Next time you go into a store or restaurant, I want you to try something.

I want you to be honest.  

Now, what I mean by “honest” here is not that you don’t steal from them (well, since this is in writing- go ahead and lets be honest in that way too.)  But, what I mean here is that I want you to answer their questions honestly.  Especially that question that inevitably gets asked by a restaurant server or cashier at some point in a transaction: “How are you doing?”  When they  ask that question, I challenge you to answer them honestly.  If you are doing well…tell them that and why.  But, more importantly, if you are having a rough day…tell them that and why.  Just tell them the honest truth to the question and see how they react.

I just tried it myself a few minutes ago…poor guy.  I think I really caught him off-guard.   It’s not his fault, though, he’s probably been trained over time to expect people to not be honest.  He asked how I was doing at the grocery store and I told him “I’m really worried about some of my friends who are under a lot of stress right now and today in particular I’m worried that I don’t do enough to help them when things feel like they are overwhelming them.”  His response, after a blank stare, was only a rather long drawn out “Yeaahhh…?” with a slight frown on his face.   A response that was neither mocking nor consoling, but mostly seemed a way of verbally wasting time until the moment could be over (with just a hint of a question at the end.)  Again, I don’t blame the guy.  He’s got plenty of customers behind me and lots of sandwiches to make, and really the dynamic of the place just isn’t set up to have a real discussion even if he wanted to.  We were practically forced into a moment of triviality by the environment around us.

One of my biggest fears about church is that we too might someday fall into this same trap.  I’ve been at churches where when people greet you and ask “How you are doing?”, but then there is rarely a moment to respond truthfully before they are already on to the next person.  I never want us to be this way, and that’s part of the reason why our coffee/community time goes for a full 10 minutes.  I want us always to be able to ask each other how we are doing, and also get time to be honest with each other in our answers.  Honesty and transparency are vital to faith and community, and its one of the things we should practice each and every week.

Because in our Scripture passage for this Sunday,  we see someone who is a good model of this for us, and it’s someone who shows us just one part of what honesty in faith and community should look like.  The passage has Jesus pointing out a woman who gives all she had “out of her poverty,” and while she is giving financially I think the message is the same…give honestly of what you have and who you are.   Be willing to share with God and others even those places where you are poverty of the spirit and soul.  Share and give that honesty to one another and to God, because it is worth so much to those who receive it.

Next time you come to church, I’d like you to do something too.

I want you to be honest.

I’d like for you to be comfortable to share really who you are and what is happening.  I promise…we’ve got time to hear it.

See you on Sunday as we discuss this passage, and continue to be honest with each other and God.

Rev Brent Ross grew up loving the Twilight Zone and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. For better or worse both of these things enter into writing his sermons every week.