Lectionary readings for August 3, 2014
Isaiah 55:1-5, Psalm 145:8-9-14-21, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
In our campsite in Jasper last week, I had no internet connection. It was actually kind of a luxury to be without it. I didn't check email, didn't worry about what work wasn't getting done, and enjoyed a great mystery novel.
The scriptures for August 3 have the theme that God will provide, especially for those who know they need help. There is a subtle theme here too, that we don't always know what we need. I love Isaiah's question in verse 2. "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?" It's a perfect question for our wealthy, accomplishment driven, very busy society. Why do we spend money on luxuries that we don't need? Why do we use up so much of our limited time on earth working crazy hours to pay for things we don't need?
It's a great question for me to reflect on after having camped in Jasper. It's hard to believe how many huge, luxurious RVs are in the campsites. Some of those units are massively expensive, and they are just a luxury for most of those using them. They have TV, air conditioning, big generators, fridges, toilets, showers, pull-outs, etc... Isn't this excessive, a flagrant waste in the face of environmental and social justice issues? How much time away from family and friends does it take to pay for these beasts so that family and friends can |"holiday" together?
I enjoy camping, I don't want to begrudge people their trailers, but I think something is seriously wrong when it goes to such extremes and people spend so very much money on these luxuries. (Can that even be called camping when the campers are so isolated from the very outdoors they ostensibly are experiencing?) Isaiah doesn't begrudge people the "good things" in life. He goes on to say; "eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." He's not advocating asceticism. His question, however, does push us to consider what it is we really need.I don't think Isaiah is telling people to blindly indulge themselves at the expense of others or the environment. He is rejoicing in the way God richly provides for our needs.
When I didn't have the "luxury" of internet connections, I could relax. I talked with my family and we played games. We enjoyed hiking and biking and seeing the mountain sights. We cooked together and sat around the fire. Sure, I was on holiday and I didn't need the internet like I do when I am working, but the break from it helped me ask the question how much do I really "need" it? When does the luxury of high-speed connection become something that takes my time away from the good things (family, friends, community, charity...) that would actually nurture me and those around me?
Psalm 145 reminds us that God has great patience with us, and will satisfy the desires of all living things, but we need to call on God. That means realizing we need help in figuring out what is good. It's hard, when we're rich, to see that we need God. We easily lose sight of what is truly needed and what is wasteful luxury that actually takes us away from what is important.
God provides for our needs. These scriptures are a good reminder to help us think about what it is that is truly needed.