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The Most Important Thing

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​ A number of years ago, I had opportunity to lecture to a group of Theravada Buddhist monks, regarding world religions. My lecture was intended to provide background information and orientation to the wide variety of the world’s religious traditions that this group would encounter at the then upcoming Asian preparatory session for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

I was ready. Despite the busyness of the Christmas season which preceded my trip to SE Asia, I had put together a solid presentation that I hoped would be most helpful to them. I had used an extensive list of sources that was both classical and cutting edge, in the sense of being up to date. Everything was well documented, all ready to go. My lecture notes were saved two or three times in different directories of my computer, since at that moment in time, they were the most important thing I would be taking with me.

As I always do, I began to prepare for the trip. There is a standard list that my wife helps me with: clothing, toiletries, medications, passport, visa, and other paperwork…that sort of thing. The rest I try remember myself. As usual, it was an extremely hectic time….but I was at the airport on time and checked in well in advance. (I am one of those people who likes to be at the gate well in advance, in case of any delays at baggage, or security or even traffic to the airport). As I sat there, two hours early, I whiled away my time watching the news on the nearby tv monitor. About 5 minutes before boarding was to commence, I began to prepare myself. I reached into my briefcase to get my passport, etc., and for some reason I noticed that my computer wasn’t there. I checked another compartment. It wasn’t there.

After searching my bag, and realizing that I had forgotten my computer, that had all of my lecture notes on it, with hours and hours of work ready for presentation, I sat in despair and literally broke into a cold sweat. There was absolutely nothing to be done about it now. It was going to be a disaster. I boarded the plane and took my seat, too depressed to even greet the talkative fellow beside me.

After my lectures were concluded and I was leaving the university for the last time, the facilitator of the meeting formally thanked me for my presentation, and gave me a lovely book commemorating the late King of Thailand who had just recently passed away. As he spoke I remember thinking to myself that I was a complete fraud, for what I had done was to “wing it.” I lectured like a man possessed, overwhelming them all with information and detail I could muster about each and every religious tradition ever identified.

The facilitator commented with evident sincerity, that he had never before seen a lecturer speak so well, and completely without referring to notes!

This weekend, we’ll explore what Jesus’ thinks is the most important thing with which we should be concerning ourselves. (Spoiler alert: it’s Him! The Bread of Life! And as importantly, it’s not some of the peripheral things upon which we often focus.)

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