Thoughts that draw me closer to Jesus- and I pray it causes you to draw close as well!
20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? Romans 9:20-21 (NLT2)
590 Don’t forget that you are just a trash can. So if by any chance the divine gardener should lay his hands on you, and scrub and clean you, and fill you with magnificent flowers, neither the scent nor the colors that beautify your ugliness should make you proud. Humble yourself: don’t you know that you are a trash can?
Hence it is easy to answer all kinds of questions that now trouble people—for example, whether even a wicked priest can administer the sacrament, and similar questions.  Our conclusion is: Even though a scoundrel receives or administers the sacrament, it is the true sacrament (that is, Christ’s body and blood), just as truly as when one uses it most worthily. For it is not founded on human holiness but on the Word of God.
I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grow up by a family friend, a priest by the name of Fr. Alex.
My answer to him is actually what I do, and where I find my joy. I get to put into the hands of people the precious body of Christ, broken that they would be made whole, healed of their brokenness.
But there are two parts of that I wonder about.
The first is whether I will do something different when I grow up. There is a part of me that thinks this is temporary, that at some point, i will need to get an actual job! That someday I will need to decide what I want to be when I grow up.
The second thing is more serious, and that is that I don’t deserve the incredible blessing of being the waiter at this feast. That who I am should disqualify me from such an important task as connecting people to God. I resemble St Josemaria’s trashcan, and I know it.
And I wonder why God doesn’t find someone holier, more charismatic, more right for such a precious position. I am tempted to look around, and realize that all pastors and priests wander around with similar thoughts.. In my more sane moments, I know that all pastors and priests should feel that way, but when I am down, I don’t see that.
Two things keep me going. The first is the thought from the Lutheran Confessions. That even if I were the most broken, unholy, sin-filled person on earth, the Lord’s Supper is still the Eucharist, and people still commune with God. The promises He makes to HIs people are not diminished by the staff being perfect.
The second thing is more important – God put me here – for people/ He is the Potter who made me what the person that He placed in this position. His decision, His call, His equipping, and His responsibility. He is the one who cleaned up the trash can and put something beautiful in it.
Which is where you come in….
The bread that is the Body of Christ in my hand it is there for you.
Those words in my sermon, they are there to be heard—so that you will know Jesus, and experience HIs love.
Those words, when I say, “you are forgiven” are there, and I know them well, for I am forgiven as well.
There is another lesson for here as well. IF God can do this with me, He will certainly do amazing things in your life, to bless others. You may struggle with that thought – but God will make it happen. Just walk through life, knowing you are loved.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 468.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT2)
20 But you have learned nothing like that from Christ, if you have really heard his voice and understood the truth that he has taught you. No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust’s illusions, and, with yourselves mentally and spiritually re-made, to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God’s design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion. Ephesians 4:20 (Phillips NT)
592 Don’t forget that you are just a trash can. So if by any chance the divine gardener should lay his hands on you, and scrub and clean you, and fill you with magnificent flowers, neither the scent nor the colors that beautify your ugliness should make you proud. Humble yourself: don’t you know that you are a trash can?
It seems counter-intuitive, that God relies on us ot do the work that builds His Kingdom, but that we should not take pride in a “job well-done.” We struggle against sin, we try to serve our neighbor, we give of our time talent and treasure, shouldn’t we get a pat on the back? Can’t we take pride in an effort that took our all and more?
To that St. Josemaria’s words seem like a cold, harsh shower. A trash can? Can’t we be considered a little nicer than that? Yes, what God pours into us (and what He removes from us) makes all the difference in our lives.
We need to think this through, we need to meditate on what God is doing and has done to our life. Not only how he cleans us up (justification – Eph. 2:8-9) but how he then plants in us something beautiful, and sweet-smelling. Even the things we think we’ve buried so deep and hidden get cleaned out and replaced with things that alive, growing, beautiful.
You see, that is what is at the core of worship. The awe that comes in realizing what God has done, how He has cleansed us, how He has empowered us, how He sends us into the communities to reflect His beauty and glory into a world that has become content with brokenness.
What an amazing thing God has done, in the life of each the Holy Spirit has brought home!!! What He has done is no illusion, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven:
#4 Hand Me all Your Trash
† IHS †
May you always be quick to remember the grace, the mercy, love and peace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, as we journey to seeing them face to face!
A Pleasant Journey!
We have been looking at the largest Pastor Parker Parable. That the Journey Home to Heaven is like one of those long journeys of our youth, when we were crowded into the backseat of the family car.
We’ve overheard some of those conversations, remembering when we were urged “to get along back there,” and “That’s Not fair!’. And last week Deacon Michael urged us to consider what happens on those journeys, as we grow up, and eventually get to ride in the front seat.
Today, as we look at Paul describing His life in Christ, I want you to think back to those trips in the car. To remember pulling into the gas stations, where men would pump your gas, clean your windows, check your oil.
When that happened on our trips, as we stopped and Ray Child’s Esso, there was something my dad would always say to us……
No, not, “who has to go to the bathroom” No one would ever want kids or ladies to go into the restroom at that place….
What dad said was….
“Hand Me All your trash!”
It was time to clean the car, getting rid of all the trash, all the candy-wrappers, all the napkins, all the masterpieces colored in crayon, all the broken cheap toys,
Stopping for gas was the time to get the car taken care of, and for us, that meant emptying the backseat of all our trash.
The question is, when our Heavenly Father asks us to hand to Him all our trash…. Will we?
in order to answer that, we have to understand two things…what the trash is, and why it is a benefit to get all that crap out of our lives….
What’s in the Backseat!
It is amazing what we thought were treasures as children. Remember the little 2 piece balsa wood gliders? Or those growing up after me, the happy meal toys that would break before you ever made it home? The baseball cards and the gum that came in the packages. The Pez dispensers with the heads broken off them…
They would end up on the floor, forgotten, smashed, even cried over.
Until Dad asked for them, because they were trash.
Then they were worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox. And we would make a fuss and a fit when our dad’s wanted to throw them out. We counted them as our treasures, irreplaceable things that just cluttered up the backseat.
In today’s epistle, Paul reveals that he saw things that he once thought were invaluable as the trash he needed to stop carrying around. Things that he would understand were trash, which needed to be tossed to the side.
Looking at the list, they don’t really seem all that trashy.
Wait, I need to clarify something. The translators got to the back seat before we did. It wasn’t trash that Paul considered this stuff. Anybody remember the old cloth diapers and what they would be filled with, when they were in the dirty diaper bag? Anybody remember what that bag was like, kept in the back seat on a hot day like we’ve been having? Yeah – that is what Paul called these things he had been so attached to in life
The translators use nicer words, refuse, trash, the old KJV had it more accurate when it said dung.
If I told you the stuff God would take away from you in life, most of you would come up with the idea of sin, or with the old Catechism answer, God removed “sin, satan and death” from our lives.
I am not sure we understand that Paul is talking about sin, when he mentioned that used to count on being born into the right family, into the right race. That he had all the boxes checked off that would see the community think he was a perfect kid. He went to the right schools, go incredible grades. Paul thought, without boasting, that he was living the perfect life. That he did what he was supposed to, even religiously did it.
Sounds like good stuff to me.
Then again, so did the now in 8 pieces balsa wood glider!
The reason these things were trash, or the filling of a diaper, wasn’t because they had no value. It is that they have absolutely no value if you trust in them. They are worthless to trust in, and too often, we do. When we say we can’t do without them, or that these things make us who we are, we have turned them into an idol.
Luther said it this way,
What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
All Paul was doing in counting these things as trash, was confessing that they had become idols, things in his life he trusted in, especially that he was good enough. He swore he was going to get to heaven because he was a good person, because he had all the boxes checked off, and he trusted in his own work.
Which is why, when Paul heard the gospel from Stephen, it was hard. All that he believed in, all that he trusted in,
We do the same thing. We find our value in all sorts of things. It might be in our bank account, or our financial status. We find our meaning in our job, the awards and diplomas and certificates we receive. We find what defines becoming our roles as parents, or grandparents, even our citizenship. These are the equivalents to what Paul found to be trash, because we allow them to define us, rather than God defining us.
That’s the key, we aren’t who we think we are,…..
We are who God knows we are.
Nothing in our Way!
Getting rid of the trash in our lives is about learning to see each other, and indeed ourselves, as God sees us.
As those who died with Jesus in baptism, and have been raised from the dead with Him. This is what Paul talks about, when he says,
For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
He goes on to say,
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Paul is crying out for a level of intimacy with God that leaves everything in the dust. To be so united with Christ that we become indistinguishable from Him. He lives in us, He shines through us, we are one with Him, as He promised we would be! Paul says this again, when he says,
“But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”
Compared to knowing Jesus, well, the other stuff belongs in the used diaper bag. Our relationship with Jesus defines everything we are, and what we can be. It has eternal value, there is nothing that will make life better now, and nothing else, no one else gives us a future and hope that is eternal.
He is the one in whom we find hope, it is in Him we find life, it is in Him we find the peace that passes all understanding, as He guards and protects our Hearts and Minds….
So when you come up, and feast with Him, let go of everything else, and realize that He holds on to you… so hold on to Him.