God – the great rule changer ~ Midweek Musing 3/24/22

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1st John 2:1-2 NRSV)


My family loves to watch cooking shows on TV. Now when I say this, I am not talking about Julia Child's-The French Chef or Graham Kerr's -The Galloping Gourmet or even Justin Wilson's - Cooking Cajun. (By the way, if you haven't seen the Justin Wilson show you can find episodes on the internet I gau- run-tee you will love it.)


No, the cooking shows my family loves are the reality contest cooking shows. Things like Iron Chef America, Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay. BBQ Pitmasters, Hell's Kitchen, Master Chef and its younger offspring Master Chef Jr, Food Truck Wars, and Top Chef, to name only a few.


Now as crazy as this sounds those are only a handful of these types of food shows out there. And it seems every year they come up with new ways to challenge cooks; be they professional Michelin Star chefs or kid home cooks. I enjoy these shows, though I cannot binge-watch them the way some folks in my family can.


In addition to my enjoyment of these shows, I have also learned a bunch about lots of different kinds of cuisine and ingredients and how they are properly prepared. Of course, the show’s producers also find ways to include high drama, extreme conflict, and great suspense into the shows.


And at the end of these “reality” shows, there are winners and losers, with folks being eliminated from the competition at the end of every episode.


The show editors always use suspenseful music as the host tells folks to “pack their knives and leave the kitchen” or they dramatically declare that one of the contestants has been “chopped.”


My biggest complaint about these shows is that technology has not figured out how to send me even a sample of these dishes to taste through the TV.


I remember when I was a kid and I watched the original Willie Wonka movie, Gene Wilder (aka Mr. Willie Wonka) was able to send a Wonka Bar via TV and I was sure technology would have figured out how to do this task by now, but of course, it has not. The closest we have is Door Dash and Grub Hub and they never partner with restaurants that use ingredients like mascarpone, white truffle, and foie gras.


One interesting part of these shows that I have discovered is that often the producers of the shows change the rules to the game – and not simply from one season to the next but even during the competition.


The rule change that most often occurs involves giving a cook who was previously eliminated an opportunity to return to the competition. A second chance in the competition-a second chance to be successful.


Each show comes up with creative ways to do this and comes up with cute titles to call this rule change episode, things like the Comeback Kitchen or Chef Second Helpings.


It occurred to me as my family followed along a season of one of their favorite shows where one of the previously eliminated cooks came back to win the grand prize just how important the idea of second chances, forgiveness, and redemption is for those of us who call ourselves Christians.


Now if the show’s producers had stuck to the rules, the chef that actually won would have been history. But the show took some liberties that probably make hard and fast rule-followers cringe: they changed the rules in the middle of the game and a second chance chef found redemption.


Friends, we are a people who have been given second and third and fourth and even more chances because God changed the rules.


That is what God’s grace and forgiveness do for us. God rewrites the rules to allow God’s redemptive love to reign over laws so that we a free to live as the people of God.


When we claim this, we can live as Peter proclaimed in his first letter as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1st Peter 2:9 NRSV)


You and I are by ourselves are unable to earn our salvation. And by the letter of the law, God should have long ago given up on us.


Because none of us can be good enough or do enough to earn God’s love. But thanks be, God, changed the rules.


And our Creator did this by sending Christ for you and me. And in this season of Lent, we prepare ourselves to celebrate this miraculous good news as the sun rises on Easter morning.


God has changed the rules in the middle of the story so that by Christ’s redemptive power we need not fear - for even death has lost its sting.


And through the work of the Holy Spirit, we actually do get a taste of the promised day. And we can live each day sharing the good news of God with others as we work for justice, reconciliation, and peace.


Thanks be to God – who is the great rule changer!


In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Alleluia Amen.

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Hope all of you are well.

Clay Gunter

CRE - LaFayette Presbyterian Church

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