Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Can Full of Feathers

This morning's scripture passage (Mark 7) recounts a time when the super-religious called Jesus on the behavior of his disciples because they'd been seen eating without performing the required ritual of washing their hands. The purpose of the ritual wasn't for the sake of hygiene but holiness and they wanted Jesus to admit his disciples had flubbed up. Instead, Jesus jumps at the chance to point out that God cares little about whether a person performs external rituals and traditions but instead God places value on what flows from a person's heart. If the heart isn't centered on God, then it doesn't matter how well a person goes through the external motions of religion.

During the children's lesson I presented the kids with a shiny aluminum can with the label removed. We spent some time wondering what might be inside the label-less can until I pulled the original label from a bag and placed it around the can. Pineapple rings. The outside of the can tells us what's inside the can. Or does it?

That's when I pulled off the can's poptop lid to reveal the contents but instead of pineapple rings the can was filled with brightly-colored bird feathers! I might not be able to impress the masses but I know how to dazzle five year olds! I went on to tell the children that God doesn't care if we say all the right words in church, or if we sing the songs on tune or if we put money in the offering basket. That's just the stuff we do on the outside. Instead, God cares about our hearts. Is there love in our heart? Kindness? Goodness? Forgiveness? Compassion? It's the inside of who we are that God values and that we are to value in each other and not the outside. That's what I told them anyway, but I suspect they didn't hear a word because their full and undivided attention was focused on red, blue, yellow and green feathers.

That was my God application this morning and this afternoon brings us to my phatgirlwalking analogy.

There's nothing about me that looks like an athlete. I'm a middle-aged, chubby woman without a visible muscle anywhere on my person. I don't dress in sporty athletic wear. I can't run. I detest jogging. I don't own a gym bag and at this particular minute am clueless as to the location of my gym membership card.

But open me up and there's a pile of feathers! I'm competitive, motivated and passionate about my goal of walking a marathon. I get a high when I walk further than I've ever walked before. Even when my back is throbbing I'm thrilled with the sense of accomplishment in achieving the next goal on the journey. I tend my blisters with pride rather than annoyance. I daydream about the start of the race and the finish and smile to myself like a cheshire cat. I'm hungry.

Outside I may look like a phatgirlnapping but inside I'm pure athlete. So are you Darlin', so are you! Don't doubt it!

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