Please God, No More Elves!

head-303325_640I am not a fan of elves, you know, the ones in The Lord of the Rings. When one of the movies in the trilogy is on TV, the scenes featuring the elves are when I take my pee breaks. I’d sooner wed Gimli the dwarf than to have tea with the elves.

One of my favorite literary stories is about the Inklings. This was the group of writers associated with the imp-945890_640University of Oxford, England that included C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Another Inklings member, Hugo Dyson, is said to have responded to Tolkien’s manuscript by”lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying something to the effect of “Please stop! No more Elves.” Despite my abiding love of LOTR and admiration for Tolkien, I probably would have hung out with Hugo Dyson.
People, all people, can grate on one another. I believe one of the surprises we’d find if we met them in person is how annoyed we’d be by some of the disciples, Or C.S.Lewis, Martin Luther, or countless other heroes of our faith. It’s easy to get along with them now – you know – because they’re dead.
But if they showed up at church with us every Sunday, it would get on our nerves the way John always sang the wrong harmony on the hymns,or how Peter always had to tell a long, detailed story before getting to his prayer request,or how Martin Luther was always so down in the mouth and serious.
Heroes of the faith are amazing people until you get to know them week after irritating week, then you start to notice – you know – stuff.
But knowing that kind of makes me more open to the ordinary, annoying people I worship beside week after week. People get on my nerves and I get on theirs. (Oh, I can tell. I see the looks.) It’s sometimes tempting to think that I should go scout out some better people to sit beside but then, God Gibbs-slaps me upside the head and I think how I’d have felt sitting around a table with the disciples.

John always having to make sure we all knew he beat Peter to the tomb – like THAT was the important headline. Peter, who does he think he is acting like he’s in charge? I remember him denying Jesus. And Thomas, my goodness, enough with the questions already! And Joseph of Arimithea, I suppose we’re all supposed to be impressed with his big gifts at the end of Jesus’ life but what’s with being a “secret” disciple! How do you get that deal?

They were human, like the rest of us, with quirks, weaknesses, and unique personalities. I know me. Two weeks of hanging out with them and I’d have been looking into the group of disciples forming in the next town over, asking Jesus for a transfer. And yet, Jesus entrusted them with the gospel as He has all the rest of us flunkies who followed in their footsteps. Of all Jesus’ miracles, the greatest one is the miracle of inspiring us to love one another and the best way to see this happen, is to commit to love one local body of believers,
knowing it won’t be an overnight process, knowing you’ll wrestle with irritation, frustration, and annoyance, knowing you’ll be the source of someone else’s irritation, frustration, and annoyance, knowing that someone will drone on and on and on about the stinkin’ elves, but knowing, also, that the most awe-inspiring moment is the one when Jesus shows up in your midst and love claws its way out of the dirt and natural fertilizer of everyday human interaction, life rising out of the ashes of our fallen human ways.
To become great Christians, we must love grate Christians and acknowledge that sometimes, we’re the grate Christian. We request and expect God’s power for all kinds of everyday miracles. Why not look for Him to work the miracle of uniting the dwarfs and elves sitting beside you on Sunday morning? And you never know, one day an elf may just become your best friend.

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    The Conversation

  1. Melanie Gibson says:

    This is very timely (I wonder who arranged that?) as I was involved with a soup luncheon yesterday at church to start off the Lenten season, and because I was occupied with helping set up, serve, and run around and get things, I did not have a chance to eat myself for quite a while. My inner child gets cranky when she does not have food in her tummy, and naughty thoughts start to come into my head. Sometimes they escape through my mouth. I have been picking on myself ever since for grumbling a little bit (I doubt that anybody else thought it was as bad as I do), until I read this post and realized that I would only be bothered by it if I was attending church every week and then some more during the week. Yes, sometimes I am the grate Christian when I feel like the others are grating on me, but I need to remember that does not make me a really scary grate that people want to stay away from.

    • Melanie Gibson says:

      oops, I meant NOT attending church every week and then some. See, there I go again, correcting myself and trying to be perfect…

  2. Lori, this is a great/grate post! 🙂 It really makes us examine ourselves. But I must admit, I LOVE the elves.

  3. Valencia Joseph says:

    I really love your honesty, Lori! =) I know I am often the “grate” Christian. You’re helping me to remember, God can use us to grate the hardened sludge off of each other! =) BTW, I would prefer Gimli the dwarf – you may notice my husband’s resemblance! =)