Pastor's Message - 2018 March Newsletter

Pastor Randy Gibbs

Recently a Midweek student told me an elephant joke. I haven’t heard an elephant joke since high school. Anyway it made me think of the well-known story of the elephant and the blind men. The version I remember is that a group of blind men all touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different part of the animal. Based on the part that each one touched they try to come to a larger picture, or truth, about what the whole elephant is like. For example, one touched the ear and decides the elephant is a wicker basket. To the one who touched the head, the elephant was a pot. One touches the tip of the tail and concludes the elephant is a brush. To another, who touches the leg the elephant is a tree. You get the idea. When they get together and compare their experiences and conclusions, they discover they disagree on what an elephant is like. Each blind man has his own view of reality, depending upon where he touched the elephant. I am not sure if there is a moral to this story, but someone once said that truth is like an elephant surrounded by blind men.


As Christians we say GOD is truth, we might use the above image to say God is like an elephant surrounded by blind men. Each one is trying to find the reality of God only in what we see and touch.


I believe he was thinking of the story of the blind men and the elephant when Edwin Friedman wrote; “I touch the elephant wherever the elephant appears.” I think he was trying to say that the elephant is so large that it is impossible for anyone to comprehend the whole animal. Or that one can only observe what is there in front of him or her. The elephant is too huge to handle in its entirety. It can only be described by what is experienced in the moment.


So many times we try to discover everything about God by looking in all the places we are not sure God is. We look at the tragedies of our world, for example, and wonder where God could be in the face of such a thing. We often try to define who God is by what we feel, or think or deduce from our own experience. We create the whole of God from our small bit of perception. Some of the time we try to put our own perceptions together with that of others. Who does the world say God is, or should be? Who do others say God is based on their experience? Yet even then God is too large in Gods entirety for us to handle.


Every week our congregations gather for worship. I have had the privilege of worshiping in all of those places; each with its own perspective and style. I love it all and encourage you to try it. What I have discovered is that I touch God wherever God appears. (Better yet, God touches me wherever God appears.) God is only known from what God chooses to reveal to us. We have what is at hand because God is at hand. This is the beauty and mystery of our worship. God appears. God promises to appear when we gather around Gods word and sacraments. No guessing. Here the wholeness of God is set aside in the “for you” of the Gospel promise. “I baptize you into the body of Christ. This is my body, my blood, given for you. I forgive you all your sins.” This is not your view of who God is as you grope and search for and touch it. This is the reality of God touching you.

Remember that our Lord is the one who opened the eyes of the blind, even those who weren’t look for sight. How sad it is that so many in our culture have abandoned worship as meaningless (or at least not as meaningful as other things) because they feel like they don’t get anything out of it. Is this a blind man’s view of reality? What could be more real and meaningful than being touched by an elephant, OR by the living God? Perhaps we should think more on this come Sunday morning.

O.K. O.K. I know you are dying to know what the elephant joke is.

Q: Why did the elephants wear sunglasses?  

A: With all the bad elephant jokes going around, they did not want to be recognized. Hmmmmmm.

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