Archive for April, 2024

You Come Back Now. 4-28-2024

Friday, April 26th, 2024

Sam is a great kid, but Sam is the only kid he knows that goes to
church. But Mom insists.
Mom is a writer. In Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith,
Mom explains why she wants her poor little Presbyterian church to be
part of her son’s life:
“I want to give him what I found in the world, a path and a little
light to see by. Most of the people I know who have what I want—
which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with
a deep sense of spirituality. They are people in community, who pray,
or practice their faith…They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of
their own candle.”
“When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St. Andrew tied a
knot in it for me and helped me to hold on. The church became my
home. They let me in. They even said: You come back now.”
Sam was welcomed and prayed for at St. Andrew’s seven months
before he was born. When I announced during worship that I was
pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-
thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose
grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced
for me…Women [who] live pretty close to the bone financially on small
Social Security checks…routinely came up to me and stuffed bills in my
pockets—tens and twenties…And then, almost immediately they set
about providing for us. They bought clothes. They brought me
casseroles to keep in the freezer. They brought me assurance that this
baby was going to be part of the family.
“I was usually filled with a sense of something like shame, until
I’d remember that wonderful line of Blake’s—that we are here to learn
to endure the beams of love—and I would take a long breath and force
these words out of my strangled throat: Thank you.”
Today’s Gospel calls us to realize the connections between Christ
and us and between us and one another. On the night before he died (the
setting of today’s Gospel) Jesus reminds his disciples of every time and
place that, in his love, we are “grafted” to one another in ways we do not
completely realize or understand. As branches of Christ the vine, we are
part of something greater than ourselves, something which transforms
and transcends the fragileness of our lives. May our families,
communities and parishes become extended branches for all of us who
struggle to realize our own harvests of joy and discovery, of grace and
I close – “When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St.
Andrew/the people of san carlos tied a knot in it for me and helped
me to hold on. The church became my home. They let me in. They
even said: You come back now.”

Listening for the Lost Child 4-21-2024

Saturday, April 20th, 2024

For any parent, there is nothing more terrifying than to suddenly
discover that your child is missing. You are at the mall or the beach or
the park—one moment the child is grasping at your pant leg; a second
later the child is nowhere to be found.
In your fear and panic, you shut out every noise, every distraction
demanding your attention – you focus totally and exclusively on finding
your child. You begin frantically looking, running down aisles and
alleys, questioning everyone, checking every possible hiding place.
Nobody gets in your way; nothing slows you down. You become so
caught up in your search for your child that you manage to shut out
everything else in sight for that glimpse of his baseball cap or her yellow
sweater; you are so focused in your search that you tune out every sound
and noise so as to hear the words your heart aches for: “Mommy!
Daddy! I got lost.”
In today’s Gospel, Christ assures us that his voice can be heard
above the noise and din of our lives, offering us peace, wisdom and
guidance if we listen purposefully and attentively. When our spirits
ache over love that has been lost, when we lose our moral and ethical
way, when we feel our footing slip beneath us as we try to navigate life’s
twists and turns, Christ’s voice can always be heard if we listen with
hope, with conviction, with faith. Like a lost child’s voice to frantic
parents, the voice of Christ calls out to us above our desperation and
fear, to guide us, to support us, to prod us on our journey to the dwelling
place of his Father.

God is Waiting to be Found. 4-14-2024

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

The disciples ran to Jerusalem with exciting news.
“We just saw Jesus,” they exclaimed.
The others crowded around to get the details. They all wanted to
know how he looked. And you would have thought that these two
people who had just seen Jesus would have remembered how he looked,
but they could not do it. What was wrong with them?
All they could say were things like:
“He looked like a father stretching out his hands to his prodigal son
and his older brother.”
“He looked like he did when he laid his hands on all the sick,
restoring them all to health.”
“He looked like he did when he took Jairus’s daughter by the hand
and brought her back to life.”
“He looked like the apostles when they distributed those five
loaves and two fishes to those five thousand hungry people.”
“He looked like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out her
hand and touched his cloak and was healed.”
“He looked like the woman who washed his feet with her perfume
and was blessed with his forgiveness and peace.”
“He looked like the widow with hands folded in prayer, seeking
justice from that corrupt judge.”
“He looked like he did on the night before he died when he took
bread and broke it saying, ‘This is my body to be given up for you. Do
this as a remembrance of me.’”
So this is how they described Jesus’ appearance. And every time
after that, whenever they saw hands reaching out to touch the lives of
others, they saw Jesus alive.
I close with this story: A little boy was playing hide-and-seek with
his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he
was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house
to see what was troubling him and to comfort him. After learning what
had happened, the grandfather said, “Do not weep, my child, because the
boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it
is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is
waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”
In so many ways, the risen Christ is in our midst, present in the
love, charity and goodness of others, in the Sacrament of Eucharist, in
God’s Word – Broken and Shared, in the Community of Faith Filled
People and in moments of Grace and Prayer. Unfortunately, we often do
not realize it.
May our celebration open our hearts and spirits to recognize Christ
among us in every season of our life. “Lord, help us not to miss you.