons in a row.

A couple of weeks ago I was there listening to a guy named Tony Campolo preach. He was preaching at my alma mater Duke University and on vocational discernment Sunday there at Duke Chapel. He was telling all those Dukies how they ought not to waste their lives. He was telling them that the world tells them to go to school so they can get a good ____ so they can make a lot of _____ so they can buy a lot of ______. I’m listening to this sermon and I look around and notice that I’m surrounded by college students who are all studying for finals so they can get out and get a good job and make a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff. So I think, Man, I’m need to pray for these cats. So I start praying for everyone in the room as I continue listening. And then I hear Tony tell a story. He used to be a college professor and he had one young student come up to him and tell him how proud she was because out of like 90 candidates she had landed this job. Tony heard that and looked that girl right in the eyes, and said, “That’s terrible. Why go somewhere you’re not needed when you could go somewhere you’re desperately needed? He told her last year there were something like 200 teacher vacancies in the city of Philadelphia alone why not go there and make a difference instead of going somewhere else to make a dollar?

So as I’m listening to this and looking at all these college kids surrounding me my heart starts pounding and I decide its not enough for me to pray for them; they gotta here this. It’s dead quiet in the computer cluster so I hit the volume button all the way up and then bring it back down like I’m having technical difficulties. But the truth is I’m trying to get their attention. Then, having gotten their attention, I start bringing that volume back real slow like and I start letting Tony preach to these people. And one girl keeps looking over at me. And I know she’s not studying to make a lot of money but wants to become a librarian, because she keeps giving me that irritated librarian face. “SSHH.”