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Picnics in the sun

by davesandel on February 24th, 2021

Wednesday, February 24, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Picnics in the sun

Jesus said to the gathered crowd, “There is something greater than Solomon here. There is something greater than Jonah here. You seek a sign, but you will not get a sign.”

Just open your eyes! Jesus must have been so frustrated. At least I would have been. Maybe Jesus had a better way to think about people who couldn’t see past their own nose. Of course I often don’t see any farther myself.

Jasper is climbing walls now. On the Grace church campus where we often play and picnic, there is a five stone wall with slight indentations, and yesterday he was nearly up the wall before I even noticed him. “Look, Jasper is climbing the wall!” Miles shouted. And so we ran over to protect him when he fell. And he didn’t. That time.

Even now, even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.

While Margaret and I are sitting under the biggest live oak tree I’ve ever seen, right there across the street from our apartment on the Grace church campus, Miles and Jasper run in the grass and on concrete paths and stairways that lead everywhere, and nowhere. Jasper hangs onto the bannisters, for now.

Yesterday Miles found acorns and broke them open with the end of a cane I lent him for the afternoon. Which acorn has a red fruit inside? Jasper climbed clear to the top of the stairs and beckoned me from door to door. Check them! Are they locked? Can we go in? What about the next one? He peers inside through the dark glass. I tried to stop him at first, but now I’ve given him his head. He leaves fingerprints everywhere. I hope they wait till Saturday to clean the windows.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.

Neither Jasper nor Miles needs a “second time.” Let’s go for a picnic at Grace! It’s all they need to hear. We brought four small bags of chips and broke them open onto a big blue platter Miles found abandoned outside our apartment complex fence, in the grass beside the church’s overflow parking lot. It was just waiting for us. We cleaned it up and now we take it on all our picnics. It doesn’t fit in Miles’ backpack with the water and the grapes and the chips, so I carry it in my black Swiss Army briefcase. It sticks out the top, but we can get it there.

Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep shall taste anything, they shall not eat nor shall they drink water. Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God. Every man shall turn from his wicked way and from his own violence. Who knows, God may relent and forgive and withhold his blazing wrath.

Later I talked to a sweet Filipino woman eating sushi, and her black friend eating sandwiches made from a rotisseried chicken, leaning against the HEB shopping carts. “I’m starved,” the black woman said. “So I used my last bit of money and got this food. That’s OK, isn’t it?” I said, “Of course!”

Right there together at the “moral center of Texas,” we celebrated the 75 degree sunshine a week after our ice storm of the century. All melted now. Who knows, God may relent and forgive us, and withhold his wrath.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart humbled and contrite you will not spurn.

(Jonah 3, Psalm 51, Joel 2, Luke 11)

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