John’s Monthly Letter

“Reeking Of Sardines”
Dear Hopefulls,
This month I would like to share with you the daily
devotional sent by our United Church of Christ
denomination on October 17, 2019. The reflection
is entitled “For A Sardine.” The author is Mary
Luti. Here is a slightly edited version:
Scripture “I tell you, there will be more joy in
heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine righteous persons who need no
repentance.” Luke 15:7 (NRSV)
Reflection: Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a
church reformer, writer, and contemplative, who
was famously faithful to her friends. She was
especially devoted to people who supported her
mission and defended it from its many detractors.
She was so grateful to them that she often
overlooked their glaring faults and excused the
harm they caused, letting them off the moral hook
with embarrassing ease. Teresa was loyal to a
fault. She knew it, wasn’t proud of it, but couldn’t
help it. “I could be bought for a sardine,” she
sighed. They say everyone has a price – even,
apparently, the saints. We may aspire to be

steadfast, like the ninety-nine who don’t need to
repent, but we’re more likely to be wobbly, the one
who wanders away. The world, after all, is messy
and complicated. So are we all. An occasional
bargain with the devil is almost inevitable.
Sometimes the best we can do is put up a
respectable fight before we give in. And maybe
that’s not so bad. Because there’s something a
little terrifying about people who can’t be bought.
You might momentarily admire a conscience with
no “give” in it. But when the time comes to pour
out your soul, confess your weakness, and find
some kindness for your dithering heart, you don’t
gravitate towards the perfect and the pure.
There’s a whiff of judgment about them. When
what you need is mercy, you look for someone
reeking of sardines.
Prayer: Good Jesus, may my inescapable
weakness give me the most tender regard for the
weakness of others. Amen.
So what are you up to during Lent? Are you trying
to justify your indulgence in a piece of chocolate
because you gave up sweets for Lent? Maybe we
can work on something a bit different this Lenten
Season. Maybe we can accept that all of us reek
of sardines. “Since all have sinned and fall short
of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we are all in
need of God’s grace. Once we recognize that,
maybe we can be a bit less hostile to those who
act, look, think, or vote differently than we do. As
we acknowledge our own need for God’s grace,
perhaps we can find it easier to offer God’s grace
to others, and thereby help heal the wounds
among us.
Best wishes for a blessed Lenten Season.
Blessings and love,