In the process of clearing out my totaled car and getting a new “previously owned” vehicle, I was going through the bags of junk I pulled out of the car and was startled by the memories some insignificant things jostled. There were old receipts, old map quest directions and lots of beauty and hair products, left by my three daughters. Now, before you judge me as some sloppy person, I must say that I have cleaned out this car over and over again –just not as carefully as I had to in order to let it go. I also found an old metal clergy sign, with a huge magnet attached, the magnet attached to the dashboard sign by old crumbling electrical tape. My Presbyterian minister father had fashioned this for me when I graduated from seminarian and was ordained. He had one in his car all of my life and he was handing down a remarkable artifact and legacy. This find made having to give up my beloved van a little easier.
My father was saved everything. He collected nothing in an organized fashion but instead found uses for things that others would cast off. He was a species unto himself and we called him homo-collectus. He salvaged an old lobster tank from a grocery store, kept it in our basement for over 10 years and then smugly gave it to a young man setting up a salt water aquarium saying, “I just knew this would come in handy some day”. He fashioned a car top carrier out of the bed of a covered wagon. When my Dad passed away there were nearly two dozen motors that he had removed from broken appliances stored in the basement. He knew they would have a use some day. In this age of green imagination and need for alternative energy, my Dad would probably have something in the basement that would solve the energy crisis.
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” John 6:39
Today’s reading from John has new meaning in light of my father and in light of present crisis we are facing. I am grateful to a man who saw everything as a gift and everything with the possibility of usefulness. Jesus says to us today, you are useful, needed, wanted, even if others have put you out to the curb, called you useless or left you out to dry and whither. God’s love is so enormous and God’s creative capacity is beyond our comprehension, that the things and people who are deemed worthless and rejected, may indeed play a central role in the salvation of the world. Today, I want to give thanks for those who have been put on the shelf, marginalized, and deemed worthless. I want to see them with the eyes of our Creator who has promised that they will be useful, raised up and engaged for God’s reign. I want to have the courage to tenderly care for the sidelined, the marginalized and the ignored. May we all remember that the now useless will one day become necessary in God, the people and things that are cast off are beloved of the compassionate Creator. May we all nurture the broken in ourselves and others so that God may use us in God’s time.