MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 10, 2017, #3 – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.
United Methodist’s pastor’s wife, Annie Follis, wrote a book back in 1980. That was a long time ago, but she was a personal friend of ours. And in the book, she talked about how parenthood, being a mother, most reminded her of being nibbled to death by ducks. The teeth aren’t sharp, but after a while, you just get really tired of it. And I thought to myself, “That’s very interesting.”
I was later sent to the Centenary United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. It was the largest church that I pastored, and it became a church to where, when the pastor got there, all of the sudden these people came. They came out of the woodwork. They came from everywhere. It was almost like a retail store, one person after another, “I need this. I want that. Would you pray for me?” And it was one after another all day long. And I thought to myself, “This must be what a mother feels like.” Because I certainly feel like I’m being nibbled to death by ducks.
Max Lucado doesn’t say it in as nice a way as he describes how Jesus might have felt as he stepped out of the boat on to the shore to deal with the needs of the people.
Quote: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. It is doubtful that anyone in the crowd thinks to ask Jesus how he is doing. There is no indication that anyone is concerned with how Jesus is feeling. No one has come to give; all have come to take.
In our house, we call 5:00 p.m. the piranha hour. That’s the time of day when everyone wants a piece of Mom …
Piranha hours: parents have them, bosses endure them, secretaries dread them, teachers are besieged by them, and Jesus taught us how to live through them successfully. When hands extended and voices demanded, Jesus responded with love. He did so because the code within him disarmed the alarm. The code is worth noting: “People are precious.” 
Max Lucado talks about the fact that, at 5:00, in his house, they call it piranha time. Because at 5:00, all of the kids want a piece of Mom. And sometimes Mom runs out of pieces to give, I guess. But because People Matter To God, Jesus made the compassionate choice. If you deal with “piranha hour” in your life, you can understand how hard that choice can be at times.
Now to me, I’d much rather imagine all church members as ducks than as piranhas! But I’m sure you can imagine what it is like to feel overwhelmed by the needs of other people who are turning towards you.
Certainly, Jesus was overwhelmed by the crowd, but Jesus was someone who practiced what he preached. He said that we need to love God with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and he loved God in just that way. And then he said, “We need to love our neighbors as ourselves.” And he practiced what he preached. He told the story of the Good Samaritan, where the person you find in front of you who is in need – they are your neighbor even if they’re a stranger. Even if you’re far away on the Jericho road from the place that you live, and that wounded person is your neighbor and you need to love them.
We are called to love the people we find in our neighborhood … even when it is difficult for us.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed – “nibbled to death by ducks”?
Remember a particular situation when you have felt overwhelmed.
Who are the “ducks”? What did they want?
What did you do? Was the outcome for you good or poor?
Do you have a pattern for how you react when you are overwhelmed?
Is it a beneficial pattern – or harmful? For you? For your “ducks”?
 The quote is from the book, In the Eye of the Storm, by Max Lucado, p. 21 & 22.
The photo “Duck, Duck…..” is by Evelyn W. and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/btrflyed/2663353152/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.