Sermon for a spring afternoon

Friends, I am here today to tell you that you have sinned.

Now, I don’t pretend to know what is in each of your hearts. But you know what you have done. You have referred to rich desserts, anything called “Death by Chocolate”, as “sinful.” You have forgone the gifts of grape and grain, believing them to be the work of the Devil — as if evil had the power to create! You have believed those purveyors of misery who told you that the pleasures of the body are evil indulgences.

You have made your bodies neither temple nor pleasuredome but merely a science project, counting calories and grams of fiber and fat as if they were pennies from heaven or silver from hell, worshiping diet doctors as gurus and gods, abusing yourselves in their names. You have spent air-conditioned days in idle work when you should have been out partaking of Creation and communing with your fellow creatures. You have spent your ill-gotten gains that you may avoid using your bodies for anything meaningful or enjoyable, then punished yourselves with hours on a StairMaster.

Yes, brothers and sisters, you have sinned.

There once was a wealthy man who granted large sums of money to two others in his town who he believed showed promise. “Spend it wisely,” he promised, “and at the end of a year you shall have more.”

The first man spent his money freely on liquor and women, and at the end of the year had nothing left. The second man hoarded his money carefully, spending little, investing cautiously, and at the end of the year he proudly presented the wealthy man with exactly the sum of money he had been given. The wealthy man considered them both and gave his money to the spendthrift. The second man protested, but the wealthy man told him, “You have made nothing of the gift I once gave you! Why should I give you another?”

The thrifty man complained, “But he spent all of his money, and now has nothing at all to show for it!”

“Perhaps,” said the wealthy man, “but he had a hell of a time spending it!”

Friends, your life is a gift. Your body is a gift. To be unable to enjoy these gifts is a tragedy. To refuse to enjoy them out of misguided belief that they are irrelevant or meaningless or evil is to thumb your nose at the Creator who bestowed them upon you. To suffer is not noble; it is pathetic. Suffering is a challenge to be overcome, not a badge of honor. Spend your gifts wisely, if you can, but spend them!

It is not too late to repent. But the Lord your God demands penance for your sins.

First you must do something useful. Something that takes you out of doors and uses the muscles of your body and requires washing up afterward. Plant a tomato. Mulch a flowerbed. Wash your dog. Anything. Do not wash your hands. Look at the dirt under your fingernails, the wellspring of all life, and be grateful for it.

Then you must stand naked in the warm spring sun, your toes in the grass or the mud or the sand, and toast the Creator with a homebrew to thank Him or Her for this beautiful day. (Store bought’n will do, but none of that low-carb stuff.) While you are at it, toast the mighty grain, the lovely hops, the humble yeast, and the memories of the Sumerians, English, and Germans who discovered how to combine them.

Then you must lie down in the grass and take a nap. You may wish to apply sunscreen first. If you have someone with whom you’d like to sleep naked in the grass, invite them to join you.

It is not too late, friends. But tomorrow may be. Go forth and enjoy the tastes of heaven you have been given in this life, and be thankful. Else don’t ask for an eternity to enjoy them in another.

Amen.

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