“Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye.” Proverbs 7:2
“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.’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Blessings to you in this my favorite time of year. We are surrounded by God’s handiwork. The trees are clothed in all their glory, there is crispness in the air, crops have been harvested and we are settling into the rhythm of fall activities. The Church year is winding down. Soon, we will enter into the season of Advent. Miriam-Webster defines advent as “a coming into being or use.”
I find this definition appropriate, as I reflect on our journey as God’s people. A journey takes time. A journey has many aspects to it; the beginning, the time between the beginning and the end, and the end. A journey’s end is the beginning of a new journey. There are easy parts and hard parts of the journey. God has given us the directions for our earthly journey. They are: Love God, love your neighbor. Wisdom tells us to keep these commandments and God’s teaching as the apple of our eyes. I thought about these verses today as I gazed upon the apples resting on my kitchen counter.
My first thought, as I looked at these apples that Keith had harvested from our apple trees, was “Those aren’t very pretty to look at.” They are not polished and smooth like apples that I buy at the store. Their peel is bumpy. There are some brown spots on the apples where an insect has landed and perhaps tasted the fruit within. They are not uniform in size, sweetness, tartness, or texture. The fact that I have these apples is a miracle. The conditions of the soil were just right to allow a seed to sprout and grow into a tree. The tree received nutrients and water that allowed it to produce buds, and then fruit. And the fruit survived the summer heat, the rains, the neighborhood birds and insects, the small hands of a curious toddler and reached maturity.
There are many things that I can do with these apples. I can eat them, just as they are. I can make them into sauce. I can put them in a pie or cake. I can add other ingredients to them and fry them. I could put them in a bucket of water and create a game of bobbing for apples. There are so many ways that these apples can fulfill the purpose that God created them for.
Apples come in many colors; red, green, yellow, golden and mixed. Apples come in varying textures. Apples have varying tastes, from very sweet to very tart. Apples sometimes fall to the ground and rot, putting nutrients back into the soil for the next growing season. Apples can be experienced through all of our senses: we see them, we smell them, we touch them, we taste them, and we hear them as we bite into them.
Apples can teach us a lot about being God’s children. God’s children are not uniform in size, color, sweetness or tartness. God’s children come in many colors. Some of God’s children are firm and fit; others are bumpy and soft. Like the apple, we all have our growing process. Like apples, there are many ways that we can be used. Each of God’s children has a purpose to fulfill. Our purpose is to love, serve and praise God in all that we do, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We are always living in a season of advent, a time of coming into our being or use. We are on our journey, the time between the beginning and the end. Lord, help us to love people as you love them. Lead us, step by step, into a greater understanding of what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.
Blessings to each of you and your loved ones from your pastoral team. We look forward to journeying with you through the Advent and Christmas seasons.
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773