Friday, June 22, 2001

A Summer Thanksgiving

Asbury First United Methodist Church

Text: Luke 10: 38-42

You all share with me in something inexpressible called grace, which is the spiritual equivalent of Wayne Gretsky on skates, graceful. God has loved us! And though there is still so much darkness, some of it doubly dark, I see flickering light in Christ's church.

We thank you lord for skillful, hard working, strong men and women who plow and seed, who fight with nature and who win from it our food. Grateful for farmers. Men who can raise and care for a herd of cattle. Who can help a cow through a difficult calving. Who can work with giant sums of money and not get too frightened, because they know, deep down, that money is something to use not be used by. Men who can be hurt-but never thank God defeated-by a turn in the weather. Men who like medieval knights on horseback can tractor the earth. People who can work by, for, and with themselves. I thank you Lord for what Thomas Jefferson called the backbone of the United States, the American farmer. (You have called them to force mother earth to give up her food wealth. She can be a stingy old goat. May rural America put her mind and heart in thee, and so make food…ungreedily. Mother nature is greedy. Must we be?).

We thank you Lord for gentle women and men. In this violent age and time…praise to the Lord there are still some gentle people. Gentle in speech. Awaiting the wish of another. Guessing what another wants or needs before the other has to cry out for it. Gently going about the work of parenting. Taking up collections for those hurt. Gently listening as someone else talks, trying with only a little success to find words that actually say something. Doing a little and doing that well. It is my wish that gentle people might abound, more and more, even as they keep a good head on their shoulders. Where are the gentle people? Quiet by the bedside…silent in the back pew…unnoticed doing the cleaning…teaching a child to read…listening in the back yard to hear the owl hoot…thinking a problem through…doing something for nothing…giving with no thought of getting.

We thank you Lord for people who have made tough choices and who live with their decision. People whom life has presented with difficult decisions. And they haven't turned tail and run. They've chosen. Now they live with their choice, knowing they might have done otherwise, but firm in the conviction that they've done the best they can. Not everyone agrees with their choice. It's threatening to have people disagree with you on something that really matters. Like salvation. Like love. Like family. Like politics. Like money. Like religion. Sometimes we have to make tough choices. Lord how happy we are to see people who make those decisions and live gracefully with them, without fretting, without dreaming that most perilous of dreams, presented in living technicolor under the title, "What might have been." These folks know that life is short and that we need not make excuses for spending our time on the wheat and kicking aside the chaff. They don't walk into life back end first. They don't get turned into a pillar of salt. We are grateful for people who live gracefully with past decisions.

Lord we thank you for tolerant people. People who aren't afraid even to be called wishy-washy if it means taking a chance on loving what is different. One Greek legend tells of a man who had only one guest bed. All his guests had to fit into that bed. If you were tall then late at night he'd come in hand saw off your legs just to make you fit his bed. If you were too short then late at night he'd come in and stretch you so that you made the right length for the guest bed. Intolerant of difference. Lord we thank you for people who are tolerant of difference. Who know that there is a wideness in God's mercy. Who can see life from more than one point of view. Who do not insist on the absolute right of their opinion. Who pray to have their eyes opened first and focused second. They can say, "He's different. I don't like him. But, then I don't have to like him. Christ has died for him. Only love will do." What variety there is in people, in places, in things, in insides, in thoughts, in sizes, in health, in taste, in color, in shade. Lord we can see that you love variety. I'm glad when others too are tolerant of difference.

I make this prayer with joy as I remember joyful people. People who could laugh from the belly up, twice a day. Did you laugh this morning? Laughing away crying is what makes us human. Who haven't lost the spirit of the Methodist camp tune, "I've got that joy down in my heart"…People for whom humor is natural, easy, smooth. People who can play a tambourine. Does your face hurt? It's killing me. Want a good laugh? Look in the mirror. A cabbie in New York scares the hell out of people.

My God I thank Thee!
For industrious people.
For gentle people.
For decisive people.
For joyful people.
I see them in this church.

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