Faithlife Sermons

How are you doing?

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Seems like such a simple question but one in which I struggle with because I try to be an honest person but at the same time I do not desire to be a depressing person, nor do I want someone who cares enough to ask to not be given the respect of answering truthfully.
Yet we all know that asking someone right now, how are you doing is pretty stupid.
My dad asked Roger how he was doing and he answered, “I’m dying.” I smiled. Blunt. That’s truth, with a little rawness.
That’s what I grew up with so as people through out the years have reached out to me as their pastor I gave them some advice that a friend reminded me of this week.
When I say how are you doing I want to know three things.
And while it seems stupid to speak of this advice to chaplains and pastors who are all better at care than myself, will you join me in how I am thinking through this?
Are you drinking?
I don’t mean taking in fluids but if your turning to alcohol or other drugs don’t be scared by this grief. Roger was not a big fan of alcohol. Jesus turned the water into wine but as a Baylor alum myself and a friend of Roger, we kind of think that water had to taste closer to Diet Dr. Pepper.
Are you eating?
To know Roger was to know how to eat. Before Yelp there was Roger. He knew the best place to eat in city I visited and in his early days fixations on food would arise. We got stuck in rush hour traffic on the bay bridge because we had to leave our convention in Oakland so we could get a cookie in San Francisco.
Are you sleeping?
No, no I’m not. But as Roger would say to me, you’ll sleep when you need to.
I loved Roger and like the song, I wonder did I know what i got, before it was gone.
Even if I didn’t Roger made sure, with every ounce of strength how grateful he was for me, for anyone I told him about, for friendship, for love.
There are many scriptures that come to mind from time to time when I think of Roger but in honesty in my grief the one that God brings to mind is
Matthew 25:31–46 CSB
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 “ ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ 44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ 45 “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
To know Roger was to know his generosity. He taught me how to shop for food for people in need of food. Shop like I would for myself and try to almost double of what they asked.
When I was a kid Roger suprised me by treating me like I was the cool kid. He wanted to hang out with me. That sense of belonging meant everything to me and it was at that moment I was most interested in this amazing real spiritual connection Roger had, he expected that God would mess with his life. Would reorganize things.
I grew up with Roger and when your growing up you do a lot of dumb things. I hurt Roger and he was generous in his forgiveness. I let Roger down and he was generous in his restoration.
But much of the time Roger and I were together. We had hair brained ideas of generosity and ministry, mostly Roger’s ideas and me trying to make them happen, but Roger was also angry. Angry that God did not seperate the wheat from the tares, a story Jesus tells about removing weeds from wheat that are very hard to see. There is so many people struggling with their own sins both secret and known who were more than willing to use power or fear to dominate.
Roger would respond with so much anger that I had to tell him that being an ass was taking the whole we are a one body in Christ just a bit too far.
He thought that was funny and a badge of honor for a time.
In chaplaincy Roger found something to fight for, the care of the whole person, the patient, and he found the heart of God, the love of God and the love of other.
Roger’s ideas of generosity kept coming up, with little regards for how it might be sustained, the Dreamer just knew to love. He thought every neighborhood should have a garden. We have one over there.
I already miss his dreams of generosity because even when we might miss creating a new institution, program or changing the world. God changed us.
Thus his last act, was with incredible intesity, his most powerful lesson. Love others and let them know that you appreciate them.
God, thank you for this life, I know we are no longer his concern. He has finished. He is with you. But for the rest of our time, we will appreciate the life you blessed us, the truth we learned about you through him and the deep desire to know you more through the love of others.
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