By Pastor Tracey Leslie
When I was five years old I had an experience I have never forgotten and have periodically reflected on throughout my adult years. At age four, my dad began seminary in Dayton, Ohio. My family had moved from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and it was, for my mother, her first time to live away from her hometown and her very close, extended family. It was culture shock. We had moved to a small rural farming community about 40 minutes north of Dayton. The community was Appalachian, settled by folks who had come up the I-75 corridor from Kentucky in search of employment. It was a very closed culture. Now the irony is Johnstown is also Appalachian. But, Johnstown was our Appalachia and Lockington was not. When we arrived on moving day, there were no church members to greet us. We stood all alone in the gravel driveway and my mother and sister cried. Well, they did more than cry; they bawled. So, I cried too because that’s how it works when you’re four; if your mother cries, you cry. The following fall, during kindergarten, one day at recess, I stood on the playground looking up at the Maypole and I wanted to swing on it. I couldn’t reach it; I was too short. But I found another older kid who would lift me up. Since it was such a small community, the schools were K-12 and, as older, bigger kids poured out onto the playground and grabbed hold of that Maypole, we began to swing higher and faster and higher and faster; and my little arms were getting very, very tired. I remember thinking something like this: “If I ask them to stop, they won’t. I’m little and the big kids won’t listen to me. I’ll just let go.” And I did; tumbling to the blacktop; breaking my glasses and hitting my forehead, resulting in a trip to the doctor and six stitches above my left eye. As an adult I often have wondered if that scenario might have played itself out differently if my family experience were different. My mom never felt at home in that culture. She never felt understood or accepted there and, consequently, did not feel well-respected. She did not feel that her voice was heard. At five, I had little capacity for differing and I can only assume I felt my own choices were highly limited because my desires, my fears, my needs would not be heard, understood or respected.
Community that is inclusive and compassionate is of extreme importance. People have little chance of making wise and mature decisions if they are not in a compassionate and inclusive community that demonstrates that their desires, fears and needs are heard, understood and respected.
This morning we are concluding Trinity’s fall stewardship campaign: Building, Growing, Connecting: Living God’s Vision for Trinity. Stewardship is about how we manage or steward those resources God entrusts to us: our time, our talents, our treasure (or money). As Christians we affirm that there are no self-made men or women. All that we have and all that we are comes to us from God as a gift. So we are called to manage those blessings God gives in ways that reflect wise stewardship. Within the context of the church, stewardship involves using the resources God has given to advance or grow our mission and vision. At Trinity, our mission is “to make disciples or Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Our vision is: “Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community.” So everything we do as a church should be strained through the filter of this question: does this contribute to relational discipleship? Do the decisions we make and the tasks in which we engage foster a sense of relational discipleship? Christianity is not a belief system; it is a relational system. The cross is the icon of our faith. Its vertical line represents what God in Christ did to restore us to right relationship with God. Its horizontal line reminds us that Christ also was incarnate, died and resurrected to restore us to right relationship with one another. Do the things we do as a church build relational connections?
One of the most fundamental ways in which we connect with one another and with God is around the table. As I mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon, tables are the place we cultivate a sense of community, remember our history, tell our stories, give thanks for our blessings, and welcome the stranger into our midst.
And it has been that way since ancient times. The defining event for the Israelites, their exodus from Egypt, is remembered and proclaimed still today at a table: the Passover meal. And the defining event in Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus, is remembered and proclaimed still today at a table: Holy Communion. Meals (as we see in scripture) become defining experiences that can convert us and transform us, even disciple us. In the setting of table fellowship both host and guest can encounter God as the true host whose rich grace feeds bodies, minds and spirits.
This morning’s gospel lesson, a meal story, is rather scandalous. To understand it a better, it helps to know a little about its setting. Jesus is invited to dinner at the home of a Pharisee by the name of Simon. Now, today we tend to view Pharisees quite negatively. But, we ought to be careful about that. The Pharisees weren’t bad guys. They were religious leaders and guardians of the faith. They really weren’t much different from many of us in the sanctuary this morning.
Now, Middle Eastern culture – both then and now – has high standards for hospitality. Since Simon has invited Jesus to dine with him, we can only assume this meal will be quite the production. In that culture, homes of the more affluent were constructed with a courtyard open to the street. And just beyond that courtyard, still visible from the street, was the inner dining chamber. And, when a meal was served and honored guests were invited, people from the street could see in and see who the honored dinner guests were. Most of the time, some lesser fare (common food for the common people) was placed in the outer courtyard for some of the poorer folk who might hear about this affair and be passing by. So, while we might view the woman in this gospel story as “crashing the party” because she was not an invited guest, her presence at this Pharisee’s home would not have been unexpected. Well, at least not if she stayed where she belonged – in the outer courtyard among the rest of the "little people." As the story unfolds, however, it becomes painfully clear that this woman does not know her place. She violates social protocol; she transgresses boundaries and enters the inner dining chamber where Simon, the host, is around the table with his honored guests. Now, if you have any visions of this woman crawling around under the table, banish those. For, at this period of time, people didn’t sit to eat. They reclined on their left side with their feet pointed away from the table.
So, this woman enters the inner dining area with an alabaster jar of ointment. Next, this woman – who everyone around town knows to be… well, sinful – begins to put on quite the show. She touches Jesus’ feet, she weeps and her tears fall onto his feet; she wipes them dry with her hair. Then, she kisses Jesus’ feet and she begins to rub them with the ointment in her jar. Now, if the woman didn't have a bad reputation already, this kind of inappropriate behavior would have given her one. In Jesus' culture, men and women who didn’t know one another didn't interact with one another and certainly didn’t touch one another. This woman – likely a stranger – shouldn’t have been touching Jesus at all, let alone in such an intimate way. But, Jesus understands that the woman’s intention is to communicate her love, affection and gratitude.
Meanwhile, Simon – Jesus' host – finds the whole interaction appalling. He interprets this woman's behavior as an insult to his honor. It is an insult that this woman of ill repute is intimately interacting with his dinner guest. More importantly, Simon finds Jesus’ acceptance of this show of affection to be highly suspect. He muses that, if Jesus were truly a prophet – as has been contended – he would know what kind of floozy this woman is and he wouldn’t be letting her touch him. The kind of sinful behavior this woman engages in makes her unclean and, by touching Jesus, she is making him unclean, too. This is quite a revolting display by Simon’s assessment. But [now follow me here], even at the very moment that Simon is thinking that Jesus cannot be a prophet because he clearly doesn’t know this woman’s nature, Jesus proceeds to tell Simon a story that will demonstrate that – not only does Jesus know what this woman is like – Jesus also knows what Simon is like AND the assumptions Simon has been making about what this woman and Jesus are like. It’s really a little humorous. In a culture where people’s honor ranking was monitored as carefully as player stats in the World Series, Jesus – with his sly little story – proceeds to knock Simon down a peg. He reminds Simon that, when Jesus arrived at his house for dinner assuming the invitation was sincere, Simon did not bother to honor Jesus with the traditional forms of hospitality. He didn’t greet Jesus with a kiss – a gesture not simply of affection, but more importantly, a way of demonstrating that someone was your social equal. And, he didn’t bother to have a servant wash Jesus’ feet or anoint his head with oil. In fact, he didn’t even offer Jesus a basin of water to wash his own feet. Jesus points out that Simon’s behavior as a host is beyond deficient. Simon failed to welcome Jesus in a way that showed respect and, in a society where rituals of hospitality are well-known and understood, what was lacking in hospitality was an obvious indication to everyone around the table that Simon didn’t really think all that much of Jesus.
But, even after Jesus has told this story which leaves Simon with egg on his face… even after Jesus has critiqued Simon’s poor hospitality right out loud in front of God and everyone… even after all that, Jesus isn’t through. He concludes his comments to Simon with this evaluation: this woman’s many sins have all been forgiven her and she has shown tremendous, lavish love. After all, a person forgiven much loves a great deal. But a person forgiven little loves very little. Now, Jesus didn't tell Simon that this last critique applied to him. But, you wouldn’t have needed to be a rocket scientist to have figured that out.
Now, there is some ambiguity as to whether or not the woman loved so lavishly because she had been forgiven OR whether she was forgiven because she loved so lavishly. It’s a little like that proverbial question about which came first, the chicken or the egg? But maybe, in this case, it’s not so much linear as it is cyclical. After all, when kindness is shown to me, I tend to respond more kindly to others who, because I have treated them kindly, tend to respond kindly to me. And ultimately, if I perceive God as being generous and gracious, then I will be more aware of the ways in which God demonstrates his generosity and graciousness to me and I’ll also be better able to be generous and gracious toward others.
Let me say that one more time: when we are compassionate and generous toward others, we unleash a cycle of generosity and compassion. And, in fact, that generosity and compassion we extend indiscriminately toward others makes blatantly clear what we really believe and have experienced in our own lives regarding the generosity and compassion of God. That’s why, as I said last Sunday morning, when you fund the ministries of the church what you are really funding is the celebrating and sharing of God’s grace; those things that happen in our lives and in our world that make the grace of God manifest in real and tangible ways, especially toward those whom our broader society has deemed as less than deserving. That’s what happens in this story with Simon. Simon is offended because Jesus, ultimately, extends generosity and compassion toward one who, in his judgment, does not deserve it. Yet, that very indiscriminate grace of Jesus transforms the life of this woman.
So what about you? Do we have a reputation like Jesus? To be a disciple of Jesus means we learn from him how to engage with those whom society might look down on or judge harshly. Anyone can attend worship on Sunday. And there are no heavenly points for getting your name on a church membership roll. The question is one of discipleship and how we live when we walk out those doors and with whom do we seek to share fellowship? Friends; if Trinity is going to grow, there is no question about it. We will need to seek ways to enter into relationships with people who don’t go to church; perhaps people who don’t live the way we do or the way we think we should. But will we take the risk of approaching them, talking to them, inviting them to join us for a cup of coffee, listening to their story without judgment? And are we willing to risk our own comfort and security to give generously to the ministries of this church so that, as a congregation, we can reach out into our community and grow relationships with people who need to experience the indiscriminate grace of God?
Sometimes we look at the world around us and we think, “Wow, people seem to be making a lot of poor choices for themselves.” But we are also living in a world that appears to be running pretty short on compassion. Community – Christian community – that is inclusive and compassionate is of extreme importance. People have little chance of making wise decisions if they are not in a compassionate and inclusive community that demonstrates that their desires, fears and needs are heard, understood and respected. And that’s what Trinity is about: compassionate, relational discipleship. When you fund the ministries of Trinity you are funding the sharing of God’s grace… things that are making the grace of God manifest – real and tangible in people’s lives.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Acts 27:33-38
As a child, I recall time with my paternal grandmother. She had been widowed when the youngest of her three children was still a teen. She remarried but had chronic health issues, dying in her 60’s from kidney failure. She was limited in her physical activity; but she loved to play cards and she loved Ritz crackers. Her rented house in the city was old and at the end of her long, skinny kitchen was a booth much like what you’d see in a restaurant. We would sit at that booth for hours and play cards and eat buttered Ritz crackers… neither of which sound like they would be very appealing to a child, but I loved it. I’m not sure why. But I do recall that, unlike most of the adults in my life, grandma moved slowly and she never multi-tasked and she never seemed to get overly excited about anything. That booth in her kitchen was a kind of quiet, gentle space to simply be. It was a hospitable space; gracious space.
This week we continue with Trinity’s fall Stewardship campaign, “Building, Growing, Connecting: Living God’s Vision for Trinity.” One of the most fundamental ways in which we connect with one another and with God is around the table. Tables are the place we cultivate a sense of community, remember our history, tell our stories, celebrate our blessings, and welcome the stranger into our midst. Meals (as we see in scripture) become defining moments that can convert us and transform us.
And it has been that way since ancient times. The defining event for the Israelites, their exodus from Egypt, is remembered and proclaimed still today at a table: the Passover meal. And the defining event in Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus, is remembered and proclaimed still today at a table: Holy Communion.
This morning’s scripture, I’m going to assume, is not one many of us are familiar with. It’s a rather obscure story. It comes near the end of the Book of Acts. Acts tells the story of the Church, of how the Spirit of the risen Christ comes upon his followers, referred to as apostles, and equips them to proclaim the good news of his saving grace to the ends of the earth. From the 9th chapter of Acts through its conclusion, the primary apostle for this proclamation is Paul; once a zealous Pharisaic Jew who encounters the Spirit of the living Christ as he is traveling the road to Damascus. In Paul’s day, the “end of the earth” – or at least the culmination of it – was the city of Rome. So Acts concludes with Paul being taken to Rome to stand trial for his ministry which some have charged as being seditious. There Paul intends to proclaim, in the most visible and influential of all forums, the good news of the saving grace of Jesus.
This morning’s story takes place as Paul is being transported by sea to stand trial in Rome. But it is late in the year, well past the time for safe sailing. So it comes as no surprise that the ship on which Paul is being transported faces storms so severe they are jeopardizing the ship and putting its sailors, soldiers and passengers at risk of death. But in the midst of the storm one night, Paul is visited by an angel who assures Paul that, so long as they all hang in there together, they will all reach their destination unharmed. But, that message is a tough sell in the midst of such a rough sail. Some sailors have already tried to escape in the lifeboat. They’ve been throwing things overboard in an attempt to lighten the ship. There is dissension and disagreement among sailors and soldiers and things have become so stressful, no one is eating. It is nearly sunrise and – as the cliché goes – it’s always darkest before the dawn.
Then Paul boldly stands before them, to deliver the message in Acts 27:33-34. Paul tells them they need to eat to survive and that they needn’t worry for God has made it known to Paul that not even a hair on their heads will be harmed. But Paul does more than speak; he takes action. It is what we church professionals refer to as “the fourfold action”; the same four actions taken by Jesus on the night he institutes the Lord’s Supper; the same four actions we take in this sanctuary each time we celebrate communion. Paul takes the bread, he gives thanks to God, he breaks it – and well, first he eats – and then he encourages others to do the same. Now it is not Holy Communion per se; there’s no wine and no proclamation of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Yet it is a proclamation of sorts. Faithful Jews and Christians across the centuries and still today have been in the habit of giving thanks to God before we eat; a proclamation of the faithfulness and goodness of God. Bread is the staple of life. So bread is symbolic for all food (hence our prayer “Give us this day our daily bread”) and food is symbolic for God’s faithful provision over every area of our lives. Food saves us from starvation; but it also reminds us that God is – in a larger and more general way – our savior and our provider. In this particular instance, Paul’s giving thanks for both food and protection become a moment of proclamation. Eating under such dire conditions, Paul reveals his confidence in God’s provision for their future. Paul’s prayer and his confident actions give the others courage to also eat and be strengthened.
This picture, “Grace,” – which usually hangs in our Friendship Room in the church basement – was taken by Eric Enstrom in Minnesota in 1918. He printed multiple copies and they sold like hot cakes. Considering events in our nation from the stock market crash in 1929 through two world wars, it’s easy to understand how this photo became so popular. Always, but especially in times of uncertainty (whether a life-threatening storm at sea or the Great Depression or 9/11), we need to be reminded (and we need to proclaim) God’s saving grace; as people of faith, we need to give thanks for God’s saving grace. In dangerous or desperate times, people can become territorial, fearful, suspicious and selfish. Our sinful human nature is prone to want to circle the wagons and look out for what is in our own self-interest; fearful self-preservation.
But the Church is called to respond with generosity and hospitality: outward, visible expressions of God’s saving grace. That, by the way, is what a sacrament – like communion – is. Sacraments are those outward, visible things that keep us mindful of God’s grace; always present, always at work around us. So, while Paul didn’t celebrate Holy Communion with these sailors, in a certain sense, what he did was sacramental. He lifted up that bread and he gave God thanks for it. In doing that, he made clear to everyone on that ship that he had absolute trust in the graciousness of God as the one who blesses and preserves life. Paul believed God would keep them safe. And so, he could even eat in the midst of a dangerous storm. Much like the psalmist who proclaimed, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; my cup overflows.” Paul’s eating in the midst of that mess was a visible sign to everyone on that ship that Paul had taken the message of God’s saving grace to heart and to stomach. He didn’t just say it; he lived it; he ate it.
Friends; Trinity in recent years has taken more steps to break bread with one another and with our community. This summer we had our Garden and Grills on the lawn; inviting and sitting at table with our neighbors; talking and getting to know them. Right now there are lots of small groups and studies happening here at Trinity and most of those include food or snacks. Once a month we have a community conversations group and our family to family gathering that begins with a meal. Here’s what that consists of: we come together around the table to eat, to break bread. Then, some folks (church members and community members) remain in the Friendship Room and Ruth Smith leads us in some discussion time as we get to know one another and seek a better understanding of our neighborhood and what the needs are in our community and how we might become better representatives of God’s grace to the people around us. The rest of us, after eating dinner, go into the Fellowship Hall with families that have been selected by LUM. They have recently moved into LUM housing and we build relationship with them and help them identify goals for their life; we help them connect to resources in our community. We pray with them and keep in contact with them. In short, we seek to embody God’s grace for them and to communicate that – even in situations of shortage or perceived problems and anxieties – God is still with us and God will faithfully provide for us.
The world, my friends, needs the Church because the Church names and embodies God’s saving grace for the world. We proclaim it and should feel honored to distribute it; grace that is life-preserving and life-sustaining. This community needs our church to extend hospitality and grace that becomes outward and visible signs of God’s salvation and providence. I give to this church with my money, time and talents not just because I’m your pastor but because I believe in what we’re doing here. Friends; since Jesus ascended and returned to heaven, we’re it. We are the visible manifestation of God’s saving grace in the world. But that message can’t just be preached; it has to be lived; lived in the real world, among real people; people who may be as gruff or tough as literal or proverbial sailors.
Next Sunday we’ll conclude our fall Stewardship campaign here at Trinity. We want you to return your estimate of giving card for the 2018 calendar year. And I won’t lie to you: Trinity needs your support; we have significant financial needs. But the world needs the Church and I believe this community needs our church to proclaim and name and make manifest the saving grace of God through the ministries we do and the hospitality we extend. When you fund the ministries of this church you are funding the sharing of God’s grace. I hope that Trinity is a place that has helped you identify and celebrate God’s grace in your life. I pray that Trinity is a place that inspires you to share God’s grace with others through what you say and do. I hope that, when you get on our website, read our bulletin announcements, read the monthly newsletter, and get weekly emails; that you can read all of that and say, “Wow, those are some things that are making the grace of God manifest – real and tangible to the people in our community.” And I pray that if you can say that, that you will be willing to give generously, even sacrificially. We need your financial support and we need other support as well: we need someone to paint our parking lot sign; we need someone to assemble a child’s bed for our Family to Family family; to help with our Coffee Cart or Family Promise. We also need you to share and celebrate your experiences of God’s saving grace.
Friends; God’s saving grace is made manifest when we invite others to our table, to our church; into our hearts and our lives; when, in their presence, we celebrate God’s faithfulness and care. The actions of the Church must proclaim to the world that, because of God’s grace, we can risk giving and sharing generously; we can risk even inviting a stranger to the table. How we give to the church demonstrates what we really believe about God and his grace. Do we believe it is bountiful? Do we believe it’s for everyone? Do we believe making that grace known to others is worth a risk, worth a sacrifice? God gave his life for us and now he calls us to be generous toward others so that we can make manifest his saving grace in the world.
By Linda Dolby
A fried-egg sandwich walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender looks him up and down, then says, "Sorry, we don't serve food here,"
Who gets served? That’s the point of our scripture this morning: all are welcome at the banquet where God is the host. In the parable, a man planned a large banquet and sent out invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to contact each of the invited guests, telling them that all was ready and the meal was about to start. One after another, the guests made excuses for not coming. One had just bought a piece of land and said he had to go see it. Another had purchased some oxen and said he was on the way to yoke them up and try them out. Another gave the excuse that he was newly married and therefore could not come.
When the master of the house heard these flimsy excuses, he was angry. He told his servant to forget the guest list and go into the back streets and alleyways of the town and invite “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The servant had already brought in the down-and-out townspeople, and still there was room in the banquet hall. So the master sent his servant on a broader search: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”
You may not believe this, but when I was younger, I was quite the fiery feminist. I was determined that I could do anything a man could do. Thus, things that were traditionally the female role held no interest for me. In our young marriage, my husband and I attempted to split all the household chores equally.
I continued in this mindset until one summer when I was attending a week-long retreat. There the leader made the point that when we receive communion, Jesus is the host at the table. It is Jesus who invites us to eat and drink. “He sets the table before us,” says scripture.
Well, that caused me to re-think my stance. I was reminded of my Aunt Lottie. Aunt Lottie is the hostess with mostest. When my sister and I visited her in NorthCarolina, she prepared a fabulous meal. My sister and I wanted to reciprocate, so we said we would take her out to lunch the next day. “Oh, no honey,” she replied. “I have already prepared all of the lunches and all of the dinners for the 3 days you are here.”
I began to pattern myself after Aunt Lottie. I learned I loved having guests for dinner, hosting dinner parties. I loved the planning, the preparing, the cleaning, the cooking.
Our best friends – people who have been our friends for over 40 years – live in Muncie IN. A few years ago, we invited them, they accepted to come to our house for a few days. I was so excited. I got the house clean. I planned the menus. I went grocery shopping. And then the night before they were to arrive, my friend called to say they weren’t coming. I was crushed. At first, on the phone, all I could says was , “well, alright.” But when I hung up, I realized how angry – very angry – I was. I had done all this preparing and my gift of hospitality was rejected.
Don’t you think that is the way the host of the great banquet felt? We feel badly when we are rejected, but what about our God? Think of his grief and broken heart. Think of his anger and mercy.
But, anger does not over come him. He keeps on inviting. “Well, if they won’t come,” he tells his servant, “go find someone else.” Jesus ends the parable by relating the master’s determination that “not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet”.
The master of the house is God, and the great banquet is the kingdom, a metaphor that was suggested by the speaker at the table. The invited guests picture the Jewish nation. The kingdom was prepared for them, but when Jesus came preaching that “the kingdom of heaven is near.” He was rejected. The gospel of John says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
The excuses for skipping the banquet are laughably bad. No one buys land without seeing it first, and the same can be said for buying oxen. And what, exactly, would keep a newly married couple from attending a social event? All three excuses in the parable reveal insincerity on the part of those invited. The interpretation is that the Jews of Jesus’ day had no valid excuse for spurning Jesus’ message; in fact, they had every reason to accept Him as their Messiah.
The detail that the invitation is opened up to society’s maimed and downtrodden is important. These were the types of people that the Pharisees considered “unclean” and under God’s curse. Jesus, however, taught that the kingdom was available even to those considered “unclean.” His involvement with tax collectors and sinners brought condemnation from the Pharisees, yet it showed the extent of God’s grace. The fact that the master in the parable sends the servant far afield to persuade everyone to come indicates that the offer of salvation would be extended to the Gentiles and “to the ends of the earth.”
The master is not satisfied with a partially full banquet hall; he wants every place at the table to be filled. Someone once said, “God is more willing to save sinners than sinners are to be saved.” God wants everyone to be a part of the party.
I once heard Cecil Williams preach. Cecil was the pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, a church that was about to close when he arrived, but he started inviting the least, the last, the lost, the lonely to worship. And the church grew – exponentially. In the sermon I heard, Cecil told this story, “I come from a family of 8 children. And we were all busy, sports practices, extra-curricular activities. And when it was time for supper to be served, mama would look around the table and ask, “who is missing from the table?”
Friends, who is missing from our tables? Do we only eat with those who are like us or do we search the highways and byways for those who are hungry and hurting?
One of the great problems of this day is how divided we are. We even have gated communities. Communities that are for only those like the residents who live there and no one else. I hate gated communities. What would happen if we would open our hearts and our homes to someone who is a stranger, someone we don’t know very well, someone, who, to be honest, scares us a little bit?
Would the world be a happier place? If only we would extend ourselves to others. We live such solitary, individualistic lives.
Years ago, my then 8 year old son and I went to Honduras with a mission group from our church. We went specifically to form relationships with a church in the capital city of Tegucigalpa called “Amor, Fe, Vida” – love, faith, and life. With the help of translators, we studied the Bible, shared our lives and prayed together. We painted the church walls. By the end of the week we had become friends.
The last night we were there, different members of the church invited us to sleep in their homes. My son and I went to Marianna’s house, on a dirt road with raw sewage on the edge of the street. We got there about 4 p.m. and our hostess was in the kitchen cooking. She was making a treat – a big pot of tomatillas, which is meat and sauce wrapped inside corn husks.
Then I noticed that different people from the barrio were coming in, carrying little buckets, and would leave with their buckets filled with tomatillas. You see, these people had next to nothing. They knew they needed their neighbors. They shared, and it was a beautiful community.
How many of us like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient? Do we need others? How would we get along without the people in our lives? How much richer would our lives be if we were to set the table for one and all?
These are tough days. It’s a hurting world. Storms, earthquakes, shootings. What are we to do? I think I have a clue. A friend posted this on facebook this week –
My door is always open. My house is safe. A pot of coffee, bottled water, diet coke, tea, beer or glass of wine can be out of fridge in minutes, and the kitchen table is a place of peace and non-judgment. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. It's no good suffering in silence. I have food in the fridge, cookies and snacks in cupboards a listening ear, and shoulders to cry on. I will always do my best to be available...you are always welcome!
May it be so. Amen.
On a lifelong journey of seeking to live out God's call on my life and to reflect His grace.
10 Minute Sermons