Archive for June, 2023

The 4 th of July 2023 7-2-2023

Friday, June 30th, 2023

As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. I began to reflect over
the last 4 or 5 months how many people I listen to who told me story
after story of being overwhelmed, overwhelmed by bombings and
vicious terrorist acts overseas and in this USA, by senseless school
shootings, cars being used as weapons of destruction, chemical attacks
on innocent babies.
I began to reflect on when I felt like this before. It was after
September 11, 2001. What I wrote then, needs to be spoken today.
When the first crews of firefighters and police raced to the World
Trade Center on that horrible day September 11, 2001, they had no idea
of the enormity of what they were about to see. In those first few hours,
not one rescue worker could find the words to describe the devastation.
When asked by news reporters what it was like, all anyone could say
was, “It was hell…I have seen hell…I have been to hell”.
And we wondered then and continue to wonder today: How could
God create such a hell? How could God allow such a hell to even exist?
The answer is perhaps too simple to grasp. The reality is that God
does not create these hells, then or today. Human beings do. Our
hatreds and self-centeredness form the foundation of hell’s walls; our
fears and angers are its gates. Hell can perhaps best be described as
where God is not: When we allow the worst of our human nature to
triumph, when we have torn down and dismantled the compassion and
justice of God, we have created a new hell.
And the breadth and width of the hells we create can be breathtaking.
So where do we go to escape these hells? Is God’s heaven out of our
grasp and beyond our vision?
In the wake of the September 11 bombings, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner
was asked some questions. He was the author of the acclaimed When
Bad Things Happen to Good People. He responded:
“Where was God? I have to believe that God was at the side of the
victims, hurting and grieving with them so that they would not be facing
death alone. I have to believe that God was at the side of the firefighters
and rescue workers, inspiring them to risk their own lives in an effort to
save others. I don’t believe that God was on the side of the terrorists, no
matter how fervently they may have invoked God’s name as they set
their fiendish plan in motion.
Why didn’t God stop them? Because, at the very outset of the human
experiment, God gave us the free will to choose between good and evil.
Without that free will, humans could be obedient but could not be
We believe that God is not the God of the dead but the God of the
living. God is not placated by the destruction of sinners but rejoices in
the return of the prodigal. God does not condemn us to hell; God wishes
all of us to be saved. God will love us for all eternity, but there always
exists the possibility that we will refuse that love. That rejection and the
refusal to respond to such love are precisely the meaning of hell. Hell is
not a place where God puts us—it’s a place where we put ourselves.
Christ comes to show us how to dismantle the hells we create and set in
their places the justice, peace and forgiveness that are the building
stones of the kingdom of the Father.

Armed only with his Black Skin 6-25-2023

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023

He was living alone, while his wife was recovering at a rehab facility.
At 84, physically limited, he feared the world beyond the walls of his
small house in Kansas City, Missouri – and the social and political
divisions in his community and world only fueled his anxiety and
So little wonder when his doorbell rang that evening in April, he
reacted as he did. When he looked out his window, he did not see a
teenager who went to pick up his brothers. He did not see a young man
who had come to the wrong house (a common mistake in that
neighborhood). He did not see an honors student who, at 5-8 and 140
pounds, was hardly a menacing figure.
He saw a Black man on his porch who he immediately thought was
trying to break in and assumed that he was in imminent danger.
And so, he shot twice, hitting the teenager in the head and arm.
“Don’t come around here!” he yelled, as the teen struggled to get away.
The shooting left the country as well as his Missouri community
The man’s grandson later told The Kansas City Star (April 20, 2023),
that his grandfather had been immersed in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear
and paranoia.” He believes his grandfather is not a racist – just 84 years
old, living by himself, retired…and afraid.
The April 13 shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yari reveals not just our
political divisions, but our fear of what and who we don’t know; ideas
that we imagine threaten our safe, protected bubble; cultures and
lifestyles that seem to call into question the values and verities we
learned growing up. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus tells his followers
again and again “fear no one,” “do not be afraid.” If we embrace Jesus’
spirit of compassion and Jesus’ vision of a world of peace and
reconciliation, we can move beyond the darkness of anger and
hatred….and fear. Jesus assures us that we have nothing to fear if our
souls are ever aware of the presence of God’s love in our lives and we
are resolved to manifest that love in the midst of every challenge and

Sacred Vessels 6-11-2023

Monday, June 5th, 2023

The teacher asked her young students to bring to their next religious
education class something from home that symbolized their families’
faith. One student brought a rosary; another brought a Bible, a third a
crucifix. But one little girl brought perhaps the most meaningful
expression of all: her mother’s casserole dish often used to bring food to
the sick.
In our church, we use many “sacred” vessels and objects in our
worship: plates on which the consecrated bread of the Eucharist is
placed, chalices to hold the precious blood of the Lord, linens to cover
the altar, bowls of incense with clouds of smoke rising like our prayers
to heaven.
But there are many other ordinary, common things we use every day
that we would never think of as “sacred” – yet they can be instruments
and tools of God’s compassion.
For example: the crock pot, in which you make supper for a family in
mourning preparing to bury a loved one, is a sacred vessel.
The towel you use to wipe the brow of a dying parent or spouse is as
precious as altar linen.
The soup kettle and ladle that are used to feed the poor and homeless
transform a basement soup kitchen into a very holy place.
Every act of generosity, every kindness extended, every moment
given to the needs of another, is the incense of prayer rising to God’s
dwelling place.
On this day we recall something very special. In our taking the body
of Christ, we become the body of Christ. In receiving the Eucharist, we
must be willing to become Eucharist for others: to make the limitless,
complete love of Christ real for all.
I close with this: One day Mother Theresa of Calcutta was talking
about her ministry to the dying and her love of the Eucharist. She said
this, “We see Christ under two forms. We see him on the altar as bread
and wine and we see him in the slums as the broken bodies of forgotten
people. A body comes in eaten by worms. I know when I touch it that I
am touching the body of Christ otherwise nothing could make me do it.”
Take this home with you! “When we say “Amen” at communion today,
how do we become Eucharist to others”?