Tag Archive: Jesus


baby_frog_2_by_jay_k_pics-d3nwm43A typical second grade boy cannot be expected to understand when a parent says “Just a few minutes.” He was in the garage dressed in his nice jeans with his button up shirt tucked in, and hair all combed ready to go to the church dinner on a Wednesday night. Mom sticks her head through the door and says, “We will be leaving in just a few minutes.” The door shuts as Mom goes back in to finish getting ready. The 2nd grader thinks that “Just a few minutes” gives him permission because it is enough time for a small adventure despite knowing that she most likely intended for him to stay there to be ready. Behind the houses across the street there is a canal which has been the source of many previous adventures. Despite knowing better he found himself leaving the garage. The canal slopes down on each side dropping around 10 feet below street level and always have at the minimum of about a foot of water flowing slowly even on the driest days.  On this particular day walking along the edge of the canal near a drain pipe emptying a trickle of water into the canal provides an amazing discovery. Hundred upon hundreds of baby frogs scatter with every step. This of course requires further investigation. So closer to the edge of the water the 2nd grader discovers hundreds of these creatures are transitioning from tadpole to frog. Many are still in the water with both legs and a tail. He has just a few minutes so off go the shoes and socks and he rolls up his jeans and the slimy clay-like earth squish between his toes as he enters into the water to catch these amazing creatures. The adventure takes him deeper when above the rim of the canal he hears a familiar voice drift down to the muddy water which awakens him from his fascination. He looks down to realize how deep he is. He realizes how there is sediment, clay, and mud all over him and his clothes. Awareness of his situation and all of his choices fill him with some remorse as he quickly grabs his socks and shoes and rises over the top of the canal dripping with him the stale smell of the neighborhood’s drainage system. He begins to move in the direction of his Mom’s voice.

Mom was filled with great emotions as her beloved son who had disappeared from the garage had now returned. The boy begins to tear up and apologize, but Mom interrupts saying, “shhh, baby…I love you. Take my hand. Let’s go get you cleaned up.” Mom graciously took her sons dirty hand and gently ushers him into the garage and shuts the outer door. She instructs her child to strip down out of those once nice church clothes. As the shirt comes off little frogs begin appearing jumping out of every pocket, nook, cranny, and crevice and scattering all over the garage for safety from the dirty little boy. Some of the little frogs didn’t survive. His wet and muddy jeans end up bunched around his ankles. No matter how hard he struggles, twists, and pulls the jeans won’t come off. He is filled with a mix of guilt and gratitude as Mom reaches down and helps him out of those smelly wet jeans as the last few frogs are released to safety as she empties the pockets. Mom brings her son inside straight to the shower. The water starts off cold and shocking, but warms up as the soap and water begin doing their wonderful transforming work. As if Mom has some magical powers, when he get’s out of the shower he sees that a new set of clean church clothes mysteriously appeared on the counter-top next to the sink. Moments later that 2nd grade boy is clean and dressed in these fresh garments. He is hungry and looking forward to eating dinner with his Mom. His Mom is smiling as he gets in the car. They get to the Wednesday night church dinner right on time instead of arriving very early as planned because it all took just a few minutes.

  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?
  • I wonder where you see God in this story?

Universal Donors

Hebrews 12:18-29 speaks of Jesus being a mediUniversal-Donor-titleator and the blood he gave made a new covenant. In love Jesus became the universal donor offering his life to heal the world. Strange that we would be called the Body of Christ redeemed by his blood. Maybe coursing in our veins as the saints of God is that same life giving blood. Maybe we are created in the image of one who gives his life to give life so that we could give of ourselves to bring healing to the people of this world, to help people know they are God’s beloved, to speak loving words of truth that liberates and we are called to protect the vulnerable. Maybe we too, like Christ are to be universal donors.

Safe

Hebrews 12:18-29  But you have come …. to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word…

There are two mountains, but one God. One mountain of awe, fear and trembling and another mountain with a joyful heavenly banquet. We are invited to encounter God, the God of both mountains. Sometimes I do think of Jesus Christ in a simplified, my BFF, kind of way. This passage in Hebrews dripping with imagery from all over scripture blended together evoking wonder reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote. Lewis was giving us the picture of God as the great lion Aslan. When the children, new to the world of Narnia, are being told about Aslan one of them asks,”Is he safe?” In response the beaver says, “Safe?”…. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

When we enter into worship, or dare to pray, or when we taste communion on our tongue, or watch the water drip down her head in baptism maybe a wider lens is needed. Yes, this God of grace invites us in love to come close, but we are coming close to the one who spoke and the armed band of soldiers coming to arrest Jesus fell back trembling in fear. We are coming close to the one who spoke and wind and waves calmed down. We are coming close to the one who spoke and seas split, starts and worlds were formed. We are coming close to the holy otherness of God.

I can’t promise that it is safe, but by the blood of the new covenant poured out for you and many I think I can say he is good.

Lord Jesus, thanks for making a way for us to encounter you. May we be changed as we come to know and love you more fully as God. Amen

Hopefully these crumbs from the sermon prep table are nourishing.Universal-Donor-title

Crumbs and Questions

 

hands-of-a-begging-woman-streets-kolkata-india
This image is from an amazing collection of photographs by Maier and Maier Photography.
http://www.maierandmaierphotography.com/hands/

 

Fives loaves of bread to feed thousands and everyone got more than a crumb to eat. There were baskets and baskets of broken pieces left over. I wonder how many could be fed with these broken leftovers if they too were taken, blessed, broken and given? After serving these thousands with the abundance of the kingdom I wrestle with why Jesus would say to this outsider that it isn’t fair to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs. How can it not be fair when obviously there is so much bread to go around? Five loaves, five thousand people, how can there not be a crumb for the outsider?
This woman, this outsider, argues with Jesus saying that dogs get crumbs.
Then she is commended for her faith as Jesus sets her daughter free from the oppressive powers that was destroying her. So what does faith look like in this story?
  • A woman crying for help for her daughter.
  • An outsider seeking the abundance of the kingdom.
  • An outsider desperate for help.
  • An outsider pressing her way into the covenant of God.
  • An outsider who cries out for mercy.
  • An outsider willing to argue for a place in the kingdom on behalf of another.
I find it interesting that right after her story Jesus is again feeding thousands with only a small handful of loaves.  Baskets and Baskets of leftovers. Baskets and baskets of mercy.
As we read the Gospel story this is not the place or the people we would expect to find a exemplar of faith.  The question that haunts me today is: Who are there faithful ones today? Are they sitting in the pew or somewhere else?
God, help me not be the barrier to those on the outside crying for mercy for their sons and daughters. Help me not be the boundary to those seeking welcome into your church and the kingdom. Help me have the faith of this Canaanite woman willing to even argue for a place at your table for others who experience exclusion. Amen.
 Matthew 15:25-28
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”And her daughter was healed at that moment.