Archive for the ‘14th Sunday’ Category

Staying Power 7-9-2023

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

A minister was called to the hospital. Caroline, a beautiful baby
girl the minister had recently baptized, had been diagnosed with a
malignant tumor intertwined with her spinal cord at the base of her
brain. Caroline’s young parents were stunned with hurt and grief. The
minister stayed with the couple throughout the night. But he had no idea
what he could do or say. Say something! He kept telling himself. A
prayer, a verse from Scripture, anything!
But all he could do was cry with the couple.
After some time, the pediatric oncologist came in and outlined a
plan to treat the child. The minister was relieved, of course – but
realized that he had nothing to give this family that mattered. Feeling
helpless, he decided then and there to leave the ministry and do
something more useful and constructive with his life.
Later that night, the child’s parents asked the minister for a favor.
“We’re exhausted. Caroline won’t stop crying. Could you hold
her for a little while so we can step out and take a break?”
The minister took Caroline in his arms and rocked her. She cried,
and the minister cried, and then, having expended all her energy, she
drifted off to sleep. The minister kept rocking little Caroline until her
parents returned, relieved to see their child at peace. They placed
Caroline gently in her crib, and the minister said his goodbyes.
As he stepped into the cold night air, he realized that he would not
leave the ministry after all, that all his preparing for ordination and
ministry was for this very night: to rock a very sick child to sleep, to
offer her and her family whatever little hope he had, to simply love this
family in God’s name.
This minister discovered that, despite his own doubts about his
ability to do anything that matters, he is able to bring the love of God to
a hurting family. Jesus comes to show us how to transform our own
sense of uselessness and exhaustion into the means for mending broken
hearts and heal wounded spirits. Jesus calls us to take on the “yoke” of
hope in the midst of despair and the “burden” of compassion under the
weight of fear and hurt. The “yoke” of the Gospel Jesus is “easy” in the
joy it brings to the generous heart; it’s made “light” by the love of God
that we are able to bring into the lives we touch.

Instruments of Peace, Who Me? 7-3-2022

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Lord, we hear today that You sent many others out before us as
instruments of Your peace, and I am told that You want all of us here to
be instruments of Your peace; I am feeling a little overwhelmed by all of
this and so I have to ask, where do we begin?
A woman was standing on a curb, waiting for the light to say
WALK so that she could cross the street. Directly across from her on the
opposite curb was a girl of about 17. She too was waiting for the light to
say WALK so that she could cross the street.
The woman couldn’t help but notice that the girl was crying. In
fact, her grief was so great that she made no effort to hide it. For a
moment their eyes met. It was only a fleeting glance, but it was enough
for the woman to see the terrible pain that filled the girl’s eyes. Then the
girl looked away.
At that moment the light changed. Each stepped off the curb into
the street and started across. As the girl approached, the woman could see that she was quite pretty, except for that terrible grief in her face.
Just as they were about to meet, the woman’s motherly instincts came
rushing to the surface. Every part of her wanted to reach out and
comfort that girl. The desire was all the more great because the girl was
about the same age as one of her own daughters.
But the woman passed her by. She didn’t even greet her. She just
passed her by. Hours later the pain-filled eyes of that girl continued to
haunt the woman. Over and over the woman said to herself, “Why
didn’t I turn, fall in step with her, and say, ‘Can I help?’ But I didn’t. I
walked on by. Sure, she might have rejected me and thought me a nosey
person. But, so what! “Only a few seconds would have been lost, but
those few seconds would have been enough to let her know that
someone cared. But, instead, I walked on by. I acted as if she didn’t
even exist.” I have been reminded many times that a person in need does not
always need a great expenditure of our energy, or our time, or our
money. What they need most is a simple and sincere sign that we care Our Scriptures this week, last week and next week, do not invite us
to go out, risk our lives, and become religious heroes or superstars; they
invite us to reach out, risk our pride, and become humans; they invite us
to ask sincerely, “Can I help?” Instruments of Your peace . . . “Can I
help?” – that is where we begin

Too Good To Be True! 7-4-2021

Sunday, July 4th, 2021

You’re just too good to be true! You have a great build and a sharp
mind! You’re a snappy dresser and a smart looker. You’ve got all the
credentials: sociable, sensitive, caring. You’re just too good to be true!
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you be thrilled and overjoyed
if someone approached you and marveled, “You’re too good to be true!”
That’s how the home folks put it when they heard Jesus teach in the
synagogue that Sabbath. As he taught they whispered, “Who’s this guy?
Where did he get all the smarts? How did he get the magic touch? He’s
better than a chiropractor or a shrink!” They went bananas over him!
They were so excited they tripped over one another to get a better look.
And when they did?
Someone in the crowd gasped, “That’s that…ah…ah…Mary’s kid,
you know, the Mary who takes in the wash!” And someone else chimed
in, “Sure, that’s Mary’s kid. Her husband is Joe, Joe whatchamacallit?
Their cousins live in the old shack a couple of blocks down the street
from us.” Then do you know what happened? They stopped dead in their tracks, shook their heads sadly, and whined, “Too good to be true!
We know where he comes from. He’s from the other side of the tracks.
Oh, he put on a good show: he fooled us for a minute. We thought he
was a real whiz – that he could teach all of us a thing or two. But now
we know he’s “too good to be true!”
Too good to be true? What a turnaround! They were silly people
back then, weren’t they?
Back then? Has anything really changed? (I hope so).
Someone says, “Hey, you’re intelligent, sensitive, caring. You’re
perfect for the job but, uh, we don’t want women in this business. Tsk!
Tsk! Too good to be true!”
Or, “My goodness!” You have impeccable credentials. We want
responsible people like you living in our building. But, uh, there’s a
little problem. Tsk! Tsk! The color of your skin! Oh well – too good to
be true!”
Or, “Do you know how badly we need someone to teach these
kids? You come with the highest recommendations. But, hmmm, you are one of them aren’t you? Too good to be true! See you!” It doesn’t take much reflection to realize how our biases change
our outlook on the world. First we are impressed with what we see and
hear. Then the bias takes over and what we saw and heard we didn’t see
or hear. Too good to be true! What are the consequences of bias in these
Jesus’ townspeople lost out because if they had received Jesus into
their lives they would have been enriched by his presence. Jesus lost
too! He couldn’t be for them what he had intended, and this was his
loss. Our biases prevent us from appreciating others’ gifts, which then
inhibits them from developing these gifts. After all, without others
appreciating our talents, we might not be motivated to develop them.
“You’re too good to be true” is either others’ positive assessment of who
we are or their dismissal of us altogether! Affirm or deny. The choice is