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There are all sorts of "questionably clean" things that spread love and give meaning to our lives. Does anyone this morning remember a grandma or great-grandma swathed in a big all-enveloping apron? Not some perky little decorative thing worn on Christmas. Not some manly "barbecue guy" butcher's cloth with questionable sayings stenciled on it. But the kind of apron that went over the shoulder, had two big pockets, some rick-rack trim, and was soft and faded from a hundred washings.

Aprons were there to protect Grandma's dress. But they protected far more than that. The big old apron protected Grandma's hands as she pulled hot dishes for her family from the oven. The big old apron helped her bring in wood to keep the stove stoked. The big old apron protected eggs carried into the kitchen and baby chicks carried back to their nests. The big old apron dried tears from the faces of little ones and wiped at the sweating brows of working men and women. The big old apron brought in peas and beans and tomatoes from the garden and brought up carrots and potatoes, apples and onions, from the cellar. A big flapping apron signaled time for dinner to all, while a big wrapped around apron offered a frightened child a quiet shelter from all. The big old apron could get the wax out of dirty ears and wipe the dust off a tabletop.

And of course Grandma and her big old apron knew all about the power of spit. No child could sport a smudged up face as long as Grandma had her big old apron to spit-shine them up. Grandma's big old apron was always, ten minutes after she put it on, certifiably dirty. And just like Jesus' miraculous mud pies, all those Grandma's dirty aprons were spreading love, not germs.

You don't have to be a Grandma and you don't have to actually wear an apron to find a way to transform the ordinary, everyday things of life into extraordinary expressions of Christ-empowered love. However, you might have to get your hands dirty.

(From a sermon by Richard Jumper, Getting Dirty For Lent, 4/13/2011)

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