As I sat this morning preparing for this third Sunday of the season of Advent. The word of the day was joy. I began to think of all the things to which I was joyous and of course the usual came to mind, family, friends, life. Then I remembered the opportunities to do small things like buying paper towels and toilet paper. Yes, I know it seems crazy but for many such items are luxuries. The consumers of St. Mary’s food cupboard occasionally ask to use the bathroom and occasionally upon the close of distribution, items go missing. You guessed it! Toilet paper, paper towels and even the pump hand soap. I was quite dismayed and disappointed because if they would ask, we would gladly give it to them. Yet, I’ve never had to ask for those kinds of things and I realized that if a person is in real need, how difficult it might be to have to ask for such personal items. On the night when Jesus was handed over to authorities, he reminded the apostles that “The Kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… But not so with you; rather… you must become like the one who serves. (Luke 22:14-30)“ In my menial “authority” over the situation, what right do I have to expect what could be embarrassing or humiliating for someone to ask for necessary things, which for St. Mary’s, are often donated. I thought of many solutions to what I thought was the problem, that being people taking things. In reality the problem is simply that people are in need. I believe that most know that they only have to ask, and I also know that in this situation it’s not necessary, nor am I called, to expect them to oblige. Let us focus on the joy in the opportunity to provide necessary things, and for God’s grace as we strive to encourage God’s kingdom and not our own, with every situation including paper towels and toilet paper.
Image: Google – Bill Plotkin
I awoke this morning quite low in spirit. As I read the passage in Luke 4:1-13 it brought to mind, from childhood to adulthood, the many areas where there used to be long stretches of trees along both sides of major roads and small streets alike. Though you didn’t see so much of the “wildlife” you knew it existed. To go into those trees and bushes which I did as a child on many occasions, it was indeed a wilderness for me and my friends but not for the animals that lived there. Today everyone of those places I remember have been cultivated for human habitation, now a very different kind of wilderness. “For it has been given over to me (Luke 4:1-13),” claims the adversary, yet I am reminded today that it’s only an illusion created by the wilderness, a place we enter when the spirit is low creating that opportune time for misdirection and misguidedness. Let us today not be fooled by the illusion of the world’s authority. Even in the long stretches of wilderness, cries of faith in our weakest moments are far stronger than the illusions created by the world, and do not go unheard by the one True Authority.
The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:1-17 There are times when our faith in God’s desire to restore us wanes. Yet, remembering Paul’s understanding of faith as the confidence in what we hope for and assurance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1 – NIV), this passage in Matthew helped me to understand three things. First, the power in the Word spoken faithfully and confidently is always heard by God. Second, God responds to such faith and confidence. Third, regardless of where we are in life, our own authority only has power as it relates to our faith in God and our humility in knowing and walking in true authority. “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”