I’ve been on needles and pins most of the week. It’s questions that have put me there—questions that shake the very foundations of my thinking. It all started with a memory of a question I encountered a long time ago. The question, “Did women have a renaissance?”, was one posed by the historian Joan Kelly in her book, Women, History and Theory. I don’t remember Kelly’s answer to that question, but I do remember the effect that question had on me. It made me rethink the history I was teaching, the history I was living, even what went into history. That question made me squirm. I was on needles and pins.
This morning I met another such question. A question that made me wonder. A question rising from the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech. In an editorial in USA Today Travis Smiley asked, “Would King be Welcome at the celebrations marking the anniversary of his own speech?” And then Smiley went on to speculate about the comfortable needed afflicting today wondering, “Which King do we remember today—the dreamer or the drum maker for justice?”
Good questions often have an unsettling edge to them. They make you wonder whether you are on the right path, whether you’re walking the walk or just talking the talk, whether you’re living your faith. Questions that make you wonder “Have I become one of the comfortable?” “What’s my afflicting quotient?” “Am I seeing the face of God in the person before me—the one who’s bugging me big time?”
Last Sunday, Live at Five (the night owl congregation I serve every Sunday) gathered early in the morning to worship with the Congregation of St. Martin’s—a congregation of homeless and housed that meets in the back room of a homeless shelter. Many of us came away from our morning at St. Martin’s just a bit unsettled. Many of us felt we were sitting on needles and pins.
I’m beginning to think that pins and needles and needles and pins are good things. If I’m feeling just a bit uncomfortable, just a bit unsettled, that may mean I’m not living the way God calls me to live. Those pins and needles might just be needling me on to a life more in line with the life to which God calls us all. The life of building and living into the reign of God.
What are the needles and pins moving you closer to life with God? What are the questions unsettling you? God’s call to new life may be cursing through those pins and needles, As Jesus says, “Be awake…” Be awake to the pins and needles in your life and in our life as part of the Body of Christ.