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: http://youtu.be/O2L4Z8WGi1c