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In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, a man devoted to tradition, finds his thinking challenged when his oldest daughter wants to marry for love, instead of having her marriage arranged by her parents. It had never occurred to him that one would marry for love, and one night he cannot help but ask his own wife the question (in song, of course!): “Do You Love Me?”
T: Golde, do you love me?
G: Do I what?
T: Do you love me?
G: You’re a fool!
T: I know! But do you love me?
G: Do I love him? For twenty five years I’ve cooked for him, cleaned for him, starved with him. Twenty five years my bed is his. If that’s not love - what is?
There are times when going through the motions just doesn’t cut it. There are even times when a commitment to “going through the motions” can cause us to miss what’s most important. For 25 years, Tevye and Golde had been going through the motions of a loving marriage, without ever thinking about whether they loved one another or not.
This single fruit of the Spirit is quite dynamic. It has many dimensions to it: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s as if this single fruit has multiple flavors. I’m reminded of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There was a piece of candy called, “The Never Ending Gobstopper.” What was amazing is that it was a single piece of candy with endless sorts of flavors. The fruit of the Spirit is one specific item with several, continuous qualities. The point is that all of these “flavors” remind us of our Savior’s love for us. The Spirit’s work ties us to Jesus and leads us to see we have true satisfaction in him alone.
I WANT TO BE PRETTY
"I want to be pretty." This is the title of a popular tv program that was airing when we lived in Poland. It was a reality tv show in which in every episode you follow the changes of two women who are the heroes of the program. Each of these women work with a team of specialists for six weeks. During that time they are cut off from contact with their friends and relatives as they undergo major changes in their physical appearance and also their self-image. Finally friends and family are invited to the studio where they meet them face to face with great drama.
An example was Gosia who said: "I was good looking all my life but I'm not able to accept how I look now....It's not about being older. But it's simply that I look different. Now I feel like an old used-up slipper. I'm ashamed of myself in front of my husband. This has gone on for nearly a year. How long can he stand it?"
Does our life and happiness depend on our appearance? I'm sure Gosia was happier after her transformation but is she a better person? Is she a better wife and mother? Does the change of appearance change our character and make us better people?
[Fiddler on the Roof]
Tevye: "Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter, Hodel."
Golde: "What? He’s poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!"
Tevye: "He’s a good man, Golde. I like him. And what’s more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. So what can we do? It’s a new world... A new world. Love. Golde..." Do you love me?
Golde: Do I what?
Tevye: Do you love me?
Golde: Do I love you?
With our daughters getting married
And this trouble in the town
You’re upset, you’re worn out
Go inside, go lie down!
Maybe it’s indigestion
Tevye: "Golde I’m asking you a question..." Do you love me?
Golde: You’re a fool
Tevye: "I know..." But do you love me?
Golde: Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
Tevye: Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared
Golde: I was shy
Tevye: I was nervous
Golde: So was I
Tevye: But my father and my mother
Said we’d learn to love each other
And now I’m asking, Golde
Do you love me?
Golde: I’m your wife
Tevye: "I know..." But do you love me?
Golde: Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: Then you love me?
Golde: I suppose I do
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Remember the show, “To Tell the Truth?” There would be one person who did something strange or different perhaps for a living while two others would try to pretend to be that person. The object was to try and fool the panel of stars and the audience. Sometimes the person would be something strange like a “professional nose picker.” At the end the real person would stand up.
As I thought about this passage from Matthew 6:24, I thought about loving one master and hating another. And I thought about some alcoholics that I know both practicing and recovered. I thought about the effect that addictions have upon people. They end of hating this “master” because they are enslaved and can’t get out. Usually end up hating themselves and everyone around them.
Jesus talks about the master of Mammon. I like the word “mammon” as a translation rather than money. For mammon is more than just money. It is greed. It is desire. In fact, the connotation is that this greed for money goes beyond just money but includes the power and privilege. It gives us the sense that this mammon is almost alive. That this particular sin because alive and begins to devour us. Paul uses the same type of imagery. Thus the darkness within us because exceedingly great! Just a little more. Gambling has that affect. Deal or No Deal is a great example. The show is about gambling. How far can you push it and what is the most that you can walk away with.
Runaway desires. Tithing and fasting are ways to work against these desires. To train them. Tame them! Tithing, fasting, and even baptism act out a different reality. A new reality of God’s Kingdom. Baptism is a symbolic way to act out the new reality of being a follower of Jesus--that God is now the Lord and King of our lives not mammon. By being baptized we align our lives toward the Kingdom life and Kingdom values, which are opposed to the values of mammon. The memory of one’s baptism (one Lord, one baptism) can then become a marker to "tame" our struggles with rampant materialism. It can become a sort of litmus test.
All these actions are revealing a change of masters.
Alcoholics know that one of the most effective way to maintain sobriety and recovery is to tell on their disease. Take ownership of their difficulties, their character defects, their sins. To tell the truth.
To Tell the Truth
• On our masters
Who are your masters? Jesus says we can only have one. Anything but God will consume you. Job, business (e-myth), health care system, money, shopping, gambling, drugs (prescription and illegal). Tell on the truth. This is what I struggle with.
• On ourselves
This is me. I’m not perfect. This is who I want to be. In terms of the specifics of the passage, admitting that I am not as generous as I should be. There can be only one.
In one of readings for today from Luke 12:13-21, Jesus is first asked to make a judgment. It is a cry for justice. Tell the story.
Generosity towards others is generosity towards God.
As much as some of us struggle to please two masters and we try, we cannot. “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”
Col. 3 talks about putting to death things that want to rule us and as I translate can become or are our masters: fornication, impurity, evil desires, greed, anger wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth, lying. Put on these clothes: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, forbearance, love, gratitude.
How? Daily examination. Teaching others. Admonish which means to encourage while gently correcting. Being thankful not condemnation. To tell the truth of first ourselves. Confession.
Van Gogh. The use of yellow in his later paintings were a sign of hope: of starting over with a new master. We can start over with a new master. We all need that hope. We need that assurance that we can start over.
This is what worship is about. A new start. To a new creation. To a new week. To a new life. No matter who or what is your old master: stress at work, conflict with a boss, conflict with a family member, divorce and struggling to glue pieces back together, overwhelming bills maybe because of overspending, illness that never seems to end, the joys and trials of raising children, death of a friend or family member, houses and cars and other stuffs that “never end,” a family member that is in the throes of addiction. To tell the truth is to say I don’t have the answers so I resolve to start afresh in trusting God. Some of us constantly need that hope that I can start again today and that these trials and such will not last forever (even when we can see no end in sight). God can.
A BUG'S LIFE: SMALL STEPS OF FAITH
A Bug’s Life, Start time 6:30
Overview from Belknapp: Dot complains to Flik about her underdeveloped wings. She wants to fly now! Flik encourages her, showing her that a seed that starts out small eventually grows into a towering tree-it only takes time and patience.
Faith begins small and grows larger and stronger. By trusting God with the small things and watching him answer, our faith grows stronger. We start to place increased faith in him and his goodness, giving over more and more areas of our life until it all rests in his hands. It takes small steps of faith to give us the faith to walk on water (or to fly!). (Belknapp page 46).
2 Thessalonians 1: 3, 4: 3We ought always to thank God for you, brother...