From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
First I'd like to thank all who helped tidy up and clean our Holy Cross, Pacifica, church campus. A big thank you to you all.
"...I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish..." (Ezekiel 17:24)
"...how great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts..." (Psalm 92:5)
"...so we make it our goal to please Him..." (2 Corinthians 5:6-17)
"...from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view..." (2 Corinthians 5:16a)
"...if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come..." (2 Corinthians 5:17a)
"...He didn't say anything to them without using a parable..." (Mark 4:34a)
Recently, prior to all the graduation ceremonies in the Bay Area, I was handed a letter by a long-time friend, and as well, mom of a young lady, Karen, attending the University of California, Berkeley. I asked permission from mom to share it with you this morning...
Thank you very much for asking about my well-being and health. Thank God I'm not as heavy as I was when you saw me last. I started to lose a lot of weight after a strange eruption of the skin on my chest and abdominal areas. The doctor at the "free clinic" says it might be herpes, but I'll remain hopeful that it isn't that.
Anyway, on the other hand, my depression has taken a turn for the better after a new friend named Max, from Chicago, moved in with me in my one-bedroom apartment. It seemed kind of big to me anyway before. He's a real great guy and he promised he will help me out with the rent when he gets back on his feet again. He's cleaned up a lot since we met. He helps me out a lot.
He even used to attend church a lot before he got hooked on heroine about eight years ago, but he promises he'll quit. "Honest!", he says. I even loaded him some of the money you sent to help him pay for treatment to get off the stuff. He says he's "out patient". Sometimes he says funny things to me, but most of the time he's really cool...way beyond me most of the time...
Max has introduced me to a new religion. My feelings of guilt and shame have really decreased dramatically, because with our new found religion, we don't have to be hypocrites. It's much more consistent with our views as regards drugs, sex, and work.
The other night we were taking a walk in the Castro district when the police arrested us thinking we were some other people. It was really a new kind of experience spending my first night in jail---in SF. I met some really different kind of people who made me realize we'd better be more careful next time.
Meanwhile, as a result, I haven't been going out as much as before. My schedule is kind of loaded. I've decided to quit school and get a job to pay off some bills.
On my last visit to the doctor, he told me I may be able to earn enough money before the delivery to partially offset the cost of having my first baby. I hope my skin problem doesn't complicate things for me. At least, in the hospital, I won't have to put up with the cockroaches and the stench of my apartment.
Now, Mom, I know that all these experiences seem pretty far out, pretty bad, but I'm going to ask that you do something for me... I'm going to ask that you forget every single word I just wrote you... because not a word of it is true...
The actual reason I'm writing to you today is to let you know that I failed Organic Chemistry this past term. It's really tough at Berkeley. I also want to let you know that some things aren't really as bad as they seem to be. Please forgive me for leading you on, Mom. I know you'll understand and that I'll improve as I get used to this place.
Love always, Karen
Poor Mom. All in all, after the initial shock, she took it well, and chuckled later as she handed the letter over to me.
I thought it would be worthwhile to share the contents of the letter and to ask a worthwhile question...
What strategies have we developed within the context of our faith to share our failures and shortcomings with those whom we live with and those whom we love?
Thus, the Apostle writes in James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed...the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
None of us is perfect. We all fall short. (definition: to sin is "to fall short" [archery term: ancient]). We are for a lifetime --- hopeless sinners in the hands of a generous, loving God. Thank God that no perfect people are going to heaven, because... "there ain't no perfect people". What an insight!
We are able to go to our loving, understanding pastor. We are able to share our deepest feelings with trusted friends within the context of our church fellowship (and yet we do it with a heart and a mind discerning friends worthy of our trust).
We are so blessed to be able to confess our sins each and every Sunday morning. It is a blessing. Through that portion of the liturgy (service format) we are healed, according to the Bible. For many years I didn't know that and I didn't feel that, but I do now. I thank God for that...and I thank God for the wisdom of Dr. Perls to affirm the biblical teaching in our present age.
Imagine the great number of people in our area and our world who think they don't need the church and the fellowship of the church. When we look at the format of our Sunday morning worship and discern the wisdom of the components of the order, we discover, not only the sacred nature therein, but also the means for each of us to heal and be drawn into a life of wholeness and profound intimate fellowship.