So it turns out that Jesus was pretty good at his job.
This is perhaps an obvious statement, but because we celebrate and honor a wide variety of prophets, it is really this time of year that we dig into the teachings of Jesus, and every time we do, we are struck by how resonant his teachings are.
In the image to the right, you can see our beloved Office Administrator, Jen with the log from last year’s pageant in her eye. This is from the teaching in which Jesus reminds us to take the log out of our own eye before telling our neighbors to take the speck out of theirs.
As we made the log for the pageant, we invited you all to write down on paper the logs in your own eyes, and those papers were attached to the log. It is a fascinating read, you should come by the office some time and check it out.
And so, this year, in keeping with tradition, we have another story for the pageant, coming up on the 23rd.
We talked about it last week in worship, but for those of you who weren’t there it comes when Jesus is talking with a rich man who asks what he can do to gain eternal life. He is keeping the commandments, but is ready for more.
And Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and give to the poor and to come and follow him. The man leaves saddened because he doesn’t want to give up his things, and Jesus tells the rest of the folks present that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Now, as we mentioned on Sunday, this isn’t a categorical condemnation of wealth. The problem with the rich man was not that he had possessions, but that he was unwilling to let them go. He was unwilling to be generous and to help the poor.
And so our reflection, leading up to the pageant, and our invitation to you all, is to reflect on things you might be clinging onto, things in your life onto which you might be grasping.
We are inviting you to write these things anonymously on slips of tan paper which will be incorporated into a camel for the pageant. Some folks have written, “animosity towards people with different beliefs,” and “pleasure from sweet food,” and “having to do it all,” and “the desire to create a beautiful holiday for my family,” and “a condo in downtown Portsmouth,” and so many more.
And on white pieces of paper which will be incorporated into the needle, we are inviting you to write a phrase or word which speaks to a positive experience of letting go which you have had. Some folks have written, “the idea of a perfect family and perfect children,” and “giving away my stuffed animals to New Day Syria,” and “changing careers,” and “giving away the idea that I was in control of my son’s happiness,” and “anger at my ex,” and “forgiving my childhood friend and her mother for their lack of support,” and so many more.
The idea, of course, is the classic truth that clinging and grasping lead to suffering, and that letting go is good for us.
For the next two Sundays you can add your papers to the mix. There will be papers for you to fill out and add to the bulletin board in the social hall at coffee hour. Do come by and read what other folks have read as well. It is fascinating.
And so this is part of our prayer for you all this holiday season, that you let go where you can, that you pay attention to where you might be clinging or grasping, and that you reflect on this teacher, this one of many holy people who have gifted us with rich stories and teachings which can challenge and guide us.
Happy holidays to you all.
Lots of love,