Monday, August 18, 2014

Repartee

Heard any good comeback lines lately?  A quick, witty reply is called a "repartee" (pronounced "rep-ar-TAY").  Repartee can also mean, then, "the art of the comeback."  But better to give an example.  The following is one of the most famous.

Nancy Astor, the first female elected to Parliament, was at a dinner party in the company of Winston Churchill.  Churchill, who had been drinking, was pontificating on some subject.  Lady Astor could take it no more and said, "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee."  Churchill seemed ready with his reply.  "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."

It's possible, though, that the Bible contains the best repartee ever uttered.  It comes from the Canaanite woman who came and knelt before Jesus, asking His help for her daughter.

"And He answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.'  She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table'" (Matt. 15:26-27).

This Gentile woman gets the best of Him, doesn't she?  And what is the best of Christ?  His mercy.

But we can take this exchange between Christ and the woman too seriously.  Know that the two of them could not have been more playful!  It may even be correct to say that they are spiritually flirting.  He is flirting with her faith, and finds her humility irresistible.  She is flirting with His mercy.  There is a deep love and understanding.

In this repartee, both sides win.  The woman wins because she believes in Him and receives His help.  Christ wins because all He ever wanted was to give it.

This same Christ is courting your faith.  Let Him be drawn to it by the beauty of your humility.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Search for Joy

The death of Robin Williams today has me remembering three things.  First, the fun I had as a boy watching Mork & Mindy.  Second, the following devotion from Richard Wurmbrand.  And third, Robin's wife and family, and all the many who ache on the inside.

"My joy might remain in you" (John 15:11).

It is said that a man suffering from melancholic depression visited a psychiatrist, who recommended frequent travels.

The patient answered, "I am traveling continuously and it does not help."

"A glass of wine drunk at a happy party is useful," said the doctor.

The reply was, "I drink whole barrels of alcohol and remain sad."

The doctor had an idea.  "There is a clown in town who is unequaled.  People cannot control their laughter listening to his jokes and seeing his tricks.  Spend your evenings there."

The patient said, "I am that clown.  I gladden everyone except myself.  And the joy of those who watch me does not last."

The joys which this world gives are illusory, because in the depths of our hearts we realize they are mere escapes from the fact that we are men sentenced to death, men burdened with guilt.  When we laugh, there is in us the remembrance that we made others weep.

Only God gives the real joy.  He has shown in the resurrection of Christ that He has forgiven all our sins.  Jesus our Lord "was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25).  The resurrection of Jesus is a pledge that we will resurrect, too, because we belong to Him.  We have an inner joy which continues even without external stimulants.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

"He told His disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost'" (John 6:12).

The Society of St. Andrew estimates that, as of this week, over 77 billion pounds of food have been wasted in our country since January 1.  The Small Catechism makes it personal by instructing us to ask the question, "Have I wasted anything?" (see under Confession).

The Feeding of the Five Thousand is recorded by all Four Evangelists.  On the one hand, we learn a lesson about trusting God to provide.  On the other hand, we learn a lesson about not being wasteful.  And these two hands should be folded together in prayer.

Luther preached, "Our Lord desires waste as little as He wants despair and worry, desiring that we opt for the middle course, that is, trust Him and carefully husband what is left over.  The well-known proverb still obtains: Waste not, want not!"

It applies to other things too, such as money, mind, talent, time, and God's Word (most of all).  Gifts of God not to be wasted!

But focus, as does our Lord, on food.  I asked my mother and sister to write down some fun tips on how to waste not.  Let me give three of them to get us thinking:

Don't throw that Hershey's chocolate sauce bottle away.  Fill it halfway up with milk, shake, and pour yourself a nice glass of chocolate milk.

Old bread or crusts?  Toss it in a bag and put in the freezer.  Take it to the park to feed the ducks.

Buffet night.  Before your weekly grocery shopping trip, pull out the bowls of leftovers from the fridge, that last apple, the box of crackers that's almost gone, and get creative.  Top it off with a special, not leftover, dessert!

And I would add that children should be taught to clean their plates, and to throw nothing away from their school lunches.

In so doing, we learn to remember that our heavenly Father feeds us out of love, and not to take that for granted but to thank Him for it from all our hearts.