Deacon

Deacon: (n) an appointed or elected officer of a church

I can’t remember who told me this, so I apologize for not being able to attribute it to someone directly.

But in describing the chain of command, this individual told me that it is divided into three sections:

At the bottom is de-shit-cleaner.

Next up, de-shit-kicker.

And at the top is de-shit.

Perhaps a little over-simplistic, but in every organization, there seems to be someone who believes themselves to be in charge, another individual who determines themselves to be the enforcer of the rules, and then, a person or people who spend all their time cleaning up the messes and making the daily bread bake well.

This latter would be the deacon of a church.

A church is like any other corporation—in the sense that it has a mission which is often sullied by repetitive duties.

It may be fine to be the priest, delivering the sermons or the elder, telling everybody where to stand and where to go.

But someone has to unclog the women’s toilet at least twice a month.

Someone has to gather up all the bulletins left behind by parishioners, who swore they wanted to “take it with them.”

Someone has to check the hymn books for crayon marks from bored children.

Someone has to break up the rift between two sisters in Christ who have, for some reason or another, just discovered they can’t stand one another.

There is a deacon in every situation.

It is the person who knows that worshipping God does not make people godly.

They are still full of themselves, mistakes, carelessness and apathy—as they head out the door and wiggle and wobble back to their private retreats.

Codicil

Codicil: (n) an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one.

It was probably a Saturday morning, and the young fellow was perched in his tiny office in the back of the sanctuary, wondering what in the hell he was gonna talk about the following morning during his sermon at the church.

Although he wanted to be a minister, he forgot how terrifying it could be, to try to come up with a twenty-one minute homily once a week which would both appease and inspire. (Unfortunately, those two words–“appease” and “inspire”–often tend to contradict each other.)

So imagine his glee when he came up with the thought that God’s love–which he had taught about many times–was unconditional.

How good that was going to make everybody feel! The classic warm-and-fuzzy and oh-so-cuddly. He certainly had enough Bible verses to back up his contention.

So when he shared it the following morning it became so popular that it spread across the town, the Internet and eventually became a phrase that evoked tears and deep-rooted reflection from everyone who uttered it: unconditional love.

Unfortunately, the young minister who began this tumbling dice of good feeling failed to remind his congregation that there are codicils.

If love is the will of God, then we must sit down like good attorneys and read over the “will” a bit more carefully to understand how it is executed.

Just as grace demands that we be gracious and mercy is obtained by being merciful, God’s love is possessed by expressing affection and concern for those we deem to be “the least.”

If we fail to do this–in other words, be gracious–He resists our pride.

No mercy? Well–no mercy.

And if our love is not extended to those whom we psychologically view as untouchable, then God is completely willing to view us as equally uninteresting.

If I were to sum up the Bible in one word, it would be “if:”

  • If you want love, give love.
  • If you want mercy, share mercy.
  • If you want grace, be gracious.
  • And if you want understanding, try to understand something that you pretend is completely unacceptable.

 

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Aquarius

dictionary with letter A

Aquarius (n): the eleventh sign of the Zodiac.

“This is the dawning of the …”

The next part of this lyric from the song in Hair is “…Age of Aquarius.”

I happen to really enjoy that production and the tune, even though I grew up in a religious environment which believed that all astrology was “of the devil.”

Yes. Leave it to Satan to come up with a practice where everything is left to chance and the moving of the stars.

So as a kid, it was difficult to sing the song, share the song or even refer to the song around grownups. They would warn me that I was welcoming in dark demons, which would later infest me with horrible attitudes like failing to pay my electric bill.

It was difficult–because truth is much like water. It tends to come from everywhere and surprise us with how similar it is, considering its divergent points of origin.

Some water comes from the mountains through melted snow.

Some from the sky.

Some from wells from deep within the earth.

But pour it in a cup, drink it down and it’s refreshing.

I have to be honest with you–the off-Broadway musical, Hair, did more to enlighten me, generate social consciousness and make me compassionate than any sermon I ever heard in church.

It was raw, a little silly and laced with too much hopefulness.

But without that kind of childlike faith, we all become cynical growling adults. And deep in my heart, I wish there was an Age of Aquarius. I dream of how wonderful it would be if the stars would shift, Jupiter would align with Mars and attitudes would improve.

But I think I’m stuck with the symbolism–or maybe I’m Jupiter and my brother is Mars and the truth of life is still stuck in the closet somewhere … of the seventh house.

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