Junk Greetings

Proper 8a – Sunday 26th June 2011
Matthew 10: 40-42

Birthday CakeI celebrated a birthday this week. Nothing major. Sadly, nothing minor either. Age is creeping up on me. It did threaten to jump out of a dark alley and mug me a couple of years ago, but you’ll be pleased to hear that me and my age now walk quite contentedly through life.

My daughter’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. It was only a couple of days after when she commented, as she looked at her cards neatly standing on the mantelpiece, that not so many people remember your birthday as you grow older.

I can say AMEN to that. In fact, I’ve noticed an evener stranger phenomenon this year. I’ve received more junk greetings than genuine greetings. By genuine greetings I mean actual cards standing on my mantelpiece from family and friends. By junk greetings I mean emails from businesses wishing me a happy birthday. For instance, I got this one:

Hi Neil Chappell, Just a quick email to wish you a VERY …………. HAPPY BIRTHDAY …………… from everyone at Gameseek!
SPOIL YOURSELF! After all, its YOUR Birthday! Have £5 FIVE POUNDS on us! Visit us and see what you would like: your Voucher Code that you need to enter at the Gameseek checkout is: BIRTHDAY

Now I remember about five years ago buying a couple of games for the Playstation for one of the boys birthdays from Gameseek. Of course, part of the checkout procedure is to give your most intimate details, and since then me and Gameseek have become best buddy’s and they have sent me a birthday greeting each year. And my footprint in the internet world is pretty solid, so many other retailers also drop me a quick line just to tell me to have a good day. And they don’t forget. Unlike family and friends, who are subject to the vagaries of human life (whether I’ve sent them a card or if they’ve forgotten). These email guys never let you down. Indeed, the lads down at Gameseek got up at 4.10am on my birthday just to send me my greetings (just checked on the email time card!).

FootprintsNow, I may have a large footprint in the internet world, but the real question that needs to be asked is how big is my footprint in the spiritual world? How big an imprint do I leave in the harvest work? I like that phrase, and once again it pops out of The Message.

We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.

These three short verses are a real tongue twister in most versions of the Bible. But here in The Message it’s all pretty simple. God calls us to a harvest work. We’re not here to look good. We’re not here to meet once a week for a good old sing and to slap each other on the back. We’re not here to indulge our own whims. We’re not here to feel worried for the future and to wonder what we need to do. We are here to do a harvest work.

And by accepting the invitation to do the harvest work we are intimately connected to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Even though we may be daunted by the size of the task God reassures us. Take small steps. Don’t we often think that we have to change the world overnight? Don’t we think of the most grandiose plans and schemes to revitalise the life of our churches? Don’t do it. Start small. One invitation at a time. One kind act at a time. One caring word at a time. One life at a time. One prayer at a time.

A small ripple in a big pond? But it’s God’s pond – we need to listen to his instructions.

Anyway, must go. There’s a game I want to buy – and I’ve got a voucher for it!

Happy (birth) days.

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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