This memory of childhood reminds me of what now seems to be a quirky treatment of a glass jelly jar. When the bottom of the jar was reached, my Dad would fill the glass with milk, snap the metal lid in tight, and furiously shake the remaining jelly and milk to create a grape smoothie of sorts. Being the youngest of three siblings, I remember having to take turns being the one who got to drink the sweet foamy concoction, but when it was my turn - I remember feeling privileged and special.
Some may think this practice to be a silly one, but even now as an adult it is one that I've carried on with my own kids. We usually all end up sharing the jelly smoothie because we all like it so much.
There is something about using up all the sweet goodness of that jelly jar that seems right. On a level deeper than nostalgia or my taste buds I think the grape jelly smoothie represents something more. For me, it's about collecting all aspects of life, mixing them up and making use of everything that I've been given and (hopefully) ending up with something good and life-giving.
Grape jelly smoothies remind me of the holistic way followers of Christ are to live.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart (Mt 22:37-40)
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
For Jesus followers to follow well, we are need all our gifts, abilities, experiences, personality, and everything that make us "us" to be redirected in the perspective of this command.
"Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...and love your neighbor as yourself."
It can be a struggle to understand how and why God would desire such a an all-encompassing commitment. So often we look at where we feel we fall short and think to ourselves, " How could God ever use that?" or "How am I ever going to be good enough?" The truth of the matter is we won't ever be "good enough" on our own efforts. This is where the grace of God is so central to the activation of this command in our lives.
People can look at the almost empty jelly jar of someones life and be tempted to simply toss it away because it looked empty or used up. Maybe that person may feel empty or used up too, but God does not see things this way.
God sees a person full of potential and purpose. Truth be told, we all are almost empty jelly jars without God's presence in our lives. When we surrender, even in our shortcomings and emptiness; our hearts, minds, soul and strength (whatever is remaining), God has a way of re-filling us up. It is a mystery how when God fills what seemed to be an empty vessel, taps the lid in place, shakes all the ingredients up, and creates or re-creates a person restored, loved and filled up to the brim again.
My favorite part of grape jelly smoothies is that when you take off the lid, the bubbly sweet foam on the top always overflows. That overflow of love is what happens when we surrender all of ourselves to God. That overflow of love is what someone right next to you (who may be feeling a little empty) may need to begin to re-fill and overflow too.
Humble jelly jars are the perfect container for grape jelly smoothies. You are the perfect container for God to fill to the brim and beyond. Don't waste a moment, there is enough grape smoothie to go around for all of us to enjoy.
This article is part of my own process of trying to better understand this scripture in Matthew. It is often referred to as the "Jesus Creed". If you are interested in learning more about the Jesus Creed ("Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...and love your neighbor as yourself."), consider reading the book "40 days Living the Jesus Creed." by Scott McKnight.