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From the Preacherman

I am loathe to admit it, but here goes. My daughter and son-in-law live in London, England. They bought their first gas grill recently after extensive research, as well as immense input from the self-proclaimed grill expert in their lives—me. They assembled the grill, fired it up and cooked a wide variety of meats and vegetables. I was impressed. I told them to use the electric starter on the grill as long as it worked, but when it stopped, just get a lighter and use that. “Or” said Tawqir, “Just replace the battery in the electric lighter on the grill. That works fine, too.”

Oh. I was today-years-old when I learned what most of you, and my son-in-law, already know: just replace the battery. I went outside to my grill, looked and found…. a worn-out battery there in the electric starter. After replacement, it works like the day it was born. And I am humbled.

So, why tell you this? Why admit to something that only a few people would ever know if I didn’t spill the beans? Well, because I think our sense of pride can get in the way of a whole bunch of things we can learn. Mine does. I never learned to play golf because I don’t want to fail so much. I didn’t want to practice a musical instrument either, so I never learned. Yet I speak publicly each week before a gathered crowd, which is as comforting as walking a tightrope with no net to catch me in a failed attempt. It is no-joke terrifying and when it stops being that scary, I will stop preaching. It is that important.

We humans are an interesting species. We can only learn by repeated failed attempts at everything, yet we detest to admit the importance of failure in the process of learning. Why is it so hard to admit what we do not know and cannot do? Pride explains part of it, as does self-loathing. I had a friend long ago who was asked to lead the pledge of allegiance in a school classroom. Red-faced and ashamed, he stood before the class, hand over his heart, and didn’t know how to begin. He froze. We stumbled through as a class, but his embarrassment was real. And lasting.

I so respect my grandparents, both Lynns and Michaels, because they read multiple newspapers every day. When I say read, I mean devoured, front to back, every section. I can remember deliveries of papers, both morning and afternoon editions, from Savannah and Brunswick, Atlanta and Athens. And weekly papers from local news organizations were read as well. (Maybe a National Enquirer or two, but I digress.) None of them had anything like an education such as we have today, some grade school and maybe a little high school, but learning, being informed and understanding the world around them was crucial and important to their lives. They knew that they didn’t know everything, and never would, but they tried. I am a product of that environment and am thankful for it.

What did Jesus’ disciples know and when did they know it? I have heard so many Christians proclaim that if they had been there when Jesus walked the earth, then they would have undoubtedly known before his death that he would return. Really? And you believe that? No, you wouldn’t have known, nor would I. The very idea was absurd. Until it wasn’t, and people started seeing and experiencing things like resurrection life they had no clue about before. They didn’t know, until they did. They were today-years-old when they knew.

So, what did you just learn, like today? The “Hollywood” sign on the hill above Los Angeles used to say “Hollywoodland.” The classic logo of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club is “MB” in the shape of a baseball mitt. The painting “American Gothic” depicts a farmer and his daughter, not his wife. Chicago got its nickname because the city rebuilt after the terrible fire in 1871, thus the “Second City.” And the only bad question is one that is never asked.

Peace … Chris