Morning Worship: Marty: Make this a two-handed day

In “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” a film directed by Robert Redford in 2000, the caddy, Bagger (Will Smith), attempts to help the golfer he is working for in a tournament.

“You are in your head too much,” Bagger said. “I need you to come down into your hands … the intelligence is in your hands.”

“This is my theme for the week,” the Rev. Peter Marty said during his sermon, “Are You in Your Hands?” during the 9:15 a.m. morning worship service Wednesday. “We need to watch that our Christian faith is not reduced to a cerebral thing. Our faith is so much more than thinking. It is grander than the truth claims we have in our minds.”

His selected Scripture text was Matthew 8:1-5.

Golf, like many sports, requires the athlete to be physically fit — to have focus and the head in the game, but it is also about technique, about the stance and the grip of the club.

“Keep your eyes on the body of Jesus,” Marty said. “The good news is more than words. Jesus touched all kinds of people and all kinds of people touched him. The healing they received was always greater than just physical. It was social, spiritual, emotional and even economic.”

The healing power of touch is more than just physical. The pastor spoke about a gentleman in his congregation who had a job of holding the hands of people having eye surgery.

“He treated each of them as a brother or sister,” he said. “He lowered their blood pressure and their heart rate, but also reminded them of their humanity.”

Another illustration was the funeral for Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin’s granddaughter told the mourners that many famous people had spoken about him, but that none of them “was fortunate enough to feel the caress of your [Rabin’s] warm soft hands and the embrace that was just for your grandchildren.”

Marty also said that he visited a man in prison for several years. They could not touch and talked through a phone, but at the end of each visit they would put their hands on the glass — “two sets of hands trying to connect.”

“Do what you can to get out of your head and into your hands today,” Marty said. “Think about those two hands together. We don’t always use those two hands together. You can eat an ice cream cone and balance your checkbook with two different hands.

“I am convinced that the demise of the stick shift in automobiles was not general dissatisfaction with changing gears, but the advent of fast food,” he added. “You can’t eat a hamburger and drive a manual shift. And count how many cup holders there are in a car today.”

Marty continued, “The baseball glove was designed to catch with one hand and throw with the other. You can push a supermarket cart with your left hand and pick up a can of beans with your right. Sam Wells, pastor of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, has said that there are some things that can’t be addressed with one hand — holding someone else’s baby, and no one reaches for their mother’s hand in the hospice bed with one hand and texts with the other.”

Real friendship, Marty said, requires two hands to give a hug with two arms.

St. Augustine made a distinction between those things which humans enjoy and those that humans use: “Things that we enjoy, we enjoy for their own sakes; they are an end in themselves. Those of us raised on the Heidelberg Catechism of 1648 remember the first question — What is the chief end of humanity? —  and the answer is to enjoy God forever.”

Marty then complemented St. Augustine.

“Those things that have utility, always exist for a purpose,” he said. “They serve an end. What we take with one hand we use, what we treasure we take with two hands and enjoy. We receive communion with two hands in my tradition because we want to enjoy the presence of the Lord.

“We need a two-handed approach to fully enjoy our friends, to fully enjoy the Lord,” he continued. “Anything less would be to use them to some other end. We cherish life gently and tenderly with both hands. Make this a two-handed day. Get out of your head and into your hands.”

The Rev. Scott Maxwell presided. Alma Gast, Christian coordinator for the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, read the Scripture. The Motet Choir sang “The Lord is My Shepherd” by Mack Wilberg, the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the choir.

The Harold F. Reed Sr. Chaplaincy supports this week’s services.