Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogging through the Orthodox Heretic, day 5

The 5th parable is a story of impossible hospitality. A demon arrives at an old church known for welcoming anyone and asks for welcome. After destroying much of the church, the demon asks the priest to take him home and the priest continues the welcome. After making a mess of the priest's home, the demon asks to be accepted into the old man's heart. He extends yet another welcome and the demon leaves empty handed. It had come seeking to rob the old man of his kindness and generosity and was able to take neither. The old man went to bed wondering what guise Jesus would take next.

This story reminds me of an experience I had while doing Clinical Pastoral Education at Haverford State Mental Hospital. One day I arrived for my appointment with my supervisor - Bob Cholke. A patient was coming out of his office. I can still see him over 30 years later. He was dirty. His clothing was soiled and torn. He smelled bad. His face was swollen and bruised from a fight. He had tardive dyskinesia, a side-effect of major tranquilizers used to treat schizophrenia that causes uncontrollable movements of the fingers, toes, and tongue. I found myself backing away when Cholke reached out to the man and embraced him. I saw nothing redeeming in the man. Cholke saw the face of Jesus. That moment was one of the most important ones in my education and formation as a pastor.


Kathy Moore said...

Roy, this echoes the theme of the Wired Word class we had this past Sunday. We had quite a discussion about what the "unwritten rules" of behavior in the church are. And...what happens if you invite a whole lot of people in who are "different" and they change everything?

Yes, we are still discussing that. But at least we are discussing it!

Thanks for these postings; I can't say that I actually like them, but they are challenging.

roy said...

thanks Kathy.
Rollin's book might make an interesting starting point for an adult Sunday School class at EBC.