Ponderings with Doug – November 25, 2016

DougFUMCRecently, my bride and I were on a Caribbean cruise. Most of what happened on the cruise ship must stay on the cruise ship, except for what I write here.

On the ship, one can order fried eggs and omelets while the breakfast buffet is serving. You stand in line place your order. Your eggs or omelet are prepared while you watch! Then you belly up to the buffet for the rest of the stuff one needs with either an omelet or fried eggs. It is our cruise ship morning ritual.

A fellow stepped up to order his fried eggs.

He said, “I want two eggs sunny side up…on both sides.”

The cook looked at him and asked him to repeat his order.

“Sunny side up on both sides” he said loudly and slowly as though the cook did not understand English.

I am feeling that I am living and ministering in a “sunny side up on both sides” kind of world. I know some people who are not sure if they are coming or going. They do know they are not happy. They also are looking for a convenient target for their unhappiness. I need clarification. Can we all just slow down and be quiet for a minute? But life is not like that. Life doesn’t look at the calendar nor does it consider the holidays. Life can be great. Other times life seems “sunny side up on both sides” stupid.

I want the egg dude to think about how he was ordering. Did he mean over easy? Had his wife or mom been cooking eggs for him and he didn’t know how to order eggs in public? Did he know how dumb he sounded? Or is there a way to have eggs sunny side up on both sides and I don’t know that trick. He might be an eggstravagant egghead. He could be an astronaut; you could have the eggs that way without gravity! I need time to think and figure it all out.

That is how some parts of life come at you. They don’t make sense. You don’t know how to feel or react. Like some may feel going into this Christmas season. You don’t know what to think or feel. We are busy wishing each other a Merry Christmas. But what does that mean? What if you are merry all the time? What if you are not very merry now? What if you are feeling that the Hallmark channel Norman Rockwell Christmas is some kind of cruel unachievable goal? But you are going to die trying to make it happen. Life’s joy can be lost in the “sunny side up on both sides” world. But there is a glimmer of hope for you.

One of the places we stopped on our cruise was Belize.

There were three cruise ships dumping people into the economy of Belize on that Thursday. If you are too old to be a beach stud one spends their shore time shopping. Do you remember Stuckey’s? The cruise terminal shopping areas are like a boundless crowded Stuckey’s. I was in the  back corner deep in the middle of the cruise ship tourist trap shopping mall, hating the moment. I was plotting my escape from the maelstrom, when a familiar sound resonated in my heart. The sound was coming from a distance, by the doors. As we walked toward the light of the doors, the faint familiar sound became stronger. My soul knew that sound. There at the exit to this tourist transactional trap was an elderly lady ringing the bell at the Salvation Army red kettle. I knew the meaning even though my contextual signals were all messed up.

The sight and sound didn’t fit in the middle of the tropical heat and cruise ship shoppers. It didn’t fit and that is the point.

When you think about it, nothing in the Christmas story does fit. The characters are too old or too young to have children. Angels are popping in and out of lives with disruptive news of “great joy.” Shepherds leave their flocks unattended to go see a baby. Magi stir up Herod and he brings great pain to the hamlet of Bethlehem.

Jesus was born in the middle of a “sunny side up on both sides” world.

Maybe that was something you needed to know right now.