Running Toward a Dead-End

In the 1880’s my great grandparents purchased a sizeable plot of land on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The family farmhouse stands as a testimony to that generation’s labors to grow fruit that could be shipped out from Pier Cove to the great city of Chicago, just a jaunt south in the great lake.

My siblings and I spent our own summers at “the Farm”, as my grandfather called it, each working our first jobs in the nearby tourist town of Saugatuck. These dunes are holy ground for me. With an Air Force upbringing I cannot claim any other space as being particularly meaningful to me. To turn onto Lakeshore Drive in the summer and make my way down a curvy gravel road through the woods to our homestead is a great blessing.

Living on the edge of such a great body of water for generations, our family has witnessed the daunting and sometimes destructive power of nature. Some years we have a wide and sandy beach. Other years we have had large chunks of our private dune collapse into the lake after the water has pounded relentlessly against it in a harsh winter. About two miles north of our address, Lakeshore Drive literally washed out into the lake thirty-some years ago. When I run on this scenic drive I can only go that far before I have to turn around and retrace my steps to our own hallowed ground.

As I start out on my run there is frequently a car that pulls out of a driveway and carefully swerves around me. The drivers smile at me, sometimes even waving in our shared appreciation for the beauty around us. I pass people who are walking their dogs. We greet each other with a nod or a monosyllabic greeting. People are out in their yards, nurturing plants that flourish in sandy soil. Repair trucks and landscape workers drive past me after doing their jobs. The way is shaded by age-old trees that may have even been there when my grandfather walked this road.

As I approach the dead-end things begin to change. The traffic thins out. The only folks travelling this part of the drive are those who live here. There is no throughway to other destinations. This is the stretch that lost so much frontage to erosion in the 70’s. So the lake is starkly visible on the west side of the road, having pulled any lakefront cottages over the edge in its winter fury. On the east the houses are set far back from the road, a safe distance from the shifting sands of the shoreline. I seldom see much human activity in these homes. Approaching the dead end things get more quiet and lonesome. It is the road less travelled because only those who live there or their guests have reason to come that far. To reach the blockade that forces a turnaround is depressing because it recalls our powerlessness against the forces of nature and the great loss for those who perched too close to the shore.
So I happily pivot when I reach the final cul-de-sac. I want to leave behind the stark reminders that our human efforts can be met with defeat when God exhales. Our own cottage had to be moved back through the woods just a decade or so after we built it because our bluff was eroding into the lake, threatening to take us with it. Fortunately we had enough of a perimeter to our yard that we could move it back a safe distance from the pounding waves. But this dead end in Lakeshore Drive reminds me that not everyone had that same luxury to move. Heading south the land on the west side of the drive expands until I once again see houses boldly built overlooking the lake. Traffic picks up slowly and the activity level on those properties increases. The loneliness of the dead end is replaced with the bustle of activity that comes with proximity to intersections and destination points peopled with customers. I leave behind the depressing reminder of loss from our own natural disaster on Lakeshore Drive. Heading south toward our homestead I meet up with people who feel relatively safe in their perch further back from the bluff. That sense of safety translates into greater joy and subsequent friendliness.
It’s easier to enjoy life where the traffic flows freely and people dwell secure on the land and the road doesn’t tumble into the watery abyss below. A friendly nod to neighboring strangers comes more readily when we feel like we are part of a community that can embrace the future without worry. Turning into our driveway two miles south from the forced pivot of the dead end, I enter into the contentment of my ancestors who chose this part of Lakeshore Drive 130 years ago.
There are times when we find ourselves heading toward a dead-end with no option to turn around. In 1998 my mother’s cancer returned after a 14-year-long remission. It was stage 4 esophageal cancer that prompted a siege of chemo treatments. Courageously she fought to stay in the hub of family life. Friends would stop by to see her at first and she had energy on occasion to converse. But the initial success of the treatment was short-lived. Five months after it was first re-diagnosed, the cancer was labeled “terminal.” Mom was pivoted toward the dead-end she had been fighting to avoid. She was told she had to walk all the way to the spot where the road tumbled into the vast watery abyss below. With a sickening sense of defeat my father, my five siblings and our families took turns walking along this increasingly isolated section of her journey.
As her health deteriorated she was unable to receive guests at all. She had long since given up any vanity over her appearance but she simply had no strength to talk. My mother had lived a vibrant life of loving family, travelling the world and ministering alongside of my father for 42 years. She could see dead end options from a great distance and invited God to steer her away from them to green pastures and still waters. As a Social Worker she was adept at helping others find their way back from poor decisions that ground their lives to a halt. So, even when forced to face her mortality squarely, she let us know that even this was not a dead end for her.
My mom’s faith never faltered though she never easily accepted her terminal cancer diagnosis either. While waiting in a doctor’s office with her once my father and I talked quietly as she lay on the gurney behind us. She was waiting for the doctor to arrive to examine her stomach tube (which never did work for her). This was, not surprisingly, a very painful exam, even for a woman who had endured great physical trials in fighting the disease. I called over to her, asking her what she was doing. “I’m praying,” she answered quietly. “About what?” I asked, surprised. “That the doctor will be gentle and the exam will be manageable for me.” When facing the end of the line with less and less control over her weakening body, my mother continued to express concern over all of us and affirm her faith in the God of abundant life. She assured us that she wasn’t afraid of the dead end because she knew it was actually a launching pad for a completely new journey. But she was concerned about surviving the pain and weakness required to get her new lease on life.

When my mother’s cancer was re-diagnosed in March of 1998, she hoped she would be able to get up to the cottage one last time. At first, it seemed like she would have the strength to make it. She could picture turning off the highway onto Lakeshore Drive, passing the farmhouse where she had spent summers with her grandmother and aunt, and heading back into the woods to the house we built together as a family. She had a community of family and friends from that part of her life. But she never made it. Instead she was told that she was heading inescapably toward a dead end with a suggestion from her doctor that she take anti-depressants to soften the blow. She said, “No thank you.”

It turns out that, if you’ve lived life on well-travelled paths of God’s choosing, there can be no dead end. Though her world narrowed to a hospital bed at home or in the hospice center, she continued to teach us of God’s relentless love through her own words and actions. The land chosen by her grandparents, a safe distance down from the fall-off, had shaped her and sustained her even on this last leg of her journey. Surrounded by her children and husband, and blessed into eternal life by our tears and prayers, she turned a dead-end into a homecoming with those ancestors from the “farm.” Thanks be to God!


Perfect Michigan Day

Today is why I live in Michigan: high of 76 degrees, low humidity, breathtaking breeze and blue sky. It makes every day of the polar vortex worth it! What comes to mind is a poem by e.e.cummings that I’ve used as a benediction in the Spring when the color green breathes new life and hope into us.

I thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping, greenly spirits of trees and the true blue dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and love and wings and of the gay great happening that is illimitably earth)

How should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any-lifted from the no of all nothing-human merely being doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Sit outside tonight and pledge to anyone near you that you will remember this night in the cold of February! Listen to the cries of the birds. Open your eyes to their music and the green that surrounds you. My husband and I are reliving the past by sitting outside at the Meijer Gardens for a concert with Styx! Their music is a bit different from the rustle of the leaves and cry of the blue jay. But it all expresses the joy of Creation. As the sun sets on a perfect Michigan summer day my spirit says



Travel Advisory

Both Uruguay and Venezuela issued travel advisories this week to their citizens considering a trip to the United States. Venezuela has been ranked the most dangerous country in the world for the past two years, according to a Gallup survey in 2018. Yet they are warning their people about walking our American streets! It would be funny except that…it’s not! Their reasoning is based on the loss of 31 innocent lives in two separate tragedies in just one weekend! Folks from Uruguay were told that indiscriminate violence (specifically, racially-motivated hate crimes) were reasons to avoid spending time in our fine nation right now. The problems cited by officials from this South American country are extensive possession of firearms by the population as a whole and the impossibility of our police force to prevent the sorts of massacres we witnessed this past weekend.

Wow. We have become that country, the one known for violence. On the list of twenty most dangerous cities in the world are Detroit, Baltimore and Albuquerque. The travel ban urged foreign visitors to be especially wary in densely populated settings of our country because these seem to be a draw for mass killings. So a summer visit to a zoo, an outing to the theater, a ballgame or back-to-school shopping trip seem threatening.

The picture painted of America the Beautiful after the umpteenth week of crowd killings makes drug-infested South America seem almost quaint.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a German theologian who spoke out courageously against the mounting Nazi power. A pacifist, he used words to fight against this hatred. He established places of study that challenged Christians to reject the violence Hitler promoted and take a stand for Christ. He became an enemy to the Nazi authorities who limited his movement and shut down his underground seminary. In 1939 he was invited to serve as lecturer at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He accepted the call and slipped away from Germany to our shores. But it wasn’t long after his arrival that he knew he had made the wrong decision. He had spent time at the seminary years before as a graduate student. His involvement in the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem had exposed him to the power of the Gospel in oppressed populations. He fell in love with the Christ who was joyfully praised in this Harlem neighborhood and his identity changed from astute theologian to lover of and advocate for the down-trodden. His 1939 return to the seminary as Hitler’s aggression marched forward suddenly felt like a betrayal to his compatriots. His friends urged him to remain in New York City, where he could work against Hitler from a safe distance. But he could not. He wrote a letter to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr voicing why he had to return to his beleaguered homeland:

“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people…Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.”

In 1939 the horrors of World War II spread from one country to the next. Nations banned travel to Germany and even to other parts of Europe. Out of his Christian conviction, Bonhoeffer returned to his beloved country on the last scheduled steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean before borders where shut down. He was later arrested for his outspoken positions against Hitler. He was ultimately sent to Flossenburg, a concentration camp, where he suffered alongside of the very people he had sought to save. Though he could have been teaching and writing from the safety of a distant continent, he was killed by hanging on April 9, 1945, just one month shy of the surrender of Germany.

amsterdam canal

On our travels through Europe last summer the terror of World War II cropped up repeatedly. In Amsterdam we took a tour that led us by foot through the Jewish neighborhoods of the 1930’s and 1940’s. We were deeply impacted by the sacrifice of Christians in an effort to protect the innocent in their Dutch communities. Walter Suskind was a German Jew who managed the Dutch Theater in Amsterdam. As the Nazi soldiers set up their system of arrest and exportation of Jews, the theater became the central clearing house through which Jews were herded before deportation to concentration camps. Walter used his position with the Dutch Jewish Council to rescue as many children as he possibly could. He intentionally mismanaged the books on the children who were in this holding tank, failing to record and even removing names from registries. He recommended that it would be better for the small children to attend the school across from the theater each day rather than sitting idle with their parents in a tight space. This proposal was accepted. Children from the country came to school with large backpacks into which small Jewish children were secreted away. These non-Jewish children headed home literally with a child on their backs in the hopes that these forbidden youngsters would have a chance at life as part of a non-Jewish family outside of the city. Jewish parents in the theater had to agree to this for their children, if you can imagine that anguishing decision. Through Walter’s creative inefficiency, 600 children were saved from death camps. Walter, his wife and daughter were eventually arrested and taken to concentration camps where many of the prisoners were those whose children he had saved. At age 38, Walter died unheralded in Auschwitz, just months before the end of the war.

amsterdam canal of shadows

Along the east side of the Hermitage Museum stretches the Shadow Wall. A Jewish neighborhood from the time of the war, it is an avenue of dwellings that served as home for more than 200 Jews. The Nazis had quietly investigated the Jewish population of Amsterdam, before they began their pogram. They put together a map of where Jews lived. When they began the terror of their arrests, complete neighborhoods like the one across from the Hermitage, were removed from their homes and carted away. The Nieuwe Keizersgracht Canal lost 215 of its Jewish residents to concentration camps, with fewer than 15 surviving. Their homes were given to others. Yet the surviving Jewish owners who beat all odds and returned, had to pay the taxes on the homes they had lost. Even though the war was over, the hatred that fueled it continued to tear apart the survivor’s lives.

Present day residents of this neighborhood wanted to commemorate the individuals who once laughed in their living rooms and ate meals around prayerful tables. So they placed plaques naming those Jewish residents along the canal’s edge across from the homes. Referred to as the Canal of Shadows, each plaque lists the names, ages and date of death for each former resident. It was dedicated in 2013 as a powerful memorial to the innocent who lost their lives at the hand of a hateful and mentally ill dictator. It was a sobering part of our trip that deeply impacted us.

The news broadcasts the past couple of days show crosses outside of the El Paso Walmart and Dayton bar. The crosses are marked with the names of the 31 victims who were slaughtered as they picked out back-to-school supplies for their children and sat at tables enjoying good food with friends. The scene of candlelight vigils and weeping mourners has become far too familiar to us. The location and the names change but the agony is replayed almost weekly. Sometimes the killings are racially motivated, as in El Paso. Many times mental illness plays an important role. Isolation and bullying have come under scrutiny as ostracized young people have found these massacres to be their best revenge on a cruel world.

I have grieved the senseless loss of life at too many different locations: the 911 Memorial at Ground Zero, the Gettysburg battlefield, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, lost Palestinian villages in Galilee, the American Cemetery in Normandy, to name a few. Since the Oklahoma City bombing and the shooting in Columbine, Americans have struggled to find ways to honor those lost in countless acts of terrorism across our nation. There comes a day when the crosses, the votive candles and the bouquets of flowers have to be removed and the lives of the mourners are expected to grind forward into a new normal. But things are never the same. The fact that a backfiring motorcycle in Times Square sent throngs of people running for their lives yesterday evening speaks volumes of the fear that is never too far beneath our national surface. We have become the blacklisted destination at the top of the travel advisories because we claim too many murdered victims to remember.

In the wake of each senseless crime we learn of heroes. We meet folks who are taking the unthinkable worst situation and inviting a response of compassion. 11-year old Ruben Martinez of El Paso told his mom he didn’t want to go in stores any more. How could they be safe. His mother told him they couldn’t live in fear and asked him what might be a helpful way to respond to the devastating loss. The result is the El Paso Challenge that he hopes will help his Texas community heal. He is passing out fliers and holding up a sign inviting folks to do 22 good deeds to help others in honor of the lives lost in the El Paso Walmart. The examples he gives are simple and reflect the options an 11-year old might be able to choose: mow someone’s lawn, bring someone flowers, hold the door for others, leave a dollar on the vending machine for the next person. People are following his lead and choosing goodness over evil. It’s the beginning to a long journey but I fear we will move on soon to another crisis even as El Paso and Dayton residents are left grappling with their devastating loss.

Most heroes act quietly. No one knew what Walter Suskind was doing at the Jewish Theater until children returned long after the war with stories of how their lives were spared. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just an outspoken pastor who refused to look the other way—like many German Christians did in World War II—when confronted with anti-Semitic genocide. Young Ruben joins the ranks of those who choose action in the face of seemingly impossible odds. The easy response to our messed up national crisis is to do nothing. We can hole up in the places and prejudices that make us feel secure. Or we can take the more difficult path—some might call it bearing your cross—and look for the ways we can shine the light of Jesus in the darkest places.

When these shootings were first beginning we held special worship services to counteract the atrocities. We rang bells. We lit candles even when our church was far away from the place of crisis. I struggle to know what to write on our church Facebook page in response to these tragedies. Since these killings have accelerated in the past ten years I seldom acknowledge them on social media. Sadly, they have become too numerous and, even, routine. Rather I pray and urge my people to pray continually for the ways we can respond to the hatred that starts in our own communities. The cry from my heart each time I learn of another terrorist act is ancient but relevant: LORD HAVE MERCY. CHRIST HAVE MERCY, HAVE MERCY UPON US. May it be so. Amen.


Storing our Treasure

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”   Luke 12: 13-21

abundance bank bank notes bills
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Do you rent a storage unit for your “stuff”? Have you ever had a POD deposited in your driveway to protect your things? Even if you don’t need one for an extended period of time storage facilities can be helpful in times of transition. It is estimated that there are between 45,000 and 52,000 storage units for rent in the U.S, providing more than 2 billion square feet of space! Americans will spend more than $37 billion this year on storage. In addition to the rental fee you can pay $4.99 per month to insure up to $2,000 worth of contents or $18.99 per month for $10,000 worth of treasures. These small spaces have been used by some as shelters which works better than under a bridge—until the owner of the storage facility finds out. Then you’re apt to be “evicted” from your temporary housing. For those who default on their storage unit rent, there are organizations that auction off the abandoned contents. At a website:, you can see where there are such sales which are sometimes set up almost as a grab bag: bid on a particular storage unit without knowing the contents. The winner takes whatever is there. Sometimes it’s a goldmine—other times it’s someone else’s junk.

abandoned abandoned building broken decay
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I don’t remember storage unit companies growing up. We have increased our love for stuff over the years. We have exported production to far-off places that make our goods more cheaply and we stock up! We buy bigger homes with larger closets, We fill up our attics with stuff that seldom gets used or sorted out until we move—or die! We exclaim with glee when we find a place where we can store our stuff until we’re ready for it. I keep waiting for a Christmas carol to be written that paints a Thomas Kinkaid-type image of a family traveling to their storage shed to pick up their Christmas decorations, drinking eggnog and jingling all the way! We need places to store our treasure.

I talked with a father of two young children many years ago. His wife was divorcing him. She was moving on joyfully, relieved of whatever pressures she had felt in the marriage. She had a boyfriend. The custody ruling was probably going in her favor even though her infidelity had blown up the marriage. As their home was sold and contents cleared out, this father told me he was hauling his stuff to a storage facility, unsure of his next move. He had a small apartment lined up and furnished with just the basics for him and his children. But much had to be given or salted away. As he unloaded the last trailer full of memories into the shed he had a panic attack. He collapsed and found himself lying on the floor of this inhospitable space, unable to move. He finally called his mother-in-law who had recognized her daughter’s waywardness in the dissolution of the marriage. She came and helped him to get up and move into this unwanted chapter of his life. He would give up all his stuff if it would restore to him the real treasure—a loving home for his two children where they woke up in the same place as he did each morning.

This passage from Luke’s gospel asks us a question: What does it mean to be rich in God? Jesus faces this question because of an unsolicited encounter. A man who must have appreciated Jesus’ wisdom asks him to arbitrate between himself and his brother. He was due a portion of their father’s inheritance but the older brother wasn’t doling it out fairly. How many of you would want to step into that kind of a situation? Not me! Jesus does not get involved but instead uses it as a launching point for a sermon about greed and human anxiety over money. A concern in Jesus’ day, monetary concerns still rob us of sleep and destroy marriages 2000 years later. Patricia Lull writes, “The family feud, set before Jesus for him to resolve…, can be found in almost any parish. Beyond matters of inheritance, money serves as a kind of thermostat for issues of anxiety and control in the congregation itself….Money is always about more than money.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3 by David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Editors. Westminster John Knox Press 2010, pg. 312)

“Money is always about more than money.” Can I get an “Amen”?!

scenic view of landscape against cloudy sky
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The younger brother’s question prompts Jesus to teach. He tells a story of wrong priorities. Greater assets lead to a heightened concern with riches rather than caring about God’s Realm. When we focus on ourselves, like the rich man in the parable, we are not rich in God or human relationships. This man is a landowner who must have controlled a sizable estate. He experienced a bumper crop—something that would have been viewed as a tremendous blessing. But there is no gratitude expressed to God even though God gave the growth. Notice how much we hear I-Me-My in the rich man’s pondering. His barns are already overflowing so the bumper crop presents a problem. He clearly has no intention of selling or sharing the wealth. So is the problem inadequate storage for great possessions or is it a poverty of heart? He invests all of his time managing his estate while ignoring the issue of his looming mortality. The rich fool becomes a negative example to those who would follow Jesus and live with gratitude for the Realm of God.

The question looms at the end of Jesus’ parable: What does it mean to be rich in God?

What were the values you were taught about money when you were growing up? If I asked how many of us worry about money, I suspect most of us would have to raise our hand. If we are rich in God does does money provide the means for deep and abiding joy? Do we see it as a way to help others out of a love for God? This parable asks us to examine our relationship toward money and image. How important is it to us to appear to be able to afford a certain kind of lifestyle? Do we use our cars, homes, clothes, gifts to others as a means of measuring our lives in our own eyes and the eyes of others? Does the media direct our spending or does our faith? Does a younger generation fixate on the Kardashian household, vying to emulate their opulence? Or do they sacrifice to raise money for a mission trip where their eyes are opened to what it means to be rich in God? How do we combat a culture that likes to supersize everything?

girl smiling
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As a congregation it’s important that we evaluate our own attitude toward money. What brings in the greater offering: an appeal for the building or an invitation to give toward a Habitat for Humanity build? Are our mission commitments the first to go when there’s a budget crunch or do we move forward in faith in the moments when the bottom line looks insufficient? We have a wonderful history in our congregation that has shaped our attitude toward money today. Our forebears sacrificed in the 1870’s to build a lovely sanctuary. In old newsletters we read about the joy of our earliest members as they contributed toward worthy charitable causes of their generation. They were cautious in their spending, paying for each addition or improvement to the building while giving money away to those in need. Our membership took on the building project of our Christian Education Wing in the thick of a national recession. 2008 seemed like the most foolish time to embark on a capital fund drive so we tested the water with some potential donors before taking it to the whole congregation. At best, I felt uncertain that it would go forward. But one week after the meeting the secretary brought to me the first wave of pledges: $75,000 was waiting for us should we decide to go ahead with the project. That’s all we needed to know. God had a plan for us to expand our classroom facilities in spite of the dismal fiscal climate of our country. Not only did we have the nearly half million-dollar building paid for before we dedicated the wing in 2012. We kept up with our missions giving in that three-year time period. Our congregation continues to prioritize giving 10% of all plate and pledged monies away. We have certainly been worried at times about being able to honor that biblical mandate. But, because of our deep desire to show our love for God by helping others, we have been able to tithe of our income for many years now. When we live in a way that celebrates that we are rich in God, we are able to meet the needs of others as well as our own.

Our church also knows what it is to save. Our endowment fund has grown in the past 26 years from an initial donation of $35,000 to a market value now of over $300,000! Quarterly dividends enhance the ministry of three of our boards: Missions, Trustees and Christian Education. When we have a bumper crop of giving, our congregation has been raised to know that a portion needs to be saved and a tithe needs to be given away. I am convicted that following this Biblical formula for our finances has established the firm financial footing for our ministry today.

What does it mean to be rich in God?

Remember the conflict between two sisters when Jesus visited their home? Martha slaved over an impromptu meal served on the best china in a super clean house. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, in the company of all those men, worshiping Him by soaking in His teaching. Like the brother asking for his cut of the father’s inheritance, Martha felt shortchanged when Mary abandoned the household chore list. She asked Jesus to arbitrate but He told poor Martha, as she wiped her hands on her pink gingham apron, that Mary had made the right choice. In her multitasking Martha had lost her perspective. When we can’t imagine having people over because our home is perfectly appointed, we are bowing to the gods of Pinterest and Martha Stewart rather than praising God by offering warm hospitality. Are our obsessions hindering the moments God places before us to enjoy life? David Schlaffer writes, “Distractions occlude clear discernment and lead to choices and commitments that are often tragically foolish…If we have an inveterate predisposition to distraction…, it is hard to put things in perspective. Frames of reference are not easily dislodged. The parable’s shock therapy of sharp warning is an intervention of last resort.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 3 by David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Editors. Westminster John Knox Press 2010, pg. 315)

landscape sky night rocks
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To be rich in God doesn’t mean we have enough stuff to fill a house and bleed over into a large storage unit besides. To be rich in God means our conversation with God nourishes us continually. To be rich in God means we find guidance in the scriptures that directs our daily lives. To be rich in God is evidenced by the deep ties of love to God and other human beings that nourish our souls. In the summer we particularly enjoy the moments when we are off the grid with loved ones surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. In those moments when we lie on our backs looking at the stars or appreciating a sunset with our children, our hearts are filled with gratitude as we realize that we are rich in God. Amen.