Friday, July 30, 2010

The Wedding Dress

A friend of Sally’s and mine is living with bone cancer. She reports that she was watching a show about weddings on cable TV awhile back.
In this particular show, a woman was dumped by her fiancĂ© just weeks before the wedding. She didn’t need the dress. She didn’t want the dress. But, she had spent $3,500 on the dress.
She returned to the store where, they informed her, they could not accept the return of the dress as it had been altered. They could accept it as a donation, however, in order to give the dress to someone.
Another bride-to-be had been shopping in the store with her mother, who was helping her communicate as she was deaf, but they had found nothing she could afford. One dress in particular had captured her attention. But, it too cost too much.
One day she received a call from the manager. She said that, if the young woman wanted to come down to the store, there was a surprise waiting for her.
When she arrived, there was a strapless dress with a Bolero top, very much like the one she had admired, clothing a mannequin. It had a bow tied around it.
“It’s for you,” the manager said. It was free. “Free?” the young woman replied. “Yes,” and the manager explained what had happened.
The bride-to-be was thrilled as, with a few minor alterations, the dress would be hers for her wedding day.
The Bible’s book of Revelation describes the Church as the Bride of Christ. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’.” Revelation 21:9
We, too will one day be dressed with a garment we couldn’t afford, but which was given to us to make us ready. That outfit is Christ himself. (As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27)
As the baptismal robe that some use, or the robes work by those who lead worship, it reminds us that our salvation is a gift from outside of ourselves. It is what God sees when God looks at us. It’s for you, and it’s free.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What You Want

One of Sally and my favorite restaurants is Nate ‘n Al’s Delicatessen in Beverly Hills. It’s a historic Old Hollywood venue, reasonably priced, brings food memories from our childhoods, and everything is fresh, fresh, fresh. We go there as often as we can if we’re in the area on my day off.
After lunch, we go to the counter to buy a loaf of rye bread.
We were there recently when an older gentleman who I noticed had come in earlier using a cane, his arm on another man’s shoulder, was ahead of us at the deli counter.
He wanted three pickles from the display case, the three on the left. He didn’t want them from the vat. He didn’t want the three on the right. He wanted the three on the left.
When he got what he wanted, he asked to have one of them removed from the bag. He asked that it be be cut up and given to him in a separate bag so he could eat it right away.
All the time this was going on, he was also talking on a cell phone. “Yes. Uh-huh. Yes. Right. Three hundred and fifty thousand is a good start. Yes.”
The man with him nodded for us to go ahead of him. He wasn’t in line. Sally realized it was the deal maker’s body guard. The man with the cane was making a $350,000.00 deal while ordering pickles. And, he knew what he wanted.
Paul reminds us to stay in focus. “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14.
Know what you want. Make sure what you want what is really important. And, press on in every way, large and small.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Life-Long Learning

One of my favorite commercials shows a sullen little girl dragging her feet next to a shopping cart filling with school supplies. She stops and, arms crossed, says, “I thought you said ‘School’s out forever.’” And there is classic shock-rocker Alice Cooper, in full whiteface and runny eye-liner, who replies, “No, no, no, no. The song goes, “School’s out for summer”. He smiles and says, “Isn’t this fun!”
An approaching new school year signals the end of freedom for some and the beginning of it for others. As we grow into adulthood, however, most of us realize that learning itself makes freedom possible, whether by expanding our awareness of life’s possibilities, building on the work of others, gaining greater economic security, or by benefiting from others mistakes.
Learning, or “knowing” Jesus, however, broadens our freedom even further. Paul writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
We are free from fear, sin, death and the power of the Devil. We are made ready for heaven by our faith, itself a gift, that sets us free.
Don’t fall back into slavery, Paul reminds us. Don’t go back to guilt and fear that we haven’t done enough to be saved. Live in response to what God has already done for us, freely. We are saints and sinners. We go to the school of God’s mercy and grace every day. We are all life-long learners.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Front Porch

I read the other day that front porches are making a comeback. They are an increasingly popular addition to existing homes and are one of the most commonly requested elements for custom homes.
Why? Because people crave connections with living human beings. They long to be a part of a community again.
This blog by, by itself, is part of the reason people sense that something is missing. Many people find that online community, by itself, is isolating. They want something more.
Our worship life is both the expression and source of a living relationship with the living God. That relationship is expressed in the community that God forms for all the ministries at Faith Lutheran Church and at other churches that call upon God. It is more than we could ever accomplish.
My hope is that this blog will be an expression of our community in God, a place where we can reflect, tell stories, and share our true selves while keeping an eye on the children. I hope that it is a place where we can gather and invite others to join in as well.
Kind of like a front porch.