[#pictureLent] March 18: LIFE

By Rev. Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Trinity United Methodist Church
Sarasota, FL

First, read John 3:16

A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say, "Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note which says, ‘For my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note which says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Rabbi Bunim went on to say we must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time, in order to embrace the fullness of life offered to us by God. 

The Rabbi knows us well. We want to hunker down in one pocket and make a home. 

For my sake the world was created -- I’m all that and a bag of chips. If we use this note alone, we empower ourselves to justify, judge, and deflect self-examination. 

Camping out in the other pocket is just as problematic. I am dust and ashes -- Eeyore is my best buddy. Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I’m going to eat some worms. 

We are both and we need both.

When we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember anokhi afar va'efer, I am dust and ashes.

I am small
I am worthless
I am mortal
I am unclean
I am a sinner
I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
I need a savior

Then, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt), we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha'olam, for my sake was the world created.

I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am called
I am gifted
I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
God is working through me as part of the salvation and transformation of the world

God’s Word goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are - beloved and dust. So beloved our God would become flesh in our Jesus - the One who shows us our value and raises us from the dust of death. 

Open yourself to the truth of both notes. Accept you are not one or the other. Embrace the fullness of God’s intended life for you in Christ Jesus. A new life. An eternal life. A whole life.  

Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering of truth,
humility and our belovedness

Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need
of others

Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out
with you

In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust

Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
So we may persevere
in faith and hope
in following and becoming
in life in Christ

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. Do you prefer one pocket to another? Which one? Why do you think this is so? 
2. How has this choice held back your faith? How has it hampered you joining in God’s saving work? 
3. Make yourself two notes, one for each pocket. Carry them with you from today through Easter Sunday. Picture a future where you believe both to be true and share one way in which your life will be different because of it.