May 12, 2010

Next Wednesday Sr. Wantabee is going to speak at chapel at the Homes, for the little old people, trapped by wheel chairs. Sigh. It will be the Wednesday before Pentecost and so she thought she would do a lead in to Sunday’s service. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the “promised” Holy Spirit recorded in Acts 2, but actually promised back in Ezekiel and Joel and in John by Jesus after the Last Supper. Promises bring a taste of bitter joy to Sr. Wantabee’s mouth as she thought about all the broken promises. But the church celebrates Pentecost as the fulfillment of a promise. That conveniently sidesteps the need to explain the Trinity which probably is of no interest to the elderly whereas the assistance and continual presence of the Holy Spirit probably is a great comfort — perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit is called “The Comforter.” But going back to “promises,” how are the promises of God different from the promises made by people?

Sr. Wantabee thought back to young childhood and how we used to chant, “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” We were swearing by our heart and our eyes that what we said was true. How many of us lied knowing we would never be required to “stick a needle in our eye?” Then there was the heroic cut of the finger and exchange of blood with an equally heroic friend that symbolized that we would be friends forever. What was that friend’s name? Hmmmm. Life moved on.

Sr. Wantabee thought of her trip to the States, driving from Los Angeles to New York and how her 10th grade son stuck a tape in the car deck as they drove out of LA and into the desert, “I Swear” by the moon and the stars in the sky….I’ll be there. That was the song for his girlfriend. Perhaps if eyes and blood were not constant enough to remind us of a promise, the stars in the sky would be. Did he marry her, you ask. No. Then she remembered the beloved Christmas movie, “What a Wonderful Life” where the uncle wrapped a string around his finger to remind him of…what??? and the money was lost, and a wonderful angel got his wings. Darling.

No, human promises fail because humans are human. We usually mean what we say but most often our humanness gets in the way. We move. We go to the next stage. We forget. Life changes. Human promises are pretty flakey.

As we move to adulthood, we develop more stable ways of ensuring truth. We give rings at weddings. Rings are made of gold, a precious metal, and are round, symbolizing eternity. We swear on Bibles in courtrooms. We place our hand on our heart for the pledge of allegiance to the flag. All are attempts to create credibility ad commitment. How do Godly promises differ? Tomorrow we will ponder that.