Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gay Pain for Straights

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Who would have thought my annual physical would end up in an apocalyptic moment with the nurse who just stuck a needle in me?

    It happened on April 30, 2015.

    Confessionally, while early, it may prove to be as transforming as my time with Eugene and my covenant brothers back in October 2011.


    Let's set the scene.

    The Board of Pensions of the PCUSA has become a total pain in the butt when it comes to their so-called "Call to Health" incentives, requirements, blackmail, and...

    Simply, if we wanna reduce medical deductibles, we've gotta jump through all kinda hoops and...

    Guessing all roads lead back to DC's Pennsylvania Avenue on this, it's just another example of someone trying to control behaviors and dictate how we...

    While everyone has been nice to me when I've called Philadelphia to report my numbers and other stuff so my financial manager aka wife doesn't scold me for not tapping into the benefits, I find myself spending more and more and more time pushing papers and satisfying bureaucrats and...

    Catch the drift?

    Anyway, I went through the typical things that ya gotta go through during those "preventive care" appointments.

    I was reminded, especially during the prostate exam, why doctors get paid so much.


    But while we'll wait to see what the blood suckers in the lab discover, I came out pretty swell.  All my pressures and pulses and beats were inspected and detected to be that of a dude half my age.  I think that's cool; but know that will disappoint people who hate me in a Christian kinda way for spoiling their coincidental-to-Christianity religion and exposing their idolatries while wishing I'd fall off Return2 on Route 90 or get knocked off by my Islamofascistnutball fans.  Unless I fall off my pony or get assassinated by the posers or demonic religionists or PCUSA and other mainlining jingoists, I think I'm good for another two decades or so.


    Sorry to disappoint...

    Everything was going just peachy; until the MD said, "It's looks like you're due for pneumococcal conjuggate vaccine.  The nurse will be in shortly to administer it."

    "That sounds like needles," I joked to conceal me being a weenie when it comes to shots.

    I shouldn't have joked.

    He just left the room and was replaced by a nurse with the needle.

    O.K., I give blood every six weeks.


    If I have to explain that to you, you wouldn't understand anyway.

    I still loathe pain; and needles cause pain.

    But by the time the nurse shot me up with whatever was in that needle at the doctor's prescription, I didn't feel a thing.

    Yeah, she was probably good at it.

    Buuuuuut it was something much, much, much more.

    It was a divine appointment.

    No doubt.


    The following records, uh, what, uh, happened.

    You interpret it for yourself.

    Like my time with Eugene, I think I'll be interpreting/savoring/transforming for a long, long, long time.


    She walked into the room...and closed the door.

    I said, "I don't like pain."

    She said, "I would never hurt you."

    I said, 'We'll see."

    She said, "No, truly, I would never hurt you."

    I said...nothing.

    She looked at me, eyeball to eyeball without blinking with disarming strength yet sensitivity, and asked me to tell her about what I have hanging around my neck.

    I explained, "Well, there's a cross with the seal of the denomination on it.  I got it when I was ordained.  It has porcelain inlays that, like me, have chipped over time."

    She interrupted, "You are doing better now."

    "The other cross," I continued after her judgment without asking how she could say that without us knowing each other, "was made by a pastor who died years ago."

    She asked, "What about the ring?"

    "It's the Lion of Judah," I replied.

    She took it in her hand while looking through my eyes into my spirit and urged,"Go on."

    Softly, yet clearly, I said, "It's the Lion of Judah.  Jesus.  I wear it because I have come to realize it's not enough for me to care for the wounded; but also to do what I can to protect people from being wounded."

    She smiled softly yet with a strength that continued to disarm me; then asked, "Would you like to see my tattoo?"

    "Absolutely," I answered.

    She rolled up her right sleeve and I saw a beautiful tattoo with intricate weavings and symbols and...

    "This tattoo symbolizes the pain of a mother...My 18 year old son committed suicide over 7 years ago...He was gay..."

    She took her time to explain each detail and each feeling and...

    "I am very, very, very sorry for your loss," I said.

    "I know you are," she said.

    "If you would rather not talk about it, I will understand," I inquired, "but why did he commit suicide?"

    She assured, "We are here right now because He wants us to be here.  God called us together for this moment.  I will tell you why my son committed suicide.  He was bullied and..."

    It was a painful recollection.

    If it were not for...His presence, it would have been unbearable.

    "I am very, very, very sorry for your loss."

    She asked how I feel about gays.

    We talked of God's invitational, welcoming, and inclusive love.

    We talked of agape.

    We talked of...pain.

    I felt hers...and his.

    "I am very, very, very sorry for your loss."

    "Tell me," she pressed, "how do you feel about gays?"

    'Well," I said, "I believe God loves gays no more nor no less than He loves anyone else..."

    We talked more about God's...

    "I am very, very, very sorry for your loss," I repeated again...and again...and again...and...

    She smiled again...and again...and again...and...

    Then she administered the shot.

    I didn't feel it.

    Strangely warmed and uncommonly calm, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience or something.

    She asked, "Are you a hugger?"

    Before I could respond, we hugged.

    Once more, I said, "I am very, very, very sorry for your loss."

    She said, "That is what I needed to hear...and you needed to say."

    She looked deeply into me once more without a word.

    My heart felt...massaged.

    There was a very, very, very long pause - and one last eyeball to eyeball without blinking.






    Then she left.



Blessings and Love!



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

You're Sooooooo Old/Young!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


"She scorned with a scream, 'You'll never grow up!'

I looked upward and begged, 'Please!'







"But, alas, it turns out it is the spirit in a man, not age."



    Hazel just turned 93. 

    She asked my age.

    "Three decades junior," I reported.

    "You don't look it," she observed then smiled, "and I hope you don't act it."


    A senior wrote in my 8th grade yearbook, "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live."


    Bob didn't make it as long as Hazel still does.

    He was only 71 when he went back home to Jesus.

    Yet, like Hazel, he would agree with the senior who wrote in my 8th grade yearbook.

    I'll never forget his enduring youthfulness.

    Not long after the horrific tornado in Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, our family of faith followed up a big relief check and truckloads of supplies with a large work crew and VBS staff.

    At the time, Bob was hooked up to a heavy oxygen tank with a failing ticker sending him to more than occasional visits to the hospital.

    Bob was determined to make the trip; but several well-meaning women of Martha-like, uh, uh, uh,...asked me to counsel him to stay home because of his declining health.

    They said it wasn't safe for Bob to go.

    "Too risky," they insisted.

    Parenthetically - and Bob often told me how much he liked me using that word in oral and written messages - I'm really not amused when people make bullets for me to shoot.  Really, if you wanna say something to somebody, say it yourself.  Have the courage of your, uh, whatever.  And instead of asking me how folks are doing in the hospital, why don't you follow Jesus in a Matthew 25 kinda way and make a trek?  Yeah, I'm still gonna go; but wouldn't it be nice if you went too?  Parenthetically!

    Well, I know it's more of a pain having to answer to church ladies when you don't obey 'em; sooooooo like most wimpy pastors of this generation running errands for people who can't/won't do it for themselves, I went to Bob and told him that some, uh, uh, uh, church ladies wanted me to tell him that they didn't think he should go to Joplin because he was chained to the oxygen tank and had a bad ticker.

    Bob looked at me with those big brown eyes of his that were so strong yet so gentle at the same time and seemed to glow as he said through one of his patented mischievous smiles, "I would rather die doing something for God's sake than give up just because of this ___ tank!"

    Some people rust away.

    Others ride off in a blaze of glory.

    Bob blazed!

    No rust on his soul.


    My father-in-law just turned 90.

    He has 4th stage cancer.

    He's always been one of my heroes; for with my dad and other upper octogenarians and more, he was part of the last great generation of Americans who were collectively in love with God and country and willing to sacrifice for 'em.

    Anyway, he loves cutting the grass on his John Deere tractor.

    When I saw him after Easter, he said he was getting some static from other family members about getting on that JD and cutting the grass at his age and with such health challenges.

    He asked what I thought.

    Despite putting myself in a precarious spot with you know who by responding, I answered, "Well, I've always said we're ___ if we do and ___ if we don't; which is quite liberating in that we can say whatever we think knowing we're going to catch it regardless.  So, yeah, if you know the probable consequences of falling off your JD, I'd go for it.  Like freedoms in America, once ya give something up, ya rarely get it back.  So, as Nike says, just do it!"

    He did!

    When I heard he did, I told his daughter, "Score one for freedom and manhood!"

    No rust on Ralph's soul.


    My first and continuing hero, my dad, is always buying golf clubs.

    My mom wonders why he needs 'em.

    Really, women just don't get men just as much as men just don't get women.

    Never have.

    Never will.

    Maybe Bruce Jenner understands the mystery; but most women and men don't.

    Female is female and male is male and one comes from Venus and one comes from Mars.

    Or something like that.

    Actually, it goes back to Genesis; but, really, because most folks pay more attention to planets than the Bible these days...

    Getting back to the point before it totally escapes me, I said this when my mom complained about it again, "O.K., just tell me when dad stops buying new golf clubs so I can clear out my calendar and start preparing his memorial service."


    My dad just bought a new driver.

    Says it has added 20 yards with more accuracy.

    No rust on his soul.


    Our church boards are really young compared to most mainliners.

    When I tell other pastors about it, they get kinda green-eyed.

    Sooooooo we've got a problem different from most other churches in our franchise and town.

    We're always looking for people who are older to balance things out a little.

    Not too long ago, I said to one of 'em, "I hope you'll take another three year term."

    She asked why.

    "There are three reasons," I replied, "that quickly come to mind.  First, we need your experienced leadership.  Second, you don't act like a geezer.  Third, you've gotta have goals and purpose and raison d'etre no matter how old ya are.  I don't want you to rust out.  I love you too much to see that happen to you."

    I think she's gonna do it.

    No rust on her soul.


    Once we stop acting younger, we start getting older.


    O.K., cynic, chronology happens.

    Spirit is...embraced...or not.

    Some things are not predestined in an existential/volitional kinda way no matter what hyper-Calvinists dogmatize.

    That sounds silly.

    Just like people who look...because they act sooooooo...



Blessings and Love!