It was over 40 years ago that Karen Carpenter sang, “Rainy Days and Mondays get me down.” Over the last few weeks, I’ve been tempted (not strongly enough) to redo the song, changing the lyrics to “Broken Cars and Houses” to better reflect my life. Things never break conveniently, do they?
My house is at about the age where everything seems to break on houses. So, we’ve replaced lights, toilets, patched leaks, reinstalled door seals, and done various other things. It’s a reminder to me of all the “joys” of being a homeowner.
Right around the same time that all this was taking place, one of the cars started losing air in its tire. Not that big of a deal, but in an attempt to get it fixed, it was discovered that one of the doors had been left open, draining the battery. I couldn’t get the car in neutral to roll it out of the garage to jump it, so it required some creative maneuvering to get the other car alongside it in the garage to jumpstart the battery.
One problem fixed, on to the next one. In an effort to remove the flat tire, I realized that without a pneumatic tool, it’s pretty much impossible to move lug nuts from tires. So began a fairly frustrating Friday where my impatience got the best of me, but I was reminded of many things in the midst of all of the frustration.
In fact, I had woken up a few hours prior to all of this and had dragged myself downstairs to the computer. Once there, I proceeded to go through my morning routine, email, social networks, Bible reading. While on Facebook, I was disheartened to find out that yet another friend had lost his job, this one who has twin girls who are less than a year old. Another friend whose children are both special needs announced that his daughter has leukemia. A few weeks ago, another friend’s husband lost his mother. And on and on and on I could go.
Life doesn’t stop simply because Advent arrives. Just because we’re getting ready for the celebration of the birth of Christ doesn’t mean that everything else gets put on hold. Life continues to move. In the immortal words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Ain’t that the truth?
After dropping my car off at the tire store, I walked myself over to the nearest fast food restaurant where I could get warm coffee and free wi-fi. During that walk, I called my wife to apologize for being so impatient. She wasn’t mad, she assured me, but I was embarrassed. Why should I be so angry and frustrated by such insignificant problems? There are people who have experienced significantly worse who are still holding their heads up high.
In the midst of my own frustration, I took time to pray for those around me whose problems far exceed a flat tire and a few measly leaks in the roof. As I read through another friend’s list of broken things in their own house, I was reminded that I shouldn’t let temporal inconveniences steal my eternal joy, especially in light of this Advent season, a season of preparation, anticipation, and expectation.
Eugene Peterson talks about how pastors tend to preach one sermon over and over again. My one sermon is a constant push towards community. Over the past few years, that sermon has grown stronger because of the benefits that I have seen in my own community. Healthy community gives us a healthy perspective. Healthy community helps us keep some accountability in our lives. Healthy community helps us when we are in the midst of the storms of life. Healthy community helps us to remember that we’re not alone. I don’t think that I’ll ever grow tired of that, even if it is the only sermon that I ever preach.