This morning, I began my work day by helping with a group of educators assembling at our church. What a great group of ladies who know that their calling is to teach our youngest of children! 300+ very bright, cheerful people in a room, growing in knowledge by completing continuing education credit. They will hear a motivational speaker and then a person from state licensing board will come and explain the latest rules for protecting children. They do this so that they can better prepare our children. It will be a good day for these educators who are great people, too.
As I was standing in the back of the church waiting for the event to begin, I noticed the above sign posted in the entrance to the Sanctuary. Our director had posted a small trash can below the sign, neatly preparing a place for people to deposit their material. As I watched people enter, I was struck by the number of folks who walked right by the sign, drinking away on their local Starbucks cup. It wasn’t a huge number of people, but it was surprising.
I think most people weren’t doing anything intentional — mostly they were talking as they entered the door — but it was amusing to see that THE folks that want rules followed (teachers), weren’t following them.
Hmm . . . rules . . .
On my drive into the office in this morning, I was waiting in a long line of traffic. The line was very long and the people in their cars were starting to get impatient. I was in the left lane but had not made it to the turn lane. Two cars that were behind me weren’t prepared to wait. They swung over into the turn lane and began to drive toward the intersection. About that time, my lane started to move and I could now see further up the street. Sitting in the left turn lane was a police officer . . . just at the right place where the officer’s patrol car was blocking the lane; thereby, stopping the cars from proceeding illegally in the turn lane. There were two drivers who were upset and now caught in the turn lane. They managed to merge back in but not before they had given the officer a very ugly wave of their hand . . . but THEY were breaking the rules, not the officer.
Rules . . . hmm
I was on my morning dog walk. Near my home, there is an unprotected intersection (no stop lights or signs) where I have to cross. There is clearly a marked crosswalk but it is always a bit scary to cross there. As I’m sure you know, there is a rule (law) that you must stop in a cross walk when a pedestrian is IN cross walk. The dogs and I were proceeding across — clearly in the cross walk. One car stopped and waited but another car blew through in front of us. Luckily, I’m aware of this intersection and we were safely away from the offending car. Waiting patiently, the dogs and I calmly moved forward. I turned to the driver in the car that had stopped and said, ‘thank you for waiting.” Clearly, she understood what had just happened, and nodded a “your welcome.”
Rules . . . hmm.
These days, it seems it’s tough for people to follow rules. I know that there are times when it is clear that rules need to be changed — even broken to expose an injustice. However, me deciding to break the speed limit clearly doesn’t fall into that category. But, why do I, like so many others, have a penchant for breaking rules?
Maybe, we are all need to celebrate our inner anarchist from time to time?
In the realm of Christianity, it is why we offer confession. We are sinners and we are going to be consistent rule breakers. God knows that and through the grace of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. In worship, corporate confession recognizes our moments of anarchy, intentional or not, when we think that the rules don’t apply to us. For that, we need forgiveness.
Granted, not putting your coffee cup in the provided trash can is a small deal. There are much larger things to be concerned about, right? Making a rude gesture to a police officer doesn’t really qualify for the major case squad, does it? It really doesn’t matter that my child was in the back seat of the car and saw me do that. Right?
Rules, . . . hmm.
I wouldn’t get caught up in the small stuff. Jesus had a lot to say about the religious people of his time who took great joy in making sure that rules were followed — to the point of almost insanity (Jesus heals on the Sabbath – Luke 13:10-17). But, do know that we need rules, that they are important to follow, and that when we constantly fall short, we are a forgiven people.
Therefore, at this very moment, forgiveness is extended to all coffee cup carriers, turn-lane offenders, crosswalk running, speeding junky, fill-in-the-blank, things-a-whole-lot-worse, insert-your-name-here anarchists . . . when you ask . . . nicely . . .
Let all God’s people say, “Amen.”