What are some rules you remember? No running down the hallway? Sitting quietly in class. Hands and feet to yourself! Sure. Rules are necessary so that everyone can be treated fairly, with dignity and respect. We live our best life when we follow the right rules. You know, the game of Frisbee has rules, too. Here’s a Frisbee for you. Our game is to toss the Frisbee to the pew and the rule is throw it just hard enough so that it doesn’t end up in rear of the sanctuary! And it has to land on the bench. O.K. Play! Great. So each of you played the game and you followed the rules. God has given us some rules, too. We find them in God’s love letter to us we call the Bible. In the Bible we learn about how Jesus lived his life and how to make our life look more and more like his! They guide us. They remind us. And when we have Jesus in our heart, we can learn and grow to follow the rules on our own. Whether in games or in life, following the rules helps us to treat others with dignity and respect, and also have a lot of fun as we live our very best selves. Enjoy the Frisbees!
Our Lectionary texts this week will help us to think about how to live our life “inside-out”. That is, how our inner spirit and motivations find expressions in our actions. In Mark 7, Jesus wants us to stand out from the crowd, not to draw attention to ourselves, but to reflect his character and values. The self-important religious leaders focused on what they ate, how they dressed, and where they stood in worship, and the importance they held in the eyes of others. The thing they missed was that God cared most for how they treated others, not how much money they put in the offering plate or the rituals they observed. The apostle James told his listeners, ”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). How do we practice “undefiled religion” by caring for “orphans and widows in distress”? Given that all sin and fall short of the glory of God, we are all hypocrites to one degree or another and must grow to be more authentic and live with more integrity despite our inevitable mistakes and shortcomings. Let’s stand out from the crowd, in a good way, this week at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church!