Sermon Series: SAD – Spiritual Affective Disorder
Title: Leave Room for Dessert
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
February 24, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
We have one more week in our series on Spiritual Affective Disorder. Our spiritual practice this week is our everyday use of food. How is food a spiritual practice? What does food have to do with worship? Watch this short video…
Prayer: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
My favorite great aunt was my mother’s, father’s, brother’s wife. Did you catch that?! Her name was Leola Johnson Faber. I think she was my mother’s favorite aunt as well. She was funny, playful and a little mischievous. She always had a twinkle in her eye and a sly smile on her lips.
I remember my mother telling me the story of when she was a young girl and how Aunt Leola helped her to dye her white blond hair, orange with Kool-Aid while her parents were away on a trip. My grandparents were very strict people and would never have allowed her to change her hair in any way, let alone dye it orange. But Aunt Leola was always game for something new, something fun and something different.
My great aunt Leola loved dessert. She always saved room for dessert. I don’t care whether we were having lunch or dinner, if we were out to eat, she would insist on ordering dessert. At home she always had a pie or cake that she pulled out after a meal to bless us with dessert.
When she passed away, her family all gathered to pay tribute to her and to remember an incredible woman. A group of us went out to dinner at her favorite restaurant Mon Desir in Central Point, Oregon. It was the only “fine dining” in her small home town and the one place that she frequented on very special occasions. That night we had a wonderful meal, told wonderful stories about my aunt and when it came time for dessert, we of course had to honor Leola. We ordered one of every dessert on the menu – there were nine and we passed them around the table so that we could all taste and sample a bit of them all.
It was a wonderful evening, remembering a wonderful lady. Leave room for dessert is one of my favorite sayings. You see, I love dessert also. Leaving room for dessert reminds us not to be excessive in our eating, but to always leave room. This idea of leaving room, or having some left, reminds me of the practice of gleaning. In our biblical reading from Leviticus we are reminded of the early teaching to leave some of the crops around the edge of their field unharvested, to leave some for those poor or hungry to come and receive the food necessary for their survival. Whether it was the grain fields, the grapes in the vineyards or any crop that was being grown, the direction was clear: leave some for those in need.
I think the most popular biblical story about gleaning is the story of Ruth and Naomi. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, her daughter-in-law Ruth went with her. These two widows survived by gleaning the fields, receiving the food they needed and the ability to sell the rest to support their other needs. In this story the gleaning lead to an introduction and an eventual wedding when Ruth met and married Boaz. That’s a story for another day!
Did you know that gleaning occurs today? Gleaning is the means of getting the left-over things to those who need it. Did you ever wonder what happens to the tomatoes that don’t look perfect – those smaller or larger, or not quite that deep red the grower is looking for? Or the oranges that are either too big or too small? Next time you go to the grocery store, pay attention to the uniformity of the produce. Do they all grow that exact size or are there some that are left in the fields, too ugly to bring to market!
You guessed it! The imperfect or misfit produce is thrown out, or at least it was until folks realized that there was a huge need for this food. It is estimated that more than “100 billion pounds of food is thrown away in our country every year and…at the same time there are 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, who are at risk of going hungry.”
In Las Vegas an organization called Three Square gleans food from restaurants and grocery stores, receiving perishable items that are near their expiration date. Three Square estimates that an average of 12.8% of the population in Clark County are food insecure. In Boulder City that number is slightly higher, 14.3%. That’s more than 2200 people in our town who are hungry and aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.
Our scripture tells us that we are to treat one another justly, not only to provide food for the needy, but we aren’t to steal or to lie, deceive or defraud our neighbors. We are to treat everyone with dignity and respect, not treat those poor in our society differently that we would the rich. We are called to be fair and to love our neighbor as our self. That is the Lord’s commandment.
This scripture reminds me of John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules adopted for his early followers and are rules we follow today.
- Do no harm
- Do good
- Stay in love with God
These are the three rules that, when we follow them, everything else falls into place. I want to digress a bit from our topic of leaving room for dessert to remind everyone that the General Conference of our United Methodist Church began yesterday morning. The Bishops and delegates spent six hours in prayer and preparation for the business that will begin today.
There are 864 delegates representing Methodist Churches all around the world. “58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines, Europe and Eurasia.”
We won’t know what they decide until the legislation is brought forward and voted on. Our Bishops are recommending the One Church Plan and that is the one that would be best for our congregation as it allows us to continue to be open and welcoming of all people. I ask that you continue praying for God’s Spirit to guide the delegates in this time of great discernment and decision making. Next Saturday we will gather with Bishop Bob to review and discuss the outcome from the conference. You can follow along online at umc.org and click on the General Conference link if you’d like daily updates. The conference is broadcast live on our website if you want to watch the proceedings.
Be encouraged to know, sisters and brothers, that no matter what happens at General Conference, God will continue to love us, we will continue to love God and to be in ministry in Boulder City. I don’t think Jesus is worried about the outcome of our vote or what we call ourselves, or which church we affiliate with. What Jesus cares about is do we love God, and do we love our neighbor as our self. Period.
Which brings us back to our scripture and to Wesley’s three simple rules. Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.
Whether we are practicing these rules in our global community or inside our church on a Sunday morning, we represent Christ when we follow Jesus’ teaching. Jesus wants us to consider the needs of others – he wants us to do good. He wants us to share what we have, to not hoard our own wealth for our own selfish benefit, but to share our resources with those who have less than we do. We are to love our neighbors. Our black and brown neighbors, our rich neighbors, our poor neighbors, our queer neighbors. We are to love those who are unlovable, as well as those who are delightful. Because you see, we do no harm.
Demonstrating love for our sisters and brothers means we go out of our way to bring hope and reassurance, to offer a helping hand, to be there for one another, to be Christ in very practical ways. One practical way we can demonstrate love for one another is through the food we eat. We can share our own gleaning with others. We can reduce our excess and avoid throwing away food that we don’t use.
To overcome the spiritual affective disorder means that we must think of others, not just ourselves. We must leave room for dessert!
Your assignment this week dear sisters and
brothers is to take a break from any “extras” or treats you might normally indulge
in, any daily “vice” that we really don’t need and instead we can find ways to
share that resource with others. Amen.