The Dorcas Circle

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.

Acts 9:36-43

As many things in the church are, this quilt was made by a group of women.  It has their names, right here in this little pocket. It’s hand stitched, having been pulled out over a large quilting rack in a corner room in a church in Pennsylvania.  This was a gift for me after a summer internship. I think I did an okay job at that internship, but it’s a real gift of love to pass a quilt like this on. As I can imagine the mentor I had during that internship, Matt Deal, saying, “You must really rank.”

What I love about this quilt is not that it was beautiful or just a gift.  It’s that these women also taught me how to quilt. Because in a group like their quilter’s group, you don’t just show up.  You join in. These women were doers, sharing stories of how to keep rodents out of their garden while perfecting those tiny, even stitches.  I loved having lunches with them as we compared sandwiches and talked baseball. They were always up on who was in the hospital, who needed a friend to take them to dinner, who needed a hug.  But after lunch it was always back to work, admiring one another’s neat and even stitches.

Now, this quilter’s group didn’t officially exclude men.  Rather, no men ever showed up. And with the reality that comes with aging, this group was primarily widows.  That was never an easy truth, yet they had found community and companionship with one another.

I know exactly who to imagine gathered around Dorcas’s deathbed.  I know these widows, holding on to the garments Dorcas had made, maybe even quilts.  I know how they pointed out and shared, “Look, look, at her stitches. So small, so even, so straight.”

I know that Dorcas, or Tabitha, depending on what you want to call her (I call her Dorcas because it’s funny to say), was raised from the dead.  That’s tremendous, really. But I’m maybe just as interested in her life. Her life seems to have been best summarized and grieved by a group of widows holding onto handmade clothes.  But we learn another thing about Dorcas. You see, Dorcas was a disciple. Did you know that this scripture here is the only time that the feminine Greek word for disciple is used? To be the one singled out for being a disciple, I’m desperate to know about this woman.  And the details that we get? Well, she was loved by the widows and she made clothes. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but for my life, that paints a vivid picture.

I wonder what it was in this early church that was drawn to these people who used their hands, Dorcas the clothing creator, Simon, the tanner.  I wonder why it even matters to know these details, when there are miraculous events like being raised from the dead happening.

But isn’t this so much like God to show up in the actuality of our lives?  God certainly doesn’t wait for what we consider holy moments. God is present in all that we do, our work, our play, our living, our dying.  Discipleship is a whole life dedication, which may just be why we get such a practical and specific glimpse of Dorcas’s life.

Dorcas has been a name that women have gathered around as long as we’ve known this story.  This is true in my home church, where a group called the Dorcas Circle meets. My grandma was a member.  We tended to make fun of it a bit, because you know, Dorcas is a funny word. From what I can gather, their whole purpose these days is pretty simple.  They make soup and then they donate the proceeds from their soup sales. This is a church that might have 15 people in worship, and that’s including the dog.  But they still know how to get together, throw a bunch of soup in giant pots, and sell it by the quart in mason jars to anyone who stops by. Sounds like discipleship to me.  

If you ever hear of another Dorcas Circle, or Tabitha Group, or anything like that, it’s probably a group of church women getting things done.  I can’t hear the name without thinking of the women, including my mom, who have shown me that church might be about belief, but it’s certainly about showing up and doing something, making, creating.

Don’t wait for a miracle to create a life with God woven into it.  It’s as simple as having God bless that which we create, that which we’ll be remembered for.  The Spirit breathes through the hum of your sewing machine. God can be found found in meticulously created model trains and arduinos.  Jesus is present in the meal kit you prepare.

This is why I’m never shy about our Stewardship season.  Talking about money and asking people to give to the church can seem embarrassing and crass.  But to me, we ask you to give so your weekly tithe becomes a prayer written into your checkbook, okay, online bank statement.  Stewardship is an invitation to create your life with time spent tidying our building so when folks come to pick up food for their families, they are welcomed with a clean scent on the air.  You are invited to spending hours sewing or cutting out detailed and beautiful banners for worship. You are called to write prayers for our community, or bring what you consider to be a mediocre singing voice to add to the choir.  You are asked to pray over money that simply passes through this church to go on and support disaster relief and refugees. Simply put, you are invited to not think of God as something extra, but integral to your life. Stewardship isn’t just one more thing, it’s blessing what we already have and letting it loose to the Spirit.  It’s tending to the gifts that create our lives.

Dorcas’s story is maybe a strange one, for the life she created wasn’t quite over yet.  The Spirit came and granted her a few more years. Did she make more clothes? Did she gather with the widows to chat about what they were growing in their yards, about who had the neatest stitches?  Did she know that even if hers was the miracle story, they were all just walking miracles. Just fragile beings, creating beauty and crafting lives all held together by the love of God.

Rachel McDonaldacts
Foundational Living

‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

 ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

 ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

 ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Matthew 2:1-12

Doris asked me a good question this week.  Some of you know, in addition to what I’m doing right now, I also teach a little bit of piano lessons.  And Doris asked me, do any of my students practice. I answered without hesitation: no.

That’s not entirely fair.  My students do practice, sometimes.  I always say they practice exactly in the way that’s payback for the many years that I did not diligently practice piano.  My young students know what I knew back when I was taking lessons: practicing is hard.

Jesus said, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built their house upon a rock.”

You might already be able to tell what I have trouble with here.  I might be able to listen, Jesus, but who says I can put this into practice?  Slow down.

This is in part because Jesus has just challenged us to do a whole bunch of challenging things.  Chapter seven in the gospel of Matthew is just the tail end of the Sermon on the Mount which began with the Beatitudes back in chapter five.  In this sermon, Jesus has challenged and taught his followers the following:

  • You are salt and light.

  • Don’t break even the least of the commandments.

  • All those laws against murder, adultery, divorce, and oaths?  Well it’s more complicated than you think. 

  • Turn your cheek and offer your cloak.  

  • Go the extra mile.

  • Love your enemies.

  • Do your giving in secret.

  • Don’t babble when you pray like the pagans.

  • Don’t store up treasures.

  • Don’t worry.

  • Don’t judge, or give to dogs what is sacred.

  • Ask, and it will be given to you.

  • Go through the narrow gate.

Jesus clearly missed the memo that you’re supposed to stick with one thing in a sermon. And at the end of all of this, he says the part that truly strikes fear into my heart: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  

Come on.  What a thing to say after all of these difficult, perplexing, and often metaphorical teachings.  

It says that when Jesus was done, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority.  “Amazed” seemed like a bit of an understatement so I looked it up. Sure enough, you could also say they were “struck with astonishment.”

I am just as likely to be struck with confusion and fear as astonishment.  

I’m supposed to put what into practice?

This is usually the point in scripture where I start to get cozy with the scribes and Pharisees.  These were the religious folk, not so different than you and I, who had been helping dictate the rules for living.  They said straightforward things like, “Do not break your oath” and then Jesus came along and added in a whole bunch of confusion.  These scribes and Pharisees, they were just trying to organize this all, create a system, a way of life, that was clear, easy to follow.  Easy to put into practice.

Jesus, well, challenged that.  

Jesus knew what he was doing when he ended this round of teaching with this story about the wise and foolish men.  I’ve known this story for a long time, there’s a great song that goes with it. This metaphorical story makes it clear, what Jesus shares changes the very foundations of your life.  

Here’s the truth of the matter, you’re putting something into practice every day of your life.  

Josh pointed me to one of his favorite speeches this week, the 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace called “This Is Water.”  Near the end of his speech, this is what he said:

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. (https://fs.blog/2012/04/david-foster-wallace-this-is-water/)

You’re going to practice, or worship, something in your life.  The only question is what is it going to be.

You might have some assumptions about what practicing a Christian life looks like.  Maybe like me, you were taught that a Christian life involved morning devotions, scripture memorization, an ability to pray publicly at any moment, and never, ever cursing.  And that’s certainly part of what you might take from Jesus’ teaching. But if you go back and read just this Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gives, I promise you it is metaphorical and complicated and maybe more life challenging than a list of rules.  

Practicing this takes, well, practice.  It’s a kind of living that is deep, foundational, and that requires attention.  There’s no easy answers for how to integrate this into your life. We’re here to figure that out together, sure, but sometimes it’s a clear as a metaphorical stories about house building.  

Here are a few ways you can check in on your practice.  Check your bank statements, your budget.  Look at your calendar.  Check your phone, who are the people you call and text most?  I promise you, these things tell you something about what you’re practicing.  You’re practicing something.  Make sure it’s the foundation you want. 

As my students can tell you, practicing is hard.  But you don’t want your house to fall down, do you?

Amen.

Rachel McDonaldmatthew
Nine Miles

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Matthew 2:1-12

These wise guys weren’t really so wise after all, at least when it came to navigation.  Perhaps they were book smart, not street smart. These wise guys took their fancy gifts and their herd of camels to the wrong place.

They were nine miles off, to be exact.  Instead of Bethlehem where Jesus was, they went to Jerusalem.  Maybe their star navigational system hadn’t quite been calibrated correctly.  Nine miles away seems pretty good to me if you’re navigating by heavenly bodies.

Or, maybe they had just been looking at the wrong scripture, the wrong prophecy.  Especially if they were referencing Isaiah for navigational help. The prophet Isaiah pretty much exclusively spoke of how peace and prosperity would return to Jerusalem.  If you were listening to him, you’d go to Jerusalem. Listen to what Isaiah prophesied, “A multitude of camels shall over you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come.  They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” And what place was he talking about? Jerusalem.

No fault to our foreign wise people then for showing up on their camels with their gifts to Jerusalem.  But if they were looking for a King like Jesus to lavish their gifts upon, they must have been sorely disappointed in Herod.  

To call Herod a not so nice guy would be an understatement.  Herod had gotten the title of King from the Romans and it seems like the power went to his head.  This Herod, for there are many in the bible, is the one with the unpleasant distinction of ordering all of those children to be killed in an effort to weed out Jesus.  

I can’t imagine the chief priests and scribes to be particularly thrilled then when they received the summons of Herod to come and sort out this mystery of the magi.  But diligently they came, and I assume with voices trembling they shared that just perhaps, these foreign Magi had referenced the wrong prophecy, sorry Isaiah. They needed to look again at what another prophet, Micah had said.  

Micah’s prophecy looked toward Bethlehem, saying, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Route recalculated.  Now the Magi and Herod both knew that this caravan needed to go just a bit further south to drop off their mostly kind gifts.  (Because side note: don’t give myrrh to a child. It represents death, which is okay as a symbolic note referencing the future death and glory of Jesus on the cross, but not okay pretty much in any other circumstance.)  Weird gifts and all, off they go.

And what a difference those nine miles mean.  For me, it’s my morning commute. For Jesus, it’s the difference between being born in a place of power and a place of humility.  To rule from Jerusalem would mean a reestablishment of urban power and privilege. To come from Bethlehem, well, that’s a clue that Jesus was gathering his followers from the margins.  The coming reign of Christ was full of tax collectors, lepers, sinners, and, of all things, women.

Nine miles can make a difference.  

This is the story the gospel of Matthew, the good news from God, repeats over and over again.  Not a geographical shift of nine miles exactly, but a shift. A nudge. The promises of God are fulfilled again and again, but not in an expected way.  

It’s like the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew, which might be easy to skip over because who wants to read lists of names.  And it would be easy to skim if it followed the set pattern. But sneaky, sneaky Matthew tosses in a few extra names, like Rahab and Ruth.  Suddenly it’s a genealogy that includes Gentiles and women, which is out of bounds from what would typically have been listed. Yet it’s still a fulfillment of this line from Abraham to David to Jesus, just with a little extra flair.  A little nudge to the side.

Let’s not get too metaphorical, but what might need adjusted a bit in your life to find Jesus?  Let’s recalculate a bit together, shall we?

I’m assuming you, like me, want to be nimble enough like these wise guys to make the jump from Jerusalem to Bethlehem when need be.  Let’s not confuse Herod with Jesus. It’s worth a bit of extra travel to go see the real deal.

The Magi challenge me to not settle with good enough.  They brought their gifts and camels and went to a city that was laden with prophecy and they found a king.  Thank goodness they didn’t stop there.

Let’s commit to the spiritual practice of redirection.  Let us trust that God sometimes needs to give us a nudge to get us back on track.  What we’re looking for is just nine miles away.

**Many thanks to Walter Brueggeman’s commentary, “Off by Nine Miles,” from which many of this sermon’s insights are borrowed.

https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2001-12/nine-miles


Rachel McDonaldmatthew
An Open Invitation

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

 Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’

Mark 10:17-31

Preached and written by Doris Powell

Are there any passages of scripture that terrify you? For me, this is one… the story of the rich man seeking eternal life. So terrifying, I still remember a sermon preached on this text over forty years ago. Why terrifying? Because even then, I knew I was rich.

Today, you can go to a website, GlobalRichList.com, to learn just how rich you are. Say, your annual net income is $25,000. Enter $25,000, and click: “Show my results.” Watch the numbers whir in the results box to learn:

You’re in the top 2% richest people in the world!

I admit it lacks context… a $25,000 income in the USA means a pretty modest life-style. $25,000 in Ghana means you live in luxury. Still, it’s a bit shocking: the top 2%.

Forty years ago, I didn’t need a website to tell me I was rich. I had a modest home with a mortgage, heat in the winter, enough food, a steady job, and an education. I was rich. Maybe not mega-rich, but rich enough.

The Rich Man

The man in this story was likely mega-rich. Many Bible translations title this story, “The Rich Man. ”In Jesus’ time, there was no middle class. So, if you “had many possessions,” you were rich. This was a memorable event. It happened right in front of Jesus’ disciples. The strong emotions and surprise they felt meant it would live in their memories. They were “perplexed” and “greatly astounded” as Jesus taught:

“How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Extremely perplexing in a society that believed God showed favor by conferring wealth. If the wealthy couldn’t be saved, who could?

This encounter is recorded in all three Gospels with only slight variations. Matthew identifies the man as “young” and Luke as “a ruler.” In Mark’s Gospel, two added details make it feel more personal to me, more human. The rich man knelt before Jesus. I can picture his reverence in this act, as well as in his words, “Good Teacher.”

Jesus, as a devout Jew, gave the honest answer one might expect he’d advise everyone, about observing the commandments. Imagine how the man’s simple response must have affected Jesus.

“Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”

He wasn’t bragging. He was looking up at Jesus, telling of his life-long spiritual journey. Here is the second detail recorded only by Mark:

“Jesus, looking at him, loved him.”

Jesus, looking into his heart, then gave him a very personal answer:

“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

The encounter concludes:

“When the man heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”

Then followed the discussion with Jesus’ disciples about:

‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ … “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

So, forty years ago when I heard that memorable sermon, I was kneeling at Jesus’ feet with that rich ruler to hear: “Go, sell all what you own…” Could I do that? I didn’t think so. Truly, the passage we read from Hebrews got it right:

“Indeed, the word of God is living and active… it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before God no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”

The Sermon

The sermon I remember began with a caveat: Jesus was speaking to an individual, not giving generic advice. The Bible is NOT saying, Doris, Betsy, Kenny… all of us… MUST sell all we own to gain eternal life. But I still didn’t feel totally off the hook, so I tried to follow the advice offered in the rest of the sermon by our minister, Lester Moore.

1. Go home, pull out your excess and give it away. You don’t need it, and it can meet the needs of others. I did that. It wasn’t too hard.

2. Learn to distinguish NEEDS from WANTS, or you’ll quickly accumulate new excess. Makes sense. That was a bit life-changing for me, always asking myself, “Do I really need that?” It’s not that I never buy anything that I just want, but there are many things that I haven’t acquired. And I never got sucked into a life-style of living beyond my means.

3. The things you need to keep: find a way to share them. This suggestion was surely the most life-changing for me. I’d never thought about it quite that way before.

Patterns for Everyday Life

I decided I needed to keep my car. How could I share it? Within the week, a coworker came up to me and asked if I might consider taking on a rider to work. An Iowa State University student, working part-time in the mail room, needed a ride in. She could pay gas money. Would I consider it? I was able to share my car! I told her I didn’t need gas money. She was right on my way. And I was blessed with an incentive I needed to get to work on time.

I also decided I needed to keep my house. Within the year I was able to share it with a dear friend, Sandee, who was trying to be a mom, a full-time student, and a part-time worker to afford housing. It was too much. She and her son, Ryan, lived with me for two years. It was the most harmonious time of my life. After she went off to seminary, I had several students stay with me at different times while they were doing their job searches. And the blessing came back around to me when I spent seven weeks enjoying Betsy’s hospitality as I recovered from ankle surgery. A great friendship blossomed.

Last week, I was delivering Meals on Wheels with Lawrence, when it occurred to me… I’d found a new way to share my car, delivering meals. This morning’s Call to Worship got it right: “Here we set the patterns for everyday life.”

For years after that sermon I lived, what I called, “a simplified life-style.” It freed me to follow the call I heard to go to seminary where I lived in a small studio apartment for the next three years. I’d look out over San Francisco Bay and feel so blessed.

The Invitation

There it was. It was there all along. I had just missed it. In my worry over possessions, I had totally missed The Invitation:

“Go, sell what you own… then come, follow me.”

Jesus looks at each one of us and invites us: “come, follow me.” The following will take a different form for each of us. Our calling is unique. And what we must unburden ourselves from, to be free to follow, will be unique too.

The UCC calendar identifies this Sunday as “Disabilities Awareness Sunday.” For many, an attachment to possessions can be disabling; but for others, it will be something else. An addiction? A fear? A grievance? An old wound? When Jesus looks on you and loves you… what will his next words to you be?

If I’m honest, I have to tell you, I’ve back-slid. One look at my house and you can see I haven’t been living that simplified life-style for some time. Distinguishing needs from wants takes discipline. Living in a large (for me) house, for twenty-five years hasn’t helped. But after a life-time of working on it, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, habits of sharing possessions and time have endured.

The Good News is: “Come and follow” is an open invitation. An open-ended invitation. It didn’t come with an expiration date. It’s right here, for each of us.

Sometimes I wonder about that rich man. I can’t imagine he could get those few moments with Jesus out of his head: what it felt like to have Jesus look on him with love. Did the invitation play over and over in his mind? In his dreams? Did he find “grace and help” in his time of need? Maybe later he sold and distributed all he owned and followed. We don’t know. Or maybe, after Jesus’ resurrection, he became part of that community we read about in Acts last week:

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.”

As Jesus assured his disciples:

“For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

May it be so for us, too… Amen.

Rachel McDonaldmark