"I didn't get these," he said to me after the sermon. He was holding up my notes, the page smiled at me like a gap-toothed, five-year old.
Apparently, notes with gaps are a problem for people. A word in a blank is proof of listening, learning, effective communication; a standing blank is an information gap. A cause for doubt. A reason to suspect the pastor hasn't reviewed his notes well enough. (Or they weren't worth reviewing in the first place.)
Where did this need come from to fill in gaps? Certainly it is not a matter of social science, otherwise we'd be more inclined to sit next to each other in church and movie theaters. Nor is it a matter of evolutionary science, otherwise we'd have Lucy's third cousin twice removed. And I cannot pin it on the economy and education, for those institutions tend to widen gaps rather than bridge them.
So who can be credited for our neurological impulse to fill blanks and turn in our sermon crib sheets complete with endnotes, asides, and doodles?
I can't take credit. I may contribute to the weekly game of Homiletic Mad Libs, but the resolve predates me. And frankly, I'm convinced our complaint is more than unfinished sermons. We're bothered by unfinished lives.
Deep down, an unmet blank reflects our inborn longing for Shalom (i.e. wholeness). The church is called to fill blanks. To build bridges. To reconcile differences. To redeem time/space. The Spirit of God will take us further in this endeavor than sermon notes.