One of the main principles I learned in Journalism School was the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! I didn’t always do that very well, but hey: I was on PUBLIC radio; hence I was given permission to be a little more long-winded in telling a story.
But, given that it’s late and I need to leave fairly early for Gainesville, I’m going to keep this entry simple.
During the past couple of weeks, I have been listening, reading and learning more about the particular denomination of Christianity I have been with since birth. Specifically, I have been amazed by the depth and breadth of work that is happening in the name of ending poverty. A chance-following of another source led me to do the unthinkable and opening a profile on Facebook (quit snickering!). There, random information about my educational background called up the picture of a friend from my college days in Columbia, Missouri. I was happy to see that he had fulfilled his vocational goal of becoming an Episcopal priest…and then was wowed by the work his calling has led him to do. The Rev. Mike Kinman is tackling world poverty, a major mission of the Episcopal Church as it implements the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals and basically puts faith into action. You can check out more about this here.
I see addressing poverty as one of the central missions of this church. Certainly, I remember as a kid that was the big deal at Christ Church in Exeter. And it is all over the gospels that Christ kept engaging the least among the people. He drew attention to the old woman with only the two copper coins to her name giving them up in the Temple, and told his disciples, “Check her out, not the people in the fancy clothes; watch her”. And Jesus certainly knew how to Keep It Simple, Stupid when he says, “Hear O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is like unto it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” Can’t distill the message much more than that!
And yet, there are those who would much rather focus the attention on “bright shiny objects” like the sexual orientation of the Bishop of New Hampshire. Or whether the person celebrating the Eucharist at the altar has a beard and bad breath and a wedding ring on his finger. Or whether the music sung is “the right kind” (I’m picking on me here!). Somewhere in all that noise, the KISS principle is getting lost. The bright shiny objects become “the thing” and that whole business about loving God and loving your neighbor goes out the window. How unfortunate that we can so easily get it wrong over and over and lose our focus!
Coming up on March 16th, Christians are entering into the part of the story where Jesus arrives with great palm-waving fanfare on a donkey into Jerusalem…and by the end of the week…he’s hanging on a cross like a criminal to die…all in the name of love and eternal life for all who believe he is the Messiah. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the people in the Episcopal Church who want to fuss over the “bright shiny objects” would take the time to pay attention to the messages inherent in all that happens during Holy Week?! Keep It Simple, Stupid.