Tuesday, December 08, 2009
A Mid-Michigan Advent, Day 9: Saved For What?
a safe refuge for his anointed.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them forever.
-- Psalm 28
This morning on our church blog I wrote about salvation; I'm taking Advent a word a day there, and today's word was save. I talked about the word salvation's root in the Latin salus, health, and how the concept of salvation is so much more than "going to heaven when I die."
After I was done blogging, though, salvation took a decidedly more practical and conventional turn, as Fellow Traveler and I saved dozens of articles of clothing from dusty oblivion in the back reaches of our closets, or a quick, impatient dispatch to the trash, and delivered them to our local mission and to a Coats For Kids bin down at the supermarket. (Child obesity is such in our community that the community Christmas tree regularly requests large men's and women's sizes for youngsters, so I know our zaftig-middle-aged-lady jackets will find a home among needy local kids.) Ever since Thanksgiving, every time we pass by the mission we see a constant stream of people emerging with bags of rummage, so we suspected that our donations wouldn't stay on the racks for long.
Saving is also about conserving. Today as we came home from our trip to the mission I thought about our garage sale this year, and about how genuinely happy some of our visitors, particularly our Amish neighbors, were to purchase our old kitchenware -- some of it my mom's wedding-era pots, pans and casseroles that we simply had no need or room for. "My wife is really going to like these," one of the normally taciturn Amish farmers confided to us, clutching a few pieces of my old Revereware. And that made me feel good; I'd been a little blue at the prospect of losing these reliable old kitchen friends, but glad that they were in good enough shape to be of use to someone else.
One of my pastor mentors, back in my university days, used to respond to comments from Evangelical types about being saved with the pointed, "Saved for what?" I thought about that too, today, and about how our household collection of decent used clothing -- some of which no longer fit, some of which had been the result of unfortunate shopping choices, some of which we'd simply grown weary of -- might become a welcome, needed addition to some poor person's wardrobe. The too-small blazer perfect for someone else's job interview; the flashy red leather jacket that Fellow Traveler had picked up at our own church yard sale for a song, that we stewarded for a couple of years before it lost its appeal; the "It's not you, it's me" blouse worn perhaps once. We'd saved these items throughout the past couple of years -- actually, much of this stuff I'd brough with me from Cold Comfort Cottage -- and now they again had purpose and value. At least I hope so.
I was going somewhere with this thought, but I lost it. Something about God constantly salvaging us from meaninglessness and the consequences of our own and others' poor choices, washing us up, pressing us into presentability and making us into something new for our own good and the good of the world.