Good morning everyone!
Today’s Readings: Psalm 102, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, Luke 20:41-21:4
Today’s Luke passage is about Jesus’ authority yet again being questioned and while he is teaching a perfect example comes his way about the role of the giver. While he talks about being aware of those who talk the talk and don’t walk the walk, here comes the opposite. Here comes a widow who gives her all in the temple. There are other gospel writers who tell this story. But here is Luke, putting it directly into teaching…rather than just observing…but as direct opposite to the rich hypocrytical.
So what will we do with this this morning? Well, we could do a couple of things…we could continue talking about perspective….One person’s lack of funds is another’s generosity and treasure.
Or we could talk about watching out for those in long robes this morning. How will you see the world differently if you are aware of true generosity rather than just those who talk?
We could talk about how we need to reframe our own generosity. What does it mean to truly give this season?
Or we could link it into the Thessalonian passage where Paul is talking about loving on one another. How will our generosity reflect loving one another in God’s community? For Paul this includes working with our hands, living quietly, and minding your own affairs in this particular letter. Does this hit home this morning?
All of these points would be a nice frame for Advent to reflect upon. And yet I am still struggling a bit on how to connect with scripture this morning. There is plenty there and still I find myself staring out the window. And I keep checking my email which is full of ads about buy this and 20 percent off of that and “the perfect gift for him or her” and “you need to get shopping for Christmas!” It has me a bit jaded this morning, I have to admit. In the midst of all of these ads, maybe I could reflect on how nothing in these passages are about the “right gifts” except for the gifts of generosity and love. Perhaps I could reflect on what it means to give these gifts this season instead of getting sucked into the world of consumer Christmas. Isn’t that what we fight everyday anyway? We are not really fighting those in long robes face to face always. And we certainly aren’t always being challenged on an authority level but we are being challenged on the level of the hype of Christmas. What if we took a moment to access where we are on this scale?
Ok, one story to reflect a bit on. My youngest brother Colin comes over just about every Monday night to hang. He is supercool and it is one of the highlights of my week. He usually comes over about 5:30 in the evening…we go grab a bite to eat and then go on some adventure. Now this adventure might be visiting friends, going to a rockin volleyball game, exploring a new store, walking around downtown and talking, etc. One day we decided we desperately needed what we called “ugly Christmas sweaters.” We headed to the nearby second hand store and hit the jackpot according to our tastes. I picked out a few gems…with lots of bobbles on them, lots of bright colors and lots of activity. Colin agreed that these were amazing choices on the “ugly sweater” spectrum and I headed up to buy my treasures. When we got to the counter, all grins, the woman looked up and said in completely genuine awe “Oh, aren’t those beautiful? You will really enjoy those!” We both stumbled on our responses and I think I uttered something like “Yeah, aren’t they great? I really love them.” This woman was so sweet in her complete adoration of these sweaters…truly. We walked out and looked at each other and chuckled. We went on to tell our friends about this experience and are still in awe that she thought I was buying these for my personal collection for the season.
Why do I tell this story? Well, first of all there is a reference to treasure and excursion with my brother. But this woman responded in generosity and connection. This wasn’t about the consumerist culture but about one gift to another person…one find to another seeker. The story is about perspective and how we interact with each other. And in the end I received more than awesome sweaters.
O God, help us, even when we are caught up in finding the perfect gifts to see you. Empower us to reflect in all sorts of ways this season. Allow us to see scripture from many different facets and life circumstance. And God, sometimes we struggle with just where to go with your word. Let us see that that’s ok…all part of your work. Amen.