Thursday, July 16, 2020
Psalm 37: 7-10
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
8 Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
9 Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
10 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait upon the Lord shall possess the land.
Romans 12: 1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Matthew 26: 6-13
6 Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, ‘Why this waste? 9For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.’ 10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13Truly I tell you, wherever this good news* is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’
No one will ever build a monument in memory of my mom.
She was an ordinary person. Like us all, part saint, part sinner, but on balance she lived a life of faith. She loved to dance, drank an occasional highball, could curse like a sailor when necessary, and she prayed when prayer was all that was left. Much of her life remains mystery, even though I knew and loved her more than 60 years. I heard hints over the years – I no longer know where from – that she once fell in love with a neighbor man, even while remaining faithful in her marriage to my dad, a profane drunk.
She paid a dear price for that faith. She suffered for years because of his alcoholism, and she poured out her health, her sanity, her very nervous system raising three kids without help after he abandoned us. She bled and suffered for my brother, my sister, and me.
It’s amazing how our senses prompt memory. I hold two overwhelming memories from my teen years: the odor of my father’s drunken snores and my mom’s quiet sobs in the night.
Faith is expensive, betrayal cheap.
My father ran when the tax men came after him and money was nowhere to be found. He had cheated on employee withholding at a bar he owned. Running was easiest, I suppose. Mom was left behind, three kids, no job, no money. She cried the day she asked for welfare. It took me years to work through my rage. When I decided to try to become a minister, a committee of pastors told me to stand at my dad’s grave and have a conversation. I couldn’t minister well, they said, until I forgave.
The Bible consistently asks us to take the path that costs the most. When surrounded by sin, it asks us to wait. To refrain from anger. To be still. To trust. When we begin a journey of faith, it suggests that we should make ourselves into sacrifices. We must pour out our lives. Transform ourselves into that which God finds acceptable. Matthew points to the anonymous woman’s immense, expensive sacrifice to Jesus and the cheap betrayals of men whose names stand in prominence in the history of faith. (Yes, I know, John names the woman. Matthew chooses anonymity for her, and we should ask ourselves why.)
We’re arguing a lot right now in America over monuments. Who shall be honored? Whose betrayals have harmed many? I suppose it’s a worthy discussion, but it may lead us astray.
Can we be still in the face of sin? Can we forgive? Can we trust God? Can we refrain from lashing out? What will we do to exhibit faith? How will we transform ourselves today? Lashing out is easy. Seeing our own sin isn’t.
Faith costs a lot.
Rev. Lawrence Keeler
|Thu Jul 16||· 8pm|
|Sun Jul 19||· 10:30am|
|Wed Jul 22||· 2pm|
|Thu Jul 23||· 8pm|
|Sun Jul 26||· 10:30am|
|Thu Jul 30||· 8pm|
|Sun Aug 02||· 10:30am|
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