In March of 2012 Saint Stephen’s Fabulous Fish Fry Was Featured in St. Louis Magazine in an article entitled Tell ‘Em Sharky Sent You: The Festive St. Stephen Protomartyr Fish Fry.[ratings]
Striking a balance
There is an old rabbinic story about a faithful Jew who every morning would write down on a piece of paper the words I am but dust and ashes and place the paper in his pocket. Throughout the day he would take out the paper and read it; the words, spoken by Abraham in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 18: 27), served as a prayerful reminder of his unworthiness and humility before God.
One day his showed the paper to his rabbi. The rabbi was moved by his congregant’s reverence. But the rabbi took out a second piece of paper and wrote the Hebrew words Bishvili Novra haslam – “For my sake, the universe was created.”
“Take these words, as well, and carry them too,” the rabbi said. “Let there be balance in your life. Realize that of yourself, before God, you are nothing – but because you are created in God’s image, out of love, you possess the greatest dignity imaginable: you are a child of God.”
Our Lenten desert experience is a time for striking that balance between realizing our humility before God and our identity as God’s beloved. When we are consumed by the notion that we are in total control of our lives, when we have arrogantly self-absorbed because of what we possess and what we have achieved, we should take out the first “paper” and remember: I am but dust and ashes. But when we feel abandoned, when hope seems far away, when we feel lost in the Lenten wilderness, we need to embrace the message of the second sheet: For my sake, God created the universe. I am God’s beloved; I am created in God’s image. May these next six weeks before Easter be a time for striking that balance in our lives: a balance between humility that leads to selflessness and joy in the ever-present love of God in our midst.
From Connections: February 2012
Download the February 26, 2012 First Sunday of Lent Bulletin.[ratings]