Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBQ By the Pool

Please forgive me, I fell way behind on my "summer" virtual small group. What was supposed to wrap up by Labor Day has a couple more installments. Hey, it still feels like summer outside! At least a little bit anyway.


One of the things my kids most look forward to in the summer (as best as they understand it anyway, at their young age) is getting to go to Papa's house to swim. Of course if we're going to spend the afternoon in his pool, we might as well plan dinner and how else to you spell summer without BBQ?

There's just something about relaxing in the cool water with meat cooking over a fire nearby. And it is not limited to pools, visit the beach in the evening and you'll see crowds gathered around grills cooking. Cooking over an open fire is part of any camping experience as well. And later in the night, on the beach or up in the woods, we gather around the fire to roast marshmallows or just to watch the flames flicker to the sky.

It is refreshing, the cool water. And comforting, the hot meal afterwards.

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19)

In the heat of the summer, how do you find refreshment?

Maybe you don't relate. Maybe I'm spoiled living in Southern California. But I recently watched The Sandlot and the sight of the boys being out all day going from the field to play ball to the community pool to relax is familiar to me, even though I didn't grow up someplace where everyone had a pool in their backyard. Maybe those days are long passed, where our children can roam the streets with such freedom, but the community pool is still there.

I can even hear in my memories the cacophony of the crowds gathered around the pool. Teenagers out sunbathing, kids splashing, parents keeping close watch while visiting with their neighbors. As a child, the community pool was a gathering spot, just as the local well was in Jesus' day. John 4 tells the story of Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman. Where did they meet? At the well.

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3)

Where does your community gather together in the summer?

But we cannot forget the barbecue in the evening after a day out in the sun. I recall a survey a few years ago that asked women what scents they find attractive. Can you guess the smell that came in last? It was smoke from a barbecue. But as a man, I love the smell! I can step out my front door any evening and smell someone down the street grilling up something. I can smell barbecue, mesquite, beef or pork, hamburgers or chicken, and I rush back into my kitchen to whip something up to throw on the grill, motivated only by the smell.

After being saved from the Flood, Noah prepared a burnt offering, a barbecue, to the Lord. "The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done." (Genesis 8:21, emphasis added) And then He gave a rainbow as His promise.

The burnt offering under the Old Covenant was to temporarily absolve Israel of their sins. What did they do with the meat once it was burned? They had a feast!

Do you like the smell of a barbecue? What memories does that smell evoke?

In the scriptures above, both water and fire call us to salvation. I began the summer with this scripture from Jeremiah, "The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved." (Jeremiah 8:20) It is interesting how fire and water are linked to salvation. In the Old Covenant the Israelites were led in the day by a pillar of smoke and by fire at night. The burnt offering gave up a sacrificial lamb on account of their sins. Reflecting on God's Law is like at tree planted by a stream. Isaiah gives us hope to draw water from the well of salvation. John prepared the way for the awaited Christ by baptizing. Then Jesus comes and offers "living water" at the well in John 4. The New Covenant leads us to living water for our salvation. Refreshment that comes from repentance. And cleansing through the waters of baptism, like the Flood that cleansed the Earth.

"Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?'" (Acts 8:35-36)

Today continues this summer's 'virtual small group' (VSG in the tags). I hope you come back as I take this season to reflect on the wonders of God's creation, share vacation stories, etc, with the prayer that we come out of this season closer to God than how we came into it.

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