From time to time, I find myself running back into the Hundred Acre Wood and meeting again all the characters who live there.
For me, since I was a kid, I have always liked Eeyore. Maybe, my identification with Eeyore when I was young was the beginning of my interest in philosophy that led to theology.
Eeyore is such a gloomy guy, but he has his reasons for his dim disposition.
We have come to understand more in recent years that a person’s gloominess can have some benefit.
Through the years, with doing some studying in philosophy, I see that Eeyore is a realist-like I have turned out to be.
One day Eeyore and Pooh are walking together. Here is their conversation:
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."
Or when Eeyore can’t believe that he is actually getting invited to a party:
“Eeyore,” said Owl, “Christopher Robin is giving a party.”
“Very interesting,” said Eeyore. “I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don't mention it.” Eeyore nails down what we want-kindness and thoughtfulness. Although Eeyore is soft and slow in his words and actions, he is crying out for acknowledgment. Eeyore explores the problem of the individual existing in an absurd world, or to say in one term that I learned in a philosophy class in seminary-Existentialism.
Eeyore highlights the boost of a person’s well-being in simply knowing that someone else is acknowledging the value of your presence in his or her life-like something as simple as finding that someone is inviting you to a party. It's so awesome to know someone else has been thinking of you.
And the best thing is that you didn’t have to cause a commotion to stir-up that attention.
We just want to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves-like a family or a group of friends, or a team, a school, a church, and let’s go big, a nation, or bigger yet, the world.
For a moment, let’s go back to the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh and his friends.
I have to admit Tigger gets on my nerves with all his bouncing. He is way too hyperactive for me. Pooh is all about his honey. Piglet is cute and sweet-maybe too sweet. I think he is gushy.
I have no complaints about Christopher Robin. He has a motley bunch on his hands. He is always there to help and support them, but he never tries to change them or fix them.
Studying Christopher Robin if you are a leader might make for some worthwhile time that can help you appreciate every person and what they can add to the dynamics of the group.
Going back to Tigger, I probably get on his nerves with my pessimism as he gets on mine with his optimism. Pooh is focused on his honey, but he is just doing what bears do-they need their honey. And just when you need a friend, you can count on Pooh-he always takes time for you with a much needed good word or two. Piglet is maybe too sweet, but in a world of bitterness, it needs a lot of sugar to give it a pleasing taste.
I like going back to the Hundred Acre Wood as much as I am able, for I can always count on some adventure happening. All kinds of unique characters with their individual issues, but they all try to come together to get through the challenges and problems.
Even with their best intentions and efforts, not all the problems are easily or quickly fixed. I mean how do you get off a honey pot that is stuck on the nose of a bear?
I don’t think that I’m reading too much into the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood and all of their situations- but I will try to sum it all up this way without using too much philosophy and theology:
Our problems will expand to the space that we give them. Sin likes to take up as much room as it can in our lives.
The hard times in our lives are meant to be lessons. When we are experiencing something difficult, it’s not for us to stay stuck them in, so we are miserable forever in them.
Pooh is not now walking around with a honey pot on his nose. The honey pot did get unstuck.
Our hearts will get broken, but we can pick up the pieces one by one. With that new heart, we can know what true love is and what it means to love faithfully.
Struggling helps us to see that the problem does not have to dictate what is happening. If we let problems get their way, they will to stick around, so they can go deep into us. They get into our emotions and thoughts and want to set-up camp. Our problems want to get out-of-hand and get complicated, so they can cause confusion. In the end, if there is a big mess and conflict between people, problems applaud, for they have done what problems want to accomplish-break people apart instead of getting them closer.
Here is a question to ask in a problem: Who is calling the shots in the problem-our fear that goes inward or our courage that goes outward?
For a moment, can I get you to think of living in a type of Hundred Acre Wood?
In our day to day lives, we don’t travel too much, and we see most of the same things and meet the same people.
Also, probably, some of the types of characters like a Piglet type or a Rabbit type are in your life. I know you have an Eeyore type in your life because you know me, and to let you in on something, I’m working on my pessimistic attitude.
And if you are an Eeyore type, too, maybe we can form a supprt group for misunderstood introverts.
In our Hundred Acre Wood, we have our challenges and problems. I might say we are all feeling “stuck” right now in these times.
I’m not sure about all the lessons that we are to be learning. Generally, lessons take care of themselves if we keep getting up everyday and living out our lives.
Everything seems to always work out as all things pass from one thing into another.
The question we might be asking is, “Will we get through these hard times?” The answer is most definitely, “Yes!”
All problems go through phases. These times are moving through phases. Yes, at times, it seems that we are taking one step forward and two steps back, but as long as we keep moving, we can have a confident hope that these times will end.
And I know that I’m such an Eeyore, and I am trying not to be a toxic pessimist, who spreads gloominess like wildfire, but as soon as these hard times end, I am inclined to say that we will be moving to some other problem.
Since it seems that problems of all kinds are coming and going, the question to be asking in all of our times of highs and lows is, “How do we move along?”
Not to to be giving the impression that problems will take care of themselves, but if we are remembering that hard times are about learning lessons with some testing about our character and faith, then, how we are moving forward is most essential. On this Sunday, we see in our readings that people are being called to do God’s work.
We see how God calls Samuel to be a prophet and how Jesus calls Philip and Nathaniel to be among the first disciples.
We, too, are called to do the work of our Lord in these times and our places.
I’m not too sure how you get out of bed in the morning. Are you a Tigger and bounce out of bed and are more than ready to get into your day? Or are you like Pooh, who I imagine is slow getting out of bed and is not ready for anything until he has something to put something in his tummy?
Although we are strong in emphasizing that each of us are as different as can be with our own unique God-given personalities that we celebrate each day, we have the same way that we meet the day, “Lord, here I am. Send me.”
This sending does not have to be to some foreign missions. For us here today, we are telling God to send us into our Hundred Acre Wood.
It’s on the edge of our beds that we begin our day as a person with a mission, and we don’t end our mission until we come back to our beds in the evening.
For each of us who are called by God, we have a common mission. This mission is to show and tell the Gospel.
How we go about our day is by the grace of God in Christ. People in our Hundred Acre Wood should be able to see this grace of God in Christ as each of us shows and tells it by all that we do.
Imagine our families, every school, each neighborhood, places of work, and going big, our nation, and still bigger, our world, if everyone had a mission to show and tell the grace of God in Christ in their own Hundred Acre Wood.
We are characters with our different personalities, life philosophies, and every day priorities. Our differences are to be celebrated, and they are to be worked out like we do all things-by the grace of God in Christ.
Anything that comes together by the grace of God in Christ is going to be awesome.
This grace of God in Christ is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, love, care, hope, strength, and power to start a new life. To be sure, we get all these things without any condition whatsoever-all are gift from God.
Do you remember Eeyore’s quote about snow and freezing temperatures? In his way, he tried to make it all seem better by saying, “However, we haven’t had a earthquake lately.”
People need someone to give them an “However.” Hopefully, we can do better than Eeyore.
Our nation is in a certain “bad” way right now, and it needs an “However.”
As we wake up in the morning and say, “Here I am, Lord,” we can go out and honestly admit that things are a mess, for we are all sinful and sinners make messes, but, we can make a move forward by saying, “However, by the grace of God in Christ, I can show and tell about that grace of God in Christ. And I can pray that people find peace and hope in this grace of God in Christ.”
Getting off a honey pot that is stuck on the nose of a bear is quite a time. But, somehow and some way, it always comes unstuck.
One more thing about Eeyore. When he loses his tail, Christopher Robin nails it back in place. Owl and Kangaroo take a look and each have an opinion about its proper placement.
Who would think something like a tail would cause a disagreement? We can talk about our opinions-to the right of to the left-until we are blue in the face, but at some point, we do have to move forward.
We move forward as we can only move by the grace of God in Christ.
And it’s by this grace of God in Christ that we show and tell each other this same grace of God in Christ.
Our country has its problems and needs healing. If we can move forward by the grace of God in Christ in our Hundred Acre Wood, maybe, it will start to reach other Hundred Acre Woods in this nation and even out into the world.
So, by the grace of God in Christ, we pray and hope our mission in our Hundred Acre Wood is not without effect here and everywhere.