Two stories from yesterday. Both true.
story the first
I sat in my office talking with a guy about the Bible. We have been meeting almost daily for a few weeks, working our way through a book with lots of blanks in it. We looked up verses and filled in the blanks and talked about the answers, me talking a lot about some of the answers.
Yesterday we started a new thing, reading our way through the book of Matthew. The reason? At the end of Matthew, Jesus says that we are to make disciples (apprentices), teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded. And so I thought, start reading from the beginning of the book of Matthew and see what Jesus commanded. And that’s what we started yesterday, just reading through Matthew.
We looked at the geneology, noting that there are only four women listed, each one associated with men who failed in big ways. We turned back to the book of Genesis and looked at one of those stories. As we saw the 28 year gap in the story of Jesus, we turned to Luke for the one story we have of Jesus being 12. We talked about why there are four different stories in what we know as the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). We talked about why Matthew wasn’t written until 40 years or so after Jesus went into the clouds.
When we got to John’s baptism in Matthew 3, I almost failed. My friend asked a question about baptism and I almost said, “I’ll look that up and let you know.” And then I said, “let me tell you about commentaries.” I showed him another tool for understanding the Bible. I showed him how to use it. I let him take the commentary for Matthew with him.
I came so close to doing the learning for him, so close to keeping him from becoming a disciple, so close to doing what I do every day.
And then I started laughing, because I realized that he and I are involved in the very ancient process of discipling, of, if I may be very bold, of me being a rabbi. We are working our way through scripture and life, looking for understanding, not rushing, forging in him an understanding and a way of understanding, forging in me a new way of thinking about teaching.
Which is, of course, the ancient way that actually works.
story the second.
I sat next to Nancy last night, watching for the first time “thoroughly modern millie”, a stage musical done by students at a local high school. We sat in the balcony, and because we didn’t have a child in the show, we could just watch.
I won’t tell the whole story. However, just read this.
After having bumped into a girl freshly arrived in New York and telling her to go back to Kansas, the lead male character sees her again and this time really sees her. He sings “Oh, the places I would like to show you, although I hardly know you, I’ve a funny feeling we make a perfect pair.”
I sat next to my wife of 24 years and thought “I agree completely. With every clause.”
In the second act, we wanted to see something in the playbill. It was, of course, dark. Nancy took out of her purse a little flashlight/credit card thing she got for Christmas. I’m not sure whether she has ever used it. She squeezed it and it seemed as if a floodlight had been turned on. She quickly let go, we looked at each other with surprise and delight and at least one of us giggled.
And once again, I was feeling part of an ancient story, one that starts with, “for this reason, a man….”
Twice in a day. What wonderful grace.
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