Monday, March 30, 2015

Gift Cards

Gift cards have become increasingly popular, so much so that in America 97 billion dollars is spent on gift cards each year.  Gift cards have a money value that has already been paid in advance, but their value can only be unlocked when they are used. Someone pays the price for us to dine at some establishments and a card is exchanged and we are free to choose when and what we eat.  In fact each year around 8 billion dollars’ worth of gift cards goes unused. Some cards are lost, some are used and forgotten about, and others just simply expire after non-use. It seems foolish to have that much goes unused when so many of us are hungry. We who are hungry need to bear in mind we have a gift card at our disposal if we choose to use it. 

In the midst of the build up to Easter and trying to get everything perfect, we tend to forget that Easter is really a gift. The empty tomb is proof that Christ has opened the door between this world full of pain, suffering, and disappointments and God kingdom. The empty tomb is our gift card. It is a gift from God. Between the worship services, palms, egg hunts, special music, and the sadness of the crucifixion, sometimes that idea of the gift can be lost.  We lose the fact that the empty tomb is a gift. A gift that never expires however we must redeem it or it’s useless. So as we approach Easter let us remember this priceless gift. Let us remember, even if it’s as painful as Good Friday, what we have been saved from. As painful as it maybe only then can we truly find the joy in our salvation and redeem the gift of an empty tomb. 
Meet you at the tomb... Tommy 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dinner is Served

It is our natural human tendency when we hear the words “Dinner is served” to fixate on the object of the sentence dinner. We tend to gravitate or focus on the dinner and what is being served. There is something about food that can spark the deepest part of our soul. I text my siblings to see what their favorite meal our mother prepared for us growing up. I got an immediate response. For my oldest sister it was our Mom’s Chicken a la king.  My other sister it is was our Mom’s Chinese meatloaf. My brother’s favorite was her roast, potatoes, and carrots.  For me it was many but I loved her chicken casserole or her chicken and dumplings.  We all had different favorites but the undisputed consensus of us all was our grandmother’s coconut cake, in the metal cake pan and our Mothers birthday cake. It was heaven. Sometimes it wasn't just one dish but the combination of different dishes that made the meal memorable.  I can still recall my mother in law’s meal combination of ham, potato salad, beak beans and her chocolate chip cookies that did it. I am sure if you took a moment you too could recall something that your loved one cooked or prepared for you that strikes a great memory. Maybe the food is only the catalyst that solidifies the memory of when life was easier or that person was still vital in your life. I don’t know what it is but something about food can spark a memory that sticks with us. My siblings and I universally agreed more important than the food what we missed the most was the time we had around the table as a family. But when it comes to the food we can all remember the finished product. We easily skip over the process, the labor, and love that the one person put into making the meal for us. We just dine on the finished product and ignore the process. Our human nature is to not focus on the effort it took to prepare the meal. So this week as we look at another meal with Jesus we divert our attention away from the dinner and focus on the serve. In the most known meal with Jesus according to John, Jesus begins the meal by serving before dinner is served.  This meal is mentioned in all four of the gospels although some may contain more details than others. Some call it the Last Supper or the Lords Supper. As we revisit this, let us not forget that for the Christian faith the word serve and love are synonyms. The word love and service for Jesus were and are one and the same.  When the world looks at anyone who calls themselves Christian, the identify characteristic should be our service.  To be a disciple of Christ means we should be consumed with doing things for others instead of doing things for ourselves. It’s like the love of a mother cooking supper for her kids that last a lifetime. So Jesus knowing this is his last Passover meal wants, needs, desires to leave a lifetime lasting impression. And that impression is one of a servant.
Shalom: Tommy