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Do You Know What I Know?

When I was a child, my parents use to take me to church on Sunday. I had to go; no one asked if I wanted to. I went, I tried not to fidget too much, and endured the hour or so and then we went home. I didn't hate it, nor did I love it. I just went because I had to. When I was in high school, all the juniors and seniors were required to attend a presentation by the school counselors about the advantages of going to college. Three hours on the bleachers in a very hot gymnasium, listening to someone tell me how I should go to college, how I should want to go to college. Three hours of counselors telling us how are lives would be so much better if we went to college. I sat through that presentation secure in the knowledge that as my Dad had been unemployed for the past two years or so, I was not going to attend college whether I wanted to or not. You might say I was somewhat un-enthused to be there. A few years ago, I was visiting some friends and we were planning to go to dinner. At the last minute, my friends wife remembered her eight year old niece had her first piano recital that evening. So we all went to the little community theater to hear six eight year olds play the piano for the first time in public. I didn't know any of the children, so I had no emotional connection. The performances were less than awesome, and we all stuck with it and clapped politely at the appropriate times. None of us were enthused about it, but we did it because it was a nice thing to do. At dinner later we made a few jokes about the quality of the musicians, but the show was quickly forgotten. All of these examples describe something called apathy. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines it this way: ap·a·thy noun \_a-p_-the\ 1 : lack of feeling or emotion : impassiveness 2 : lack of interest or concern : indifference Sometimes the effects of apathy can be humorous. Ever decide to go out to eat and then drive down the road saying "I don't know, what do you want?" only to hear in response, "It doesn't matter to me, whatever you want." You can drive up and down the road and never decide! I believe apathy can come from several sources. Often it really is nothing more than a lack of interest in the subject. There are some things we have a definite opinion on, and are very willing to share it when asked. Think politics. Ask someone if they want this person or that to be president, you will usually get an honest opinion. Yet if you ask a hundred men which pattern of shelf-paper they prefer in their kitchen cabinets, or ask a hundred women if they prefer conventional or synthetic motor oil in their car, you may never get a decisive answer! Sometimes apathy can be a symptom of a more pressing issue. When I am thinking about something, a problem at work or a way to write a paper, I can get quite absorbed in my thoughts. On one occasion, when my friend noticed I was pre-occupied, she asked if I wanted peanut butter and onions on my pizza, and I said sure, fine, whatever you want. We both had a good laugh at that one. A third cause of apathy is depression or despair. If a person is feeling helpless in their current situation, they may feel like they have no reason to make decisions, they have no control anyway, so why bother. Often the response to a choice is "I don't care" because it may not seem worth investing emotion when things don't work out the way they want. Finally, there is another cause of apathy; classic conditioning. When I was a child, or, more likely, when my parents were children, the girls were taught they had no say in matters if church policy. Ask someone my mothers age if the church should start a new ministry, or which VBS program to choose, and it is quite possible she will say it doesn't matter to me, whatever you think is best, because that is what she remembers; women had very little say in the ministries of the church in the 1940's and 1950's. As apathy alters a persons enthusiasm and passion, it can have an adverse effect on relationships. They say relationships are built on trust; people trust in a constant level of interest, or passion in their friends. If that trust is violated, if one person loses interest or enthusiasm, even the best relationships will suffer. Knowing what apathy is and recognizing its symptoms and causes can enable one to take steps to prevent it from affecting personal and spiritual relationships.

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Easter Sunday - 4.5

Easter Sunday - Mark 16: 1-8

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  

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Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don't let anyone put you down because you're young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. (New Testament Lesson)

— 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (The Message)