One of the funniest insurance claims I ever reviewed, when I was in that profession, was from a young family that just before Christmas had moved from the small town of Kettle Falls, Washington, to the thriving metropolis of Spokane. Although most residents of Kettle Falls have indoor plumbing (don’t laugh, some still have outdoor toilets), they don’t have garbage service. So what do they do? They burn it. Seriously, it is a weekly tradition to burn one's garbage. This young family moved to an up and coming preplanned housing complex that featured, among many green-home amenities, fancy outdoor siding that looks just like wood, but keeps the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The complex was so new that it did not yet have landscaping. On Christmas day, our newly insured family took all their garbage, including moving boxes and a large amount of wrapping paper, dug a garbage fire pit between their home and the newly constructed home next to them and started the weekly Kettle Falls garbage-burning routine. The fire created so much heat it melted their siding, the siding on the home next to theirs and on the occupied house behind them. That was not exactly the best way to wish one’s new neighbors Merry Christmas.
Love is a theme of our Sunday readings these past weeks. Love from God has little to do with fond feelings or even really liking someone. Agape love is the “richer or poorer, in sickness and health” type which makes you willing to handle someone else’s garbage. This is the love Jesus shows us. He wants us including our garbage. When we lift our concerns to God, it can be like garbage day. We package up all the stuff we can’t handle, the stuff we no longer want, the stuff that really smells if it stays in our house for just one more day, we put it out on the street in prayer and God drives it away, for good. Jesus does not go through our garbage later on and say, “Remember when…” Nope, it’s gone for good. It’s not even recycled into something else. No garbage fairy comes by our house weekly to make our garbage disappear, but we do have a weekly church celebration where we bring everything to God, even garbage. And Jesus takes it away for good.