“…are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” – John 7:23-24
This morning, I had the honor of helping lead a service celebrating the life of a dear Saint from our church who was responsible for the founding of our local organization serving those in deep need in our immediate community. One of her grandsons shared the message in the service (he is also an ordained minister). In part of his message he shared about a drawer in her kitchen that was filled with unused ketchup packets, salt and pepper packets, and so forth. As he wove this into stories about her generous and servant-hearted life, he noted how these packets never seemed to be used and he wondered about their expiration dates. How long is a ketchup packet really good for?
What has continued to stay with me from his message was how he noted that, for his grandma, the people she served and helped never had an expiration date after which they weren’t deserving or worthy of help. But instead they were children of God in need and she was in a position to help. From her life experiences and from what she lived from Scripture – we are called not to be served, but to serve – this was what she was to live out. Her life reflected the truth that God’s love doesn’t have an expiration date and neither should our love for God’s children, for all those (all of us) created in the image of God.
In this context, I heard these last few verses of today’s Gospel reading in a different way. As Jesus was responding to further criticisms of his actions, he notes that his healing of a man on the sabbath may have violated the letter of the law (as it was interpreted at the time) but was in accordance with right judgment, moral judgment – simply doing what is right. Those he healed and loved were loved with this non-expiring love and we ought to show the same to others.
So today I was looking for ketchup packets. At our local community fair today, I found big bottles of ketchup but not packets of it. It wasn’t until I went to a local Chinese restaurant to pick up dinner for us that I saw something that might have been in the drawer referenced in the sermon. Soy Sauce might not have been in the drawer, but the sentiment is the same and for me the reminder is the same, love others with a love that does not expire because I know I have first been loved by such a love. Thanks be to God!