“CONFLICTED !”

 
“CONFLICTED”
Conflicted. A condition.  Conflicted? A Question.  Convicted.  Ooops, wrong word.  Conflicted.   That’s how I feel sometimes.  How about you?  It’s a feeling that flows from the term, ‘conflict,’ which is a condition where two parties do not agree OR where a circumstance or event rubs up against another OR when one way of looking at life is different from another way…  It’s not always a bad thing, ‘conflicted,’ but sometimes I’m forced to deal with it…  here are some examples…

I’m conflicted.  Why?  I like ‘Friday Night Lights’ and Texas HS football… I like watching the games, being part of the crowd, supporting the team and being with the parents and listening to the band and munching on m&m’s washed down with a bottle of water.  So, why is that a conflict?  Well, we have at least 8 high schools represented in our Sr Hi LYO…they all made the play-offs… Pearland, Pearland Dawson, Dobie, Friendswood, Manvel, Pasadena Memorial, Deer Park and Clear Springs.  I wanted to go all the games… so how did I manage the conflict?  I went to none.  Nope.  Stayed home.  Read the results on Saturday morning and low and behold…there are fewer teams now in round #2 so the conflict continues… Now it’s time to decide…

See how that goes?

Then there is the conflict between family and work.  We all get this one.  Boss says, do this.  Spouse says, do that.  Children say, “look at me; look at me!”  Then the voice inside says… who pays for all this?  Where are my priorities?  And we get stuck in a battle of love and loyalty and taking care of daily life…  Everyday seems to be a ‘time to decide.’

Self-direction and self-definition helps.  But, it also creates conflict.  I have plans to take my family to the park and spend the day.   The night before, I get a phone call from an old college friend…just passing through…wants to see me… and I haven’t heard from him in 6 years…despite my attempts to keep in touch… So, I resolve the conflictedness…  I tell him, come and meet my family; we’ll be at the park… all day…here’s the address… and thus I have now given away my conflict and returned it to its rightful owner…and now it’s his choice to “see me” or not… Again, conflict ushers in a ‘time to decide…’

But, here’s the ‘conflictedness’ that I’m wanting to write about…  the conflict we in the Christian Church have living in a world of TWO calendars…TWO time-tables… TWO ways of looking at and TWO ways of living life…

We live by the calendar that begins JAN 1 and ends DEC 31.  That’s how we mark time in the world.  It’s where our birthdays and anniversaries and meeting times and game schedules show up.  But, we also live in a LITURGICAL calendar and a year that begins not on a single day but with a season that could begin on a number of days… and so the conflict arises…

Advent is the time that some Christians use to get their minds and hearts right about celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas.  It’s such a rare word in our vernacular that people outside the church can’t even make up an answer to the question, “what are your Advent practices and traditions?” Advent begins on the Sunday closest to NOV 30, which is St. Andrew’s Day…and this year that is a Tuesday and thus Advent begins on NOV 28… and most folks around here will say, “Who cares?”  …as it is the Sunday of what the American clock and calendar calls Thanksgiving weekend… which leads to a whole other conflict… secular people being thankful to God when so many don’t believe in God or have placed other false gods or icons in God’s proper place…’thankfulness,’ a Judeo-Christian practice…being forced upon all people as a secular holiday…and where by many standards much un-holy and gluttonous living transpires… are you conflicted as me, yet?

And this thing goes on…the conflict…that is…the Church Year liturgical calendar marching alongside the calendar in our smart phones with our auto-appointments and e-messages…and all the bombardment of “have to’s” and ‘musts’ and ‘can’t miss’ only to be so busy we never have time to just be still and know that God loves as if there was only one of us…

The question for me is simple…”which calendar helps me mark time the best and produces a life of joy and contentment?”  Will it be the daily ticking of the clock in a 24-7-365 world to remind me of my inadequacies or will the time of Advent leading me to come and ‘wonder’ with Mary gazing at God’s love come down in Jesus in the manger… and ponder long enough to share in her awe…?  Will it be the ‘being on the lookout for the King of Glory?’ OR Will my life’s actions insist on looking out for the rock star parking at the mall and getting to the line quicker at the check-out with an arm full of stuff that in a short period of time will end up at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, anyway?  Oh, boy…now God is in the conflict, huh?

Frankly, I’m not a big fan of Advent.  It’s too short.  Maybe it should start the Sunday after All Saints (NOV 1) and we could get to some Christmas songs a bit quicker and I’d have more time to shop… but I am a fan of paying attention to what Advent can do to help me see the world through the eyes of God and slow my gait so that I don’t blow past Bethlehem and miss out on the greatest story ever told…

If I have to be conflicted in life, I’d rather it be about God and church and stuff and not about football games or my friend coming into town… God is in the conflict…really…cause a long time ago…it was ‘time to decide…’ and when the time had come…he chose Jesus…

Have a blessed Thanksgiving time…the WELCA will have their Thankoffering service this Sunday…8:00 AM & 10:30 AM…so ALL the women will be present… see you then and if you must travel…pray for the TSA agents, drive sober and safe and then I’ll see you on NOV 28 to better ready our hearts and minds for Christmas… 3-D Christmas is just around the bend… booklets will be ready on that day for our faith conversations and friendship strengthening…and just for the record…I’m never conflicted over that!

New Life.  Now!

Brian
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About briangigee

Loves life; lives love! Bud and Doris' eldest son. Descendant of 'refiners' and 'reformers.' Husband to Margo. Father of 5. Grandfather to 2. Brother, uncle, friend and colleague. Working parish pastor. Became a naturalized Texan in February 2013.
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One Response to “CONFLICTED !”

  1. I feel like a little rabbit, chomping at your very uplifting words. Thanks, Brian!

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