Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

The Teens Who Knew Where To Stand 6-22-2014

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

In a local church community, some of the teens complained that the only time it seemed that they were needed or noticed was when there was cleanup after social events. Their wise youth ministry coordinator challenged them to come up with a solution. Their solution changed their community.
For five weeks in a row, at the same time and same door, the same pair of teens would gather at the three entrances of the church. As some of the “regulars” and others would arrive, the teens would extend their hands with a smile and announce, “Welcome to our church”. After dismissal, the faithful would leave by the same route, being greeted again by the same teens, who thanked them for their attendance.
By the third week, smiles appeared on the faces of the adults and families who were greeted by these teens with their familiar chant. This continued for two more weeks, with pats on the back, more smiles, and much feedback to the pastor.
The sixth week, the teens did not show up at their assigned spots. They were still at church, but in the pews with their own families. What do you think the question was in the pews that morning? Where are those teens?
Parishioners soon found out as they walked to their cars in the parking lot after Mass. They discovered printed invitations on their car windshields that simply read, “Did you miss us? Come to the hall?” Curious now, many parishioners went back into the building, where they passed between two rows of teens giving them a standing ovation.
That church community hasn’t been the same since. Many creative ministries are happening there now, all kick-started by the teens who knew where to stand.

Being a Disciple 5-11-2014

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

A word that comes up a lot in these post Easter Scriptures is the word Disciple – Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. The best definition I have ever heard of what a Disciple of Jesus Christ is, “is a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again.”
A person who makes this definition come alive for me was Peter, the first Pope. Picture with me Peter, Mr. Enthusiasm…the Charlie Hustle of the New Testament, jumps in with both feet, “There ain’t no mountain high enough – no valley too low – that I won’t follow you Lord. I won’t fail you – I am committed.”
A little while later Peter, Mr. Whishy Washy, “I don’t know this Jesus – you have mistaken me for another person – I’ve go to go, I am a busy person – this suffering and dying stuff is too much for me. I want to be part of a winner.”
If we explore the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles a little bit more, we meet Peter, the Cheer Leader. A sales person for God – Mr. Committed again, calling people forth to be Baptized. To make a personal commitment, “It’s worth it,” he says. He proclaims the crucified and risen Christ as the source of his strength and power.
A Disciple… a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again. YOU…ME… A Disciple…2014. Yes! Maybe. No!
(Go out to people and look up to Altar Area.)
“What is this Guy talking about Lord? Me be a Disciple? No way! If he only knew about the real me. If he knew what I did last night, or what I think about that person two rows in front of me. If he knew about the conflict in my family, or the trouble in my marriage. If he knew some of my secret thoughts, or old grudges that run so deep. If he knew that I am only here because my mother is making me, or that I have a secret plan to sneak out during communion. If he only knew my doubts…if he only knew.
I close with this thought; I truly believe that our God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how inadequate we are, how awful and hurtful we are to each other at times. God has heard every possible excuse we can make when it comes to following Him.
Today, Peter and other Disciples like him remind us that our God is very willing to work with and thru our weaknesses and inadequacies. God has given Peter and the others a second, third chance. God is willing to give us endless chances if we let it happen. God will not give up on us – let’s not give up on ourselves.
A Disciple – a person who tries to follow Jesus, makes a lot of mistakes, but comes back and tries again and again.

God Is There 5-4-2014

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Six-year-old Andrew Bateson came down with bacterial meningitis, an aggressive disease that almost cost the little boy his life. In order to save Andrew, doctors had to amputate his legs where the disease had destroyed his circulatory system. Andrew was devastated when he discovered what had happened to him; Andrew couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have his “old legs back”.
His mother, Rebecca, wasn’t doing much better. She tried to keep up a positive disposition for her son—but she wondered how Andrew would handle the next chapter.
And she felt betrayed—betrayed by God.
After months of agonizing rehabilitation with his new prosthetic legs, Andrew finally went home.
Then one night at supper, out of nowhere, Andrew said, “ I saw God, Mommy. I was sleeping at the hospital. He put his arms out, and I thought he was going to give me a hug. But instead he just touched me on the shoulder”.
His mother steeled herself. “Did God say anything?”
“No, he was just….there”.
A chill ran down his mother’s spine. Rebecca writes: “[God] was just there. What did that mean? I looked at Andrew, wolfing down his dinner. For months I had seen a handicapped child, a damaged child, fighting as hard as he could, failing more often than succeeding in his rehab. Falling down, unable to master his new legs. Yet, unlike me, never turning bitter, never giving up. “I’m going to walk, I’m going to ride my bike”, he’d insist, “You just watch”.
And Rebecca realized: “Andrew came through this better that I have. He was moving on. I was stuck in my bitterness and sense of betrayal…Had God been there all along for me too, and I was just too angry to see? Was he there for me now? Lord, thank you for being with Andrew. Be with me now, too”.
In closing, remember this: The Risen Christ is here, in our midst, in the love of family and friends, in the care of doctors and nurses, in the support of pastors and ministers, in the wisdom of teachers and counselors. The disciples on the road to Emmaus finally realize his presence in the breaking of bread; Rebecca finally grasps God’s presence in the unshakable, determined faith of her little boy. Every one of us has traveled the road the two disciples walked on Easter night; many of us have made the journey that Andrew and his mom and dad traveled. It is the road of deep disappointment, sadness, despair, anger. But God assures us, in his Easter promise, that along those roads he will make himself known to us. If our eyes are open, we will meet him in his Christ: in the compassion and generosity of others, in the breaking of bread and the healing touch of the sacraments, in the grace and wisdom of his Spirit in our midst. May our hearts and consciences always be open to behold the presence of Christ, our guest and companion along the many roads we walk to our own Emmauses.
His mother asked, “Did God say anything?” Andrew answered, “No….He was just there”!