While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to share a meal with him, so Jesus went and took his place at the table. When the Pharisee saw that Jesus didn’t ritually purify his hands by washing before the meal, he was astonished. The Lord said to him, “Now, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and platter, but your insides are stuffed with greed and wickedness. Foolish people! Didn’t the one who made the outside also make the inside? Therefore, give to those in need from the core of who you are and you will be clean all over.”
My husband is convinced he is an artist. His choice of materials is not the normal things artists choose, like wood or clay or paint. His newest material: water. That’s right; water.
Like many Wisconsin towns this winter, Mazomanie has suggested people constantly run a small, steady stream of water in their homes. The recommendation came after a very cold weekend in which 13 homes had frozen water pipes.
A steady stream of water trickling in a bathroom would be to boring for our house. Rick ran a hose into the backyard with a fitted end on it in which had small holes for the water to squirt out. He angled the hose’s end so water sprayed into the air, freezing and forming ice sculptures. To provide a backdrop, he positioned used Christmas trees with woven wire so the ice sculptures would freeze up and not flat. The pictures give an idea of the sculptures. Can you tell Rick recovered at home for six weeks and needed a project?
With a beautiful sunny day, today, the ice glistened. The surrounding snow is perfectly white and untouched. I thought of cleansing.
When Jesus was alive, Jews were required to do ritual cleansing and washing many times a day. One time, Jesus is dining with the local religious leaders. They can’t believe Jesus skipped the ritual washing before the meal and call him on it. Jesus used this teachable moment to explain that our outsides can be clean as the untouched snow in our back yard. But if our insides remain soiled with greed, hatred, wickedness and a host of other sins, it doesn’t matter what our outsides look like. Dirty sin on the inside is still dirty sin.
But Jesus is like the hose, wanting to spray forgiveness and cleansing into our lives. Sometimes we’re open to this. Other times, the water gets a frozen reception from us. It looks pretty but less we let our hearts thaw to our need for forgiveness, we’re still dirty on the inside. Thank goodness Jesus provides a way to heal our dirtiness. It’s called grace.
For some reason, Lord God, it is often much easier to identify everyone else’s sin except our own. Bring to mind those dirty sins that we have a hard time admitting to ourselves. You want to cleanse us. May we see our need to be cleansed. Amen.
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