The other day Southeast High School had a Library Fund Raiser at Barnes and Noble here in Greensboro. It was really nice, running from 5:00pm to 8:00pm with a percentage of all proceeds going toward SEHS Library Fund… to help them buy books for the school library. One of the choirs sang beautifully… while the Jazz Band really rocked the house.
I wandered throughout the store which Shirley and I shop at quite a bit. Up and down the aisles, retrieving, flipping, though, and replacing books on many shelves. I looked at all the little knickknacks on display and even purchased a few. All the latest and hottest books… ones they are trying their best to get you to purchase were on display near the entrance… almost tripped over them on the way in.
One thing I did think about was the real important question of the evening: “Why are my books only on line with Barnes and Noble and not on their physical shelves?” There are other authors who have several books on the shelves… little known authors like John Grissom, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and some guy named Mark Twain… wow what a funny name? I guess these guys are ok to read but I am a local boy… shouldn’t that warrant some consideration?
I am sure you know that this is all in jest. I envy the talent and skill and imagination of these very famous and successful writers. If I keep working at improving my skills and techniques perhaps in about 30 or 40 years, I will be a famous, well-read writer?
As I walked around the computer book section looking for some written help for my ancestry work, I noticed that there is this series of books on everything you ever wanted to know about everything you wanted to know. The series is entitled “(Blank) for Dummies.” Some are funny. Some make you say what? While others you look at and say Really? Amazon Books online has 20 pages of listing the titles of Dummies book titles. Add the words “for Dummies” after each of these: the Bible, iPhone, Running a Bar, Auto Repair, Raising Chickens, Hacking, Facebook, Puppies, iPad, Music Theory, Pit Bulls, Football, Fishing, Christianity, U.S. History, Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy, Gardening, Wine, Bird Watching, etc. for many more pages.
There was one that caught my eye… even though I am a dummy at fishing and would love to be able to catch the big one… one book, in particular, stopped me dead in my tracks: “Mindfulness for Dummies.” It seems to run right along with the Bible for Dummies and Christianity for Dummies. I am afraid that what we are handing out today is the Cliff Notes version of things that really matter – things vital to life and faith – things that call us to a higher plane of living and understanding and loving. And in the process, we are losing the deeper meanings of that which is vital. An old college Philosophy professor who was dry as dust and even put a dog to sleep during a summer school class – that wise old professor gave us a quote that has stayed with me since 1977: “If you think you have your philosophy of life all figured out with that philosophical circle complete, watch out cause God is getting ready to let you know that your philosophical circle of life is not big enough to include all God wants to say or do or include”.
It seems these days that the world has gone mad trying to push people out of their circle for reasons that are simply beyond me… like they are immigrants, law breakers, not up to our standards, sick or different than we are. And a host of other reasons. I look at what we are doing and how we are acting, and I see the people of Jesus’ days on earth pointing fingers at Jesus because he was different. He healed people on the Sabbath (when they needed healing – didn’t wait for a more suitable or acceptable day). He ate with sinners – people we wouldn’t let in our house – he welcomed people he didn’t know – strangers. He touched the untouchables – the sick lepers – who were spiritually unclean. He welcomed the Samaritans – the ones our priests and business men leave in the side ditch on the road to church… the office – the ones who worship differently than us. He welcomed the different, the outcast, the ungodly people from whom we would look away. In other words, he would welcome anyone, eat with anyone, pray with anyone, walk with anyone, invite anyone, love anyone, and die for anyone.
Several years ago, I spoke about the doors, hearts and minds of the church being wide open to welcome anyone and everyone. Someone in the congregation needed clarification and ran up to me after church and said: “Preacher, just how open are these doors?” (meaning, do we let in even those people with whom I don’t agree?) And I answered they are to be wide enough to welcome everyone God wants us to love. I don’t think he liked my answer, but it still is the truth… still today.
Our world today needs a crash course in “Mind-fullness for Dummies.” We need to be mindful of all the people God is calling us to love – to love with God’s love – to love with our love. God calls us to welcome the stranger not to send them away. He calls us to care for them – lift them up and not to bring them down and trample them under foot.
Do we really need a book on Christianity for Dummies? I guess we do if we think God has said the last word on Christian belief, faith and action… and that we know all we need to know about how God works and who God loves and welcomes into God’s own heart. How closed off are you? Is your circle complete…finished? If so, Dummy, you need to read: Open Hearts for Dummies. Open Minds for Dummies. Open Doors for Dummies. How to Be Compassionate to ALL People for Dummies. Read and learn. You’ll be glad you did… believe me you will be glad you did.
Grace and Peace