Meet Our New Pastor!
Some years ago, when I was serving a church in a town far away, the sound of my name didn’t always go down well with people: “Spangler. You’re not related to the car dealer, are you?”
That this was not a friendly question would be clear from the tone of voice, the raised eyebrow, and the scowl on the brow.
“No,” I would say, “I am not.”
Most times the answer brought relief. I may have been a Spangler, but I wasn’t one of “those” Spanglers, so I was judged to be okay. Maybe. Sometimes, my answer brought disbelief. In those parts, there were only about half a dozen Spanglers’ in the phone book, so my denial did nothing, but confirm their worst. Many people, though, really liked the Spangler dealership, which meant when they thought to ask about the connection, disappointment crossed their face.
I, of course, thought all of this rather strange. When I was child, Spanglers filled pages and pages of the York County phonebook and only a few showed up at the family reunion. Here my name was just a name. There it assigned me a worth that rose and fell with dealings I could not control.
All of us are in that boat.
If it’s not family, it might be gender. If it’s not gender, it might be race. If it’s not race, it might be nationality, or politics, or religion, or wealth that undervalues our worth in ways baked into a way of life that tempts us to simply get along by rowing for no one but our folk or our self alone.
In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a crew of eight American young men pulled together to defy the worst of odds and win a gold medal by training and learning to row as a team that was strong for each other, cared for each other, trusted each other, and rowed for nothing other but the boat and the finish. All qualities that our nation would use used to successfully meet the challenges posed in the years ahead.
None of this is strange to us. It is the course Christ charts for us in his dying and rising, a course we can follow by being quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, and always loving our neighbor as ourselves with humility, consideration, mercy, and the grace of giving to each other the same worth that the risen Christ lives to give every one of God’s children.