Matthew 28:10-16 (NRSV)
10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." 11 While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, "You must say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' 14 If this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day. 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
John 14:12 (NRSV)
12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NRSV)
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross.
This Sunday we will talk about God as participant. We too often think of God being "up there" or out of touch with our everyday lives. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a God who is actively involved in our lives. That involvement is often through the community of faith as we become conduits of God's love. Through us the triune God brings the majestic, the forgiving, and Spirit moving face of God to those around us. Leonard Sweet tells this story that illustrates my point. He writes:
From some source (the origins of which I've lost) comes a story from the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community.
I used to stop by Mr. Millers roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively.
One particular day, Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.
"Hello Barry, how are you today?"
"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, Thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas . . . sure look good."
"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"
"Fine, Gitten stronger alla' time."
"Good, Anything I can help you with?"
"No, Sir, Jus' admirin' them peas."
Would you like to take some home?"
"No, Sir. God nuthin' to pay for 'em with."
"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"
"All I got's my prize marble here."
"Is that right? Let me see it."
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."
I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is, this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"
"Not 'zackley . . . but, almost."
"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."
"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."
I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one.
Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community, and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.
Upon our arrival at the mortuary, we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts-very young professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.
Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket.
"Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the thing Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim couldn't change his mind about color or size, they came to pay their debt. "We've never had a great deal of wealth in this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.
Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. Breathe in and breathe out and know that you are making a difference in the lives of others as you share the love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Think about it.
As told by Leonard Sweet, Source Unknown.