The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The pin is not mightier ...

I sometimes pop over to Holston Talk, a forum on the United Methodist Church's Holston Conference Web site.

Dr. Paul Humphrey, who serves at Valley Forge UMC near Elizabethton, Tennessee, recently used the forum to invite my comments on AIDS in America. The invitation was in a wide-ranging "thread" of posts that apparently started with an article found by way of

The very name of that site speaks volumes.

At any rate, it was purported to be an essay by someone named Jim Phelps, who apparently did work at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

I scanned over Phelps’ piece, as well as some other stuff related to him on the Web. It’s a bit too much for me in that so many of his premises on AIDS and other matters are based upon things of which I have no knowledge. They ring in my mind like so much gobbledygook.

You know, I am no expert on AIDS as a disease, and would never dare to speak in that regard. My concern for AIDS sufferers is rooted in the knowledge that, given my lifestyle before becoming a Christian, I could easily have been one of those millions. (If you are interested in why I say that, go to the Gathering Wool blog and read the July 16 and 17, 2004, entries.)

Furthermore, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am called to serve the least, the last and the lost.

Certainly, AIDS victims are among the least, the last and the lost in this world.
The convicting question surfaces in my spirit as I write this: When have I served a cold cup of water to an AIDS sufferer?

Like most of the church, never.

As a journalist who came into the business just as AIDS was arriving on the public scene and who has watched reports spanning decades, I have been exposed to the many barstool and radio talk show theories. Some of that stuff may be true and it is acceptable to ponder and probe those things, but to what benefit is that to someone who is dying from the disease?

On a recent morning, I dug into my file and found a nearly 20-year-old newspaper clip. It was of a story stripped across the front page of the now-defunct daily newspaper The Knoxville Journal, headlined, "Resolving the fear of AIDS: He had to know if past indiscretions might harm new family." At the urging of my editors, the first-person piece ran without a byline.

The story spoke of my fears and uncertainty about whether I could be carrying the virus. (Incidentally, I had just turned 30 years old and had only been a Christian for about a year and a half.) Because of those fears, I decided to be tested for the virus.

Thanks be to God, the test returned negative.

I briefly considered that clip in light of the theories on AIDS, effectively asking myself: Were you ever concerned about whether the disease came from primates in Africa, or whether it was a secret CIA plot to wipe out a particular demographic?

Not in the least.

I was scared ... for me, and for my family. As a young believer, it was also an early experience of trusting God with the unknown. After all, if we can not trust him with the unknown in this life, how can we trust him with the unknown in the afterlife?

Too often we spend an inordinate amount of time counting the number of angels on the head of a pin, rather than giving someone a cold cup of water.

That’s probably because we would rather spend time with the pin — or even the pen — than with the people.

Grace and peace ...