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Practice Playing Second Fiddle

I can’t stop thinking about Romans 12:10, particularly its last sentence from The Message translation:

Be good friends who love deeply;
practice playing second fiddle.

I preached on this text and its surrounding verses several weeks ago, and love the way Eugene Peterson puts Paul’s words into today’s vernacular:  Be good friends.  Love deeply.  Practice playing second fiddle.  It has called to mind all of those “good friends” I’ve had over the years, the ones who have loved me and my family deeply.  It’s also challenged me, making me ask hard questions like: To whom might I be considered a “good friend”?  Am I “loving deeply” or do I more frequently content myself with surface-y conversations and relationships?  And, if I am content to do so, what is keeping me from wading into deeper waters with people?

Good questions to ask.  Being self-aware is important.  Being a “good friend who loves deeply” is even more so.  But what about that second line?  “Practice playing second fiddle.”

I’ve started reading a book recently entitled, “Is It Time? Helping Laity and Clergy Discuss Homosexuality One Question at a Time” by Adolf Hansen – the “Theologian In Residence” at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis.  In the introduction, Hansen invites the reader to “ask questions rather than formulate answers” because too frequently people jump to defend or attack certain points of view.  What a novel approach.

Asking questions liberates us from the burden of being the know-it-all.

Asking questions gives us permission to learn.

Asking questions invites us to play second fiddle.

And I can’t help but wonder if asking questions isn’t also a way of being a “good friend” and “loving deeply.”  I get so tired of pundits and posts, tweets and hot takes that are spouted off 24/7.  I get tired of watching people talk past one another.  I grow weary of people always wanting to take the lead, of feeling compelled to be “right,” and the utter lack of humility that has spread through our culture and infected each one of us worse than what this year’s flu influenza is doing.

I know I’m teetering on sounding preachy right now, but that is of course what I am – a preacher.  And the only message I know to preach is the one that was modeled for us by Jesus Himself.  The One who loved deeply, and became good friends with bad sinners.  The One who…

being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
       even death on a cross! - Philippians 2

Lent is about to begin.  Perhaps it is indeed time – time for us to start playing second fiddle, time for us to love deeper, time for us to become better friends, time for us to be more like Christ.

To the cross we go,

Pastor Jared
Associate Pastor
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Leaving a Legacy of Life.

Recently, I sat in a room with a gentleman who prayed: "Dear Lord, we thank you for those whose deaths leave a legacy of life."

It was in response to a 14-year-old girl who recently passed away while awaiting for a heart transplant at Riley Children's Hospital.  During her stay, she organized a weekly bake sale from her room in order to raise money for a park to be built that children in the hospital could use. Prices ranged from 50 cents for a Rice Krispy Treat to $5 for Banana Bread. All told, Jaden Lauderdale raised more than $15,000. Though she did not live long enough to see the park's completion, her legacy lives on.

"Dear Lord, we thank you for those whose deaths leave a legacy of life."

My wife and I lost a dear friend of ours earlier this month to an aggressive cancer that took her life at far too young an age.  Hers is a life, however, that “echoes through eternity.”  Sarah was a gifted teacher who loved her students with passion and depth.  She was a tremendous mother to her two little boys, and a loving wife to her husband.  Throughout her battle with cancer and in the recent days since her death, a multitude of people – friends, family, students, co-workers – have come forth sharing story after story of the ways Sarah’s life impacted their own.  She made people want to be better people.  Her life inspired others to want to love fiercely.  Talk about a legacy.

"Dear Lord, we thank you for those whose deaths leave a legacy of life."

And then there was last week, when I attended a Pastoral Leadership Program sponsored by the Lilly Endowment and Duke University.  It was a tremendous week of learning and befriending other young clergy colleagues from across the country.  I had an incredible time, and could not help but reflect on all who helped make it possible.  Of course, there were the gracious hosts who opened up their beautiful home to host us.  And there were the program directors who shared their knowledge and passions openly.  But there were all those others – folks like Mr. Lilly whose generosity and Kingdom-vision led him to create a philanthropic endowment that funds a multitude of Church projects throughout the world.  There are also countless others who have contributed to the endowment of Duke’s Divinity School as well.  Their giving helps keep tuition down and also funds leadership programs for pastors.  And there are folks like you – people in our church who have tithed faithfully and given abundantly so that God’s work might be done through Fishers UMC.  
I want to live my life in such ways that my legacy reverberates with the overflowing generosity of God. I want to live a legacy of life.  

Dear Lord, we thank you for those whose lives lead a legacy of Life.

Pastor Jared Kendall
Associate Pastor

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