I love Harold and miss him a lot.
When we were looking for an associate pastor in Pennsylvania and couldn't afford a Presbyterian or find one who still believed in Jesus, He sent this AGer to us who was disenchanted with institutional Christianity, tired of playing the clergy game of hide and sin, and foolish enough to swallow everything that He ever said as Gospel.
My kinda guy.
He was always getting me into trouble.
He wouldn't compromise Christianity for temporal lauds, professional perks, and pension credits; and he salted me to do the same.
I think He used him to cultivate the seeds of salvation in my life which were planted so long ago by my parents and another Pastor Harold (viz., The Rev. Harold F. Mante who was the first "home" pastor who He used to capture my attention!).
God knows I'm not saying I'm that hot; but I'm a lot better than I was.
I hope that doesn't shock you.
While our Lord uses us in spite of ourselves - read some Bullinger - I know I knew something about Jesus for the first 15-20 years after I was ordained; but it wasn't until Harold showed up that I started to wrestle with the serious sins remaining in me.
I'll say more about that in Cave Canem which gets into serious print sometime shortly after 9/14.
Anyway, I'll never forget when Harold really ticked off an elder who accused him of using her as an example of, uh, how, uh, not to be a Christian.
She interrupted him in front of a whole Bible study class and blurted out, "You know you preached Sunday's sermon just for me."
He said, "Please don't flatter yourself; but if the shoe fits..."
That's my Harold.
Clear, concise, compelling, surprisingly comprehensive, and radiantly, uh, Christian.
Maybe that's why I stopped referring to him as my associate pastor and just called him Pastor Harold.
If the shoe fits...
After just over three decades in this gig, I've realized people who feel guilty usually are.
I think it was FDR's Harold-like wife who said, "No one can make you feel anything without your consent."
When someone says the prayer of confession or sermon or whatever made 'em feel guilty, I usually respond, "Would you like to pray with me about it?"
I don't like to pile on; and, besides, He always has a better way of making folks feel better by helping them to get better.
Of course, in the front of my mind, I'm thinking, "Why don't you just confess and get the restoration thing going while there's still time?"
I thought about Harold the other day when the first reports came in about our expansion, renovation, and accessibility campaign.
Starting in the summer without a lot of high pressure marketing, we're about 15% of the way to our goal with a few months left before we decide what we're gonna do.
What gets me is I know a few folks who could write a check and just about fund the whole thing.
I shouldn't be surprised.
If I can't get 12Gs after some, uh, subtle (?) hints with close friends...
I'm hanging out a lot more with God these days in prayer and fasting.
I've got a long way to go; but it's better than it used to be.
And I can sense I'm starting to think a lot more like Harold; which means I'm gonna get into trouble really soon.
I'm starting to say, uh, truthful things like, "What you believe is betrayed by how you behave."
To the older folks, I'm saying, "Don't tell me that you're keeping your baptismal promises and that you really care about children if you're not investing in their future..."
To the younger folks, I'm saying, "Don't tell me that you care about seniors if you won't put in an elevator for 'em to get into the sanctuary because you'd really rather warehouse 'em..."
We're not supposed to live off the past.
We're supposed to be build upon the best of the past for future generations.
Did you hear about the woman who went to the memorial service for a soldier who just died in Iraq?
She did not know him.
When asked why she went, she said, "He did not know me; but he went over there for me."
Our predecessors did not know us; yet they provided for our well-being.
Unless I'm missing something, aren't we supposed to...?
Two sentences from The Shack come to mind: "Jesus chose to die because He and His Daddy love you and me and everyone in the world. He saved us from our sickness, just like the princess."
I better repeat that story too which is a metaphor for the story: "She didn't have to die. She chose to die to save her people. They were very sick and she wanted them to be healed."
Read the book.
Yes, that book too.
Harold burst into my study and shouted: "It's right here in the book! We're supposed to care more about the needs of others than our own."
Well, now I'm really going to get into trouble; telling people that real love is more about compassion for others than consumption for ourselves and that there's no such thing as being selfish for Jesus.
It reminds me of how we'd joke about today's unholy trinity which has replaced the real one: Me, Myself, and I.
I'm gonna catch hell because He told you to insist on heaven for us.
Do you have a shoe horn?
Actually, it will be worth it in the end; because these blisters are part of the birth pangs...
Blessings and Love!