Pastor Darian's Musings

Pastor Darian's Musings


The Gospel According to Monica: Dipping Our Toes Into the Past

In season 4 of Friends, one of Monica’s dreams comes true: Chip Matthews asks her out on a date.

Chip and Monica went to the same high school where Chip was the “it” guy. Good-looking and football-playing, Chip was the guy the girls wanted to date—including Monica, who ran in a different circle from Chip. More than a decade after graduating, Monica and Chip run into each other in New York City. He asks for her number. He calls her. He asks her out. She giggles and claps her hands. And we’re less than five minutes into the episode! How different would our lives be if we moved at a sitcom pace?

The night of the date arrives. Monica gushes about Chip’s motorcycle and giggles at everything he says—until they sit down for dinner. The more Chip talks, the more Monica begins to wonder how old he actually is. He talks about pranks he and his friends recently pulled. Monica grows weary and tries to change the conversation.

Monica: Enough about high school Tell me about you. I don’t even know where you work.
Chip: You know where I work. The movie theater.
Monica: You still work at the movie theater? (cue audience chuckle)
Chip: Yeah, why would I quit such a good job? Free popcorn and candy! (cue audience laughter)
Monica: (pause) You don’t still live with your parents, do you? (cue audience chuckle)
Chip: Yes, but I can stay out as late as I want! (cue audience laughter)*

Ten minutes later, Monica shares with her friends that she dumped “the most popular guy” after dinner. In the course of trying to go back to a high school dream, she realizes how good her current life is.

During the month of October, the Old Testament lectionary on Sunday mornings has focused on Moses. Physically, Moses had to lead and organize a throng of people on a trip across seas and deserts. Spiritually, he had to serve as a mediator of God and the people. Emotionally, he had to listen to the regrets and “what ifs” of people who wondered what it would be like to go back to Egypt. When temptation would arise to turn around and go back, he had to help the people see how much better the present was than the past.

Monica had to dip her toes into the past to see how blessed she was in the present. She discovered that what had once seemed so glamorous was actually a turn-off. Sometimes we have to do the same in order to learn. God is merciful to us just as he was to the Israelites in all of their hindsight wonderings and wanderings.

When we find ourselves dwelling on a world that used to be or might have been, let us take a moment to look around at the beauty of today. For what are we grateful that’s right in front of us? If would could bring a Chip Matthews of our past into the present, would we really want for him to stay? Let us look back in gratitude and look forward with anticipation—especially when we have an eternal “Friend” sharing the present with us.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

* YouTube clip of Chip's and Monica's date:


The Gospel According to Chandler: When One Part Suffers

Every decade has its most memorable moments in television.

Some of us may remember when little Ricky was born on I Love Lucy. Or when Lucy ate all the chocolate. Or when Lucy crushed the grapes. Or anything associated with the redheaded Lucy.

For the soap opera inclined, there was that big wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital.

More recently, there was the final season of Breaking Bad. Since I know nothing about the show other than it was popular, I don’t know what happened in the series finale. Apparently, though, it was something as “big” and “memorable” as the show itself.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Friends had many such moments. The first post I wrote in this blog series was about the budding romance of Ross and Rachel. Season 2 found them hopelessly in love, and season 3 found them hopelessly annoyed with each other. As memorable as their first kiss was their breakup. As memorable as their breakup was the sudden change in dynamics of the close-knit friends.

The most obviously affected “friend” was Chandler. He started smoking again. Monica, Phoebe, and Joey reprimanded him for resurrecting such an unhealthy habit. When they asked him why, his response was more drama than comedy.

“This is just like my parents’ divorce, when I started smoking in the first place.”

The change in his friends’ relationship reminded him of his parents’ divorce. With the revival of those emotions came his same attempt at coping—the bad habit of smoking. Even though Chandler was not the one “suffering” like Ross and Rachel, their suffering caused him to suffer, too.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (Common English Bible)

When Paul preached to the early Church about their connectedness, he addressed a larger body of “friends.” He had painted for them a timeless metaphor of their gifts being a human body. After describing how their gifts might complement each other, he also reveals how affected they will be by each other. Like Chandler, many of the Corinthians were upset. There was division among them. There was fear of the future. There was reversion to past habits surrounding immorality and idols. To those who were backsliding, Paul sent this warning: your behavior affects more than just you.

In our churches and communities, conflict is inevitable. Disagreements will happen. Some friendships blossom while others deteriorate. We feel the effects of one another’s pain. Another person’s pain reminds us of our own hurts. How do we move forward?

Paul responds with one word: love. The very next chapter is 1 Corinthians 13. This is not a love confined to the romantic love a couple getting married. This is a detailed, complex love that spans brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives….. and friends.

Find a way to love each other even if you are hurting.

Find a way to love even if you have to draw new boundaries.

Find a way to love even if relationships have to change.

Find a way to love.

As Ross and Rachel saw their friends suffering, they realized that they would have to find a way to love each other in a new way. Their friends helped them and each other to do so. With time, Chandler quit smoking again.

In the body of Christ, we can lean on one another to move forward instead of letting each other’s hurts draw us backward.

In the family of God, we can draw from his love to learn how to love each other—even when it hurts.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian