Archive for the ‘2nd Sunday’ Category

The Desert & the Mountain 3-12-2017

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

This Sunday’s gospel and next Sunday’s gospel speak to us about two geographical spots: the desert and the mountain.
We need to stand in both spots during Lent, the desert and the mountain.
In the desert, we encounter the devil, we face our guilt and the evil that abounds in our world. The Christian life is impossible without the desert.
But it is also impossible without the mountain top where we can breathe fresh air and see everything in a new light. It is good for us to be on the mountain, where we can see and listen to God in a new way.
Let me share with you a true desert/mountain top story.
They had just moved into their new house in a residential section of Syracuse, New York. That morning, Mom left early to take her teenage son to work. She backed out of the garage and pressed the remote to bring down the door. “What’s THAT?” the teenager cried out as the door closed. She turned around and faced the door. There, in foot-high, hot pink letters, someone had spray painted: KKK. DIE NIGGER.
They sat there stunned. She called her husband, who was out of town on business. “Honey, you have to report this.”
The sheriff came over immediately. He was surprised at how calm she was. “You should be taking this more seriously,” the sheriff advised.
“I take it very seriously,” she told the sheriff. “But I’m not going to get hysterical, and I’m not going to be afraid.”
While her teenage son understood the hate behind the words, the two younger children did not. “Why did someone write this on our house? What does it mean? Whoever did this doesn’t even know us! How can they be so mean?”
Torn between anger and sadness, she wished she could shield her young sons from prejudice forever. But she knew she couldn’t. “We mustn’t return the hate. It’s not up to us to judge them. We’re called to love others despite them. Whoever did this wants us to be upset. Well, we’re not going to be. We’re going to pray for them so that maybe they’ll come to know God too.”
Not five minutes later, a newspaper reporter came with a photographer. Then a television crew arrived. They were mystified as she told them what she told her boys: “I don’t hold anything against whoever did this. God teaches us to forgive.”
The family’s new neighbors started to stop by to offer their support and express their anger and regret at what had happened. Someone brought flowers, another brought a cake. Not only were they meeting their new neighbors, but they were hugging them.
Later in the afternoon, a young man and woman arrived in work clothes and carrying paint, soap and buckets. “We heard about what happened here,” they said. “Is it okay if we help clean things up?”
Before long, everyone was involved in the project. Buckets were filled with soapy water, sandpaper was applied – and as the hate-filled words were washed away, a spirit of community and friendship blossomed in their place.
The power of the Good News- Our God is greater than any evil we can imagine. Before long everyone was involved in the project.

Behold God is in Our Midst 1-15-2017

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The character of John the Baptist is someone we usually meet around Christmas but over the last two weeks he has played a major role in launching Jesus on his three-year mission. Some scholars say John the Baptist’s role was to point people to Jesus… “Look! There’s the Lamb of God…Look! God is in our midst.” Pointing people to Jesus and then getting out of the way and letting Jesus work in people’s lives.
I believe that this Sunday reminds us that as baptized Christians it is our role to point people to Jesus and to get out of the way like John the Baptist. We may do this in very different ways than John the Baptist, but we need to do it each in our own way.
An eight-year old boy is facing surgery. He asks his doctor, “What’s it like to die?” Neither the doctor nor anyone else on the medical staff can answer this question directly – but one hospital employee can. She isn’t a doctor or nurse or child psychologist. She cleans the floors. One night the boy asks her, “Are you afraid of dying?” She puts down her mop, looks up from the floor and replies, “Yes, I am, but I do something about it.” She talks to the boy as an equal, not as a superior. She tells him that she believes in God and finds comfort in the words of Jesus. The two talk for a long time. She has put the boy at peace simply by listening to him. Behold, the Lamb of God…
A high school student is struggling with his algebra homework. The frustration builds and the teenager slams the book shut. His father comes into the kitchen and asks if he can help, but the teenager says, “They didn’t even have algebra in your day.” Defeated and angry, the boy goes off to bed. At 4:00 A.M., his dad shakes his son awake and sits him back down at the kitchen table. The father, who works two jobs as a janitor and a chauffeur, sat up all night to read the algebra book from cover to cover. He worked the problems through until he understood them enough to be able to explain them to his son. With his dad tutoring him, the student finally grasps the equations and completes his homework. That night, a father taught his son much more than algebra. Behold, the Lamb of God…
Within a month, she had lost both her father and her mother. It was something neither she nor her husband knew how to deal with. She was devastated; getting through the days was often more than she could handle. He thought he might be able to lessen the blow by being a more attentive spouse or more romantic husband. He felt more and more inadequate at not being able to do something to alleviate her grief. Then the night came for them to see the musical Wicked. The tickets had been bought months before. The two lead sang a song that always reminded her of her mother. That’s when he realized his role: to be there to hold her hand, to have Kleenex at the ready, to let her know he would be there when the music ended and the lights came back on. Behold, the Lamb of God…
I close…
In every act of selfless generosity and humble compassion, the Lamb of God walks in our midst. Everyone of us – of every profession and age group, possessing every talent, skill and ability – has been called, as the Baptizer was called, to point to the Christ, the Lamb of God, dwelling among us and walking with us in our doubts, our hurts, our fears. John declared his witness in preaching and baptizing at the Jordan; our witness can be declared in less vocal but no less effective vehicles: in our compassion for others, in our uncompromising moral and ethical convictions, in our everyday sense of joy and peace.
Behold, God is in our midst! Amen.

Watch, Listen, & Believe 12-4-2016

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Let me to take you on a little journey to a Big, Busy, Shopping Mall. Let me introduce to you someone.
He caused quite a commotion among the shoppers at the mall. Many dismissed him as annoying nut. He was dressed in a tattered flannel shirt and jeans. No one knew where he spent the night, but he was seen rummaging around the dumpsters for scraps of food from Orange Julius and McDonald’s. Every day he could be found by the beautifully lighted fountain near the mall’s food court. Despite his ragged appearance and that slightly “off” look in his eyes, there was a kindness and sincerity about him that drew people to him.
He would ask them why they would spend so much money for Christmas, why they would allow themselves to become so obsessed and stressed out over this tinseled holiday. “We like our Christmas with a lot of sugar, don’t we?” he would tease. But Christmas is about hope and love, he said – and that can be a struggle. Give gifts of kindness and compassion to each other. Seek forgiveness from family and friends who may be lost to you. Let the spirit of the Christ Child embrace every season of the year, not just December.
Those who listened would nod in agreement as he spoke – even as they tightened their grips on their shopping bags. Some were moved to quit shopping and go home to be with their families, others would go off and buy an extra toy or piece of clothing for charity; a few would even be moved to escape to a church or chapel for quiet prayer.
Sometimes he would rail against the insipid music and the gaudy decorations. When the mall Santa would walk by, he would make fun of him, asking the embarrassed Santa pointed questions about the real Christmas story.
Soon, though, the storeowners had had enough of his distractions. The mall managers had security escort him from the premises.
He wasn’t really hurting anyone, they realized.
But he had to go, they said.
He was ruining everyone’s Christmas.
“He Had to Go”. John the Baptists 2016. They come in all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, sexes and backgrounds. What do they do? They tease, they challenge, they poke us, and they point us to Jesus. To Jesus’ way of life.
Pray with me today, Advent 2016, that we will not be blind to the John the Baptists that come into our daily lives. Believe me – they will come. Watch, Listen, and Believe.