Make Yourself at Home

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Today’s readings:
Psalms 24; 150, Isaiah 5:1-7, 2 Peter 3:11-18, Luke 7:28-35


What do people mean when they say, “Make yourself at home?” You can almost certainly feel free to sit where you like, use the bathroom, and get a glass of water. Maybe you could comfortably grab a snack from the kitchen, select something on television, and use the phone. But it’s never really an invitation to explore the contents of a nightstand, rearrange a closet, or throw out that tacky figurine collection.

The author of Psalm 24 tells us “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,” including the people. That means everything we touch – the land, the sea, the forests, the animals, and even other lives – is in a home where we are as welcome as we can possibly be, but still don’t own. What does that say about how we should interact with the world?

We wouldn’t want to have to tell a homeowner who’d graciously given us the run of the place that we’d trampled their flowerbeds, taken an axe to the furniture, ignored the smoke alarm, thrown trash over the fence into the neighbor’s back yard, and beaten their pets and children. Not doing these things seems like the common-sense bare minimum of respect … but are we as respectful of the things – and people – God owns?

A steward is someone who manages another person’s property or affairs. In matters of business a steward is ultimately accountable to the owner, and in matters of the world we are ultimately accountable to God. When we pollute air, water, and land, we pollute God’s garden. When the rich toss landfills and industrial waste into the back yards of the poor, we are ungodly neighbors. When we exploit people and bomb our enemies, we exploit and bomb God’s children.

It is impossible to do absolutely no harm and right every wrong in the world. We will make mistakes. But if God dropped in for a surprise inspection, we’d want to be able to say we made our choices not for our own whims and benefits, but to steward his treasures to the best of our abilities.

Comfort: As one of God’s treasures, you deserve dignity.

Challenge: Pay attention to what areas of your state, city, or neighborhood suffer from poor stewardship.

Prayer: God of all Creation, please grant me wisdom to care for the things and people of Your world. Amen.

Discussion: How is stewardship related to divine justice?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group or follow @comf_and_chall on Twitter. You’ll  have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Good Samaritan

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Micah 5:1-4, 10-15, Revelation 9:1-12, Luke 10:25-37


The parable of the Good Samaritan is so famous, a category of laws has been named after it. It actually began with a lawyer who tested Jesus by asking how to achieve eternal life. Since one of the criteria was loving your neighbor as yourself, the lawyer tried to justify himself by asking: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told the familiar story: a man is left for dead by thieves; a priest and a Levite (his people) pass him by; a Samaritan man bandages him up, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. The now-familiar twist in this story is that Samaritans were bitter enemies of the Jews, but when Jesus asked who had been a good neighbor, the lawyer was forced to admit: “The one who showed him mercy.”

He must hot have been a great lawyer, because he let Jesus off the hook without an answer to the question. He asked: “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus told him a story about being a good neighbor, then followed it up with: “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus skillfully redirected the lawyer away from the wrong question … and toward the right answer. The man was really asking: “What’s the minimum number of people I need to love?” Instead of listing criteria he could exploit to exclude people, Jesus gave him a parable which taught him he needed to worry less about defining who his neighbors were, and more about redefining himself as a neighbor to all.

Are we showing neighborly mercy? Here’s a hint: if we show it only to people we feel have earned it, the answer is “No.” We can ask what people deserve, why we are being unfairly burdened, or how much is enough, but Jesus may not bother with our questions. He cares more that we listen to his answers. He wants us to redefine ourselves by those answers – to be a neighbor even when we are also an enemy. Merciful love is not a prize to be won; it is a grateful response to a God who loved us first.

Comfort: You don’t have to earn God’s love.

Challenge: People shouldn’t have to earn your love.

Prayer: Merciful and loving God,  may my heart, my words, and my deeds be a reflection of the infinite love you have shown me. Amen.

Discussion: Has someone you consider an enemy/rival ever surprised you with an act of kindness?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group or follow @comf_and_chall on Twitter. You’ll  have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!