Skip to main content

Featured Post

11-27-19 - Food and Family

(You can listen to this reflection here.)

Ask most Americans what they associate with Thanksgiving, and most will answer, “Food and family.” Some might add, “And stress.” This is one holiday when making the food can cause stress, which we seek to relieve by eating too much food – a nice little cycle that leads nowhere good (throw in too much alcohol, and things really get interesting...).

Back when I was planning alternative worship every week, I wrote a lot of sermon dramas. One of the most fun – and elaborate – was at Thanksgiving time one year, called “The Martha Show.” It depicted a TV cooking show featuring a famous Martha. Not Martha of Westport, though the character shared many of her attributes. This one was Martha of Bethany, whose dinner party for Jesus got her so stressed out she became royally ticked off at her sister for not helping. (Sound like a Thanksgiving scene you’ve seen?)

And in the midst of prepping for her Thanksgiving show, an unexpected guest arrives early. Not what our Martha wanted. She wanted to make a beautiful dinner for Jesus, not with Jesus. And she wants her sister to help, damn it! But Mary recognizes that when this guest comes to dinner, you need to stop what you’re doing and receive the gifts he brings.

We can get so busy preparing for Thanksgiving that we barely appreciate the time with our loved ones when it arrives. Same thing, in a broader way, can happen during Advent. In a season meant to help us prepare to receive the gift of Christ in our lives, we sometimes get so busy preparing we miss the fact that he’s already showed up.

Jesus’ words to Martha in the gospel story are simple and pointed: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and worked up about many things. Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part, and it will not be taken from her.”

If you are happy and at peace today, hallelujah – spread some of that peace to someone stressed.

And if you’re worrying and fretting about anything today, stop and imagine Jesus walking into whatever place you’re in, and saying, “Hey, hey, you are worried and fretting. You don’t need to. You have everything you need – I’m here.” Try that on, in prayer, in your imagination today. One of God’s promises is peace when we pray, and presence, and power.

Wherever you’re spending Thanksgiving this year, and whoever you’re spending it with, invite Jesus to the table. That’s kind of what it means to say grace – to invoke his holy presence. See if it’s different being aware of him there. And don’t forget to pass him the stuffing – they didn’t have that in Judea back in the day…

To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereSunday’s readings are  here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

12-10-19 - Spiritual Leaders

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
What do you think a holy man or woman should look like? What should be the markers of "success" for spiritual leaders? This is what Jesus asks the crowds about how they viewed John the Baptist. "What did you go out there to the desert to look at? Were you just spiritual tourists gawking at the latest guru? Did you think you were going to see a smooth-talking, well-dressed leader, get a little charge, and leave your life unchanged?"

Advent is a good time to examine our spiritual motivations, what is it we are truly yearn for, why we engage or disengage from spiritual community. It is easy to become disenchanted with church and clergy - or to expect too much. Today, let's do a little inventory. When we can name our expectations, we can better manage them.

What are your expectations of your spiritual community? When you are disappointed or disaffected, what is the cause? Do you communicate…

12-5-19 - Good Tree/Good Fruit

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

John the Baptizer lays into those who wear their religion on their sleeves, but do not allow their hearts and behaviors to change. And his invitation to true repentance comes with a bite: “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Later, Jesus uses the same metaphor, saying that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit. It seems that judgment awaits us, and we will be judged by the fruit our lives bear.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, the fourth century Bishop of Myra in modern-day Turkey. Legends about the goodness and generosity of St. Nicholas abound, and over time became conflated with the legend of the "Bishop of the North Pole," Santa Claus. Santa is also known for gift-giving – with conditions: "He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice / gonna find out who’s …

12-11-19 - Greatest and Least

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
We have spent quite a few days in this space thinking about John the Baptist – who he was, why he was the way he was, what impact he had. Many people thought he was the Messiah, or an incarnation of the prophet Elijah – until Herod imprisoned and later had him executed at the whim of his step-daughter. John truly was a holy man, and Jesus speaks of him as such:  “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist.”

And then he says something even more extraordinary:  “…yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

What was that about valleys being lifted up and mountains brought low, the lowly being exalted and the “mighty cast down from their thrones?” Here is Jesus, articulating again that equalizing quality of the realm of God – that equalizing which was so challenging to people in his own day, and has remained so in the thousands of years since.

To say …