Archive for the ‘6th Sunday’ Category

The Toast 2-17-2019

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

It was at your wedding, and you and the guests were standing around at the reception, having a good time. And the best man signaled for everyone to be quiet for the toast. Everyone raised their glasses. The best man smiled at you and began:
To you. He said. I hope you are always wealthy, wanting for nothing. I hope you are always full, feeling no emptiness inside. I hope you will laugh and laugh and never know tears. I hope that always people will speak well of you.
Hear, hear. Everyone shouted, and clinked their glasses.
And then someone else went to the microphone there at the head table. Someone who perhaps had not been invited. Dressed in the simple plain homespun robe of the lower class, he looked out of place among all the suits and ties and Sunday dresses.
Clearing his voice, motioning for silence, he raised a glass and began his toast. Looking deep into your eyes, he began: And I have a toast to make. I can say with certainty, that I love you more than anyone here. In fact, I love you more than everyone here put together. And here are my hopes.
I hope you are poor at times. Your poverty might lead you to search me out, and in me you have a form of wealth greater than any king.
I hope you feel empty inside sometimes. People always full get complacent, lazy, closed.
I hope that you cry sometimes. Nothing is more superficial than a person who won’t let the sorrow of others and his or her own pain come close enough to reach their heart.
Lastly, I hope you live your life so honestly and so sincerely and so close to me that people are mystified by you and speak ill of you. An easy conformity to the world does no one any good, especially you.
And then this guest, still smiling intently at you, drank his glass, emptied it with so much gusto you’d have thought he was drinking in the Kingdom of God.
Very strange good wishes – from a very special friend.

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!