Rags

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Riverside Community Church logo from its website

By Pastor Bruce Rietveld, Riverside Community Church

When I was young there was a tattered cardboard box in the pantry at home. Back in the corner underneath the shelves, it was home to old shirts, dresses, pants and anything worn. My parents grew up during the depression, so nothing was wasted. And all these old articles of clothing would soon become rags. They washed windows, dusted shelves, cleaned out cars and many other tasks. These old worn out rags had many uses.

If we all made It to supper there 5-6 of us sitting around the kitchen table. Then aroma was always amazing each night as we looked forward to the meal my mom had just fried. Usually some kind of meat and potatoes. When she was done cooking, the grease from the frying pan would go back in the old Crisco can and put away in the cupboard to use the next night. There was always a lot of chatter as we ate. Sharing our days adventures and trouble. And you heard quite often the phrase, “pass me the rag.” The wet red woven dish rag sat on the table waiting for all of us to use. We would wipe out hands or mouth and pass it on or put it to rest back on the table until the next person needed it. It was a community rag. I reflect today at the world we live in and doubt that happens anymore. But we were a family. Brothers and sisters, mom and dad, and we passed the rag for every meal.

Yesterday a young couple showed up at church. I was working in my office on the computer when they walked in my office. We shared greetings and I asked how I could help them. The mom told me she had heard that we gave away toilet paper to people in need and she wondered if they could have a few rolls. As we headed down to the room in the church basement where we keep items to help people, she shared that they had been using old rags because they had no money to buy toilet paper. We filled up a bag and I gave the little girl a box of crayons and a color book. I invited them back again if they had a need.

Rags.

As we reflect on ourselves, we are all dirty worn rags. We may try to pretend we are not, but we are.

Isaiah 64:6
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a dirty rag. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

But we have a God, a Father, who loves us so much he sent his own son to the cross.

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I remember those days we passed that rag around that kitchen table. I do miss them. I prayed for that young couple that came into the church. I hope they will join us for church Sunday. And I praise God for sending his son for an old dirty rag like me and you, so that we could be forgiven of our sins and spend eternity with him in our true home.

Pastor Bruce Rietveld
Riverside Community Church