Archive for the ‘25th Sunday’ Category

A Perspective of Gratitude 9-24-2023

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Life is not easy right now – for some of us, things could not get any
worse. Our frustrations and impatience get the better of us. We avoid
confrontation for the most part, but we quietly seethe at being
disrespected or dismissed or overlooked.
Gratitude is a much more difficult attitude to embrace – it demands a
total recalibration of how we look at our life and world.
In his book, “The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the
Twenty-Third Psalm, Harold S. Kushner reflects on the importance and
blessings of gratitude:
“I read of a person who had formed the habit of writing Thank you on
the lower left corner of every check he wrote. When he paid his electric
bill or his phone bill, he would write Thank you to express his gratitude
to the companies that made those services available to him at the press
of a button. Even when he paid his taxes, he would write Thank you on
the check as a way of reminding himself (he didn’t think the Internal
Revenue Service would notice it) that his taxes were the price he
willingly paid for living in the United States with all of its benefits…..”
“Each night as I prepare for bed, I put drops in my eyes to fend off the
threat of glaucoma that would rob me of my sight and take from me the
pleasure of reading. Each morning at breakfast, I take a pill to control
my blood pressure, and each evening at dinner I take another to lower
my cholesterol level. But instead of lamenting the ailments that come
with growing older, instead of wishing I were as young and fit as I once
was, I take my medicine with a prayer of thanks that modern science has
found ways to help me cope with these ailments. I think of all my
ancestors who didn’t live long enough to develop the complications of
old age, and did not have pills to take when they did”.
The kingdom of God that Jesus proclaims is centered in a spirit of
gratitude for what we have received and the humility to seek to share
those blessings with others – and in that spirit of gratitude, we discover
the happiness that is centered in the Spirit of God. The workers in
today’s Gospel feel cheated by the vineyard owner’s generosity – their
resentment at their coworkers’ good fortune diminishes them and clouds
any satisfaction in being able to provide for their families. Jesus calls us
to a change in perspective: to look beyond what we do not have and
realize and rejoice in all that we have been given, including the love of
family and friends, good health, opportunities to learn and grow, the
freedom and resources to live lives of fulfillment and meaning.

We are only Passing Through 9-18-2022

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

After many years and several thousand miles, Dad traded in the
family station wagon for his dream car – a sleek, silver sedan.
He immediately laid down strict rules for the car. He would
carefully monitor its use. No more joyriding to the beach or leisurely
drives to the mountains. Trips to the corner market could be made on
bicycle or on foot.
There would be absolutely no eating anything in the new car.
Trips for ice cream and fall “tailgate” parties were history.
And this car was not going to be used like a truck as the old wagon
was: there would have to be another way to haul new trees and flowers
for the yard, shuttle the kids to their activities, move the older ones into
their dorms in September.
And the child who accidentally spilled her coke on the bumper will
never ever do that again! Every weekend now Dad spends hours washing, waxing, and detailing his pride and joy. He faithfully sees to the oil and maintenance. He never takes the car out of the garage in the rain or
snow, terrified that salt should start to eat the paint or that mud should
destroy the interior.
Yes, Dad finally owns his dream car. But the other family
members miss the old wagon and the happy times it made possible – and
they begin to wonder: Does the dream car own Dad?
In our gospel today Jesus warns all of us, his followers, about the
dangers of money and possessions. Notice he does not say that money
and possessions are bad, they can be very good things if used properly.
The serious warning has to do with this: We can become so
obsessed with the pursuit of wealth and the manipulation of power that
we seem to give up a piece of our humanity in the process.
As computer printouts and balance sheets become the center of our
existence, we unconsciously push the people and relationships dearest to
us into the margins of our lives.
Our scripture reminds us that one has to be concerned about
money, our possessions. But a thin line divides concern and being
controlled. You have heard that old saying, “Money is the root of all
evil,” and everyone thinks it comes from the bible. It does not! 1Tm
6:10 is one of the most misquoted passages in the whole bible. It
doesn’t read, “Money is the root of all evil,” it reads, “The love of
money is the root of all evil.”
I would like to give you a little bit of homework for the week. I
would like you to think/pray about/discuss these three questions:
1. How much does the love of money play a part in our life?
2. How can we use our money, talents and time to help God’s
3. Name some valuables in our life that money can not buy?
I close with this: In the last century, a tourist form America paid a
visit to a renowned Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was astonished to
see that the rabbi’s house was only a simple room filled with books, plus
a table and a bench. “Rabbi,” asked the tourist, “where is your
furniture?” “Where is yours?” replied the rabbi. “Mine?” asked the
puzzled American, “but I am only a visitor here. I’m only passing
through.” The rabbi said, “So am I. So am I.”
Do our possessions own us, does the dream car own Dad? I hope
not. Remember, we are all only passing through!

Those Glass Balls 9-19-2021

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

If you are like many people in our society today, you have a strong
desire to succeed in your chosen career. Never before have we had a
generation to whom success is so important. We want to be at the top of
the pyramid. We want to be number one. And there’s nothing wrong
with that.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. Personal
ambition is a gift God has bestowed upon us to cause us to be our best.
When I have surgery I want a doctor who is dedicated to being the very
best doctor in town. When I have my car repaired I would like to think I
have the best mechanic in town working on my car. There is nothing
wrong with striving to be number one. As someone has said:
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” Striving to be
number one can be healthy as long as we are able to put it into
Notice that Jesus didn’t scold the disciples for wanting to be
number one. What he tried to do was help them put it into perspective. Some anonymous writer put it like this: “Imagine life as a game in
which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work,
family, health, friends, and faith and you’re keeping all of them in the
air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it,
it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends,
and faith are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be
scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never
be the same.”
That is powerful imagery. Work is a rubber ball – but the other
important things in life – family, health, friends, and faith are made of
A pastor shared with me a story about a man who came to see him.
The man said “Pastor, I need to talk. I feel so empty – so dried up inside
– I’m scared.” His voice began to quiver just a bit. He said “Pastor, I
have just come from the doctor’s office – and he told me that I have only
six months at best to live. After I left his office I realized that I have no
spiritual resources, no inner strength to cope with this. There is nothing to fall back on, to lean against. Many people would be surprised to hear me say that, for I have made lots of money, and people think I am a
success not only at making money but at being a strong powerful
He then fell quiet, and the pastor waited in silence for him to go
on. Finally the man said, “You know I’m poor in the things that count
the most. I see it now. I’ve put my faith in the wrong things, and the
truth is I am destitute, spiritually destitute. I could pick up the phone
and call any bank in Houston and borrow any amount of money to do
whatever I wanted to. Just on my name, Reverend, just on my name!
Do you understand? I could borrow it on my name only.” The man then
leaned forward and put his head in his hands, and said softly through
tears, “I guess there are some things you can’t buy or borrow.”
There are some things you can’t buy or borrow. Family, friends,
health and faith. Those glass balls.
It’s interesting that Jesus put a child in their midst as a means of
helping his disciples to adjust their priorities. Children often remind us
that our priorities are out of whack. And love for our children can help us motivate ourselves to get our lives back in their proper focus. There was an article in People magazine about a man who
regained his focus thanks to his love for his daughter. Anyone who’s
ever tried to lose weight knows what a frustrating, impossible battle it
can be. Researchers report that of the few people who ever do lose
substantial amounts of weight, most regain the weight within a few
years. It seems so hard to find the motivation to lose the weight and
keep it off. But Randy Leamer didn’t have a problem with motivation.
He knew if he didn’t lose weight, his little daughter might die. At only
eighteen-months old, Meagan Leamer was diagnosed with severe kidney
disease. No matter what treatment the doctors tried with her, the toddler
just kept getting worse. By the age of five, Meagan desperately needed
a kidney transplant.
Meagan’s parents, Randy and Genie Leamer, were more than
willing to donate an organ to their daughter, and both were found to be
good matches. But Genie’s family had a long history of kidney
problems and high blood pressure, so an organ donation would be risky
on her part. That left Megan’s dad, Randy as the only possible donor. There was only one problem: Randy weighed over 300 pounds.Doctors were afraid that in Randy’s condition he wouldn’t survive the
surgery to harvest his kidney. So Randy, determined to lose over 100
lbs., in order to prepare for his daughter’s surgery.
He began exercising and eating a low-fat diet. Friends at work
cheered him on, and even brought in their old clothes for Randy when
his clothes became too big for him. Within eight months, Randy had
dropped to 194 lbs. Megan’s kidney surgery was performed. Both
Randy and Megan have recovered fully from the surgery.
Because of his love for his daughter, Randy took a needed action
that may in the long run give him a longer life. It is amazing how love
for our children can help us regain our focus in life.
I close! There are some things you can’t buy or borrow. Family,
Friends, Health & Faith. Those Glass Balls!