We live in a culture bent on definitions of a good life as continuous upward mobility– climbing ladders of prosperity with increasingly fabulous experiences that we can post to ever more-likable social media accounts. We may comb the shelves of the self-help section in search of just the right formula to gain success. Perhaps we even gravitate towards spiritual leaders who promise great rewards if we only do “the right thing.” But life happens, right? Most times we are not moving upward but trying to repair the rung we’ve just slipped from. So what if we stopped climbing and started fertilizing, watering, and blooming right where we find ourselves? Welcome to a faith in which we are blessed, regardless, and where we can lean into embracing our “good enough” lives.
Title: Ordinary or Holy?
Text: Luke 4:1-13
Synopsis: We find ourselves hungry for many things that we believe will bring us satisfaction. The devil lays a bet that Jesus will jump at the chance for glory, fame, and the quick fix. Who wouldn’t? But Jesus keeps up the pithy one-liners long enough that the Tempter just has to slink away. What are the temptations that tempt you, singing our promises about your life? What if ordinary life is already holy-as is?
Title: Let It Go
Text: Luke 13:31-35
Synopsis: Even Jesus gets frustrated when folks didn’t behave as he would have liked. We believe that if we try hard enough, are nice enough, just do the right thing, life will always go our way. We run around trying to put everything in its perfect place. What if we could let go of needing all things and all people to be “just so” and instead learn to dance with the unfolding of that which is not ours to control?
Title: Not So Fast
Text: Luke 13:1-9
Synopsis: Oh, the shame of the unproductive fig tree. Cut it down! Make room for a more dedicated and hard-working fig tree! Who among us is living up to our fullest potential? The productivity experts these days can diagnose what’s wrong and sell us the antidote in 3 amazing sessions for a low-low price that is guaranteed to turn our lives around. But the gardener offers an alternative medicine–nurture it slowly, letting it soak in the manure all around until it can get the good stuff out of it. Lying fallow and getting fertilized with laughter and tears at the crappy stuff of life can help heal what ails us and that is sometimes productive enough.
Text: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Synopsis: The Prodigal Son lives high on the hog and then famine strikes in the land of his dream vacation. And so he heads home, tail between his legs, expecting that he has lost it all. To his surprise, his extravagant failure is met with extravagant love and grace. We can be pretty hard on ourselves when things don’t go as planned. Guilt, shame, and fear of being seen as a failure can leave us wallowing in the pigpen. Our delusions of a perfectible life keep us disappointed in ourselves. Truth is, life is a big ole risk every single day, and facing whatever each day holds is not only good enough but worthy of love and grace.
Title: The House Was Filled With the Fragrance
Text: John 12:1-8
Synopsis: The Mindset of Abundance will outshine the mindset of scarcity. It’s all in how we look at what is happening and what we are a part of. Mary understood who Jesus was and was anointing him for his impending burial. The “cost” of the ointment was in the anointing. Judas objected, concerned with the expense of the ointment Mary was using to bathe his feet. Yet Jesus defended the extravagance. Jesus supported the anointing. Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet with her hair, shouts loudly of her abundant love, and the fragrance of love’s actions can be carried on the wind to places we may never see.
Title: Life is a Group Project
Text: Luke 19:28-40
Synopsis: Jesus orchestrated a low-budget parade into a city where he knew his days were numbered. “Get me a colt,” he said. Not a steed. Not a float. A young, green donkey (not the color, that’s horse-speak for not-ridden-a lot-yet). And folks gathered and his friends started some liturgical shouting that ticked off the local priests. Life is hard and we all need friends and sometimes big, loud, praying that will not be messed with. We are created for interdependence. So all our hiding and pretending that we are “perfectly fine.” all on our own just won’t work. Get on the donkey when you need to and let people lay down their cloaks for you and make some noise for you. ‘Cause you know you’ll do it for them too when the chips are down.