That Extra Package of Toilet Paper
Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” – Luke 17:1-2 (NRSV)
Two years ago, as news spread about a novel coronavirus and disruptions it might cause, I remembered living through a widespread ice storm years earlier in Maine and wishing I had a better pattern of replenishing everyday items. So I made a list, and on Monday, March 2nd, my wife (who was humoring me) went to Sam’s Club and loaded up at a level I wouldn’t call survivalist, but capital-P prepared.
When stores soon ran short, I thought about the extra (large) package of toilet paper we now had in reserve. Did we (and many others) mess things up by getting one shopping trip ahead of our usual pace? That extra package weighed on me even more after an anonymous church member kindly dropped off another by our back door.
Whatever decisions we are making or actions we are taking, we live in connection with other people. I impact you, and you me, whether or not we ever learn the specifics.
As Jesus told his friends, people are bound to mess up. It’s as everyday as that extra toilet paper. Just don’t be the one who leads them to it.
I wonder, whose stumbling block am I?
Holy One, help us to understand the significance of our actions and the impact we have on others. Forgive us for the times we did not recognize the harm we caused and enable us to make things right, in Christ’s name. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.