Saturday’s Meditation – On the Eve of Advent – Preparation; Opening our Eyes
There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by they shouted; “Lord have mercy on us.”…Jesus stood still and called them; “What do you want me to do for you?”… they said “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34
…not to be served but to serve. Matthew 20:17-28 To kick off the early Black Friday event, one of the stores decided to make one of their prized discounted items available to the customers at the end of the line that had gathered outside the store instead of the beginning of the line. I’m not entirely sure what angst that may have caused but I think it probably made some, (particularly those at the front of the line) a bit salty. To some extent in this life, we are all one managerial decision away from being chosen. The mother of James and John thought to get a jump on God’s glory for her sons before the other disciples. Jesus makes clear that God’s Kingdom is not about being the early worm but rather about our willingness towards God will as we work to serve one another. We serve God by serving one another. In serving one another we are all chosen.
“…you have made them equal…” Matthew 20:1-16 If you’ve ever picked wild grapes you know that it’s not as easy as it looks. So I can understand the early laborers gripe. Fortunately for each of us God’s grace is not measured out according to time served, but freely given by our equal willingness to say “yes” to his will. Labor in God’s Kingdom is not easy. So let us give thanks for the harvest that the rising of the sun brings. At the end of the day, what matters most is our willingness to labor. Make each day an opportunity to say “yes”.
“For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-30 Like the rich man, we all struggle to let things go. All factions of fear, such as worry, doubt and past experiences keep us from stepping in faith. All possibilities belong to God. So go ahead, walk with God, change your way of thinking and imagine the possible. For to imagine the possible is to imagine God.
See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
“Teacher, what good deeds must I do…?” Matthew 19:13-22 This discourse reminds me of a an exercise I participated in while at a business conference. We were asked to find solutions to a problem by continually asking the question; “Then what?” The rich man in this passage seems to play this game with Jesus until he gets an answer that leaves him silent. “Sell your possessions, give the money to the poor…then come follow me.” Perhaps he should have stopped at just keeping the commandments. We all get to a place in our lives where we want to move forward until we realize in order to do so we have to let something go and the trade off is scary. Then What? Of course like the rich man, Jesus also gives us something to consider. When we are willing to let go of the thing that holds us back, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience God’s love and faithfulness as something greater than all our fears.
The one being able to grasp, let him grasp … Matthew 19:1-12 A college friend told me; “Once you’ve made a decision to do something it’s yours. You have to take responsibility for it regardless of how it turns out and move on.” I received his words that day because I knew he was speaking from experience. When Jesus is pressed by authorities concerning divorce, his disciples are taken aback by his answer believing that perhaps marriage is not a good choice. But Jesus’ use of the word eunuch in three different contexts seems to make clear, the significance of having the gift of making a choice and taking responsibility for that choice. The first eunuch has no choice. The second eunuch has the choice forced upon him. The third eunuch is the one who chooses to willingly give up one life (physical) for the sake of another (spiritual). Not everyone is willing to make that commitment. Our decision to have faith in God and follow in the way of Christ is for us to own and take responsibility. Although our steps won’t always be perfect, commitment to our faith keeps us on track. The good news is that it is that faith in God (more precious than gold) of which Peter writes to the diaspora, that gives us the freedom to grasp that commitment one day at a time and live in hope by that same faith.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry live,
and they establish a town to live in…
By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their cattle decrease.
Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider well the mercies of the Lord.
…it is not the will…that one of these little ones should be lost. Matthew 18: 10-20 The joy of “finding” and being found has new meaning for me these days. Recently, we spent several days cleaning and preparing the room of my eldest son. The room has gone through several transformations over the years but this time was a little different. Our motivation for this transformation was to have a comfortable place for my brother-in-law who will be visiting from Japan. When my son moved we allowed him to take whatever furniture he needed for his new place which left the room empty. Over time it became a dumping ground for anything that didn’t have a place. Needless to say if we couldn’t find something it was probably lost in that room. We picked up, packed up, cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed until it was restored to a usable and quite comfortable space. In the process we found two handmade gifts, a baby quilt and an embroidered birth announcement. Both created for the occasion of celebrating new life, now once again visible for others to see. Finding those two special items reminded me of the times God has found me when I didn’t know that I was lost. The image he created as me emerging from rubble and chaos simply caused by time and the busyness of life. Once again I am dusted and cleaned off; a visible testimony for the celebration of life, all to the Glory of God, that others might “see.”
Whoever welcomes one such child… Matthew 18:1-9 I remember the first time I dared to form the words “I’m grown” out loud while in conversation with my mother and one of her sisters. Initially I needed help because my aunt new exactly what I was about to say and before I knew it there was no turning back. “That’s right,” I boldly blurted out, “I’m grown!” In my defense I was married and my oldest was about a year old. They simply smiled and the conversation continued. The disciples ask of Jesus “who then is greater in the kingdom of the heavens?” Jesus responds by calling forward a child. We are to “turn and become as children.” Over the years, my brief moment of elevation, confirmation and reception into adulthood on that “great day” is uniquely humbled by my life as a child of God in the sense that I am ever learning, ever listening, guided and disciplined by the wisdom of His spirit within.