CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
There are many preachable moments in the lectionary Gospel for today, which means there are many life themes for Christians in Luke 12:32-40. I was a preacher, though, so I always think first in terms of what will preach best. What preaches best is usually not what is easiest to live.
I did not get around to reading the Gospel for this week, even as preachable as it is, until this morning, for I don’t have to preach on it. Truth be told, there were some weeks when I did not start preparing the sermon until Sunday morning, like the week our second baby was born, but usually I had at least read the scriptures for the day before then.
I am intrigued by the idea in today’s Gospel of keeping your clothes on all night in case God comes and requires some work. I’m old enough to think that it’s too much work to put on night clothes. I don’t think I’d preach that, though, in part because I don’t have a story that echoes it.
It’s good to start a sermon with a story folks can relate to, one that picks up the melody of the scripture and riffs on it. People get involved with the scripture that way and see ways it applies to their own lives.
So I’d preach on that part about not storing your treasure where moths can eat on it. Or a mouse.
We have been BUMBS for fifty years. BUMBS stands for Bakers, Ungers, McFarlands, Basses, and Storys, the five couples who started sharing monthly fellowship meals when our children were all very small and we lived in the same town. We don’t get together nearly that often anymore. We live in varied places. Three have transferred to the church triumphant. But the memories are fresh, like the years when we exchanged simple Christmas gifts.
At some monthly time together, Paul Baker, now Illinois State University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, told of a Christmas as a child when his only gift was an Uncle Wiggly book. His family was very poor, but his mother was a good manager of what little money they had and would get a gift for each child whenever she found an appropriate one at a good price. She found the book at a good price in the summer and hid it in the attic. When she got it out on Christmas morning, she found that a mouse had eaten on the book.
Paul told this story in terms of what it meant to his mother rather than what it meant to him, but when Helen drew his name for the BUMBS gift exchange in October, she immediately set about getting him a new, unchewed, copy of Uncle Wiggly. It was not easy, but she traced one down.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.