Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tables and Turtles

You know what I saw this week?

I was on my way to a meeting in Gastonia--to consider, along with a number of my colleagues, what do to in the face of a brother-in-ministry's unconfessed and unrepented sin (and I have been on the other side of that table, long years ago now, but I still have not lost the metallic taste in my mouth and that I am now on this side of the seems a terrible and acknowledged irony)--and there was this poor box turtle trying to cross the Dallas highway. I feel bad when I see turtles on the road. My first impulse, often answered, is to pull over, dodge the traffic and rescue the poor creature. This time I could not find a place to pull over.

Not to worry… one, two, now three cars slowed down and drove carefully around, and I thought the turtle would make it, only then somebody in a champagne colored GMC truck sped up and veered to the right to hit the turtle. Killed him on purpose. Got pleasure, I guess, from that turtle's plight and death.

And all I could think, apart from the demonstration of our perversity, insensitivity and actual sin, is that that is exactly what we do to each other sometimes when we repeat a rumor, or pick up the phone to spread the gossip--or meet at the table . That is just what we do when we turn a deaf ear or a cold shoulder to a brother or sister.

Today we gathered again at the Table, not for judgment but for grace. Not to consider the sins of a brother or sister but only our own. We gather to confess our own sin, we who have no defense other than God's grace and mercy--that is our only plea. We gather as a family, and as a family we realize that when one of us suffers, all of us suffer. When one of us rejoices, all of us rejoice. When one’s heart hardens, it is hard for all of us. Hurt people, don’t you know, hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. When one of us gives or receives a cold shoulder, all of us are chilled. When one sins, we all bear the consequences. But when one forgives…


Mark Crumpler said...

I've not come across any turtles lately Tom, but I know there's too much of that truck driver in me. Again, you've rightly named our plight. Saw a comment you had left over at "Mark This." When you get down to Atlanta the coffee's on me.

Bill said...


One of your best posts. I miss your humble observations.