From Rev. Ara Guekguezian, Interim Pastor
It was a beautiful and relatively cool Wednesday
morning. I was running errands downtown traveling north on O street, approaching Tulare. The signal was green! A rare occurrence, so I accelerated a bit in my excitement at my good fortune. The brake lights of the car just before me lit up. Argh! As we stopped, he in the intersection, I in the crosswalk, I could see and understand. There was a walker crossing against the light, earbuds in both ears, seemingly engrossed in the screen of his phone. Not an unusual moment these days. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL, FOLKS. He stopped, bent down and picked something up from the street. All while the light is red and that little man in the box is red and cars are screeching to a halt and Pastor Ara, a person with a life, is resigning himself to two minutes of waiting through another long cycle— per usual on O at Tulare. Thanks be to God, the man got up, got to the curb, and we slammed on the gas and made it through before the signal bled red.
Driving away, the thought flashed through my head: if this criminal/scofflaw (the nicer descriptives used by my brain in this brief instant) was hit by a motor vehicle and seriously injured, he would have arrived in his own little heaven. Lying in a bed for an extended period of time, maybe for the rest of his life, earbuds in his ears and VR goggles on, not having to move while virtually living, without having to cross streets anymore.
I arrived at the pastor’s office/study, and I was grateful that I still have a life where I want to be fully engaged.
The screens of my life are a nice addition. The phone and the tablet provide certain efficiencies, but my work, my purpose, insists that I remain alert to the other and engage with the other and endeavor to make the other and me, us. Virtual Reality is here in a rudimentary form at present. In a few years, VR and reality may be indistinguishable for some. We have glimpses of it: listening to recorded music, watching worship on TV or the iPad, buying an exercise video (previewing, but never actually responding to the direction of the peppy, bouncing person exhorting to one more rep).
The man in the crosswalk reminded me that Christian community life is still very much a human exercise. The early Church disputes were focused on the nature of the Christ and the constant affirmation of the full humanity of the Word. Jesus saw, spoke, felt, touched, tasted, and heard. Jesus charged us to follow and do likewise. Feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner in SimCity is not the full expression of faithfulness. Doing it: teaching, leading, singing, feeding, listening, giving, walking with even against the don’t walk signal is.
Grateful to be fully engaged with you as work out whom we are as God’s faith folk in and amongst many who as slowly disengaging from the mess, the joy filled mess, that is this life.