Tuesday April 14, 2020
“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT)
When we were growing up, my family and Pastor Joyce’s family were next door neighbors. We lived in two company houses just outside the factory fence. We each paid rent, but we were responsible for all the outside upkeep. There was about an acre of grass to cut. One side of this lawn was bounded by an open field (which was cut each fall for hay).
Our fathers assigned grass cutting to me and pastor Joyce’s brother, Jerry, who was my age. I would cut one week and Jerry the next. It was about a two-hour job.
My attitude toward this job was poor. It was hot, boring, ear splitting work in my view, made worse by my hay fever allergy. The lawn mower was balky to start. Worse, the clutch knob slipped. In theory, pulling out the knob stopped the wheels; pushing it in started the wheels. But it wouldn’t stay in. It had to be held in with considerable pressure or every minute or so and the mower would stop. And this knob was not conveniently located; it was in the center of the handlebar, not out by the hand grips.
When it was my turn to cut, I would eye the boundary between the grass and the open field. I would always cut about a half-width in from the boundary, making the grass area smaller and the field bigger. Jerry’s attitude was much better about cutting. When it was his turn to cut, he would cut an extra half-width out into the field, making the field smaller and the grass area bigger. So, the boundary would move back and forth all summer.
Our scripture today talks about Christian behavior, especially attitude toward work. It talks about singing in gratitude for work. When Paul wrote this letter, many of the early Christians were slaves or day laborers. They had to do whatever their owners or employers demanded, often seven days a week. It would be very easy for them to resent their work. Yet Paul taught that Christians, including himself, should see work positively. And when Christians did work, they should do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God the Father.
Looking back, I was my own worst enemy. I acted like I was a victim. Grass cutting would have been so much better for me if my attitude had been better.
I wonder if shelter-at-home falls into that category. We could look at it as lonely and confining. For others, working from home with children at home, it means less efficient work and added responsibility for home schooling. It also adds having to parent children who cannot get out to use up energy. And it may mean uncertainty about whether they will catch the virus and whether pay checks will still come. We could decide shelter-in-place is the pits. We could stew about each difficulty like I did about cutting grass.
But we don’t have to. We are Christians. Paul advises us to see even this as a time to be grateful and positive. As a time to sing. If we turn our attitudes over to God, we will feel much better and make our time into a living testimony of our faith. Thanks be to God.
– Pastor Doug, a former mowing complainer who (with a particle mask) now enjoys it.
Stay in touch. Share your needs. Let us help. Amen.