Trinity Sunday 6-16-2019

June 16th, 2019

The people who ask the most questions about God are children and
theologians – and their questions are surprisingly similar. Does God
exist? Where does He live? What does He look like? Where did He
come from and how does He spend His “time”? The search never stops.
When one inquiry is answered, it usually triggers others.
Actually, the deep mysteries of religion are not answered but only
commented on. Even Jesus didn’t give direct responses most of the
time. He replied with a story, a parable, or a comment. “What is the
Kingdom?” they asked, and He responded, “It’s a net full of fish.”
“How about the Church, what is it?” “A mustard seed.” “How can you
tell if a person is wise or foolish?” “One builds a house on rock, the
other on sand.” These are not complete answers but enlightening
comments designed to make people think.
Trinity Sunday presents us with some real puzzlers. Can you
explain the Holy Trinity? No! But we can make a comment: it’s like a
triangle, a shamrock or something that is three and yet one.
Religion is well supplied with a multitude of unfolding mysteries
of which the Trinity is only one – a major one. It’s no real
accomplishment to ask a question which perplexes the experts, for we
have millions more good questions than good answers. People often
think that the priest, bishop or pope, is the “answer man.” Not so.
These persons are expected to have some penetrating insights, but
basically they cannot answer religious mysteries. Their best response is
to make an intelligent comment in the form of a symbol, story or
perhaps a simple act of faith.
The mysteries of religion are not the kind which are waiting to be
solved. Rather, they are to continue as mysteries and be acknowledged
and appreciated. The Trinity is saying something to us about God’s
inmost nature. Although it is beyond human explanation, we will have
our own “answers” but they will all be incomplete. God is too big and
complicated for our little minds to grasp completely. But even though
He cannot be fully explained, we can always admire and believe God.
On a more down to earth level.
A high school teacher was talking to her students about the Trinity.
After her presentation she gave her class a writing assignment on this
question: “Which person of the Trinity do you relate to best at this time
in your life?”
I’d like to share with you three student answers to that question.
One boy wrote:
“My father and I have a zero relationship. I need a father right
now, and since I can’t turn to my own dad, I turn to my Father in
heaven. I sometimes talk to him about my problems, the way I would
like to talk to my dad about them.”
One girl wrote:
“My brother lives with my father, and I live with my mother. Ever
since my parents’ divorce two years ago, we hardly ever see each other
anymore. I never thought I’d miss my brother, but I do. So now I’ve
kind of adopted Jesus as a brother.”
Finally another boy wrote:
“Just recently I began praying to the Holy Spirit. I’m going to
college in a year, and I have no idea what I want to take up. I hope the
Holy Spirit will enlighten me. Anyway, I’m praying to him for
guidance.”
I find those comments refreshingly honest. I also find that they
make me ask myself, “Which person of the Trinity do I relate to best?”
I close.
God, you are profound in your mystery, and you never cease to
amaze me; I sometimes come to think that I have you figured out, and
then you zap me, and remind me that you are beyond the limitations of
my insight.
As I search for the words, titles, songs and images that attempt to
corner you, help me to know that you are beyond my words, deeper than
any effort to be “inclusive,” because what really matters, is that you
exist and that I see you present in your creation.
Amen.

The Power of the Spirit 6-9-2019

June 9th, 2019

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my
class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like
he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone
bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”
I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my
friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran
at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he
landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the
grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness
in his eyes.
My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled
around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed
him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get
lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on
his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it
turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him
before. He said he had gone to private school before now.
I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We
talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to
be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with
my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to
know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.
Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of
books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build
some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed
and handed me half the books.
Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we
were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on
Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be
friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a
doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.
Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about
being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation.
I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation
day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really
found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good
in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy,
sometimes I was jealous.
Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his
speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be
great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one)
and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.
As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation
is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.
Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly
your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is
the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”
I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first
day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked
of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it
later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me
a little smile.
“Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the
unspeakable.”
I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy
told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and Dad looking at
me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I
realize its depth.
Never underestimate the power of your actions. Never underestimate
the Power of God’s spirit working through us. With one small gesture you
can change a person’s life. For better or for worse

No Back-Up Plan 6-2-2019

June 2nd, 2019
There is an ancient legend about the ascension of Jesus into
heaven. According to the legend, when Jesus reached heaven, his body
still showed the wounds of his crucifixion.
His hands and feet still bore the prints from the nails. His side
bore the mark from the spear. His back bore the stripes from the whip,
and his head bore the wounds from the thorns.
When the people in heaven saw these marks, they were astounded
to see how much he had suffered. Then the angel Gabriel rose up and
said to Jesus;
“Lord, how greatly you suffered on earth! Do all the people on
earth know and appreciate how much you went through for them and
how much you love them?”
Jesus replied; “Oh, no! Only a handful of people in Palestine know
that, the rest haven’t even heard of me.” They don’t know who I am.
They don’t know how much I suffered, and how much I love them.”

Gabriel was shocked to hear this. Then he said to Jesus:
“How will the rest of the people on earth ever learn about your
suffering and your love?” Jesus said; “Just before I left, I told Peter,
James, and John, and a few of their friends to tell the rest of the world
for me. They will tell as many people as they can. Those people in turn,
will tell other people. In that way, the whole world will eventually learn
about my love for them.”
Gabriel looked even more confused now. He knew how fickle
people are. He knew how forgetful they are. He knew how prone to
doubt they are. So he turned to Jesus and said:
“But Lord, what if Peter, James and John grow tired and
frustrated? What if they forget about you? What if they begin to have
doubts about you? Didn’t you take these things into account? Don’t you
have a back-up plan just in case?”
Jesus answered: “I did take all these things into account, but I
decided against a back-up plan. This is the only plan I have. I’m
counting on Peter, James, and John not to let me down.”
Many centuries later, Jesus still has no other plan. He counted on
Peter, James and John and they didn’t let him down. He counted on the
people they told, and they didn’t let him down. And now Jesus counts
on us.
In his book “The Song of the Bird”, Anthony de Mello tells this
story. He puts it in the first person to give it added impact. He says:
On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering in a dress,
with little hope for a decent meal. I became angry and said to
God, ‘Why did you permit this?’
For a while God said nothing. That night he replied quite
suddenly, “I certainly did something about it. I made you, I made
you!”
Let’s close with a prayer:
Lord Jesus, on this feast of your ascension into heaven,
give us new eyes to see your face
in the faces of those who are in need.
Give us new ears to hear your voice
in the voices of those who cry out in pain.
Give us a new tongue to tell your story
to those who have never heard it.
Give us new hearts to share your love
with those who have not yet experienced it.
And Lord thank you for counting on us.
We will try our best!