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During the holidays I made an effort to get on top of some of the little maintenance jobs around our house. I have to make an upfront statement at this point, which is that I am not naturally gifted in that area! Ask me to give a sermon on the Trinity (understanding God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and I think I do okay. Ask me to change the washer in the garden tap in our backyard, as I had to in the holidays, and I struggle a bit. In the end, after failing even to take the tap apart to get to the washer, I decided just to replace the whole thing. So I went off to Bunnings, bought a garden tap, got home, realised it was the wrong one, and went back to Bunnings, this time with the old tap, as well as the new one that I needed to exchange. As I was walking up to the entrance of Bunnings at Kent Town, I heard the person at the counter yelling at the top of her voice, “Sir, excuse me sir, come back here and pay for those!” “That’s odd,” I thought, just as a wiry, little man ran out, running as fast as he could, while carrying two large boxes, containing, I found out later, some power tools that he was stealing. 20 years ago I would have chased him – in fact 20 years ago I did chase down a thief (a story for another time). However, not to make excuses (!), this particular day I had really sore muscles from too much exercise, plus I was holding my car keys and my taps, not to mention being wary of the danger of him lashing out at me, if I managed to catch him, so I just watched which direction he went and then told the two big, burly Bunnings guys as they ran after him. It’s funny the things you think of sometimes in these situations. I probably could have chased him down, even with my sore muscles and hands full of garden taps, because he was actually struggling to run. His spindly little legs were trying hard, but the power tools were preventing him from showing any kind of athletic form and he looked quite comical as he tried to get his legs going. However, I think he must have reached his car and got away, because the giant Bunnings workmen came back empty handed.

Will you choose to be a blessing or a curse to those around you? I’m fairly certain that the guy who stole the power tools from Bunnings didn’t get up that day and say, “Today, I choose to be a curse to those around me.” I’m fairly sure he didn’t articulate it. But his actions revealed his choice very clearly. Of course, not everyone gets up and then goes and robs a Bunnings store. However, each of us has a choice to make each day, whether we think about it or not. Your actions will reveal the choice you have made. Sadly, the choice many people make is, What’s in it for me?

The contrast with the great teachers across the centuries could not be greater. If we think of Jesus in those terms for a minute, as a great spiritual teacher who lived out his teachings, just listen to what he has to teach us. He goes back to Nazareth, his home town, and says, “I am bringing good news to the poor. I am bringing good news to the prisoners. I am bringing sight to the blind. I am proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour.”

The year of the Lord’s favour: what Jesus means is that he is going to be a blessing for everyone. He will be God’s blessing. He will heal the sick, he will stand up for the poor and the oppressed. He will care for the captives and those cast out by the rest of society: the lepers, the unclean, the people nobody cared about. As he goes back to the place of worship, the synagogue, in Nazareth, he says, “God’s Spirit is with me. I choose to be a blessing to others.”

Do you know the other strange feeling I had as this wiry, little man with spindly legs ran off with the power tools clutched under his arms? I actually felt sorry for him. He was taking a foolish risk, to be sure, and inevitably he will get caught, if not next time, then the time after that. Justice has a way of catching up with people. But that wasn’t why I felt sorry for him – I felt sorry, because of instead of contributing to society in that moment, instead of being a blessing to others, he was being totally selfish. He was actually the one missing out: missing out on the incredible joy and sense of satisfaction that comes from being a blessing to others.

You have a choice this year, a choice each of must make every day, Will you be a blessing to those around you? May God bless you this year.

The Reverend Dr Theo McCall
School Chaplain