Don’t Embarrass Me, PLZ

Not long after beginning my work with GLPBY in January 2021, (Has it really been 3 ½  years?) I received a gift from old friends, Mike and Cindy Wakeland.  A few GLPBY oldies may remember Mike and Cindy when he pastored Tyler Place Presbyterian Church.  Cindy, an extraordinary Christian Educator, was at one time my youth leader; as in I was the youth and she was in charge.

Our friendship has lasted through new calls and new places and we have stayed in touch, if a bit erratically, through the years. So, I was delighted to find a larger manilla envelope waiting on my desk with a brief note, “We’ve been meaning to send you this gift.” I opened the envelope and pulled out a familiar image of a prayerful Jesus, eyes gazing upward, that the artist, Mary Katherine Maddox, captioned “Don’t EMBARRASS me, PLZ.” Out of all the possible choices to send at the start of a new call like an eagle soaring through the sky with a beautifully scripted Isaiah 40 quote or Jesus welcoming the children or tossing tables for that matter what message did they deem the most essential to be communicated? Don’t embarrass Jesus, Kanerva.  I was undone by the humor of it and convicted all at the same time.

I often enjoy a slice of humble pie. Stuff happens: Tripping over my words, forgetting a name, misquoting scripture, reading the wrong scripture, speaking before thinking, reacting, losing my temper with a church member, failing to track emails, overlooking due dates, crying uncontrollably, the list goes on and on. There was the time I was kicked out of a funeral home by the deceased’s son. That one sticks with me for sure. I’ll share no more.

I cannot go back and change what was. The challenge for me, and perhaps for you dear reader, is to resist the urge to stay in the embarrassment or humiliation – to get stuck or allow others to keep you there.

I don’t believe Jesus is embarrassed by me – slightly bemused, almost without question, but I stand firm in God’s grace along the way. This sarcastic image of Jesus speaks to my jaded self every morning I arrive in the office. He is my daily reminder of who is at the center of my work and the work of his church.  He is my daily reminder of who I am and whose I am. (Remember the Shorter Catechism, friends?) He is my daily reminder to stay in the work, stay connected, and lean into what is possible over what was. He is my daily reminder that it’s better to take a risk than to stay safe out of fear of a possible misstep I might make. ‘Cause honestly, it will happen. Stuff happens.

And on that note, I’ll go back to the email I’ve been procrastinating about and an agenda that needs organizing and getting on with the day. Who knows what God has in store for me and you today?

May God bless you and keep you, Liz

Image of Liz Kanerva, Assoc Presbytery LeaderRev. Elizabeth “Liz” Kanerva
Presbytery Associate Leader


  • Posted June 4, 2024 5:09 pm
    Susan R. Andrews

    Love this! Even when we embarrass Jesus, we are trying! I think you make Jesus laugh with love most of the time!

  • Posted June 5, 2024 9:58 pm
    Susan Niesen

    Fools for Christ! I am grateful for colleagues who lead with generous hearts and lend laughter to things that are often far too serious…..and you’re one of a couple who bring both to the table. Thanks be!

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