Archive for June, 2021

Saving the World at Dunkin’ Donuts… 6-27-2021

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

A true story, recounted in the weekly “Metropolitan Diary” column of
The New York Times:
In Dunkin’ Donuts this morning an old lady wearing a tattered cap
started speaking to no one in particular.
“I can’t sleep at night. I have pains in my chest all the time. My leg
hurts and my children do not love me”.
People waiting in line hid in their cell phones, looked away or stared
straight ahead. We have all done it!
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. My husband
died two years ago on the 27th.”
Everyone pretended she wasn’t there. The girls behind the counter
took the next customers. The line inched forward.
At a side table, a beautiful young woman with matching purple scarf
and hat looked at the old woman and said, simply, “Honey, please sit
down with me and tell me your story.”
It’s possible, you see, for one person to save the world or at least part of it.
Life can be so much easier and peaceful when we have nothing to do
with others—don’t get involved, walk away, mind your own business,
are much safer approaches to life. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus is not
afraid to wade into the messiness of life in order to transform, heal and
restore. In the two miracles we hear today, Jesus ignores custom and
taboo in a way that modern readers may miss: In taking the dead girl by
the hand, in allowing the sick woman to touch him, Jesus became
ritually unclean and not permitted to enter the synagogue or temple. But
to respond compassionately to the plight of these families becomes more
important, more sacred, than  the “safety” of convention and tradition.
May we imitate that same compassion of the healing Christ, risking our
own sense of comfort and satisfaction in order to bring that love into the
lives of others.
You see, it’s possible for one person to save the world, or at least one
small part of it!

Bethany House 6-20-2021

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

A parishioner, in her will, left her small house to the parish. The
property was adjacent to the church property.
The pastor and the parish council began to look at possibilities for
the property. A number of options were suggested: a religious education
center; a residence for the pastor, enabling the parish to sell the big, two-
thirds empty house he now lived in; tearing down the house to create a
memorial park or expand the church parking lot.
Then a group of the town’s residents asked to meet with the
council. They proposed that the house be used as a temporary shelter for
battered women, a safe place where women and their children could
escape an abusive husband and begin the process of rebuilding their
lives. The council listened politely and empathetically. Then the “buts”
started… It is important work, but the house would be empty most of
the time. Do we want to get involved in these family situations? Can we really make a difference here? What about the liability, the
safety of parishioners who work on this, potential damage to the
A member of the parish council said nothing during the barrage of
questions and concerns. Finally, she asked to speak. She told her own
story of being in an abusive relationship years before and that a house
like this and the group who maintained it had saved her life and her
daughter’s. She had never spoken about it before but felt she needed to
speak up now. This is more important than you know, she said quietly.
So, the little house became Bethany House, named after the home
of Martha and Mary and Lazarus, the friends of Jesus with whom he
often stayed. Members of the parish stepped forward to fix up the house
and furnish it. And it has been a safe place for families battered by the
winds of abuse and hardship.
In a storm of doubt and skepticism, the “sleeping” Jesus awakens
in the courage of a woman whose powerful story leads her parish to take
on a challenging but important ministry in their community.
We do not realize that the Gospel Jesus “sleeps” within our own “boats” he “awakens” during the most difficult and demanding storms we
encounter, enabling us to do what is right and just. Within each of us is
the grace of the “awakened” Jesus in today’s Gospel: the wisdom, the
patience, the courage to discern the presence of God amid the storms of
tension, fear, anxiety, and the injustice we experience. As Frederick
Buechner writes in his book Secrets of the Dark: “Christ sleeps in the
deepest selves of all of us, and whatever we do in whatever time we
have left, wherever we go, may we in whatever way we can call on
him as the fishermen did in their boat to come awake within us and
to give us courage, to give us hope, to show us, each one, our way.
May he be with us especially when the winds go mad and the waves
run wild, as they will for all of us before we’re done, so that even in
their midst we may find peace, find Him.”

Mustard Seed Faith 6-13-2021

Sunday, June 13th, 2021

Ben Durskin is nine years old. For almost four years, he has been
treated for acute lympho | blastic leukemia. During a punishing protocol
of chemotherapy, he passed the time with his Game Boy and Play
Station. Last summer, Ben came up with his own videogame, designed
especially for kids with cancer. In Ben’s Game, a boy (modeled after
Ben) zooms around a screen on a skateboard, blasting cancer cells in
order to collect “shields” that protect against the usual side effect of
chemo: fever, chicken pox, colds, vomiting, hair loss. A player can’t
lose – “you just keep fighting,” explains Ben.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation and software engineer Eric
Johnston of LucasFilms worked with Ben to create the game. Ben’s
Game has won raves from the 200,000 children who have found the
game, available free on line. Not only is the game fun but children learn
about the “monsters” attacking their bodies and how they can best beat
For eight years, 15-year-old Sasha Bowers and her family were homeless. Sasha, her little sister and her mother spent most nights in Columbus, Ohio, shelter, fighting hunger and bugs and kept awake by
snores and screaming. Two years ago, Sasha’s mom landed a job with a
cleaning company and the family was able to move into an apartment.
But Sasha hasn’t forgotten where she came from. She’s been the
driving force behind a summer day-camp program for 175 homeless kids
in Columbus. “When I was in shelters, there were no safe places to
play,” Sasha explains. “I wanted to create a place that was fun, where
kids could stay out of trouble while parents find jobs and housing.”
When Ryan Hreljac was in the first grade, he was shocked to learn
about African children having to walk five miles to get a bucket of clean
water. Ryan did odd jobs around the house and for neighbors for four
months to raise $70, the cost of digging a well.
That was six years ago. Since then the Canadian teen’s
foundation, Ryan’s Well, has raised $750,000 to build wells in seven
African nations. Relief and development agencies in Canada say of
Ryan: “He’s such a regular kid – that’s what makes him so powerful…
He believes everyone should have water, and he’s not going to stop until they do.” These remarkable young people, Ben, Sasha, and Ryan possess the
faith of the mustard seed: they have taken their own “Mustard seeds” –
seeds of creativity, empathy and dedication – and have done the hard
work of planting and nurturing those seeds until each one has realized an
enduring and rooted harvest of hope, of compassion, of life itself. Christ
calls us to embrace “mustard seed” faith – to believe that even the
slightest act of goodness, done in faith and trust in God’s presence, has
meaning in the reign of God. The mustard seed challenges us to grab
hold of the opportunities we have for planting and reaping a harvest of
justice, compassion and reconciliation in our own piece of the earth.
Ben, Sasha and Ryan – remarkable young people – they planted
their tiny mustard seed, worked hard, and God did the rest.
You, you, you, all of you, remarkable people. Plant your tiny
mustard seeds wherever you find yourself in life, work hard and let God
do the rest. Mustard seed faith – to believe that even the smallest act of
goodness, kindness, done in faith and trust in God’s power, can have an unbelievable effect on many, many people. Please, don’t sell yourself
short – don’t sell the power of God short!