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Be a Finder of God’s Abundant Goodness

Be a Finder of God’s Abundant Goodness
October 11, 2020
Passage: Isaiah 25:1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14
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When I was growing up, my mother was The Finder, in our family. You know, the person who can almost always find that thing that you’ve looked for everywhere but still can’t find. And when they find it, you say, “But I looked there.” I think most families have one. And only one.

Her powers spread beyond the house, too. There was always a parking place right by the door, wherever she went. She could find the one pair of pretty earrings in a pile of junk at K-mart or the one elegant dress on the clearance rack in the bargain basement that looked perfect on her. They always drew compliments.

She shared two secrets about how she did it. The first was that she expected to find it. The second was that she kept a mental image of it in her mind’s eye while she was looking. She said, “just ignore everything that isn’t it.” So, she could dig through the junk drawer, ignoring everything else until she found the specific do-dad she sought.

I couldn’t help but think of her way of seeing when I read our readings for today. On the one hand, none of them present a perfect world without trouble or strife or evil. Their world is like the junk drawer.

On the other hand, each of them shows us a glimpse of the world God envisions. There is a common thread through the readings – the providence of God, the lavish abundance and inclusiveness of God, represented in a feast.

In Isaiah, the Lord gives refuge and shelter to the poor and needy. God prepares a feast of rich food filled with marrow and well-aged wines, strained clear. The people praise God and rejoice in God’s salvation.

The familiar words of the twenty-third psalm, remind us of God’s enduring providence, “spreading a table in the presence of my enemies;” anticipating that God’s “goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of
my life.”

Even in the troubling parable of the wedding banquet, we see the radical inclusiveness – “go to the main street, invite everyone you find to the banquet. …they gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled.”

Then we come to Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Evidently there has been some disagreement, but Paul encourages them to focus on the work of the gospel, reminding them to help and support one another as coworkers for a common purpose. “Finally, beloved,” he writes, “let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is just, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire – with whatever is good and praiseworthy.”

There are a couple of other common threads in these readings. One is the sense of a shared life. Blessings are shared; one doesn’t feast in solitude but in the company of others. It just isn’t a feast if there aren’t other people.

Work is shared. The people in the church in Philippi are working together, seeking together.

Another common thread is gratefulness. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice,” Paul writes. And the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things.”

That brings me to the final lesson I’d like to share from my mother. Every time she got out a new pad of checks – back in the day when you paid for everything by check – she would write in the memo line what looked like a hodge-podge of meaningless letters. But they meant something to her. They stood for “God is the source of my supply. Thank you Father.”

Now, Mom wasn’t religious. She didn’t go to church, she didn’t read the Bible, I don’t think she even prayed much. But every check she wrote was a reminder to herself that all she had was not because of her own merits (although she worked hard) but everything was a blessing from God. And she was grateful.

When you look at the world around you, what do you see? All the junk in the drawer? Or the one thing you’re looking for?

Do you devote most of your attention and energy to doom-scrolling – to what is awful and divisive – or do you give most of your attention and energy to “everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is just, everything that is upright and pure?” and do you nurture it so that it will grow.

What do you expect to see? What if you change your expectations? Imagine if we chose to look for the goodness in the world; all the blessings in our lives.

And now, how will you share it – remember, there are no solitary feasts. Blessings are to be shared. Goodness multiplies when we share it. There are countless ways – some of them quite simple and perhaps even silly.

I remember when they first put cameras in phones. I thought that was about the dumbest idea yet. I was wrong. It turns out, I use it all the time to share little joys and blessings in my life with my family and my friends. A field of daisies I see on my walk makes me think of an old friend I haven’t seen in years; the friend whose favorite flower is daisies – I take a picture and send it to her with a one-sentence note. ‘Saw these and thought of you.” The little family of bunnies munching in my yard – send a picture to my kids.

The goodness of God is breaking through all around us, all the time.

You can be a Finder – a Finder of God’s abundant goodness and grace.