Pastor’s Friday Comments (02.21.20)

If you have ever stood in the Parkway pulpit to lead in worship, you probably noticed that there is a 3”x5” index card in front of the microphone with just two words: “SLOW DOWN!” That admonition is there as a simple reminder that I tend to talk faster than some people can listen. I need to slow my pace so you can follow my train of thought. I don’t always heed the reminder, but there it is.

“Slow down” is also a good mantra for the way we lead our lives – not just the way we speak, but also the way we move, and, most importantly, the way we relate, both to God and to each other. Our hurried pace causes us to miss out on blessings and to fail to be a blessing to others.

I don’t need to review all the factors that lead to our haste or to remind you of its ill effects. From time to time, however, all of us need to make a conscious effort to tap the brakes on our lives. All that we have been missing might surprise us.

Last week I heard a very profound lecture about how we in the church should be more caring and accepting of individuals with developmental and mental challenges, taking the time to see them as people and not just disabilities. The speaker, who had done his doctoral work in this area, referred to a Japanese theologian with whom I was not familiar, Kosuke Koyama. He said that Koyama talked about the speed of God.

That intrigued me, so I found this quote from Kosuke that speaks directly to this issue of pace:

God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is ‘slow’ yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, whether we are currently hit by storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.

If God does, in fact, walk at our speed, then we had better think of our relationship with God as a walk at a slow speed, rather than a drive-by in a fast moving car.

The principle applies equally, of course, in our relationships with people. So many of our interactions are seemingly superficial – speaking to a cashier, ordering in a restaurant – that we rush through them almost without thinking. Even in those brief encounters, there is room for civility and attention to the other person.

That principle becomes even more important in our relationships with people who look to us for love and support. If we aren’t granting our full attention or are speeding through the interaction on our way to the next thing, others sense that and may receive the message that we don’t care as much as we should or as much as they deserve.

There is no indication in Scripture that Jesus ever hurried through anything. He spent quality quiet time with his heavenly Parent, with his disciples, with individuals in need, and with the crowds who came to hear him. Could we possibly think that we could be as effective as he was if we spend less time with anyone than he would?

It’s a good reminder to us all: SLOW DOWN!