10 December 2014

Working Clothes

by the Late Frank Turk

Some of you will recognize that last weeks' post was a re-write of a post which was about the same from 2009.  You might recognize this one that way as well, but it's worth your time to revisit this with me.  I’m thinking about work today because I have plenty of it to do. In one sense, I am feeling blessed by my own abundance of tasks and the fact that they aren’t going to change the locks on my door while I’m out for Christmas holidays because I know for certain some of my own friends are not so lucky. Some of you are getting notice that you have Fridays off indefinitely, but they’re going to cut your pay accordingly. Some of you wish you were only getting Fridays off, because let’s face it: CareerBuilder.com is not awash in great-paying, long-term career moves right now.

So today as I put on my working clothes – sport jacket, decent shirt, pressed jeans since it’s the week before vacation, shoes, socks, appropriate undergarments – I was thinking about the kind of work there is to do right now. And layered on top of that is the News. You know: it’s Christmas, and you’d think human nature could take two weeks off to give us a break, but it never does, and it comes to us as The News. And I don’t know about you, but when I see The News, I think of my own kids, and because I know them and love them I pray to God that there is not an end like that the one in The News in store for them.

Because let’s face it: there could be. The News keeps coming out every day, every single day, because these things keep happening to other people's children and spouses and friends. These things man-handle the blogosphere. When the world puts on its working clothes, that is the kind of thing that comes of it. That is the kind of world we live in. Usually I have some kind of pithy zinger to throw in to really make you not forget what I’m talking about here, but I got nothin’: you know how The News makes you feel every day, and if you don't you’re dead inside.

And for that reason, we get stories/video like this one:

 I will grant you that there are a variety of items in that video which my wife isn’t going to list in my honey-do list, and things I wouldn’t spend the time listing because they are so implausible, but overall that’s what people think of church – as a place where we live out what we believe. While the world has its own work to do, and its own working clothes, decent people think they have a different job, and a different set of working clothes to get into and get after.

But here’s the thing: it seems rather obvious to me that the way this video frames it up, there’s no solution in that activity to the problems we find in The News. If what’s in that video is what the church (of all places, of all groups of people) is all about, it’s a no-contest, one-round knock-out punch, and the world is going to win every time.

So I’m thinking about a different set of working clothes this morning – especially as I try to get myself ready for Christmas amid the busy-ness of life which I am right now blessed with. I’m think of the one who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The working clothes of that guy is where the hope of the world comes from – not from our paltry efforts (however genuinely-good and genuinely-loving they are) to make the world a better place. We don’t believe in our good works: we believe in a Lord and Christ, a Sovereign and a Savior who overcomes a world filled with The News -- the Bad News -- and the sinful hearts which cause it.

And that’s what we celebrate at Christmas: the working clothes that look like a baby in a feeding trough; the long-suffering and loving-kindness of a God who is with us.

We celebrate that there is not just News, but there is Good News, Good tidings of Great Joy for all people.


Daryl said...

If, as you have often rightly said, we are to live as if the Bible in general and the gospel in particular, is true, then we need to keep that truth at the head of the line.

Therein lies the failure of the United-Methodist Church and, if I'm honest, therein lies my failure as well.

But really, as your post implicitly points out, if we actually remind ourselves daily of what the real truth is and of how significant Philippians 2 actually, really and truly is, how can it help but change us?

And when I think that, the first part of your post comes crashing in. In way too many ways I am The News and in way too few ways, I am one of the ones Jesus humbled himself for.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Michael Coughlin said...

Did you pull an MD on Philippians 2??


Frank Turk said...

Quoting scripture does not require verse references.

Michael Coughlin said...

Maybe I should have tried
instead of

Frank Turk said...