This past Sunday was "Christ the King Sunday," bringing to mind, as it usually does, a church from my growing up years called, "Christ the King."
It was located in a rough area of San Diego, and that was before city planners and highway builders bifurcated it, not too unlike what Highway 59 did to Akron neighborhoods when it first went in.
"This is my kind of church!" I told my dad. During the coffee hour you could get tamales and burritos and tacos. (Then if you wanted, I think you could go to Weight Watchers too.)
For adults - and for others who somehow were not thinking about their next enchilada during the pastor's sermon - this church was also a refuge and sanctuary in a turbulent place and time.
There was a statue of Jesus Christ on the front lawn. One day people noticed that the hands of the statue were missing. Vandals? Pranksters? No one knew.
They decided not to replace the hands, because it would help them remember that they themselves were the hands of Christ in that neighborhood, just as we are in our neighborhoods, even if we don't happen to have any handless statues around.
During this coronavirus pandemic I have missed singing many songs with you, including this one:
Take my hands Lord Jesus, let them work for you,
make them strong and gentle, kind in all I do,
Let me watch you Jesus, till I'm gentle too,
Till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you
(Hymn 273, "Jesus' Hands Were Kind Hands")
God Bless and Be with you,
Nothing slows down a ship like a barnacle. A 2014 article reported that the Navy spends a half-billion dollars in extra fuel and maintenance costs because of barnacles and related organisms.
"Their collective mass is small compared to the overall ship," wrote the author Sara Zhang, "but their little bodies have an outsized effect creating drag around the ship's otherwise smooth hull." So, not only do they weigh you down, they also slow you down.
If you don't ever do anything about barnacles, you'll never need to worry about smooth sailing since before you know it, you'll be using all your energy just to plod along.
Spiritual barnacles have a similar effect: they can do to your faith what ocean barnacles can do to a ship: create a drag and weigh you down, both in quiet waters and in the storms of life.
If you have been nursing a grudge or cradling a beloved barnacle of bitterness that has attached itself to you, you cannot be truly free until it has been dislodged, just like the anti-barnacle song says, "Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be, end of faith as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty" (Hymn 384, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling").
Advent: a time for hope, a time for peace, and a time for barnacles to be released; a time of quiet, a time apart, a time to find ourselves in God's hands, arms and heart.
p.s. the 2014 article is "The Navy's Huge, Hidden Problem: Barnacles on Ships" by Sarah Zhang, published on the GIZMODO website, May 7, 2014.