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Pastor’s Pen – October 25, 2017 

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16 NRSV 

It’s pouring rain in the harbor. The water at 57 degrees is only slightly warmer than the air. Most Mainers think the day pleasant for late fall. It’s pleasant enough I suppose, sitting across the street in my winter coat munching sweet potato fries.

It’s easy to contemplate the day beyond these restaurant windows. I’m content to talk about the weather with anyone who cares to listen. It strikes me that observing the day from this waterproof perch above the waves demands much less that the surfer continually swimming against the tide. Not so much is required of me by comparison. I know I’m secure here. I’d also ever so much prefer to be me than him, though I’m not likely to say so out loud. 

From this waterproof safety, I wonder if the surfer is cold? I ponder how long he can stay out without hypothermia, and when it would be appropriate to sound the alarm and send out a team to fetch him. 

The surfer is committed, all in. Though I don’t want to be him, I can’t help but admire him. He reminds me of the saying: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” He stands for surfing, the power of wave and wind buoying him to shore. This statement has been attributed, falsely, to Alexander Hamilton, and to everyone since, from newspaper reporters and preachers to somebody’s great-uncle. Is it any wonder that it’s so often quoted? We instinctively know that while Jesus taught us to not judge one another, he also asked us to commit.

 

This gets tricky doesn’t it? I mean, standing for what we believe can make us look foolish. We ask ourselves, “when is standing for what we believe the courageous thing to do, and when are simply insisting on our own way?” 

Practicing a simmering faith, a faith with bones on it, a faith that stands for something is really hard. It’s so much easier to follow the popular advice to “go along to get along.” This means that we agree with others or do what they want in order to preserve harmony. “Live and let live.” Bleh! No wonder the prophet John prophesied that God will spit out such bland faith! 

Looking more closely now, I see the surfer is not alone. His companion crouches on a surfboard nearby. I’m thankful someone is willing to jump into the waves with him, to encourage his ride, and to sound the alarm if trouble comes.

Perhaps that’s the kind of faith God desires, an all-in faith for the sake of others. Jesus said, as quoted by John: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V Copeland