Sunday, March 20, 2011

Doing God’s Work in the Middle of a Marathon

No, I wasn’t blessing the runners or handing out water or cleaning up the pukers. I was mainly sitting in my car and cursing. I am proud to say, however, that I wasn’t shooting the bird or arguing with the poor traffic cops like some of the other stuck-in-traffic pissed-off people.

I knew that the Georgia Marathon was going to be run on Sunday morning and that streets were going to be blocked. I had even checked the marathon map on my way out the door.  But, I still managed to get on the primary race route road.

You might have thought God would do a better job getting me to church. Maybe he’s a little busy right now, what with Japan and Libya, but still, here I was trying to do the right thing for once and I was getting very little support.

I am, at best, a sporadic church goer. I’ve belonged to my big city, open-doors-to-all-races-creeds-and-orientations United Methodist Church for six years now but I’ve just recently started going back. Our church is so open-minded, we occasionally have to prop up a snoozing homeless person so we can fit everyone into the pew.

Like many people, I vacillate on my beliefs about God and Jesus and Me, Myself, and I. However, I do believe that, if there is a God, when He isn’t Hanging out at the Beach, he’s Spending Time at St. Mark.

As good a person as I’m trying to be (which, come to think of it, it ain’t all that good), I would have certainly blown off church this morning because of how difficult it was going to be to get there.  Had it not been for Cheryl Thompson begging on Facebook for someone to take her place with the reading of the Old Testament Scripture during the 11:15 service, I would've been happily ensconced at home, surfing the net rather than sitting in traffic.

In a weak moment,  I told Cheryl I would take her place and, before I could change my mind, she sent me the passage in an email message (using a large script so I could decipher it). I read and re-read it out loud it like the instructions said to do, so that I wouldn’t stumble over those big bible-like words.

Because we are supposed to at least pretend we are reading from the Real Bible and not a large-lettered computer print-out, I found my mother’s old Bible, the one given to her by my father, who was the true believer in our family, someone who never ever, in my memory, questioned God. In that Bible, I found a newspaper article about my brother from when he finished Officer’s Training during the Vietnam War, something that reminded me, once again, about what a perfect child he was – the ass.

So, after all the reading and practicing and remembering and finding sensible shoes so I wouldn’t fall down climbing up to the pulpit, there I was stuck in traffic and not moving except when there was a lull in the lumbering mass. I thought, at that point, church would have to move on without me, or worse, all of those people, including the clergy, would just sit there wondering where the reading from Genesis had gone.

I finally made it into the sanctuary at 11:20 and, thank goodness, my friend, Katie, had saved me a seat. I didn’t even have to prop her up. After the children's sermon was done, I walked up to the front, remembering that you never want go on after kids.

But it turned out okay. I didn’t fall down and I read the scripture and I even got in a couple of jokes.

I’m not sure you’re supposed to tell jokes leading up to reading scripture but I believe God’s Work arrives in all kinds of presentation styles and I've definitely got my own style.

22 comments:

schmidleysscribblins.wordpress.com said...

The Goddess definitely has a sense of humor. She made men.

Jean said...

Your own style is a great one! I'm sure you done good.

I'm a Congregationalist, of sorts. I'd hate to tell you the last time I went to church. I'm afraid it might have been 2006, for my mother's funeral. She always did have a way of getting me to church whether I wanted to go or not.

Phil said...

And your style and jokes were wonderful! And your blogpost is even better.

MaryB said...

I like your style and I'm sure he/she does too.

Penelopepiscopal said...

Hey, I think God hangs out at the beach, too!

Friko said...

If the gods don't like your style, that's tough. On them, not you.

I pity your brother, - the ass - , you must have been hard on him. You made me give a very sharp bark. (it's what passes for laughter with me.)

Cile said...

I thank God for your style...and thank YOU for this post. I don't recall any rule where Genesis could not be improved upon. You bring me laughter, Marcia. The greatest gift!

Celia said...

Thanks for refreshing my point of view this morning, I think you are very brave to get up there!

Cheryl Thompson said...

Thank you so much. I'm sure you were better than I could ever be...

Arkansas Patti said...

Hay, God has a sense of humor or we wouldn't have one since we are made in his image.
I enjoyed your trip, wish you had shared the jokes.

Freda said...

Well done for being brave enough to stand up and do a reading in church. It's not an easy thing to do. And I'm with you, I believe that God loves being on the beach or at a party or with a family or with a homeless person.... Every Blessing

Wisewebwoman said...

My little pagan self applauds you for afflicting the comforted or comforting the afflicted or some such.
XO
WWW

marciamayo said...

WWW, I thought of you when I wrote this and wondered what you would have to say. You outdid yourself with afflicting the comforted.

paula devi said...

Great story wonderfully told. Gods & goddesses work in mysterious ways. Which Scripture in Genesis did you read? It's always interesting to see the juxtapositions.

marciamayo said...

Paula, it was chapter 12, verses 1-4, something about Abram leaving Haran. You know this old testament stuff is difficult for protestants.

Olga said...

Now, I was under the Yankee impression that any thing that might interfere with Sunday morning church going just was not allowed ever. I shouldn't reveal my ignorance, but then I go (perhaps once a year) to a U-U church only if I can find one that is heavy on the universalist side. I do find it just as easy to pray "to whom it may concern" as easily on the beach as in a building.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for wading in! If you have to do it again, I'll make sure you get more than 4 verses to read! Beth LP

marciamayo said...

Beth, it was your use of the word "fart" in one of your sermons that gave me the courage to try out my stand-up act in the pulpit. Seriously.

paula devi said...

Marcia, Who doesn't have difficulties with the Old Testament?? The translations from Aramaic are very inaccurate, the underlying meanings are hidden (Sage Kabbalists study all their lives). I taught it in our middle school in Israel. Children start studying it in the second grade and there's a big ceremony that surrounds it. It's actually an ancient ceremony. The discussions with my students were often amazing. The Old Testament is our history. We also related what we were reading that week to the present day or present times. Oh, how I miss teaching. But you understand that Marcia.

joared said...

A little bit of humor helps the Old Testament go down -- whatever works.

LC said...

Your writing cracks me up. Your journey surely equaled Abram's striking out after God gave him marching orders. And Abram didn't even have to deal with a marathon.

At least you were striving to get to church. We got caught up in a cyclist rally in New Orleans a year or so ago. Even with directions from local police, we never could find a rally-free route to the Cafe du Monde and the beignets we were lusting for.

Vagabonde said...

It was a pleasure reading your last few posts. I was never scared of reading in public until I came to the US, now it is very hard because of my accent. I get very aware of it and then my accent gets even heavier. My mother was not a believer so I never went to church growing up, plus none of my friends went either – France is very secular about only 6% of people attend church now. I must have driven by your church in Atlanta – it looks very nice.