Friday, April 16, 2010
Run Over and Ground Down
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you." John 16:1-4
Several years ago when Bishop Croneberger retired from the Diocese of Newark, he gave each of us something to remember him by. Over the years, he had quite a collection of frogs (because of a wedding sermon he preached) that people had given him, thinking frogs were his favorite. And so he gave each of his staff one of his frogs. They were all different - wood and china, fabric and paintings. I ended up with a multi-colored bean bag frog. He was floppy and sat on my dashboard going everywhere with me. I named him Jack, of course. He wasn't very talkative but he was a loving presence on long rides across the diocese.
That summer we went to Delaware to visit with our family on vacation. Jack somehow got knocked off the dashboard, out of the car, and onto the driveway where they were staying. On our trip home across the Delaware Bay on the ferry, I noticed Jack was missing. Eventually, he was found, but he had suffered greatly over the time he had gone missing. Cars and frogs don't get along so well. None of them noticed Jack until we called- so he was pretty battered. When he arrived home in the mail, his insides were on the outside. We put him back together. We tell his story whenever we can.
Today, I want to remember Jack as I hear Jesus' words to his disciples. Sometimes, people who hurt you will think they are doing a service to God. It doesn't make sense, but we can all attest to the truth of that statement. Sometimes good people run us over thinking they are serving God, pleasing God even. Often they have no idea what they are doing. They don't see it at all - like they didn't see Jack in the driveway. We are all oblivious to the hurt we are inflicting. I want to remember Jesus' words and forgive the acts of ignorance and misguided malice that one can encounter every day. And may we remember that Jesus suffered and died that we might be made new. And every day God's love is acting for our renewal and transformation - even when we feel like we are being run over and run down.