[#pictureLent] March 31: SPICE

47 Mar 31 Spice-01.jpg

By Ralph Thompson
Grape Creek UMC
San Angelo TX

First, read John 19:39-42

“How courageous am I in my faith?” This is a question that I no longer have to ask of myself. Several years ago, I was invited to preach at a church and, following worship, the congregation treated me to dinner at THE place to eat in their small town. As we were going through the buffet, the pastor whispered to me that, it was not expected that we would offer a blessing before eating, as it would draw unwanted attention to ourselves.

As in many of our small towns, the “United Methodist People” are often the business and civic leaders and, being outwardly Christian could be antithetical to their business and social status.

Likewise, Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish Council and a person of importance and prominence and power. Although he earnestly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, he feared what would happen, if others associated him with Christ.

However, not only did Nicodemus openly go to Christ, he carried a “gift” of such a large size and fragrance that it could not be concealed! I close my eyes and imagine this little guy and a probable entourage of helpers delivering 75 pounds of spices to the Crucified Lord. What happened to give Nicodemus the courage to openly serve the Son of God?

Now, back to the buffet. As we sat down to eat, I bowed my head in prayer. When I raised my head, the entire congregation was staring at me!

However, one of the members called me a few days later and said, “Somebody needed to do that a long time ago!”

Individually, many members of the church actually wanted to simply say a blessing in public, but the collective congregation feared an open display of who they are in Christ.

And, yes, I continue to pray over my meal, whether alone or with others and whether in “Pappadeaux” or “McDonald’s.” The most common response that I (we) get is, “It is so refreshing to see people (especially, men) say Grace!”

Prayer: God of Grace, give us the courage to proclaim Your sacrifice in Jesus Christ, so that others might learn of Your Love. Amen

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

 1. So, how courageous are you in YOUR faith? Are you bold enough to recognize Christ as Lord beyond the walls of the church?
2. In what ways can we proclaim our faith before others that may not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
3. Has there ever been a time when you felt reluctant to reveal your faith? What was the occasion? And what did you do about it?