Archive for the ‘6th Sunday’ Category

Scars 5-6-2018

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.
He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
His father, working in the yard, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could.
Hearing his voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. It was too late. Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard his screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.
Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his father’s fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved.
The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The little boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Dad wouldn’t let go.”
You and I can identify with that little boy. We all have scars too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of our struggles, God’s been there holding on to us.
The scripture teaches that God loves us. We are children of God. God wants to protect us and provide for us in every way. But sometimes, we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril—and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That’s when the tug-of-war begins—and if we have the scars of God’s love on our arms, be very, very grateful. God did not and will not ever let us go.
Please pass this story on to those you love. God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others. You just never know where a person is in his/her life and what they are going through.
I close, never judge another persons scars, because you don’t know how they got them.

GOD’s Absolute Love 2-11-2018

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

I remember some years ago Bishop Fulton had a prime time TV show opposite Milton Berle every Wednesday night. One night he told about his visit to an African leper colony. He had brought along a supply of little silver crucifixes so he would have something special to give to each of the 500 lepers in the camp. The first leper he met had only the stumps of his left arm. And his right arm and hand were covered with ugly, open sores. Sheen took one of the little crucifixes, held it a few inches above the leper’s hand, and then let it drop into his palm.
In a flash, he was struck by what he’d done. “All at once”, he said, “I realized there were 501 lepers in the camp, and the most leprous of them all was myself. I had given a crucifix—the symbol of God’s absolute love for all of us—but then I had pulled back and closed my eyes to what the symbol implied for me. So I looked again very hard at that little crucifix, and I knew what I had to do. I pressed by hand to the leper’s hand with the symbol of love between us, and then I proceeded to do that for all of the remaining 499 lepers”!
None of us, thank God, are lepers. But there’s not one of us, if we are honest, whose heart hasn’t been wounded or even broken many times, not one of us who doesn’t need healing. So it is to all of us that Jesus is speaking by his actions in Sunday’s gospel. In stretching out his hand, touching that leper and healing him, Jesus is telling us—once again—that God does love us all no matter how damaged or broken we are. He’s telling us that no matter how bad we have been, our God will always be there for us, always be waiting for us to open our hearts so God can heal us.
That’s the first half of Jesus’ message, but there’s more. In addition to what God wants to do for us, there’s the matter of what God wants us to do for one another. And it turns out to be exactly the same thing; we are to become healers too, healers of one another. That sounds wonderful, but how do ordinary, wounded people like us become healers? Very simply by remembering how our own wounds feel and remembering what we need when we are broken. What we would like, of course, is a quick fix for our wounds, but what we need is a friend who will reach out just as Jesus did, take us by the hand, when our hand isn’t looking so good, and walk through the darkness with us and not let go of us halfway!
If that is what we need as we try to walk through our hurts and losses, it is also exactly what our brothers and sisters need. And it is something each of us can give.
Here is a real life example of what I am talking about.
Some years ago, an old man collapsed on a busy street corner in downtown Brooklyn. Within minutes an ambulance rushed him to Kings County Hospital. There he kept calling his son.
A nurse found a dog-eared letter in the man’s wallet. From it she learned that his son was a marine stationed in North Carolina.
That night an anxious marine showed up at the hospital. Immediately, the nurse took him to the old man’s bedside.
The man was heavily sedated. And so the nurse had to tell him several times, “Your son is here! Your son is here!”
Finally, the old man opened his eyes. He could barely make out his son, but he recognized his marine uniform. At that point, the son took his father’s hand and held it lovingly.
For the rest of that night, the marine sat at the man’s bedside. Occasionally, he patted the man’s hand and spoke to him tenderly.
Several times the nurse urged the marine to take a break and get something to eat or drink. But he refused.
Toward dawn, the old man died.
When the nurse extended her sympathy to the young man, the marine said, “Who was that man?”
“Wasn’t he your father?” the nurse asked.
“No, he wasn’t”, said the marine. “I never saw him before in my life”.
“Why didn’t you say something?” said the nurse.
“I would have”, said the marine, “but I could see that he was too sick to realize I wasn’t his son. I could also see that he was slipping fast and needed a son. So, I decided to become that son”.
Ordinary—wounded people can do things like this marine did for the old man. Extend a hand of friendship and help someone walk through the darkness to a new day.
Jesus did it—this marine did—we are asked to do the same.
Lord Help Us!

God the Cheerleader 5-21-2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Most people like to get gifts. In today’s Gospel Jesus says that he’ll ask the Father and the Father will give us a gift, something called a paraclete. You are now the proud owner of a paraclete. However, sometimes you get a gift from a friend and you’re not sure of what it is, even after you open it, one might rightly wonder (what this paraclete is).
Breaking the word down into its parts helps. “Paraclete” is a Greek word and the “clete” part of it means to call out or yell. The “para” means vigorously. So “paraclete” means to call out vigorously. Now in some Bibles the word paraclete is translated into advocate or consoler. Those words are good, but somewhat churchy and really not earthy, the way that paraclete is in the original language. I think the closest English word we have for paraclete is “cheerleader.”
If you’ve ever played on a basketball or football team, you know that there’s such a thing as home field or court advantage – when you are on your home turf and when the stands are full of your fans cheering and screaming for you, you’re much more likely to play your best game and give it your best shot.
Today’s Gospel presents a stunning and delicious picture of God – God the cheerleader. Your biggest fan, according to scripture, is God. God shouting for you; God standing up and cheering when you do something well; God going into agony when you fall into the mud or get beaten; God calling and pushing onward; God telling you – you can do it – God the cheerleader.
There’s an important difference between God the cheerleader and human cheerleaders. When you and I are cheering for people from the stands, we might get so caught up in the excitement of the game we wish we could go right down there on the field and do something concrete to help. When I’m at a 49’er game and the 49’ers are behind I sometimes get carried away and would love a chance to stand next to whatever quarterback they have and help him throw the football. Well, you and I can’t do that, but God can. God does not remain an impassive observer in the stands while you and I make our way through the game of life. God gets so carried away that in a fit of enthusiasm he leaves the stands and becomes a member of the team. That’s the mystery of Jesus – Jesus our brother, Jesus a member of the human race, Jesus walking with us toward eternal life.
And as if that weren’t enough, Jesus says that he’s going to ask the Father and we’ll be given still another paraclete, still another cheerleader –the Holy Spirit, a little energy, something inside us that urges us on. Imagine it! Three cheerleaders totally full of love and concern for you, cheering you onward—God the Creator, cheering you from the distance, calling you forward; God the Son, cheering you as your brother; walking next to you; and God the Holy Spirit, cheering you from inside, kicking you in the rear when you need it, pulling you, pushing you, tugging you, congratulating you, forgiving you, telling you to keep on going and you can do it.
And if we believe in this cheerleading God, there’s only one thing for us to do – and that is to become cheerleaders ourselves. The vision of Jesus is for husbands to cheer wives and wives to cheer husbands; for old people to cheer young people and young people to cheer old people; for single people to cheer their friends and friends to cheer single people; for parishioners to sometimes cheer their Pastor, for all of us to cheer each other and forgive each other and lift each other up into new life.
I close. Today the scripture invites you to consider the delicious picture of God the cheerleader, God who is your best fan, God who is the one urging you onward. There are already enough boos in this world – that’s the voice of the world telling you, you can’t be any better, you’re just you. You’re stuck in that rut and that’s it. The world telling you to lie down and die. But stronger than the voice of the world, strong enough to bounce from one side of the galaxy to the other, is the strong and silent word of God coming to you from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The voice of the cheerleader that says “You’re Terrific. I know you can do it. Get up – you’ll make it. HALLELUJHA!!”