Archive for the ‘5th Sunday’ Category

Make The Love Of God Come Alive 5-19-2019

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

In 1976 a car accident tore open the head of a 21-year old Chicago boy named
Peter. His brain was damaged and he was thrown into a deep coma.
Doctors told Peter’s family and friends that he probably wouldn’t survive.
Even if he did, he’d always be in a comatose state. One of the people who heard
that frightening news was Linda, the girl Peter planned to marry.
In the sad days ahead, Linda spent all her spare time in the hospital. Night
after night, she’d sit at Peter’s beside, pat his cheek, rub his brow, and talk to him.
“It was like we were on a normal date”, she said.
All the while Peter remained in a coma, unresponsive to Linda’s loving
presence.
Night after night, for three and a half months, Linda sat at Peter’s bedside,
speaking words of encouragement to him, even though he gave no sign that he
heard her.
Then one night Linda saw Peter’s toe move. A few nights later she saw his
eyelash flutter. This was all she needed. Against the advice of the doctors, she
quit her job and became his constant companion. She spent hours massaging his arms and legs. Eventually she arranged to take
him home. She spent all her savings on a swimming pool, hoping that the sun
and the water would restore life to Peter’s motionless limbs.
Then came the day when Peter spoke his first word since the accident. It was
only a grunt, but Linda understood it.
Gradually, with Linda’s help, those grunts turned into words—clear words.
Finally the day came when Peter was able to ask Linda’s father if he could
marry her. Linda’s father said, “When you can walk down the aisle, Peter, she’ll
be yours”.
Two years later, Peter walked down the aisle of Our Lady of Pompeii Church
in Chicago. He had to use a walker, but he was walking.
Every television station in Chicago covered that wedding. Newspapers across
the country carried pictures of Linda and Peter.
Celebrities phoned to congratulate them. People from as far away as Australia
sent them letters and presents. Families with loved ones in comas called to ask
their advice.
Today, Peter is living a normal life. He talks slowly, but clearly. He walks
slowly, but without a walker. He and Linda even have a lovely child. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
another”.
I would like each one of you to supply another example. Who has made the
love of God come alive by the sacrifices they have made for you? We need to
thank them and follow their example.

God Loves Me? 2-10-2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

What I find helps me understand the Scriptures better is to get on the inside of some of the characters. These characters are human beings-just like us. I try to feel what they are feeling – I try to walk in their shoes.
In our first reading and Gospel we have two characters – human beings, Isaiah and Simon-Peter. They are both suffering from what we call today an “Inferiority Complex,” when it comes to God. Like these two characters, I believe many of us who come here Sunday after Sunday, also are suffering from an inferiority complex when it comes to God – How do I know? What do I hear?
1. We are not good enough.
2. We are not wise enough in God’s ways to consider ourselves religious.
Like Isaiah and Simon-Peter – we shy away because we cannot imagine God loving sinful people like us.
A perfect example – This week I had four appointments in a row – There was a basic theme that ran through all these people’s stories. “I feel unworthy” to be in a relationship with God. How could I be part of the church with all my sins, failures, and frustrations? How can I share in the ministry of Jesus Christ like he wants me – us to do?
These people’s reactions sound pretty similar to Isaiah and Simon-Peter’s reaction. We hear God say, “Listen – I have a special job for you to do.” We hear them say, “Leave me alone Lord – I am a sinful person – I am unable and unworthy to be used by you”.
Isaiah and Simon-Peter, all of us here we need to be reminded over and over again – of three very important points:
1. The Mystery of God – is that God loves us despite ourselves – Thomas Merton wrote that the root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved by God irrespective of one’s worth. I heard someone define a disciple of Jesus as a “loved sinner.”
2. We don’t have to be Perfect First to be used by God. God wants our yes – God will take care of the rest. There is a prayer card that reads: “Nothing would be done at all if a person waited until they could do it so well – that no one could find fault with it.” 3. The “Break Thru” point – in being in a healthy relationship with God in truly being a disciple of Jesus Christ is this: Trusting enough to give our faults – failures – sins to God and allowing the healing power of God to work through us and with us – When Isaiah and Simon-Peter finally trusted enough to do this, it changed their lives- they were both able to say and believe it,
Here I am Lord – Send Me – Send Me.
4. Let me close with a very few words from the wonderful spiritual writer and speaker Maya Angelou. I hope and pray these words – touch the hearts of those of us with the inferiority complex when it comes to God. Listen carefully:
“In my twenties in San Francisco, I began acting agnostic. It wasn’t that I stopped believing in God; it’s just that God didn’t seem to be around the neighborhoods I frequented. One day my voice teacher asked me to read a passage from a book. A section which ended with these words: God loves me. I read it again and closed the book, and my teacher said, ‘Read it again.’ I pointedly opened the book, and I sarcastically read, God loves me. He said, ‘Read it again.’
“After about the seventh repetition, I began to sense that there might be truth in the statement, that there was a possibility that God really did love me – me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me and God?” Maya Angelou went on to say,
“…That knowledge humbles me, melts my bones, closes my ears and makes my teeth rock loosely in their gums. And it also liberates me.” “God loves me.” “Believe it”.

You Come Back Now 4-29-2018

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Sam is a great kid, but Sam is the only kid he knows that goes to church. But Mom insists.
Mom is a writer. In Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Mom explains why she wants her poor little Presbyterian church to be part of her son’s life:
“I want to give him what I found in the world, a path and a little light to see by. Most of the people I know who have what I want—which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with a deep sense of spirituality. They are people in community, who pray, or practice their faith…They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle.”
“When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St. Andrew tied a knot in it for me and helped me to hold on. The church became my home. They let me in. They even said: You come back now.”
Sam was welcomed and prayed for at St. Andrew’s seven months before he was born. When I announced during worship that I was pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced for me…Women [who] live pretty close to the bone financially on small Social Security checks…routinely came up to me and stuffed bills in my pockets—tens and twenties…And then, almost immediately they set about providing for us. They bought clothes. They brought me casseroles to keep in the freezer. They brought me assurance that this baby was going to be part of the family.
“I was usually filled with a sense of something like shame, until I’d remember that wonderful line of Blake’s—that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love—and I would take a long breath and force these words out of my strangled throat: Thank you.”
Today’s Gospel calls us to realize the connections between Christ and us and between us and one another. On the night before he died (the setting of today’s Gospel) Jesus reminds his disciples of every time and place that, in his love, we are “grafted” to one another in ways we do not completely realize or understand. As branches of Christ the vine, we are part of something greater than ourselves, something which transforms and transcends the fragileness of our lives. May our families, communities and parishes become extended branches for all of us who struggle to realize our own harvests of joy and discovery, of grace and faithfulness.
I close – “When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St. Andrew/the people of Resurrection tied a knot in it for me and helped me to hold on. The church became my home. They let me in. They even said: You come back now.”