Do you remember middle school? That moment when the teacher calls on you the very moment all thoughts and attention decided to run down a rabbit hole? I am talking about when no recallable answer is in sight and the deep void and rising anxiety and sweaty palms make repeating back words from the question in a different order or just looking at the page and saying whatever your eyes fall upon not possible. There may have been a fidget or two, but ultimately - and possibly after glancing around at those whose affirmation we so desperately desired - we are forced to let out an, "I don't know," and disappear into the shell of ourselves until the bell mercifully rang.
The weight of our ignorance in social situations can become a crushing and debilitating chain we bear. Maybe you have been free from such knowledge posturing and people pleasing for a long time, or hopefully have never suffered from it. I know I did. I found myself deep in the desperate routine to save 'face', and what was even worse, 'succeeding' with it. I could pretend I knew something long enough to find on my own what I had not known. It was a long and self-inflicting journey for myself to finally arrive at a point where I could admit my own ignorance in public venues. And upon my arrival I was blown away at how it was not only so liberating, but it was enlightening - and not just because of going to college. For in admitting my ignorance I was free to truly learn rather than try to fill in behind my prideful posturing. For with everything I assumed I knew I lacked the ability to ask questions and seek understanding. Which I think was leading down a road towards what Paul called out as a deeper ignorance in Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” I thank God for helping me see how ignorant I was and still am. For not only does admitting what we do not know bring immediate relief (sometimes we may wish people would pause before telling us what we do not know), but it also leads to great adventures in the name of truth.
Saying 'I Don't Know' has taken on a new life for me here at St Andrew. Time and time again I come in or look out my office window and notice cars filling the parking spots. I will then walk the halls and find ministries and community gatherings happening of which I was unaware. Now to be fair, we have a scrolling screen listing the daily activities in the entryway and I am given a weekly calendar at the staff meeting detailing the different events, but it is often too much to remember. The welcoming of this church extends through these facilities and to the community at large in ways I delight I still have to learn about.
So if you ever come through the halls of St Andrew and find happenings and people you know nothing of, please stop by my office or find me to ask. I will be happy to tell you, "I don't know." Then we can go together to meet the people and discover what we do not know.