Sermons, Sunday afternoon, and soup

On Sunday at church I was kind of out of it. During the children’s sermon, I turned to Mike and whispered, “I didn’t hear a word of the scripture. What’s the scripture today?” He told me it was where John sends a message to Jesus, asking him if he’s the one they are supposed to be waiting for. I nodded, knowing which passage he meant. “I thought I was paying attention, but then it was over and I realized that I hadn’t been. Sorry.”

During the sermon I didn’t do much better. Again, I thought I was paying attention, but when Mike and I were talking about it at home later on, I realized that I wasn’t listening like I thought I was. He told me not to worry, though, because he’d asked for a copy of the sermon and our pastor had emailed it to him. I may have mentioned this before, but our pastor writes his sermons in manuscript form, which I know some people object to. I really like it, though, because I’ve heard too many speakers be “led by the Holy Spirit” to say something when it’s really just a tangent. I like that he plans what he’s going to say, that he doesn’t stray from the message he’s prepared. But, to each his own.

I read the sermon this morning, and I am glad Mike asked me to read it again, because he’s right, it was very good. I wanted to quote from it for just a minute:

Sometimes I would give anything for one fireball from heaven, for one blast of raw power from a tidal wave God who would sweep my and everyone else’s doubts away forever. But that is not what I have. What I have instead is a steady drip of mercy from the followers of a man named Jesus, who is still playing doctor to a lot of marginal people in this world . . . [some examples of how followers of Jesus have impacted the lives around them] . . . These are not big stories. They are small stories, in which only a few people at a time are saved. Meanwhile, there are many others who go on wondering if God has abandoned them. They listen to the bold claims of faith. They look at the modest returns. Who can blame them if they send their own message to Jesus: “Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?”

The only way I know how to answer them is to point out how stone is shaped by water. See that round hole there? Water did that. Drop by transparent, short-lived drop, water transforms rock as no tidal wave ever could. For reasons beyond our understanding, that is how the Messiah has decided to come for now — not all at once but steadily, drop by drop, for millennia. Every time someone lives as he lived by loving as he loved, another drop falls. For some people, it is not enough. For others, it is the way of life. And blessed are those who take no offense at him.

I’ve been a little overwhelmed the past week with relationships and work and chores and life, so it was helpful to think about God moving in those small ways to change things over long periods of time. I often want instant gratification, and it was helpful to remember that God doesn’t usually work like that.

The rest of Sunday was spent doing girly things: making soup*, baking cookies, scrapbooking, watching season 4 Gilmore Girls. And those were small graces, too, creating things and relaxing and thinking and not thinking. I feel a little better today.

*I know I said I’d post my soup recipes, but I made vegetable soup. And it doesn’t really have a recipe. I just mix homemade tomato juice and beef broth, and then put in some of the vegetables we like and let it simmer for a while. It’s usually diced tomatoes, green beans, pintos (which Mike doesn’t eat), carrots (which I don’t eat), corn (I also don’t eat), frozen chopped spinach, squash, zucchini, onion, um . . . I’m not sure what else. We don’t eat many potatoes these days, so there aren’t usually potatoes in it. And I don’t add any seasoning (maybe a little salt and pepper when I serve it) because the vegetables have so much flavor as it is. So there’s not really a recipe.

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