Pentecost 14 (RCL): The Best Things in Life AREN'T Things!
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and Psalm 50:1-8,22-23;Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16 and Luke 12:32-40
Ah, these are the occasions when I wish we had the facilities here on the Farm to post an audio essay. Having an easy ear for accents,(and working all those years @ the UN didn't hurt) one would be very effective in shorthand for the reading from Isaiah this morning. I confess to you now that in my spiritual life, God has appeared to me in several different guises - sort of like in Joan of Arcadia, if you recall that series.
One that is recurrent is that of an older, somewhat talkative Hassidic Jew from Brooklyn. Dressed in traditional garb for work, we are on a cross town bus together... and it is taking forever. In my most recent 'encounter' with God's emissary (as I finish my morning prayer time in preparation for doing this piece),he is reading the Torah in small travel-sized book form. For some reason he closes the book abruptly and looks directly at me - "Elohim was right, telling Isaiah that, you know. Who needs all the blood? the dead animals, the dead faith, the burning flesh, the festivals that have no life in them? No amount of incense could cleanse the air of such a stench. OI VEY IS MIR! Elohim wants a live life! Cleansing, forgiveness, justice, defending the weak. You change your ways to life and the scarlet of your sins and offences will become as white as new wool, as snow! Such a blessing if we bless and not curse." Standing up slowly, full of arthritis, he says, half under his breath, "He wants our LOVE, not our things!" Pushing the button for his stop to switch to the train for Brooklyn, he wags a finger at me - "You're a mensch at heart. Keep it up!" 'I will, sir' I say has he descends the side steps. "Your lips to the ear of Ha-Shem!" he says with a wink and a smile, clutching his book, his overcoat opened enough to see his tallit katan hanging out from under his shirt with the tzitzit showing. The showing ended there, but was sufficient indeed.
Psalm 50 follows Sol's (that's my Jewish rabbi's name: Sol) train of thought. To paraphrase line 24- 'Whoever makes a thanksgiving offering honors me - but whoever follows My path will be shown salvation".
The first line from Hebrews is one of the best definitions of faith(which defies description)'..the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen'.
How do you believe? Because my heart knows. How does it know? It embraces faith.
Finally, in Luke, we are bolstered to put not our trust (or faith) in the temporary. God's love is endless, limitless, timeless, ceaseless. We must remain steadfast in the everlasting and in service to the most high. In the final analysis, the best things in life will NEVER be things. The best things in life we will ever have or receive will be the love and grace freely given by God. Nothing we could buy or earn; nothing with a price tag.
And so may it be, from age to age. Spread the news, you mensches and mensches in the making. Live a good life. THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE AREN'T THINGS! The reward is in the doing and in the obvious pleasure to the Almighty. Amen and Amen.
Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna Depue and DJ on http://www.geraniumfarm.org/