John’s Monthly Letter

“LENTEN DISCIPLINE”

Dear Hopefulls,

This month I would like to share with you the daily
devotional sent by our United Church of Christ
denomination on July 18, 2017. The reflection is
entitled “Don’t Wait.” The author is Martin B.
Copenhaver. Here is a slightly edited version:
Scripture: Then Jesus told them a parable: “The
land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he
thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no
place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do
this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones,
and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample
goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be
merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very
night your soul is required of you.'” Luke 12:16-20
Reflection: In the last decade or so of my father’s
life he developed an interest in wine. He would
read about the many varieties and vintages and
vineyards. When a wine was purchased, it was
carefully stored and catalogued. Occasionally he
would even drink the stuff. That was always an
elaborate ceremony, beginning with bringing the
wine to the proper temperature, uncorking it at just
the right moment, taking in the color, tasting the
wine to make sure it was suitable to serve,
accompanied by florid commentary about bouquet
and body, descriptions that no one else understood
or, frankly, cared much about. When friends
learned of my father’s interest in wine, they would
sometimes give him a special gift of a rare and
costly bottle. I never remember those wines being
served. He always said he was waiting for a
special occasion. The occasion never came.
When my father died quite suddenly — “this very
night your soul is required of you” — those bottles
remained unopened. Special occasions, like
tomorrow, seem never to arrive. As playwright Ben
Hecht once put it, “Time is a circus that is always
packing up and moving away.” Of course, the point
here is not that we should eat, drink, and be merry
while we have a chance, even as that is not the
point of Jesus’ parable. But if we postpone the little
pleasures at our peril, how much more perilous is
our tendency to put off doing what is truly important
and noble in life. It may be a good idea to save
money for a rainy day, but we sometimes act as if
we are saving our lives for a rainy day, and what is
most worth doing remains bottled in some dark
corner, waiting for that rainy day, or at least another day.

To which Jesus says, quite simply, “Don’t
wait.”
Prayer: Help me to make the most of the only day
I live in — today. Amen.
Some years ago I heard a radio interview with a
stress management consultant named Loretta
LaRoche. She was wise, and she conveyed her
wisdom with side splitting humor. I immediately
ordered two of her books, “Relax – You May Only
Have A Few Minutes Left” and “Life is Short –
Wear Your Party Pants.” Her basic message is to
stop preparing to live and start living. When I
consider the tension between preparing to live and
living now I think of my grandmother and mother.
My grandfather was a career military man. He was
stationed in Asia for much of his career and my
grandmother was able to accompany him. During
those years my grandmother collected many
antiques and elegant furnishings while living in
Asia. Among her purchases was a set of fancy
dinner ware. She loved this set of dinner ware so
much that she safely stored the entire set of dishes
in a closet. When my mother inherited the
dinnerware, she put the set of dishes in a display
case for all to see, and she regularly used it for
special occasions. What part of your life, what
desire, what dream are you keeping safely stored
in a closet? Maybe today is the day you can take
out whatever treasure God has placed in your
heart and live it.

Peace and love,
John