Read them here:
1 John 5:1-6
I remember my first wormhole.
Stephen King creates some very intriguing characters. Most are captivating, drawing us ever deeper into his tales. Perhaps surprisingly, it is his lesser characters that often capture our interests and imagination. Consider King’s “low men.”
A few years ago, I wrote a short fable to illustrate this week’s 1st John selection. It was based on the idea that the word “sin” is also an archery term meaning to “fall short” of the target or bullseye.
Here’s the fable and the scripture is just below it.
My favorite work by David Macaulay is
The first time I heard the phrase “Swedish death cleaning,” I formed a mental image: people who cleaned up a crime scene after CSI had finished processing it for clues ... in Sweden. Weird as that sounds, there actually are such people; hired to make a crime scene appear as if no crime ever occurred. Hotel rooms come to mind.
The Sweden connection? Not so much.
Still, that mental image remained for quite some time. Eventually, though, I discovered Margareta Magnusson’s bestseller, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, a book with absolutely no connection to CSI.
Magnusson lives in Sweden and is aged, she says, “somewhere between 80 and 100.” Her little (very readable) book tells her story of how she thought about and then executed her plan to reduce her possessions. Her motivation was to lighten the stress on her children when she dies. By significantly reducing her possessions to what she truly needs and truly wants, she hopes to spare them much head-scratching and hand-wringing when the time comes.
It is a lovely book, a truly gentle reminder (for us all) of an inescapable truth and how we can show we truly care ... somewhat like the comment Jesus made in this week’s reading about “the poor” in Mark 14.
Some have misunderstood what Jesus meant when he said, “For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me.” He was not telling his listeners (or us) to not care for the poor. On the contrary, Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 15:7-11, and He was saying it to a group of listeners who understood exactly what He meant.
Care for the poor was a fundamental part of Israel’s cultural fabric. It was incorporated in the early and most foundational parts of the Law given to them by God.
When some expressed anger that the expensive perfume had been "squandered" on Jesus, He caught them in an attempt to sidestep their responsibilities to care for the poor. Not a single one of them said, "Seeing this expensive perfume used this way reminds me I need to spend some of my money on the poor." No, they just wanted to point out that someone else’s money had not been used to help the poor. [In John 12, the leader of these complainers is Judas Iscariot, the eventual betrayer of Jesus.]
So, here is the gentle truth: whenever you wish, you may take some of your resources and share them with the needy. In fact, you are encouraged to do just that. Should others direct some of their resources to the needy? If they want to follow the teaching of Jesus, they should. But you never need to wait to see if someone else does it. The poor surround us, and will continue to do so. You only need eyes to see and ears to hear.
You may or may not be ready to start death cleaning, but you can immediately start caring for the poor. Just apply the gentle art of truly caring.
PHOTO: Steve Orr
Join us at 8:00 Friday morning for DaySpring’s Lectionary Breakfast. What happens in the hour we gather is unique. We explore the scriptures on which the coming Sunday’s sermon is based. We read, we discuss, and we laugh. Truly, an hour like no other.
SCRIPTURES FOR THE COMING WEEK
Find them on the table, here:
March 28, 2021 - Sixth Sunday in Lent
Liturgy of the Passion
Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39 (40-47)
Liturgy of the Palms
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16