Archive for the ‘Ordinary Time’ Category

Get Ready! Here Comes Lent! 3-3-2019

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Let’s Be Nosey and Eavesdrop on a Conversation….
Emily looked at the calendar and sighed “Oh, no!” she moaned. It’s that time of year again. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th.
“Lent,” I declared optimistically, “is a marvelous opportunity, a wonderful gift, a gracious invitation and God’s blessing of good news.”
“Bah!” Emily responded like an unrepentant Scrooge! And in rapid order, she ticked off her objections to Lent.
“Too restricting! A down-time! Old hat! Sad, dark, depressing…”
“Ooohh,” I said to myself. “Here’s a clear case of gloom and doom rather than an outlook of positive possibilities. I had better call the Spiritual Medics at 911…
Rather than a forbidding fence [holding one back] the 911 spiritual medics said, “Lent is an open door for personal growth.
+It is not a depressing down-time, but God’s gracious invitation to use one’s time for things that really count.
+This Lent is not a “been there, done that” but a clean slate for a new start.
+Not a sad, dark, or bothersome season, but one to move oneself forward for a fuller friendship with God, with self, and with others.
+Lent is a gift to realize who we are and where we are in God’s sight. It is a chance to change; it is a time to recharge our spiritual energies. It is an opportunity for new life.
+Lent is a call to make use of the time before us—it’s not so much something we’ve “got to do” as what we “get to do.”

For Lent to come alive—this year—we need to be specific in our intentions and actions. We cannot vaguely say, “this lent will be different” or “I’m going to be a better Christian. Such intentions sound good, but often they tend to evaporate like a puddle of water beneath a hot sun.
To help us with this, I have a challenge for you—the challenge is to remember this number: 144. In a 24-hour period there are 144 ten-minute slots of time.
For Lent this year, take TWO 10-minute slots of time per day and devote these two ten-minute slots to the things of God.
Let me toss out a few practical suggestions:
Begin each day with a prayerful and thoughtful sign of the cross.
Take time each day to be quiet in God’s presence.
Read a paragraph from scripture. Sit with it—break it open in our daily life.
Get rid of put downs, especially in our family.
Shed false images of yourself. Be honest!
Fast from prejudices, resentment, destructive gossip, unhealthy addictions.
Give up possessiveness of things or of people.
Stop being imprisoned by memories of past injuries.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Be yourself!
Communicate with a friend.
Remember a grace received—give thanks.
Laugh for 10 minutes a day: especially at yourself!
Begin fresh each day.
Appreciate your God-given gifts.
Use your gifts to help someone each day of Lent.
Be a caring and forgiving presence in your family.
Practice loving concern for poor people.
Share God’s love by random acts of kindness.
Care for the earth—recycle!
Turn off the TV! Talk more. (By the age of 50, most Americans have watched over 9 years of TV!)
There are so many more concrete and practical ways to be about the things of God this Lent.
It is time to recharge our spiritual energies.
To have an opportunity for new life—a fuller friendship with God.

A commitment to TWO 10-minute slots a day can change our lives!

A Difficult Challenge! 2-24-2019

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

I find this Gospel very difficult. I say to myself – what a difficult challenge! What helped me were these two stories. Listen.
When Abraham Lincoln was campaigning for the presidency, one of his arch-enemies was a man named Edwin Stanton. For some reason Stanton hated Lincoln. He used every ounce of his energy to degrade Lincoln in the eyes of the public. So deep rooted was Stanton’s hate for Lincoln that he uttered unkind words about his physical appearance and sought to embarrass him at every point. But, in spite of this, Lincoln was elected the sixteenth president of the United States.
Then came the period when Lincoln had to select his cabinet, which would consist of persons who would be his most intimate associates in implementing his programs. He started choosing men here and there for the various positions.
The day finally came for Lincoln to select the all-important post of Secretary of War. Can you imagine who Lincoln chose to fill this post? None other than the man named Stanton. There was an immediate uproar in the president’s inner circle when the news began to spread. Advisor after advisor was heard saying, “Mr. President, you are making a mistake. Do you know this man Stanton? Are you familiar with all the ugly things he said about you? He is your enemy. He will seek to sabotage your programs. Have you thought this through, Mr. President?”
Mr. Lincoln’s answer was terse and to the point: “Yes, I know Mr. Stanton. I am aware of all the terrible things he said about me. But after looking over the nation, I find he is the best man for the job.” So Stanton became Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and rendered an invaluable service to his nation and his president.
Not many years later Lincoln was assassinated. Many laudable things were said about him. But of all the great statements made about Abraham Lincoln, the words of Stanton remain among the greatest. Standing near the dead body of the man he once hated, Stanton referred to him as one of the greatest men who ever lived and said, “He now belongs to the ages.”
If Lincoln had hated Stanton both men would have gone to their graves as bitter enemies. But through the power of forgiveness Lincoln transformed an enemy into a friend. One simple act of forgiveness can change people’s lives. Are there any Stanton’s in your life right now?
Some years ago, a pastor in Boston was being harassed by a woman in his congregation. She started false rumors about him. She wrote vicious letters about him to his bishop and others. She initiated petitions to have him removed. After several months of this, the woman moved to another city and not long afterward was converted to Christ. Part of the process of her conversion was to realize the terrible wrong she had done and all the pain and suffering she had inflicted on her pastor in Boston. Consequently, she wrote him a long letter explaining what had happened to her and how deeply she regretted what she had done to him. The pastor immediately sent her a telegram with three words on it: “Forgiven, forgotten, forever!”
Is there someone we/you/me need to say those words to and mean them? Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever or do we want to live life like the trapped rattlesnake filled with resentment and bitterness and bite ourselves to death! I hope not. Lord help us!

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.