“Immediately he [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” (Matthew 14:22, NRSV)
The first time we left our daughter longer than a couple of days I kept a straight face, but deep inside, I was a wreck. Megan and I went on a trip to Mexico, and our daughter stayed the week with my mom. And even though I knew she would be safe, cared for, and loved, I was still a wreck. “Will she be okay without us for this long?”
I can hear what you’re thinking, “Just wait until she goes to college.”
I’m not sure I can handle that.
“Then he said to his slaves,‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’” (Matthew 22:8-9, NRSV)
Sarah Cummins had spent over $30,000 on her perfect day before the Indiana woman canceled the wedding. Faced with the reality of a reception contract that could not be canceled, Cummins made the decision to invite the homeless to the wedding feast.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2, NIV)
Food is essential to the nourishment of our bodies.
One of the things that is often overlooked is how much it costs to eat healthy. In areas known as “food deserts,” places where there are no grocery stores or farmer’s markets, there is certain to be a McDonald’s or Hardee’s. In places where food is needed, it is usually found cheap and unhealthy.
In the meantime, others run the risk of living beyond abundance. Instead of sharing resources, they take more than their share. Instead of giving, they waste. Instead of being faithful stewards, they are greedy and unjust.
Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″
One of the aspects of Advent and Christmas we often forget is how God’s birth and reign turned the world on its head. We want to think of Christ as bringing love and happiness which he certainly does. But Advent is also a time of repentance, a time to consider the ways in which we have not acted in holy and just ways. In passages like the Magnificat, we hear that the hungry will be filled and the rich sent away empty (Luke 1: 53). At this time of year, we also hear words from the prophets who warn us what will happen if we refuse to take care of the poor.
Amos warns us what will happen if we “trample on the needy” (v. 4).
“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” (Genesis 8:20, NRSV)
The first thing Noah did after stepping out of the ark is built an altar.
Immediately, they worship.
On mission trips to Costa Rica, the team and I would worship with the hosting congregation. We were doing ministry in a little shantytown known as Los Diques. The first time I went on this mission trip, I was not ready for what I experienced. Worship was different from what most of us experienced in the States. And it was not just because it was in Spanish.