Please Don’t Think It’s Funny

by Jacob Juncker

These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, September 30, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from 2 Peter 1:2-15.  This  message is part of a series based on the wisdom and songs of Mr. Rogers entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”  This sermon was based on the song “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny.”
     I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
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There are many things I don’t remember about that day.  All I remember was looking back and seeing my beloved pillow on the side of the door.  Somehow, and I don’t remember how, it had been sucked out of an open window of the car and was now lying on the side of the highway.  My older cousins and aunt tell the story better than I, but let’s just say, I let my discontent be known that my pillow—the thing I slept with every night as a young child—was lost, abandoned on the roadside.  I remember looking back helplessly, crying as we drove away.  A few exits later, we rescued my cabbage patch pillow from the terrors of the road and my world was at peace.

That pillow provided security and stability for me; and, when it went away, the world no longer seemed safe, my world shook and nothing was at peace.

Just as Linus had his blanket and Christopher Robin had Pooh Bear, I had my cabbage patch pillow.

Did you, or do you, hold onto something tightly for security?

 

Transitional objects, as they are called, are objects we hold onto for security, to relieve stress and remind us that everything is OK.  With this object in hand, clutched and snuggled up tight, we are able to face uncertain and scary times.  The blanket can hide your face when you feel like you need to hide; the pillow provides a reassuring embrace everything seems unsteady; and the stuffed animal can be placed between you and the closet to ward off monsters.  These transitional objects help us face the unknown and the things that might frighten us.

These objects, while they may change over time, hold significance and help us navigate our world even past childhood.

Indeed, Dr. [Barbara] Howard [a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Johns Hopkins] suggested that as many as 25 percent of young women going to college take along something identifiable as a childhood transitional object.  The young adult going off to college, with or without stuffed animals or scraps of a favorite old blanket, should be a reminder that the challenges of separation—and the consolations and complexities of attachment—are not developmentally confined to the first years of life.[1]

We all struggle to grow and let things go.  We all struggle to “face the future unafraid.”  And, so we cling to things for stability.  We claim something as “our rock” that nobody else can conquer or take away.

What’s your rock?  What provides you security?  As children it may have been a blanket, a teddy bear or a pillow.  While you may (or may not) have grown out of taking those things with you, you nonetheless continue .to hold onto something to hold you steady in an often tumultuous world.  What is it?  What do you turn to when your tired, scared, or feel alone?  When things change, what do you long to remain the same?

Family?

Money?

Home?

Cookie dough ice cream?

Macaroni and cheese?

A favorite pillow or blanket?

What do you clutch and hold onto tight when everything seems to not be right?  We all clasp tightly to transitional objects whether we hold onto them publicly or not.  They help us navigate change.  So what is it for you?  Perhaps if you’re having a hard time thinking of what it might be, consider what you through a fit about whenever it’s not there.

Peter urges the church—us—to hold fast to faith.  “I intend to keep on reminding you of these things” (2 Peter 1:12).  “I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Peter 1:15).  He’s pleading, striving to get us to hold fast to faith as the thing that keeps us steady, the rock upon which we build our lives.

Faith gives us hope that in the midst of our failings, great and small, we will find forgiveness; hope that as we sit in darkness, the light will shine; hope that when we feel most alone and abandoned that God is there; hope that the hells we find ourselves in can be redeemed; hope that in the face of every death new life can spring forth.

Faith helps us navigate an uncertain and ever-changing world.  It is the only transitional object that will not fade, tear or tatter.  It may be smelly at times, but will always provide a place of respite.

5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7, New Revised Standard Version)

For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, you’ll be able to face anything and everything unafraid life in this world brings your way.

The challenge with transitional objects—at least for parents—is that they can never be prescribed.  It has to be chosen and accepted by the one who holds it tight; and so it is with faith.  It is something you must choose to hold tight.  It’s something you have got to make time for and choose to nurture.  Its importance is ultimately up to you.

I pray that you’ll choose faith, to hold it tight—closer than anything else—every moment of every day through all of life.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (1 Peter 1:2, New Revised Standard Version)

Hold fast to faith; and, please don’t think it funny.

 


[1] Perri Klass, “A Firm Grasp on Comfort,” <https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/a-firm-grasp-on-comfort/> Accessed September 28, 2018

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