Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

The Raising of Lazarus 4-2-2017

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Let’s allow our imaginations to create a Hollywood version of the raising of Lazarus.
Picture it: Lazarus comes out of his tomb-bound up, mummy-like, wrapped tightly in burial garments.
See those tight wrappings around his body? Even as he comes forth to Jesus, they restrict his sight, speech and freedom of movement.
Listen carefully to the words of Jesus. “Untie him and let him go free.”
I believe Lazarus coming out of the tomb represents every person!
What is it in our lives that binds us up? At times ties us up, immobilizes us, limits our perception, and gets in the way of us reaching out to others and to God?
Is it an attitude or possibly our own fears that restrict us? Maybe it is a prejudice toward a particular group of people? Perhaps it is something that worries us? Something we did in the past that we are ashamed of? Could it be financial problems or a medical concern? Is it a broken relationship in our family, a habit of lying, trying to cover our tracks? Are we being squeezed to death by bitterness, resentment, anger, grief, guilt or a poor self image?
Remember these words. “Untie him and her and let them go free.”
As we reflect on what has us all wrapped up. What is preventing us from moving freely and experiencing real life?
I think it is important to also ask ourselves: Are there situations or relationships going on right now, where we are binding or tying up other people? How would we do this?
Does our sour, negative attitudes and biting criticism destroy the spirit of those around us? Are we quick to see the bad, and blind to the good and positive in the people close to us?
How about back stabbing rumors, parking lot gossip and unfair stereotypes?
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”
During this Lent as we take some time to look inward, as we think about what binds us and how to remove the tight wrappings. I think our Gospel reminds us of 3 significant realities that need to be clearly stated.
As Martha mentioned, regarding her brother, it is going to be a smelly procedure. Taking off these bindings will be a slow and painful process. It will be very messy. No real conversion happens without pain. We may be tempted to short circuit the process. We may want to fantasize that everything will be fine in he morning. But it will not go away by itself!
Jesus tells others to help unbind Lazarus. We will need help also. A good friend to listen and to challenge. A teacher, a minister, a trained counselor and a support group. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can do it alone!
The final point may be the most important. Right in the middle of this smelly, messy process of unbinding that we are challenged to enter into, we too, just like Lazarus, have the presence and reassurance of Jesus. “I am with you!” “You are not alone, even when it is the darkest.” “Don’t give up!” “Keep trying!”
“Untie him and her and let them go free.”

Lightning Strikes 3-26-2017

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Years ago, a boy was collecting berries in the woods near his Southern home. He was concentrating on filling his bucket – and mouth –with the delicious fruit and not paying attention to how deep he was going into the forest. The boy didn’t notice the dark clouds forming on the horizon. Then he heard crashes of thunder. Suddenly he realized that he was lost. Darkness enveloped the woods. The terrified youngster started to run with no sense of where he was going.
Then he remembered what his parents had taught him: When you’re lost, stop and be still, look around, and listen. So the boy stopped running and stood still. And he observed the lightning strikes illuminating the forest landscape. With each lightning flash he was able to see a bit farther ahead and walk a little closer to his destination until he found his way home, guided by the storm that had, at first, frightened him.
“Seeing” and “light” are key images of today’s Gospel for this Sunday in mid-Lent. Jesus cures a man born blind – but the greater miracle is opening the eyes of those around him to “see” the presence of God in their midst. Terrified of the storm, the little boy remembers his parents’ wise advice: Stop and look. See the light and make your way towards it. The Christ of Lent is that light that illuminates those times and places in which we can realize the love of God in our midst. Like the Jewish leaders and the temple officials, we sometimes become so obsessed trying to find God where God is not that we fail to see God where God actually is. We desperately want to know where God is when tragedy befalls us; we live our lives taking comfort in the erroneous notion that God is found only at certain times, in the rituals and pious practices our religion specifies. The reality is that God is most profoundly present in the simple, ordinary doings of life, in the kindness and love of others, in life itself and the gifts of the earth to sustain that life. May God grant us the vision that the blind man receives in today’s Gospel: to see the love of God present in all things.

Breaking Down Barriers 3-19-2017

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

INTRODUCTION
I. The Gospel story points us to one of the main works of Jesus – something we are called to do-
Breaking down barriers that divided the human family.
Some of these barriers are very real today.
II. First Barrier – was a Racial Barrier.
This woman was a Samaritan – Samaritans were regarded as an inferior race; scum of the earth. Jews had no respect for them; only distrust.
Jesus walked right through the Barrier like it did not exist. He saw a person made in the image of God. Centuries of History said they were adversaries. But Jesus paid no attention.
She was a Human being hurting and needing some help.
That’s all He saw!
III. The Second Barrier – was a Social Barrier.
He was talking to a woman – they could not believe it. This was an extremely male dominated society. Women were definitely 2nd class citizens and worse.
To Jesus – Each and every person was important. He shared some of his deepest spiritual insights with women; this woman was important to Him.
IV. The Third & Final Barrier – was the Barrier of Religion
People were fighting over where the proper place of worship was supposed to be. My mountain versus your mountain; my temple is better than yours.
A Religious Tug a War!
This battle was not bringing people closer together. Jesus emphasized that no one has exclusive claim to God – God cannot be contained in one place or controlled by a group of people. We cannot box up God in any one set of Doctrines.
With Jesus the important thing was not where or so much how you worship. But does worship connect to our hearts?
V. In Closing –
If we really want to follow Jesus – if we want to be the church, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions regarding these barriers that Jesus tried so hard to break down.
1. Do we label people – this or that because of their nationality or skin color. Because they speak a different language. Because they are not like us – labels that prevent us from getting to know them as human beings.
2. A good question for us to ask as Church – Do we still treat women as second-class citizens?
3. Do we use our religious beliefs as a club to beat up other religions?
4. What barriers do we need to break down right now in our families, in this parish that are dividing us?
May our prayer this week – be this:
Lord, give us the courage to look at what divides us and the strength to do something about these Barriers with your help. AMEN.