Los Alamos Church of Christ
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He was looking for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he did not. He was looking for a girl with a rose on her lapel. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name… Miss Hollis Maynell.
With effort, he located Miss Hollis Maynell’s address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself. John invited her to correspond. The next day, Lieutenant Blanchard was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year the two grew to know each other through their shared correspondence. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding.
John requested a photograph of Miss Hollis Maynell, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. After WW2 ended in Europe, they scheduled their first meeting…7:00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” Miss Hollis Maynell wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” Thus John Blanchard was standing in Grand Central Station looking for a red rose on a woman’s lapel.
Here is what happened next in John Blanchard’s own words…
“A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness. Her pale green dress was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a red rose on her lapel. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, solider?” she murmured.
“Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Miss Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl in the green dress. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me for the last year. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible. Her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love… a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted. Even while I spoke I felt choked by disappointment. ‘I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?’
“The woman’s face broadened into an odd smile. ‘I don’t know what this is all about, son,’ she answered, ‘but the young lady in the green dress who just went by, begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in a big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of a test!’”
This story was from an old Max Lucado book… “And the Angels Were Silent”.
Our feelings at the end of the story are a bit odd. We are happy for the young soldier that the woman he loved was also young and beautiful. We smile at the clever “test” Miss Maynell gave the Lieutenant. But I wonder…
--What would God have made of this story? Was it all a coincidence? I think not.
--What about the rose wearing, plump, thick-ankled woman?
--Wasn’t she just as much a person loved by God as the woman in green?
--What about some of us… who are on plumb side of 50?
--What about those of us who would have been given the red rose?
This morning I want to advocate to you that those with the Contemplative Temperament bring a necessary voice to our community. Those few of us; 7, who scored high on the Contemplative Temperament test are precious because they speak a precious message… God passionately desires all of us who would wear red roses on our lapels.
ESV Genesis 1:1-5 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
When God created the universe He spoke it into existence. His powerful word was all that was needed to bring constellations into existence. He spoke the oceans and the plants and the sun and the moon and the animals into existence.
But, when He created us, the pinnacle of his imaginative work, he got His hands dirty.
ESV Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
God dug His fingers into the clay and formed us from the earth. I can see God kneeling down over the man-formed mound of play-dough and placing His lips on the mud-lips of the play-dough person soon to be named Adam and breathing life into him.
Our creation began with a kiss. We are God's very image walking around on legs ... all of us. We are designed to walk in the Garden in the cool of the evening hand-in-hand with the LORD.
ESV Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Let me advocate to you that those with the Contemplative Temperament bring necessary words to us. The Contemplatives communicate… “God, with mud on his lips, passionately desires all of us who have worn red roses on our lapels”.
Grandpa walked into the family room and found his little grandson, Jeffy, standing up in his playpen, crying. He looked pitiful, standing there in his little baseball T-shirt and diaper. His face was tear-stained from crying. When Jeffy saw his grandpa his face lit up in a way that only Grandpas know. He immediately reached up his chubby little hands in supplication.
“Out Papa, out!”
What grandpa could resist such a plea? He walked over to the playpen reaching down he lifted his little buddy to freedom. Just then, however, Law and Order stepped into the room. Jeffy’s mother spoke… sternly. “No, Jeffy! You are being punished. You have to stay in the playpen! Leave him right there, Dad.”
Rats. Busted. What’s a grandpa to do? His grandson’s tears tugged mightily at his heart. But, he couldn’t interfere with a mother’s discipline. But the Grandpa couldn’t stay in the same room with the boy, reading his newspaper,pretending to be aloof. Nor could he walk out the door without feeling like a betrayer to his little pal. What could he do?
Since Grandpa couldn’t take Jeffy out of the playpen, he climbed in with him. “If you’re in the playpen, Buddy, I’m in the playpen. What’s your sentence? How long are you in for?” And finding a big, jolly grandpa suddenly filling his little prison cell, the little boy found comfort… even in his captivity.
Contemplatives communicate that God passionately desires all of us so much that God, himself, entered our playpen to be with us.
ESV John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The Contemplatives point to the roses on our lapels which speak these precious words… I love you.
We must cherish the Contemplatives amongst us. Their message is one we need. We must encourage them to speak… over and over again… God loves those who would wear roses.
But, there are dangers which threaten to silence their voice.
All Nine of the historical temperaments are faced with seductions…
--Intellectuals struggle with arrogance which can lead to fudging what they really know because they have to be right.
--Caregivers can become people-pleasers. Caring is done to please humans rather than connecting to Jesus.
--Traditionalists are tempted to superstition... which leads to the rituals being what their religion is all about.
--Enthusiasts want good feelings over everything else which like adrenaline junkies must always be better. Bigger more exciting, more mysterious, more miracles…
--Sensates are prone to idolize beauty to the point of materialism. “I need that…”
--Ascetics can have a hard time with grace for themselves or offering it to others.
--Naturalists are tempted to love creation more than the creator… this world may cause them to forget to love the one who made it.
There are also dangers which threaten to silence the Contemplatives’ voice. That would be sad. That would be a loss. Let’s look at two dangers which threaten to silence the Contemplative’s voice…
1) Contemplatives are tempted with isolation.
Contemplatives are tempted to ignore everything but their own relationship with God.
--“Theology is not that important,” they would say to the Intellectuals, “I just want to love on the LORD.”
--Helping others is might not be on the Contemplatives’ radar. They are drawn to God.
--“My private worship is more precious than worshipping with the body. Ritual doesn’t matter. The hype of the enthusiasts just gets in the way.” They are drawn to isolation away from the body.
--The beauty the Sensates create is unimportant compared to the beauty of the face of God. They aren’t drawn into the community creation.
--Work is not important. The Contemplative is not drawn to do a million boring things because that doesn’t matter. They only want to love on the LORD. They move toward isolation.
--To the Naturalist… “Don’t bother me with that.”
The voice of the Contemplative can be silenced because they are tempted to withdraw from the body. We don’t hear the message of love from the Contemplative because they may not be talking to us. Isolation is a temptation for the pure Contemplative. This is sad we must encourage them to stay in fellowship.
Perhaps, the more serious temptation for the silencing the Contemplative is…
2) Contemplatives are tempted with insecurity.
Life is not always simple. Life, in the now, is lived with disappointment. Life can be quite abrupt. We may have roses on our labels, but life is rarely all roses. To the Contemplative this can be discouraging. Life, in its messiness, can cause them to stop speaking the words of love we need to hear. Instead of speaking words of God’s love, they may instead say…
“I often feel angry with God for not responding to me when I need Him.”
“I worry a lot about my relationship with God. Why is He quiet?”
“I fear God has rejected me because of what I did.”
“I crave reassurance from God. I want God to show me that He loves me.”
“I am jealous at how God seems to care more for others than for me.”
“Why does He allow all this suffering? I just don’t know what is going on.”
“With all the pain in the world and even in my life, how can I say God is love?”
When life is not as expected, the Contemplative can be silenced by insecurity.
Either because of isolation or insecurity we need to encourage the Contemplatives to speak the tender words of Psalm 131…
NLT Psalm 131 LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don't concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me. But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD-- now and always.
We need to constantly hear that voice. We need to listen to the Contemplatives’ words. We need their voice in our midst.
Let’s stand and say the Contemplative Shema…
CONTEMPLATIVE Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Loved One: The Lord our God, the Lord is your Groom.
You shall love the Lord your God…
…with all your heart, dwelling in love
…with all your soul, totally consumed.
…with all your mind, empty of everything, but me.
…with all your strength, in a lover’s embrace.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
August 28, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ