By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“Burnt Sausage and the Moral Life”
The Psalmist scrolled long ago…
“May God remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.” – Psalm 20:3
There’s an old story told long ago back in the 20th century about a seminary professor who was adept at ethics and holy living. He had a friend from the medical school directly across the street. They met often for lunch and dinner to discuss the depths of God’s love and mercy and new breakthroughs in medical science.
One day, when both seemed too busy to meet at the local restaurant, they scurried unknowingly to the corner sausage stand for an unscheduled meeting. The professor watched with surprise as his friend, Dr. Bob, an oncologist, order the thickest, black-cased link of sausage he could find. Then he topped it off with a pile of grilled hot peppers and onions. Every day on both sides of the street teachers and students could smell the sausage cooking on the corner but rarely did they ever eat there.
“Oh my.”, said Professor H., “that’s quite a sandwich.” Then he ordered one, too.
They both smiled at each other and nodded as each took a bite.
“If you don’t mind me saying,” quipped the professor, “I’m just a humble theologian who thinks deep thoughts of God’s mystery. But, you are a doctor. You are an oncologist and you above all people should know the dangers of a burnt sausage like this with all the carcinogens and chemicals introduced inside. And then the hot peppers and onions. You know that can’t be of benefit to your health!”
His friend smiled back, took a big bite and said, “I know! But, it sure tastes good, doesn’t it?”
It seems the moral life can be tossed aside at any given moment.
Despite our will and need to fight against the things not good for us, any one is susceptible to fall/fail. Faith matters each and every day and even so, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. But, we shouldn’t be surprised. The Bible has lots to say about burnt offerings and sacrifices.
In Genesis 26 we can read the story of Abraham who took his son up on the high hill to offer God a burnt sacrifice. At first glance some think God to be unkind and cruel when he orders up Abraham to use his son, Isaac as the object of that sacrifice. But God always seems to offer a better twist. In ancient days it was common for peoples and communities to offer human sacrifice. Maybe it was too common and when Abraham doesn’t resist, God intervenes and halts the execution suggesting God’s people will be different… that they will honor life by not killing or sacrificing another human being. An alternate object, a ram, was used instead.
God is always offering an alternative for us. We can do it our way or God’s way. We can follow a path that leads to an abundant life or we can choose to follow our own desires and take what comes. And the sacrifice God makes in offering up Jesus on the cross is the ultimate alternative anyone could provide. Jesus trusted in God’s faith for the world to be set straight and we don’t hold burnt offerings anymore.
If you have interest in a burnt, sumptuous BBQ sandwich this weekend come see me at the New Life BBQ and Craft Fair (location below). We can smile at each other and I will give you a blessing as you say, “But, it sure tastes good!” Brian
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected]