A sermon for Recovery Sunday

The day before Chris and I left on vacation about 10 days ago, I drove out to Indiantown Gap National Cemetery to bury Olive House, a long-time member of this congregation, and driving out on Route 78 west of Allentown, I found it to be a surprisingly religious stretch of highway. There were billboards, there were messages on the side of barns, there were religious messages on the back of trucks. One of the billboards I found mildly alarming. It said, “You will meet God,” and I thought, I surely hope that’s true, but not today, not on this stretch of highway. There were reminders to pray, to love our enemies, to trust in God’s mercy.

I found myself reflecting for quite a long time, though, on the words that I saw on back of a Walmart truck that was in front of me for a while. It was simple but profound, I thought. It said, “Save money. Live better. walmart.com.” And I thought, live better. Living better is our fundamental purpose as Christians. That’s what it’s all about. But our Christian concept of living better is so very different from the Walmart concept.

The Walmart concept of living better is, we’ve got lower prices so you can have more stuff. You can have some nice deck furniture, or a bigger TV, and that is so much a part of our culture that I think we lose track sometimes of how very contradictory that is to what the Christian concept of living better means.

The Christian idea of living better is all about grace. Grace is the lived experience of God’s love, it’s the thing that makes impossible things possible, it opens the way for us, it strengthens us for the journey. It is our inspiration, and it’s the thing that keeps us going. And grace is so closely linked to the ideas of hope and mercy.

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Night prayer


Home again, home again. We went out to breakfast this morning to mark the end of the vacation, and the words of this prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book came to mind while we were talking about some of the ongoing concerns that didn’t solve themselves while we were away.

The words that stand out for me just now at any time of day: “What has been done has been done: what has not been done has not been done; let it be.”

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Carousel dreams

Congress Park Carousel, Saratoga Springs, NY: I never had the horse obsession some kids go through, but who didn’t imagine themself riding far, far away on one of these. 

Letdown

I always thought that one good thing about Montreal would be the French influence on food-that they wouldn’t eat or drink anything that wasn’t really delicious. Then I went into Starbucks (free internet) and heard people ordering pumpkin spice lattes in French.

Smalls Falls

Smalls Falls, West Central Franklin, ME

I think this is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. We found this place by accident the last time we drove this way, and made a point this time to find it again.