The Leftovers

We find ourselves at an odd place.   I am writing this article before Thanksgiving.  Images of a cooked turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade roles, and pecan pie are dancing through my head.  I can almost bring to mind the smells that will fill the house once we start cooking the meal. My stomach has started to growl.  My mouth has started to water.  I’m now hungry and ready to eat.  All while sitting in my office trying to type this article.  


Most likely, you are reading this after Thanksgiving.   The family has gathered and gone.  You know the winners of the Thanksgiving Day football games.  You’ve already had that hard, post-Thanksgiving nap.   You’ve put all the leftovers in Ziploc bags and plastic storage containers to snack on the next few days.   Wow.  Even thinking about leftovers makes me hungry! 


It’s the idea of leftovers that has my mind going this morning.  Somewhere and somehow along the way we survive the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.  But outside of that post-Thanksgiving nap, we know we are usually entering a hectic crazy time in the calendar.  Churches are busy preparing for Advent and Christmas.   Your calendar might start to fill with extra programs the kids or grandkids are in.  Christmas parties start to fill up the weekends.   Shopping for everyone on your list and hoping you didn’t forget someone.    You’ve finished cooking for Thanksgiving and now you have to plan that Christmas meal. 


We dive into December so busy, with our schedules so plump and full, with our days just mashing into one another, with busy hour rolling on top of busy hour, that I wonder if all we have to give God by the times it’s done is our left overs.    With whatever energy is left in the tank, we try to carve out time for God.  With whatever dollars and cents are sitting in the bottom of our purse, we offer it to God.  Our ideas and creativity are spent on finding the right gift and creating the right dish, that all we have to offer God is any leftovers still hanging out there.  


But I don’t think that’s how we are supposed to come into this season of Advent and Christmas.   Isn’t God after more than our left overs?  There’s a familiar scripture from the Gospel of Matthew that hits at the point of this.   

Matthew 22:34-40.  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Love God with what?  ALL my heart. ALL my soul.  ALL my mind.  ALL.  No mention of left overs. What would it look like to try this year and love God with ALL of who you are, even in the midst of shopping lists and crazy schedules?   What would it look like to love your neighbor with ALL of who you are this December?  What if we looked and listened for God in ALL of the events filling up our calendars?   What if we offered God ALL of who we are this Advent season, instead of just offering the left overs? 


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris Dodson