last wednesday we flew out bright and early to phoenix, az from philly. this is our first family vacation – wifey, baby and me. in packing i kept second guessing myself. do i really need to bring all this stuff? do we really need all these toys? i had desperately wanted to simplify my own personal packing. i can’t really simplify jayden’s. the thought of being that family you see in the movies or commercials going to the beach with three kids, the dog and the dad clumsily haulin all the toys, beach chairs, and the cooler from the mini-van, well it just doesn’t sit well with me. not saying i’m there yet but traveling with the family has its challenges.
setting out on our little journey was eventful. first, i had forgotten that i left my mega swiss army knife in my carry on. you can imagine how the TSA felt about that. i miss my knife. the seating arrangement was borderline claustrophobic for me. jayden sits on us the whole 5hour flight. well, sitting would be so heavenly. i didn’t premeditate that part of the flying experience. afterall, this was my first real family vacation. note – jayden is not one of those cuddly little children, angelic as he may appear. upon arrival, the airline had lost a piece of luggage, the most important one containing my wife’s belongings and jayden’s stuff. my patience wore. i wanted to yell. complain. throw a fit. i lugged the luggage we did have to the car rental place to further negotiate about trivial insurance additions and the choice of car (i mean, mini-van) with the youngin behind the counter trying to convince me to rock out in an SUV with the sun-roof. we exit the airport and immediately we were faced with bumper to bumper traffic. i can go on.
jesus called out the leading religious authorities of his time on caring mainly about cleaning up the things on the outside and their relentless pursuit of ritualistic holiness while on the inside continually they are corrupted by greed, self-indulgence, hypocrisy and wickedness.
last wednesday was also ash wednesday which marks the beginning of the lenten season, a journey of focus and reflection of our lord going to the cross. it should draw us deeper into personal discipleship. typically people give up something like candy, meat, or some sort of food that they enjoy as if we have to sacrifice good things to honor the most high. it has become trendy to give up stuff like instant messaging, the internet, tv or some other form of media. some people flog themselves to identify with Christ in his suffering. it seeps into our thinking that we have to be miserable. very often people miss the point. perhaps instead of giving up something or thinking we need to be miserable, we should focus on adding things – things that make us more like Jesus, getting closer to him, exalting him. put your christ on.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out[c] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.