"God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
It is hard to believe but our Dad has been gone seven years as of last night. I was his primary care giver for just over 12 years. We, he an I, were in ministry together for just over 12 years. He was still doing ministry up until lunch the day he died. He was meditating on Psalm 100 - "I will come into His courts with praise and thanksgiving" - as he slipped into the coma soon after lunch. This is a life we can celebrate as we celebrate All Saints Day. This is a life we can celebrate even as we mourn the father, friend, mentor and "crazy" (I come by my "crazy" honestly!) person he was.
In Matthew 5 we are given the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. Jesus is encouraging each of us, just as he encouraged the people sitting on the mountain listening then, about God's care for each and all of us. Jesus is also, I think, suggesting an attitude for each of us to be taking. We should "be merciful -- being kind to people." We should "be peace makers -- when people are fighting." And when people are mourning we should be helping them to remember the love, the life, we celebrate. Sometimes we need to be "God with skin on."
A little different way to look at, think about and act on the Beatitudes. Yes, we mourn the loss of a loved one. Yes, we go through all the stages of grief. Yes, we can also be "comforted" as we celebrate the life of the loved one we know is with God.
Walking the walk?
"Which of the two did the will of his father? They said "The first."" (Matthew 21:31a)
A long time ago in a state far away...... we were in college (and actually "college age!) and just figuring out our own relationship(s) with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we had been in church every Sunday, yes we knew God loved us, yes we knew about Easter and the empty tomb -- we just had not applied it to ourselves personally. Once we did, as we got active in Bible studies and worked on our own personal relationship with God we often asked if a person was "walking the walk" OR "just" talking the talk?
As Caregivers we are doing what has been asked of us - by the parent, sibling or doctor - for our care receivers. So we can agree, even if our first response was "no," that we are doing the job. Are we, though, doing the "will of the Father"? Jesus is telling this parable about a father asking each son to "go and work today in the vineyard." The first son, the one 'chosen' here, says "no" but actually goes and does the work. The second son says "yes" but doesn't go. So, yes, we agree the first son - like us as Caregivers, is doing the 'job.'
Jesus also point out "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (9:37) reminding us of the need to be strengthening our relationship, and our receiver's relationship, with God. We need to be "walking the walk" NOT just "talking the talk." It is an interesting thought...... To really agree with the answer "the first" do we need to strengthen our relationship with God? Do we need to REALLY be "walking the walk"?
"So are you envious because I am generous?" (Matthew 20:15b)
Interesting words -- envious and generous. Have you thought about what they mean, especially as caregivers? Have you thought about how they affect you, and (or) what you do? How often are we looking at something and "grumbling" (v. 11) or saying 'that's not fair!'? If we are honest it is probably more often than we want to admit - even as caregivers already giving of our time.
This Gospel reading is giving us insight into what heaven is like. (Matthew 20:1) Jesus is reminding of God's generous love for each and all of us -- even those who come later to the field. God loves ALL of us very generously! The issue, I think, for the workers hired first is not they were paid last but they were paid the same. Remember it is the amount they agreed to work for. (v. 2) The grumbling is about the equality of pay, not the order of being paid. This leads to the owner's question of "are you envious" (it's not fair!).
It also leads to our asking ourselves are we "envious" or can we be "generous"? I don't, necessarily, mean with finances -- which can be very tight as caregivers. I am referring more to the gifts God has given each of us. Can we be generous with the listening ear, assistance with errands, giving someone time to rest by visiting with their care receiver - and the list goes on. How is God asking each of us to be "generous"?
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'" (Luke 12:20)
It has been several years ago, now, but I still remember the look on his face. My son was helping us to "clear out" my Dad's things and we were talking about "what to do with ______". So I asked my son "what are you going to do with 80+ Nativity sets, my son?" He is the one who will eventually be "clearing out" for me so would have to figure it out. His response was "you have HOW MAN:Y?!" I even told him I had gotten rid of quite a few - but it didn't seem to help!
Jesus has been asked, by a young man, to make the young man's brother "share" the inheritance. Jesus responds with this parable about the farmer building bigger barns to store the bigger harvest -- and deciding to "relax, eat, drink, be merry." (vs. 19) This is when God responds with our verse this morning - "whose will they be?" (v. 20) God is pointing out "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (v. 21) God has blessed with the "abundant crops" (v. 16) but instead of sharing the abundance the farmer is "storing" it.
What are we doing with what we harvest? Yes, we are giving care to our receivers but are we sharing or storing our abundance? What is God asking us to do? And, like verse 20, who will take care of it when we are gone? Something to think about..........
"how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, "not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21b-22)
How are you with numbers? I struggle with numbers. If I can have paper, pencil and do it the way we learned in 2nd grade I can, usually, come up with the right answer. I can even still do parts of the multiplication table -- if I stop and think about it. I have been blessed, and I am very thankful for, with people who help me with numbers.
Then we get the Scripture like this morning...... Peter thinks he is doing so well because he is willing to forgive 7 times! This translation has Jesus pointing out "77" times but several translations say "seventy TIMES seven" (emphasis mine). Even I can do that much with numbers -- we just went from 77 to 490 times!!
This seems like a lot, even seven might be more than we need or use -- right? But then when you think about the times you have forgiven someone only to remember and think about the issue again... the next day, the next week, the next month or even the next year. Depending on what the issue is we could get to the 7, even the 77 and pretty close to the 490. The prayer is: "forgive our trespasses as we forgive our trespassers." (emphasis mine)
So.......how are you with numbers? Remember the forgiveness is for YOU not, necessarily, for the person you are forgiving. Something to think about.........
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.