March 2020
From the Pastor

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Recently, I ran into a friend at the grocery store and she had her little 6-year-old with her.  This little girl was so eager to tell me a joke, an elephant joke. I haven’t heard an elephant joke since high school. Anyway, it made me think of the well-known story of the elephant and the blind men. The version I remember is that a group of blind men all touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different part of the animal. Based on the part that each one touched, they try to come to a larger picture, or truth, about what the whole elephant is like. For example, one touched the ear and decides the elephant is a wicker basket. To the one who touched the head, the elephant was a pot. One touches the tip of the tail and concludes the elephant is a brush. To another who touches the leg, the elephant is a tree. You get the idea. When they get together and compare their experiences and conclusions, they discover they disagree on what an elephant is like. Each blind man has his own view of reality, depending upon where he touched the elephant. I am not sure if there is a moral to this story, but someone once said that truth is like an elephant surrounded by blind men.

As Christians we say GOD is truth.  We might use the above image to say God is like an elephant surrounded by blind men. Each one is trying to find the reality of God only in what we see and touch.

I believe he was thinking of the story of the blind men and the elephant when Edwin Friedman wrote, “I touch the elephant wherever the elephant appears.” I think he was trying to say that the elephant is so large that it is impossible for anyone to comprehend the whole animal. Or that one can only observe what is in front of him or her. The elephant is too huge to handle in its entirety. It can only be described by what is experienced in the moment.

So many times, we try to discover everything about God by looking in all the places we are not sure God is. We look at the tragedies of our world, for example, and wonder where God could be in the face of such a thing. We often try to define who God is by what we feel or think or deduce from our own experience. We create the whole of God from our small bit of perception. Some of the time we try to put our own perceptions together with that of others. Who does the world say God is or should be? Who do others say God is based on their experience? Yet even then, God is too large in His entirety for us to handle.

Each week, I encounter many people from our surrounding churches in the community and here at All Saints as we gather for worship.  What I have discovered is that I touch God wherever God appears. (Better yet, God touches me wherever God appears.)  God is only known from what God chooses to reveal to us.  We know what is at hand because God is at hand. This is the beauty and mystery of our worship. God appears. God promises to appear when we gather around God’s word and sacraments. No guessing. Here the wholeness of God is set aside in the “for you” of the Gospel promise. “I baptize you into the body of Christ. This is my body, my blood, given for you. I forgive you all your sins.” This is not your view of God as you grope and search for and touch it. This is the reality of God touching you.

Remember that our Lord is the one who opened the eyes of the blind, even those eyes who weren’t looking for sight. How sad it is, that so many in our culture have abandoned worship as meaningless (or at least not as meaningful as other things) because they feel like they don’t get anything out of it.  Is this a blind man’s view of reality?  What could be more real and meaningful than being touched by an elephant, OR by the living God? Perhaps we should think more on this come Sunday morning.

O.K. O.K. I know you are dying to know what the elephant joke is.

Q: Why did the elephants wear sunglasses?
A: With all the bad elephant jokes going around, they did not want to be recognized. Hmmmmmm

Blessings to you as enter into these 40 days of Lent.

 Servants together, Pr. Paul <><

p.s. Did you know?  A few years ago, instead of giving something up, I brought up the idea to practice 40 days of kindness.  Find a way to do something simple each day in an unexpected way: spending time with others, extending generosity and compassion. Remember Jesus’ promise that when you care for others, you care for him (Matthew 25:31-46). Only you know what is realistic but a Lent discipline needs to be something that will challenge you and help you to remember what God has done for you and continues to do for you.

 p.s.s. - Did you know that Luther said. . . . ???  “When I look at myself, I don’t see how I can be saved.  But when I look at Christ, I don’t see how I can be lost.”