A few weeks ago, I met with the owners of an estate sale company to try to arrange for the disposal of items remaining in my late mother’s home. No sooner had the men sat down than one of them said, “I’m sorry, but we can’t help you. What you have here is just ordinary stuff.” Their clientele was not going to be interested in buying figurines, purses, and a few pieces of vintage furniture. The men could not justify the expense of hiring help, advertising, and so on; there was no promise of profit.

Fortunately, they had advice for me about to whom I might turn whose business handled the sorts of things I had to offer. But even as I proceeded with plans with the recommended company, the man’s phrase kept bumping around in my head and heart: “ordinary stuff.”

It wasn’t long before my thoughts turned to theology. (No surprise.) It is the ordinary stuff of our lives that interests God, isn’t it? At the very heart of Christian faith is the Incarnation, the affirmation that God became truly human in Jesus. He was a typical Jewish male of his day, in whom God shone and dwelt in a unique and noticeable way. He talked about everyday things in his parables—eating, sweeping, animals, birds, employment, farming, partying—and it was through such that he revealed to us the nature of the kingdom of God. Today we remember him through the sharing of bread and wine, and we unite with him and our sisters and brothers in faith through a ritual of water, the very essence of life.

Whatever is routine, usual, quotidian, repeated daily, ordinary is the stuff in and through which God speaks and acts. As Frederick Buechner said, God’s word is incarnate in “the flesh and blood of ourselves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.”

Neither my mother nor I had or have much that is extraordinary when it comes to possessions. But thanks be to God, he took the ordinariness of her life, and he takes mine and yours and shows his glory and love through it.

© 2012 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.

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