Archive for September, 2020

Walk Your Talk 9-27-2020

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

There are two important themes that are very clear to me in our gospel. I’d
like to share them with you.
First. Do what you say. Walk your talk. Connect what we do here in worship
with our words to our everyday lives and our actions.
A chaplain on a battlefield came across a young man who was lying in a
shell hole, seriously wounded. Would you like me to read you something from this
book, the Bible he asked? I’m so thirsty; I’d rather have a drink of water, the
soldier said. Hurrying away, the chaplain soon brought the water. Then the
wounded man said, “Could you put something under my head”?
The chaplain took off his overcoat, rolled it up, and gently placed it under
the man’s head for a pillow. Now, said the suffering man, if I just had something
over me, I’m cold.
The chaplain immediately removed his jacket and put it over the wounded
man to keep him warm. Then the soldier looked the chaplain straight in the eye and
said, “If there’s anything in that book that makes a man do for another all that you
have done for me, then please read it, because I’d love to hear it.
What affects people most is often caught rather than taught. Having God on
our lips is not enough we need God in our heart. Second Theme: Even if we have said NO to God it is never too late to say yes to
change.
A man turned to drink. He also turned from God and his family. One day while
walking along, thinking about how his life turned out, he saw a bent, rusty nail in
the gutter. It reminded him of himself and his life. So he picked it up and took it
home. Placing the nail on an anvil, he began to straighten it out and clean it up. An
hour later, it looked almost new again. Then it occurred to him. He could straighten
out and clean up his own life in the same way. That thought triggered his
conversion. He turned away from drink and back to God and his family. Today, he
keeps that nail, Straightened and cleaned, in his wallet. Was there a time when I
was almost like that bent, rusty nail? It is never too late to change.
I close with this story. Someone once called a pastor to say he wanted to join
the parish. He went on to explain, however, that he did not want to have to go to
Mass every Sunday, study the bible, be a lector or an usher, visit the sick, or help
out with CCD classes.
The pastor commended him for his desire to be a member of the parish, but
told him that the church he wanted was located across town. The man took the
directions and hung up. When he arrived at the address the pastor gave him, he came face to face with his own apathetic attitude. For there stood an abandoned church and several other buildings, all boarded up and ready for demolition.
1) Walk your talk 2) It is never too late to change 3) Live your faith

All Are Welcome 9-20-2020

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Listen – One and All. Salvation is a gift. There are no first or
second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. We are all God’s children
and God loves us all the same. And isn’t that the way it ought to be?
There are enough ways of measuring status in this world without having
first and second-class citizens in the world to come.
Every society, from the poorest to the richest, has some way of
measuring status. Back in the days when the stagecoach was the
primary means of transportation in the American West, one sign of
status was the class of stagecoach ticket you bought.
It was common for a stagecoach to breakdown, or to get stuck on a
rocky or muddy path. Passengers with a third-class ticket were required
to get the stagecoach going again. They removed the rocks or tree limbs
that blocked the path, they cleared the mud from around the wagon
wheels, they unloaded the heavier items from the stagecoach. If the
stagecoach load was too heavy for the horses to pull up the hill, second-
class passengers had to disembark and walk up the hill. First-class passengers were not expected to do any work. No matter how messy the
situation was, no matter how stuck the stagecoach was, a passenger with
a first class ticket was under no obligation to help on the journey. He or
she simply benefited from the work of others.
Friend, forget such distinctions in the Kingdom. God plays no
favorites. And that’s good. It would be my luck to go into the Kingdom
right behind Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. But, here’s the good news,
it won’t matter at all. My robe will be just as white as Mother Teresa’s,
because it has been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. And my crown
will be radiant – though it may slip off a little to the side. Whether
we’ve served seventy years or seven minutes in the fellowship of Christ,
the reward is the same – the presence, and power of perfect love. We
shall see Christ face to face.
There’s an old story told about a little church west of Winchester,
Virginia. One Sunday morning their minister was rather preoccupied.
His sermon did not make as much sense as it usually did. As the
congregation listened, they became concerned about him. At the close of the service, before he pronounced the benediction, he said, “You know that my wife and I have a daughter that we haven’t
seen in awhile: She was leading another kind of lifestyle, one that we
didn’t exactly approve of. She left  home and we hadn’t seen her….
“Until we found her the other day. She was in apartment with no
heat, no warm water, and no electricity. We also found her with our
grandson, three months old. We asked her if she wanted to come home,
and she said that, yes, she would.
“Many of you in our congregation will not approve of someone
like that living in your parsonage. But she’s our daughter and we love
her.
“There are two doors to our church. I feel that some of you won’t
be able to shake my hand this morning. And that’s okay. I’ll
understand.” And with that, he went to the back of the church,
pronounced the benediction, and waited.
You know how it is on Sunday. For one reason or another, people
are always slipping out the other door so that they can get away quickly.
But, that Sunday morning, every member of that church went out the front door to shake the minister’s hand. And it went further than a handshake. The people opened their
loving arms wide, and accepted the young mother and child in their
congregation. Clothes seemed to materialize out of nowhere. A job was
found so that the young lady could make her own way. Babysitters just
seemed to appear out of the congregation so she could go to work. In
short, this congregation began to take the Lord Jesus Christ’s message of
forgiveness seriously.
There were those in the community who began to talk. “Did you
hear about the minister’s daughter who is going to church now? And
they are letting her in! Sinners worship in that church!”
Yes, sinners did worship in that church. In fact there were people
who were members of that church who had not been seen in years, but
now began to attend services. They had not felt good enough to attend
before. But now they realized that not being good enough was exactly
the reason they ought to attend. And attend they did. A church and
community were changed forever when a lost daughter and her child came home.
I close with this. I wonder how the people in this community think about this church? Do they see this as a place of grace? Or do they see
us as a people who play the same kind of meaningless games that the
world outside plays. I hope they see this place as more than that
cathedral on Church Street in Monterey. I hope they see us as a place
that welcomes sinners in the same way that Christ welcomes sinners. I
hope they know that regardless of where their feet may have traveled
through the years –even if — no, especially if they have wandered, there
is a home for them here. Hear this one more time and pass it on – to at
least one more person today – this week. It makes no difference if you
came to Christ seventy years ago, or if you come to Christ today. He
loves you just the same. Do you know anyone who needs to come
home? To this home? Let them know they are welcome here!

The Once and Future Hoarder 9-13-2020

Friday, September 11th, 2020

If you’ve been to a grocery store since March, chances are you had
this experience or something similar to it:
You were looking for a particular brand or product that the store just
could not keep in stock: staples like milk, eggs, tuna fish, soap – and
who will ever forget the Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020? Part of the
problem was the supply chain could not keep up with the new demands
of so many people suddenly being home all day – but a big part of the
problem were the “hoarders”: people who stockpiled many of these
staples, managing to snap them up as soon as clerks could re-stock the
shelves.
So you complained – too loudly and angrily, perhaps – to the
manager of the store. You went through the entire litany: how you have
been a loyal customer of this store for years, that this pandemic has been
difficult for you and your family, that it’s unfair that a few people should
be able to snap up everything, etc. The manager listened politely and
apologized profusely. Maybe he or she would save you a roll of TP or a
dozen eggs. Then, the next time you shopped, you found a product that had been
out of stock for weeks. Your heart leapt for joy! Never could you
imagine that hand sanitizer could be the cause of such elation; you
grabbed the tomato soup as if you had found the Holy Grail. You
resolved that you would not do without this again, so you filled your cart
with as many cans or boxes or bags of the product as you could push.
Did it ever dawn on you that someone else would now do without
because of your “stocking up”?
Or you may have experienced this: You’re at the bank to conduct
some business and the customer ahead of you seems to be renegotiating
the debt of a small European country; he or she has managed to tie up
not just one but several tellers and an assistant manager while you and
others wait. It’s finally your turn and, without realizing it, you take up
more than your fair share of their time with One more thing, Before I
forget, and As long as I’m here…….
Or you’re looking for help at the hardware store or home center and
you wait and wait while another customer has collared a clerk in search of the right nut and bolt. Finally, finally! – it’s your turn. And you
found that you had more questions about your project than you thought – as other customers waited. You had become the kind of shopper you
had complained about, the would-be-do-it-yourselfer who needed more
help than you realized.
It’s not much of a leap from being the forgiver to the forgiven. The
servant’s cruel treatment of his fellow servant begins with his forgetting
that he was once indebted and forgiven. Such forgiveness does not
come easily: it requires overcoming our own anger and outrage at the
hurt we have suffered and re-focusing our concern, instead, on the
person who wronged us; it means possessing the humility to face the
hurt we have inflicted on others as a result of our insensitivity and self-
centeredness. But only in such forgiving and seeking forgiveness are we
able to realize the possibility of bringing healing and new life to a pained
and grieving situation. Christ calls us to create within our families and
communities that king of environment in which forgiveness is joyfully
offered and humbly but confidently sought. It begins by recognizing our
own indebtedness, our own failings that divide and hurt – often without
our realizing it.