Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Lather Rinse Repeat

Deuteronomy 6: 6-7: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed how much people repeat themselves in everyday life. I’m not talking about someone making a speech or giving a sermon repeating themselves (although that does happen), but rather about people who say the same thing in daily life.

If you give someone directions, it’s interesting how many people don’t write them down, but rather repeat them to try to fix them in their memory. I write a lot of things down because I frequently can’t remember what I had for breakfast. Servers in restaurants also repeat a customer’s order. Someone might say, “I’ll have the pate de fois gras and the lobster thermidor. The server immediately says, “The foie gras and the lobster, right?” I used to think servers didn’t hear the order the first time, but then I realized they were repeating what the customer said to make sure they heard the customer’s order correctly and also to probably fix the order in their memory.

I’ve written that, when we greet someone, the person being greeted often repeats what the first person said. I might say to a friend when I first see him, “Hey, Bob, how are you?” and Bob will say, “Hey, Dan, I’m good. How are you?” I think this happens because we don’t have time to think of a different greeting. It also serves as a way of establishing a bond or a commonality between two people. It’s a way of indicating that we liked the way we were greeted so much that we use it again. The other person is pleased that we used the same words and resolves to become our life-long friend and give us lots of money. Maybe.

We can find repetition in the universe as well. The sun, moon, earth, galaxies and stars move in regular paths. We have birthdays and celebrate holidays at predictable times. Repetition is also important in the Bible. The Jews staged festivals and holy days at regular intervals. Scholars tell us that Jesus did his teaching orally, and that the disciples heard the same messages over and over again, enabling them to remember what Jesus said so they could write it down later as the Gospels.

The Shema is an ancient Jewish prayer consisting of three paragraphs that are repeated in the morning and evening. The first paragraph is, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed is His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.” I believe we would be well-served to repeat this prayer ourselves as a reminder of the nature and power of God. Listen to these important words, all you believers: “The Lord our God is One God.” Amen.



Changing the Oil

Wise and Foolish

Matthew 25: 1-4: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young women who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

I don’t know if you remember the days when, if a family took a lengthy trip by car and had to stop for gas, they not only filled the tank: they also checked the oil. I asked my dad once why he was checking the oil when he had checked it three hours earlier and, as far as I knew, we hadn’t anointed the road with the contents of the engine. He replied, “You never know what might have happened. I just like to be sure.”

I might be wrong about this, but I don’t see many people checking their oil when they gas up now. I think engines have become more reliable and less likely to dump their oil on the interstate or maybe more people have instruments to keep them informed about their oil level.

Just when this began to change, I don’t remember. It might also have to do with the fast pace of life nowadays. Yeah, we might run the risk of cooking our engines, but it would be worth it if we got where we are going a little bit sooner.

My father was wise check the dip stick at every gas stop. Doing so told him that his engine was able to continue the trip. Similarly, the wise young women in the parable made sure they had plenty of olive oil so they could do what they were supposed to. And I think that we need to take measure of our lives by prayer, reflection, reading the Bible, acts of service, and fellowship with others. All these tell us how we measure up to God’s standards. And measuring up to those standards will insure that, with the sacrifice of the Son, the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Creator we will continue to grow in Christlikeness. Praise God for the Trinity, Three in One and all that it has done for us, all that it is doing for us, and all that it will do for us throughout eternity. Amen.