Archive for May, 2016

The DCC 5-29-2016

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

n the November 1998 issue of Food & Wine magazine, writer Gerri Hirshey tells the story of her grandmother’s “special ministry” to her family:
“As a child, I often watched my tiny Italian grandmother, Geraldine, board a city bus cradling a mason jar of hot minestrone. This meant that someone – Uncle Carmine, Aunt Antoinette – was down. It didn’t matter whether they were felled by the flu, a feisty gallbladder or the evil eye. Having heard the alarm, Nonnie (our name for grandma) tied on an apron and started banging soup pots.
“For nearly half a century, Nonnie was the Designated Soup Carrier (DSC) for a sprawling Neapolitan network of family and friends in Stamford, CT. Somewhere between a field medic and a shrink, a DSC is found in many cultures and is usually female. In the midst of crisis, her prescriptives are basic and sustaining: Stop a minute. Taste this. Life is good.”
Nonnie’s daughter Rose – Gerri’s mother – eventually became the DSC for her brothers and sisters and their families; now, granddaughter Gerri has assumed the duties of DSC for her generation. The Designated Soup Carrier’s in Gerri Hirshey’s family model Jesus’ vision for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Nourished and sustained by the food we have received, we become nourishment and sustenance for others. Out of love, Christ gives us himself in bread and asks us to become, in our love, bread for others – Designated Christ Carriers (DCC).
Here are several examples:
A. He was old, tired, and sweaty, pushing his homemade cart; stopping now and then to poke around somebody’s garbage. I wanted to tell him about Eucharist, but the look in his eyes, the despair in his face, told me to forget it, so, I smiled and I said “Hi” and I gave him Eucharist.
B. She lived alone, her husband dead, her family gone, as she talked at you – not to you, words, endless words. So I listened and gave her Eucharist.
C. He sat across my desk – very nervous. He finally said it, “I have AIDS” – by God’s grace, I did not say, how did you get AIDS?” – I said “How can I help?” I gave him Eucharist.

I close:
As you, as we – say our Amen today at communion time – let us remember and take to heart these words – “We receive Eucharist – to become Eucharist for others. Let us remember and take to heart this challenge – the work of proclaiming God’s reconciling love belongs to every one of us, whether we collect taxes, teach math, manage a Fortune 500 company or shine shoes for a living – may we possess the greatness of spirit and generosity of heart to be ministers of the Gospel – Designated Christ Carriers, in whatever place we are in, whatever time God has given us. Amen. “We receive Eucharist – to become Eucharist for others.”

Trinity Sunday 5-22-2016

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

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 compete 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.

The Power of the Spirit 5-15-16

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

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.