Church Write-Up: Pie-Eating Contest, Forgetting, and Salt

For church last Sunday, I attended the evangelical church that I call the “Pen Church” (since I get a free pen there), and the African-American Baptist church.  In this post, I will talk about something that happened to me at the Pen Church, then I will discuss the sermons at the churches.

A.  I went into the Pen Church, and a woman asked me if I wanted to be part of some drawing.  I initially declined, but then I asked if it cost anything, and she said no, so I got a ticket with a number.  I was hoping that my number would not be called, but I had a vague sense deep-down that it would be.  And, sure enough, it was the first number that was called!  I went up to the stage, three other numbers were called, and all four of us participated in a pie-eating contest, with pumpkin pie.  This was the first pie-eating contest that I had ever done.  There was a fork in the pies in case we wanted to eat them with a fork, and a towel in case we wanted to stuff our faces!

I had some strikes against me.  For one, this was around 9 A.M.  I do not have much of an appetite in the morning.  That’s why I don’t eat breakfast, even though people insist to me that it is the most important meal of the day.  I’m just not hungry in the morning, and I feel queasy when I eat.  Second, this was pumpkin pie, which has a weird sweet taste.  Third, while I like pumpkin pie, I do not like downing it really quickly.  The clock started, and I took my bites and chewed.  I could not down it quickly, since I needed to chew and swallow my food!  I lost the contest, but it turned out that I did about as well as the others.  Nobody finished their pie.  The winner only finished half of it in the allotted time!  I finished a little over a fourth of it.

B.  The sermon at the Pen Church was about the Joseph story and about how God can use the things of our past that we would rather forget for God’s glory and to help others.

Earlier this past week, I was reading a book about forgiveness.  Reading that book, and hearing the sermon at the Pen Church last Sunday, reinforced in my mind a question that I have frequently asked myself: if I could take an eraser and erase the painful memories from my mind, would I do so?  A lot of times, forgiveness is presented as forgetting the pain that we have experienced from others.  We are not to dwell on the past, we are told, but we are to stay in the present and move on.  But I think of what Captain Kirk said in Star Trek V, when the Vulcan Sybok offered to take away Kirk’s pain: “Our pain makes us who we are.  If we lose that, we lose ourselves.  I do not want you to take away my pain.  I need my pain!”  My pain has produced negative effects: resentment, jealousy, hatred, and a dearth of hope.  But, at times, it has produced positive effects, such as compassion for others.  And, as the pastor said, what would Joseph’s story be like without the painful aspects of his life?  He would look like he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but that was not the case, for Joseph suffered.

In terms of how I believe I should deal with the past, I do not think that I should dwell on negative memories as much as I do.  But I can still acknowledge that they are there and that God can use them.  They are a part of me, whether I dwell on them or not.

C.  The sermon at the African-American Baptist church was about how Christians are the salt of the earth.  They are to pray for people, live lives of dignity and righteousness, and make people thirsty for what Christians have, as salt makes people thirsty.

I could identify with what the pastor said about praying for our leaders.  I do so regularly, on account of Trump being President and my fear of disaster that can result from him saying something inappropriate.  But I have particularly been praying for President Trump and the mayor in Puerto Rico to cooperate and to help Puerto Ricans get the food and water that they need.  Maybe both are responsible for their conflict with each other, on some level (and I will NOT get into a debate about that on this blog, or anywhere else), but my hope is that they can bury the hatchet and work together on what is important, rather than squabbling.

In terms of making people thirsty, I do not do that, or even try to do that.  I am all for trying to be a good person, but, speaking for myself, I find being an advertisement for Christianity to be phony.  It entails me acting as if I am better than I am, and as if I have solid answers that I do not have.

That said, I found an interesting blog last week, and I included it in the Asperger’s section of my Blogger Blog.  This blog that I found is called “Asperger Ministry.”  One post was entitled “How Neurological Differences Affect Our Christian Witness.”  I liked this statement from the post (and I have slightly modified it):

“[In f]ocusing on being a good witness[,] the focus is on self and not Jesus. We need to approach others with the mindset of Philippians 2:3. Christians, being human as we are, can easily get effect and cause subtly twisted backwards. Jesus never asked His Heavenly Father to show Him how He could be a good witness. The reason He didn’t need to do this was because He was humble. Walking in the Spirit can’t be done unless we’re humble.”


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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