Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
  • Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
  • Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner
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    Soul Rythem

    Righteous Mind with Rev. Cynthia T. Turner

    On a Saturday some weeks ago, I cleaned my bathroom. Not just the tub, sinks, toilet, floors and shower. That was easy. But when I ventured under the cabinets, it was a virtual wonderland of colorful plastic containers. When I started, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was under the impression that because I had a lot of bottles of stuff that I had lots of stuff. In reality, most of their contents – when consolidated – amounted to hardly enough to make a good half-bottle. A palm’s-worth of conditioner here and a few dollops of shampoo there. It was the same with cleansers. A little of this and a little of that but when put to use, hardly enough to get the job done.  The complex clutter under my sinks turned out to be a whole lot of a little bit of stuff.

    Life can become like that – a bunch of half-empty efforts that appear and feel like a whole lot, but when truly measured, when the substance is weighed, it’s pretty unimpressive. Could it be all that busy-ness is an effort to fool not only others – but myself too – into believing that there’s a lot more going on than there really is. While they look good on paper, these titles, memberships, affiliations and meetings, are great camouflages – and poor excuses – for progress. They make good fronts, because they appear that something is happening, but actually, more often than not, like those bottles, they are just occupying space.

    But there’s another factor here that hits close to home. How willing we are to accept the bottle and its meager contents? This became clear to me when I noticed on a particular Sunday how many parishioners were strolling into worship service 20, 30 or 40 minutes late. Considering the entire service is only 90 or at best 120 minutes, they are consistently missing out on a full third or nearly half the service. It’s the half-empty bottle syndrome. As long as they get some of the service, it’s appears to be enough. But is it really? 

    I confess, as a preacher and preaching aficionado, when I visit other services, I’m guilty of plotting my timing so that I can show up at worship in time for the sermon. But can I call that worship? Can I say I’ve dined sufficiently when I show up at a seven-course meal just in time for the entrée and bail out just after the dessert? Can I say I’ve seen the whole movie when I missed the first 40 minutes? Can I say I’ve visited a certain city when all I did was sit around on a two-hour layover at the airport?

    King David in his 27th Psalm expresses a “one thing” mindset. While he had much to be thankful for, much to question God about, and no doubt much to petition God for, he declares that there’s really only one thing he desires. I don’t need 27 bottles of shampoos, conditioners and cleansers, I really only need one of each. And I don’t need a bunch of things to do, meetings to attend and titles to hold, I really need to weigh them against the rule of substance and when they come up empty, I need to let them go.

    Now that I’ve tackled the bathroom cabinets, on to the closets. Do I really need 23 pairs of shoes and a wardrobe of three sizes? Ugh!

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    The Rev. Dr. Cynthia T. Turner, pastor of the Dayspring Community Church in Lanham, MD,  writes occasionally about the “Righteous Mind” on the Soul Rhythms blog.

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    2 Comments

    1. i love it. It blows my mind when I think about a whole lot of a little bit of stuff. I need to do some inventory and some cleaning. btw, Your closet is a whole series of blogging…

    2. Sis, this is a wonderful reflection! I just threw out (well, threw in a bag for Goodwill) several pairs of shoes but that’s not all I want to express to you. I recently had a “hearty” (okay, loud) conversation with a friend who also likes to skip certain parts of worship because she “doesn’t like all that hugging and hooting and hollering. I just come for the word!” I replied (more angrily than I realized at first), “Church is NOT a Chinese food menu! You can’t pick from a song from column A and a sermon from column B!!!” I tried to remember my seminary training and talk about building community through worship but she wasn’t trying to hear it. I have always been one to come to church on time and sit (and sometime suffer) through the whole service because you never know how or when the Spirit will move and I don’t want to miss it! Please keep writing, cleaning (smile), and thinking! Your words are a blessing!

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