Yesterday, for example, I tried playing a number of tunes for him and his favorite turned out to be "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones. Today it was Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" and "I Fought the Law" by The Clash. He also did a little baby jig to Woody Guthrie's "Car Car." Who knows what tomorrow will bring, yes?
Each night that we've been away I've read a little bit of Barbara Brown-Taylor's new book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, as well as some of Carrie Newcomer's poems in A Permeable Life. And when my little man is down for one of his regular naps, I catch a little rest, too before working on this week's message for Sunday worship. I am doing a seven week series called: Meeting God at the Table with Jesus. Each week we'll have an informal conversation about what one of Christ's different feasts tells us about the nature of God.
This Sunday we're using a gospel text from Luke 7: 39 in which a woman who has sinned - and it is never stated what it was that condemned her - crashes a party Simon the pharisee is throwing. Two fascinating ideas that are swimming around in my head have to do with forgiveness and gratitude.
1) From the woman's actions - pouring expensive oil on the feet of Jesus and weeping over them with her tears - it seems clear that she has already been forgiven by Jesus. What her actions suggest is a grateful response to grace - and she is ecstatic. As David Lohse has written:
Consider: forgiveness at heart is the restoration of relationship. It is releasing any claim on someone else for some past injury or offense. That’s why the analogy to a debt works so well. Forgiveness cancels relational debt and opens up the future. Which is why it’s so important, so valuable. But it’s also something more. Forgiveness also gives you back yourself. You see, after a while, being indebted, owing others, knowing yourself first and foremost as a sinner -- these realities come to dominate and define you. You are no more and no less than what you’ve done, the mistakes you’ve made, the debt you owe. When you are forgiven, all those limitations disappear and you are restored, renewed, set free.
Rather than be taken aback by the woman’s show of love, he judges both her and Jesus. He is a man who has no sense of being forgiven – even of needing forgiveness – and so is trapped in a judgmental hardness of heart. This story, then, tells both halves of the truth: the joyful truth that those who recognize their need receive their heart’s desire and live out of gratitude and love, and the tragic truth that those who believe themselves righteous or sufficient on their own never know the joy of receiving and so pursue truncated lives absent genuine gratitude or love. (Lohse)
Preachers need time away to both rest and reflect. I am so grateful that my time away takes me my family this year.