By Pastor Gordy Sandquist
I’ve been doing some reading of short stories lately to continue pushing myself to better preaching. This one I share with you today, I wouldn’t consider using on Sunday morning – BUT, I’d like to share it here because I think it all too closely models much of the challenges we have in the world in which we are called to be a witness to God’s love and grace.
“An Eye for an Eye”
Anger easily turns to hatred, which ends in murder. The cross is not only God’s answer to the wrath of the Sadducees and the rage of the Pharisees, but also to our anger. If anger is not transformed by love, it becomes a powerful and senseless force, as we see in this story.
In a large town there were two merchants who were fierce competitors. Their stores were across the street from each other. The sole method each man had of determining the success of his business was not daily profit, but how much more business he had than his competitor.
If a customer made a purchase at the store of one merchant, he would taunt his competitor when the sale was complete. The rivalry grew with each succeeding year.
One day God sent an angel to one of the merchants with an offer. “The Lord God has chosen to give you a great gift,” the angel said. “Whatever you desire, you will receive. Ask for riches, long life, or healthy children, and the wish is yours. There is one stipulation,” the angel cautioned. “Whatever you receive, your competitor will get twice as much. If you ask for 1000 gold coins, he will receive 2000. If you become famous, he will become twice as famous.” The angel smiled. “This is God’s way of teaching you a lesson.”
The merchant thought for a moment. “You will give me anything I request?” The angel nodded. The man’s face darkened. “I ask that you strike me blind in one eye.”
(“Stories for Telling, William R. White)
I’m not sure why this short little story struck me so hard up side the head, but I’m sure this isn’t what Jesus is referring to when he claims that the Kingdom of God is near.
Though this story is about two equally competitive shop owners, people with prestige, value and standing in the community, I wonder how often this is the prevailing attitude toward “the other” who is disenfranchised or “less than?”
How is it that “curses”
rather than blessings are heaped on the lives of God’s children who are “less than?”
In this season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, I hope you consistently experience the Kingdom of God in your relationships. When you witness “an eye for an eye” behavior, pray a short prayer asking the Holy Spirit to come and help you be an advocate.
May your Christmas be filled with the love of the Christ Child and may the Hope of the Resurrection be your guiding light.
Blessings and Hope
Candlelight Service with Communion
We invite you to join us in worship! Christmas Eve services take place at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 pm.