Thursday, August 29, 2013

Your Money or Your Life

I took this photo as we were showing some guests around the city last week. 

This is a Catholic boys choir singing under the tower at the west end of Charles Bridge. 

It was a joy to stand for a few minutes and listen to their lovely voices. 

You may notice that one of the boys is stepping off the curb. He's moving to pick up the beret in the middle of the street where people have been expressing their appreciation by tossing money. 

Another boy, the first on the left, is holding a second beret. He will replace the one in the street while the money it holds is carefully removed and safely stowed. In that way not a single opportunity will be lost to collect some change. They've got an efficient process.

The streets of Prague are filled with musicians, dancers, actors, artists of many kinds pursuing a similar goal - to get tourists to part with their money. It's especially busy in the warmer weather during summer holidays. 

Street performers in Prague are expected to be registered with the city and pay the appropriate fees. We've seen inspectors checking for paperwork. The process has a legitimate business feel to it. 

Something about this particular encounter made me uncomfortable. 

Maybe it's because I realized that we could be doing the same thing. 

If we'd asked, our gracious visitors would probably have been willing to pay for the time and energy we spent showing them around the City of 100 Spires. We didn't know the answers to all of their questions, but we got them to all the major sights and a few others that were of special interest to them. 

The way these new friends from Missouri chose to bless us was to take us out to dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. We thanked them for their heartfelt and generous response to our hospitality. Perhaps it was all the more valuable for that very reason. 

Ah ha, so there's the rub. 

We open our home to folks regularly without expecting payment. Some might call what we offer a free-gift. Then again, a gift is free so maybe that's double speak. 

Hmmmm . . . isn't that what the Father offers me?

Salvation from wrath by faith through grace comes to me as a gift. Forgiveness for my sin is free of charge - not that it is without cost. The price has already been paid on my behalf by the sacrifice of the perfect life of His beloved Son, Jesus the Christ. 

Sometimes I notice it's easy enough to sing a song or raise a prayer, to voice gratitude or make a donation when I'm around others or I'm in the mood. I wonder if my actions could be the same as casually throwing coins into a beret or bucket at the feet of an entertainer.

I'm caught up short. 

The Word tells me I need to come to God with awe and honor, humility and love, praise and adoration. Then, as we received the sacrifice from our guests, He will be pleased with my heartfelt and generous response to who He is and all He has done for me.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  
Hebrews 13:15-16

May His Name be hallowed in all the earth. Amen

PS  Can you find Curt? He's carrying the leather backpack he bought in Switzerland in 1977.

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