Archive for the ‘2nd Sunday’ Category

Transfiguration of the Lord 2-28-2021

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

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 along 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 1-17-2021

Friday, January 15th, 2021

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.

Road Builders 12-6-2020

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

The little boy is scheduled for surgery the following morning. He
is understandably scared. Late that night before the procedure, a nurse
comes in to check on him. He is awake. Seeing the tears in his eyes,
she sits on the corner of his bed and lets him talk about his fears. She
explains not only what will happen but why. She answers his questions
with honesty and assurance. After a while, the little boy understands.
He’s still anxious, but the road is now a little smoother…
He’d be perfect for the sales opening. He has been invited in for an
interview with the sales manager. Before the meeting he calls a friend
who works in human resources. The friend tells him what he knows
about this company and their culture and what they typically look for in
sales associates. They study the company’s website together and the HR
pro points out what to note about the company and what to talk up in the
interview. He also helps his friend update and tune-up his resume. By
the end of their time together, he’s ready for his meeting and a possible
new beginning on the road of his life… She was working on her psychology paper when she got the call
from her mom. Her beloved Nana had died. Though not a complete
surprise, she was still devastated. Her roommate made coffee and took
her up to the dorm roof, where they sat and talked. Actually, she talked
and the roommate listened. The roommate knew what she was going
through because the roommate had lost her grandmother the year before.
Her roommate’s empathy helped her negotiate, for the first time in her
young life, the hard journey down the road of grief…
I would like to leave you with this thought: John the Baptist, that
we hear so much about this week and next, came to fulfill Isaiah’s vision
of the prophet: to “make straight” a highway to God, to create a level
road for all of us to travel to the kingdom of God. We may have
forgotten this, but because of our baptism, we take on that same role of
prophet 2020 to create passageways and entries of hope, healing and
support for all of us to complete our journey on the road to God’s
dwelling place. Road builders: the nurse, the co-worker, the roommate,
every one of us sitting in this church today. Road builders to God!