Archive for the ‘2nd Sunday’ Category

Second Sunday of Lent (Transfiguration of the Lord) 3-5-2023

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

There once was a king whose greatest desire was to gain absolute
power over every square inch of his kingdom. He had succeeded in
removing all obstacles to his complete control except one; the people
still put their ancient God above the king. The king summoned his three
wisest advisors to find a way to put an end to such worship. “Where,”
asked the king, “where might the people’s God be hidden and so be
made to vanish from their lives and cease to challenge my rule?”
The first advisor suggested hiding the God at the summit of the
highest mountain. “No,” said the king, “The people would abandon
their homes and climb the highest mountain to search for their God.”
The second advisor proposed hiding the people’s God at the
bottom of the sea. But the king rejected the idea as well; “The people
would probe the ocean’s depth to find their God,” he said.
Finally, the third wisest advisor, a wrinkled and bent old man,
spoke his advice in a hoarse whisper. “O mighty king,” he said, “hide
the people’s God somewhere in their everyday lives. They will never
find it!”
This third trusty advisor understood who we are! God is hidden,
but not in some remote, faraway spot. God is right here in our everyday
lives. Yet we rarely see God and rarely recognize God’s presence. All
too often we fear that we are walking alone and we dread that our
journey may have no destination, may be just a long walk to nowhere.
All too often we are deaf and blind to God. So, it is for us – doubting
and weary travelers – that Jesus was transfigured and, just for a moment,
shone alone like the sun on top of that mountain. And it is to us, the
blind and the deaf, that God is speaking through that stunning event.
And what is God saying? “I am with you always, walking at your
side. And your name is written on the palm of my hand. If you listen
carefully, you’ll see that I am here. So, watch and listen!”
It takes time to learn how to listen attentively and respectfully to
everyday life. It takes time to learn how to hear what’s really going on
around us and to see what’s always been right under our nose. It does
take time, but if we persist in paying respectful attention to everyday
life, very slowly we’ll begin to catch a glimpse of God when we look at
a rose; we’ll begin to feel the nearness of God in the cool evening
breeze; we’ll begin to hear God’s voice echoing inside the voice of a
friend. And we’ll begin to know the warmth of God’s presence as we
hold a newborn child.
The road we walk is a long one, often rough, and sometimes
dangerous. But God desires that none of us walk that road alone. God
desires that at every moment of every day we have the comfort, the
strength, and the delight of divine company. A friendship that is ours for
the taking.
I came across a poem by an 11 year old girl who does a very good
job of recognizing God in her everyday life:
“I saw Jesus last week. He was wearing blue
jeans and an old shirt. He was up at the church
building; He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute he looked a little like one of our
members. But it was Jesus…I could tell by his smile.
I saw Jesus last Sunday. He was teaching a Bible class.
he didn’t talk real loud or use long words. But you
could tell he believed what he said. For just a minute,
he looked like my Bible teacher.
But it was Jesus…I could tell by his loving voice.
I saw Jesus yesterday. He was at the hospital visiting a friend
who was sick. They prayed together quietly. For
just a minute he looked like Mr. Jones.
But it was Jesus…I could tell by the tears in his eyes.
I saw Jesus this morning. She was in my kitchen making
my breakfast and fixing me a special lunch. For just a
minute she looked like my Mom.
But it was Jesus…I could feel the love from her heart.
I see Jesus everywhere. Taking food to the sick…
Welcoming others home. Being friendly to a newcomer…
and for just a minute, I think he’s someone I know.
But it’s always Jesus…I can tell by the way Jesus serves.”

Behold God is in Our Midst 1-15-2023

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

The character of John the Baptist is someone we usually meet
around Christmas but over the last two weeks he has played a major role
in launching Jesus on his three-year mission. Some scholars say John
the Baptist’s role was to point people to Jesus… “Look! There’s the
Lamb of God…Look! God is in our midst.” Pointing people to Jesus
and then getting out of the way and letting Jesus work in people’s lives.
I believe that this Sunday reminds us that as baptized Christians it
is our role to point people to Jesus and to get out of the way like John the
Baptist. We may do this in very different ways than John the Baptist,
but we need to do it each in our own way.
An eight-year old boy is facing surgery. He asks his doctor,
“What’s it like to die?” Neither the doctor nor anyone else on the
medical staff can answer this question directly – but one hospital
employee can. She isn’t a doctor or nurse or child psychologist. She
cleans the floors. One night the boy asks her, “Are you afraid of
dying?” She puts down her mop, looks up from the floor and replies,
“Yes, I am, but I do something about it.” She talks to the boy as an
equal, not as a superior. She tells him that she believes in God and finds
comfort in the words of Jesus. The two talk for a long time. She has put
the boy at peace simply by listening to him. Behold, the Lamb of God…
A high school student is struggling with his algebra homework.
The frustration builds and the teenager slams the book shut. His father
comes into the kitchen and asks if he can help, but the teenager says,
“They didn’t even have algebra in your day.” Defeated and angry, the
boy goes off to bed. At 4:00 A.M., his dad shakes his son awake and
sits him back down at the kitchen table. The father, who works two jobs
as a janitor and a chauffeur, sat up all night to read the algebra book
from cover to cover. He worked the problems through until he
understood them enough to be able to explain them to his son. With his
dad tutoring him, the student finally grasps the equations and completes
his homework. That night, a father taught his son much more than
algebra. Behold, the Lamb of God…
Within a month, she had lost both her father and her mother. It
was something neither she nor her husband knew how to deal with. She
was devastated; getting through the days was often more than she could
handle. He thought he might be able to lessen the blow by being a more
attentive spouse or more romantic husband. He felt more and more
inadequate at not being able to do something to alleviate her grief. Then
the night came for them to see the musical Wicked. The tickets had been
bought months before. The two lead sang a song that always reminded
her of her mother. That’s when he realized his role: to be there to hold
her hand, to have Kleenex at the ready, to let her know he would be
there when the music ended and the lights came back on. Behold, the
Lamb of God…
I close…
In every act of selfless generosity and humble compassion, the
Lamb of God walks in our midst. Everyone of us – of every profession
and age group, possessing every talent, skill and ability – has been
called, as the Baptizer was called, to point to the Christ, the Lamb of
God, dwelling among us and walking with us in our doubts, our hurts,
our fears. John declared his witness in preaching and baptizing at the
Jordan; our witness can be declared in less vocal but no less effective
vehicles: in our compassion for others, in our uncompromising moral
and ethical convictions, in our everyday sense of joy and peace.
Behold, God is in our midst! Amen.

Watch, Listen, & Believe 12-4-2022

Sunday, December 4th, 2022

Let me to take you on a little journey to a Big, Busy, Shopping
Mall. Let me introduce to you someone.
He caused quite a commotion among the shoppers at the mall.
Many dismissed him as annoying nut. He was dressed in a tattered
flannel shirt and jeans. No one knew where he spent the night, but he
was seen rummaging around the dumpsters for scraps of food from
Orange Julius and McDonald’s. Every day he could be found by the
beautifully lighted fountain near the mall’s food court. Despite his
ragged appearance and that slightly “off” look in his eyes, there was a
kindness and sincerity about him that drew people to him.
He would ask them why they would spend so much money for
Christmas, why they would allow themselves to become so obsessed and
stressed out over this tinseled holiday. “We like our Christmas with a
lot of sugar, don’t we?” he would tease. But Christmas is about hope
and love, he said – and that can be a struggle. Give gifts of kindness and
compassion to each other. Seek forgiveness from family and friends
who may be lost to you. Let the spirit of the Christ Child embrace every
season of the year, not just December.
Those who listened would nod in agreement as he spoke – even as
they tightened their grips on their shopping bags. Some were moved to
quit shopping and go home to be with their families, others would go off
and buy an extra toy or piece of clothing for charity; a few would even
be moved to escape to a church or chapel for quiet prayer.
Sometimes he would rail against the insipid music and the gaudy
decorations. When the mall Santa would walk by, he would make fun of
him, asking the embarrassed Santa pointed questions about the real
Christmas story.
Soon, though, the storeowners had had enough of his distractions.
The mall managers had security escort him from the premises.
He wasn’t really hurting anyone, they realized.
But he had to go, they said.
He was ruining everyone’s Christmas.
“He Had to Go”. John the Baptists 2022. They come in all ages,
sizes, shapes, colors, sexes and backgrounds. What do they do? They
tease, they challenge, they poke us, and they point us to Jesus. To Jesus’
way of life.
Pray with me today, Advent 2022, that we will not be blind to the
John the Baptists that come into our daily lives. Believe me – they will
come. Watch, Listen, and Believe.