Sermons

Summary: Very often the answers to life’s questions only result in still more questions.

The story is told of a man who took an evening flight on which dinner was to be served to the passengers. Of course he was in first class, so we can expect that he would have received first class service and a first class meal. He was a bit hungry as he had missed lunch that day in order to attend a meeting so that he could catch an earlier flight home. He inquired of the flight attendant how long it would be before they would be serving dinner, and she was rather cross with him, but he tried to ignore her behavior when she responded that it would only be a bit longer. And so as dinner time arrived, the flight attendant came around with the cart and started passing out the wrapped dinner trays which included a tossed salad. When the passenger received his tray he was a bit anxious and began opening his salad, but he was met with a surprise upon peeling back the covering. There, on top of the mixture of lettuce and carrots and what have you, lay a roach. Of course after such a strong urge to eat, his hunger quickly left him and he no longer desired the salad or any other food they had to offer. He became quite furious and decided that when he arrived home he would most certainly send a scathing letter to the president of this particular airline. So he wrote the letter and mailed it off.

A couple weeks or so later he was surprised to receive a special delivery package in the mail. Lo and behold upon opening it up he saw that it was from the president of the airline. In contrast to his own letter full of contempt and anger, this letter from the airline president was just dripping with apology. He informed the passenger that the particular plane on which he had flown had been taken out of service. He told him it had been stripped and treated for bugs. He also told him that the flight attendant would most certainly be reprimanded, possibly up to and including termination from employment. And he ended by appealing to the passenger to continue to use this airline. As the passenger finished reading the letter, he noticed that there was another page clinging to the back of the letter. You see the secretary had made a grave mistake because the passenger noticed that this was his own letter. He pulled it apart and his attention was drawn to the unfamiliar scrawl of the airline president who had written these words to his secretary; "Send this guy the standard ’roach’ letter".

Here was a man that wanted some answers. Perhaps that airline president had the right intention in mind, and had this gross mistake not occurred, the passenger may have indeed believed that the airline was taking some serious steps to correct the problems he addressed in his letter. If the passenger had not found out through happenstance that the letter was nothing more than a perfunctory response, probably a standard form letter sent out in response to all similar complaints, the passenger would probably have thought that this was indeed an airline that was genuinely concerned about customer service and customer satisfaction, and wanted to answer his concerns sincerely and earnestly and had that been the case, he probably would have continued to give them his business. But he deserved better, and should have gotten more than the standard "roach" answer to his letter.

Much of the time life seems like an endless series of questions. Sometimes all we feel that we get are "roach" answers. Modern society has produced a complex life style, with complex issues, complex concerns, complex questions and yes, complex answers. We are often confused even having to ask "What exactly are the questions?" Philosophers of even more than 2000 years ago—even during the time of Christ—came up with what we today call, Transcendental Questions—questions that are all encompassing, they are common to all cultures and languages, human beings ask these questions to try to make sense of what is happening and what is going on around them. These Transcendental Questions are: Is it one or many?; Is it true or false?; Is it beautiful or ugly?; Is it good or evil? Our cultural training determines how we answer these questions—for what is true in one culture may not be true in another; what is beautiful in one culture may not be beautiful to another; what is good in one culture may be evil in another. These are questions we ask about ourselves, about others, and about what is going on in our environment. But all too often, particularly if we are honest, we do not like the answers to our questions, and ironically, the answers that we don’t like the most are usually what is true.

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