Published on Jul 10th, 2015 by wpd-office | 0

I was just thinking about shaving cream bottles, toothpaste tubes, and Cheez Whiz containers! What do they have in common? They hold stuff that can come out and make a real mess! Have you ever squeezed a toothpaste tube and had more toothpaste come out that you bargained for? Have you ever pushed down on a shaving cream bottle and had a flood of cream come pouring forth? Have you ever turned a Cheez Whiz container upside down, shoved the little spout to one side, and then had enough Cheez Whiz make circles on your plate that you despaired of ever getting it eaten! Then you know all too well what I am talking about!

I just read a story about an elementary school teacher who wanted to teach her students a lesson. She brought many tubes and containers of gooey, icky stuff to school, and instructed the students to push it all out. What fun the kids had!! They made messes like you would not believe!! The students were elated and even started looking for more things they could let come forth! And then, she told them to put all the cream and goo and ick back into the tubes and bottles from which the messes had come. Oops! The students struggled for a bit and then gave up! Now, said the teacher, think about what comes from your mouth. Once you have said something, you cannot put it back into yourself. It is out for all to hear. So, she said, pay attention to what you are planning to say.

That little story sent me on a tangent about what we say and do not say. Some of what comes from our minds and hearts is wonderful! Some of what comes from our minds and hearts is uplifting, challenging, inspiring! Some of what comes from our minds and hearts is comforting and healing! Some of what comes from our minds and hearts feeds us the bread of heaven, which we so very much need! So some of what comes from us and our toothpaste tubes and shaving cream bottles and Cheez Whiz containers is such very fine stuff! After all, we do need to brush our teeth and use our shaving cream and eat Cheez Whiz every now and then.

Sometimes, however, what we say and do comes from places that are not so wonderful. At times, we say things we do not mean. At times, we say things that are hurtful and harmful to others. At times we say and do things that are thoughtless and mean spirited. At times we say and do things that are calculated to spear the spirits of others. At times, we are just downright sinful in our speaking and our doing. And the toothpaste and shaving cream and Cheez Whiz should have stayed in their respective containers. Our own spirits hurt, and we transfer that hurt to people around us.

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the people at Ephesus, says this to them, ‘’Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only that which is useful for building up.” (Ephesians 4:27 NRSV) That is the idea behind the illustration for today with the shaving cream, toothpaste, and Cheez Whiz. Whatever you let out cannot be put back in. Conversely, whatever you do not say may be a lost opportunity to speak a needed word or do a needed task for someone else.

We are to build one another up. We are to speak and do when our speaking and doing will be just what the other person needs. We are to speak up about injustices. We are to bring forward peace and peaceful means in the face of violence. We are to live and speak simply and yet profoundly in a world gone mad with consumption. We are to have Love Feasts that are truly loving. We are to welcome the stranger and continue to love the brother and sister in our midst, no matter what. We are to speak a word of anointing when times are tough. We are to challenge one another to support the places in the world that need our care and our finances! We are to give grace to sinners, for we all sin and come short of the glory at times. We are to speak with kindly courage when we see wrong. In short, we are to be about building up. Dear friends, as you live your lives, use the toothpaste, the shaving cream, and the Cheez Whiz judiciously. AMEN

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Sonja Griffith
District Executive Minister

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