Archive for the ‘2nd Sunday’ Category

The Second Half of Life 4-7-2024

Friday, April 5th, 2024

When you were a child, you probably took part in your parish’s
religious education program. For eight years, you learned the prayers
and rituals of our Church. In high school, you were confirmed. Soon,
you were off to college – and “church” may have been put aside as you
earned your degree and, after graduation, establishing your career. Then
you married and began a family. And your faith took on a renewed
importance as you wanted your children to have the same connection to
God you had.
That’s the “first half” of a typical spiritual life when you learn the
choreography of a religious institution. You developed a language for
articulating your faith; you established a spiritual identity in belonging
to a church. The choreography and language of faith you learned then
became a bridge to instill those same values in your children.
But then came a crisis in your life – and unexpected illness or
death throws you, you get divorced, you get fired.
After that crisis, you entered the “second half” of the spiritual life,
one in which you hear a “deeper voice” of God. It is a voice calling you
to compassion, forgiveness, risk, surrender.
You now hear God not just in the rituals and creeds of your
church; you hear God in the deepest part of your heart. Your faith is
now fully yours.
The apostle Thomas might be considered the patron saint of this
“second half” of our spiritual lives – when we struggle to make sense of
our lives that have been turned upside down by crisis or catastrophe. In
today’s Gospel, Thomas feels that the faith he learned from and
embraced in Jesus has been betrayed in Jesus’ crucifixion. But, in his
resurrection, Jesus offers Thomas a reason to hope, a baseline for belief,
a prism for looking at the world with gratitude for what has been and
what will be. Faith, in the “second half” of our lives, is the ability to
hope that we can transform and remake, recreate and re-focus our lives
in the love of God and life of the Risen Christ.

Transfiguration – A Big Word 2-25-24

Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Michelle and her mother had made the trip to the hospital
many times. For the past two years the five-year-old had been receiving
treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia – and the treatments had
been a success. But today’s mission was to remove the port used to
inject medications and draw blood.
As they waited, Michelle wrapped her arms around herself and
began to rock. Soon Dr. Jardine, the anesthesiologist, entered the room.
He asked Michelle’s mother some questions, while little Michelle
anxiously rocked faster and faster.
As Dr. Jardine was scribbling notes, he watched Michelle try to
rock away her fears. Dr. Jardine put down his pen and sat down on the
bed next to the frightened little girl. “Say, Michelle, would you rather
have gas, with no needles? I’ll let you pick your favorite flavor.”
Michelle nodded and stopped rocking. She chose the bubble-gum
flavor. Dr. Jardine then asked her what her favorite bedtime story was.
After placing the bubble-gum mask on her face, Dr. Jardine leaned down
and whispered. “Once there were three bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear
and a beautiful small bear named Michelle.” And the little girl drifted
off with a smile and transformed the last, dreaded procedure into a
gentle triumph.
The figure of the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor calls us to the
Lenten work of transfiguration – to transform the fear, sadness and
despair around us into the compassion, forgiveness and hope of Easter.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that “God places us in the world as
God’s fellow workers – agents of transfiguration. We work with God so
that injustice is transfigured into justice, so that there will be more
compassion and caring, so that there will be more laughter and joy, so
that there will be more togetherness in God’s world.”
A group of computer salesmen from Milwaukee went to a regional
sales convention in Chicago. They assured their wives that they would
be home in plenty of time for dinner. But with one thing or another the
meeting ran overtime so the men had to race to the station. As they ran
through the terminal, one man inadvertently kicked over a table
supporting a basket of apples. Without stopping, they all reached the
train and boarded it with a sigh of relief. All but one. He paused. He
waved goodbye to his companions and returned to the terminal. The
ten-year-old boy selling apples was blind.
The salesman gathered up the apples and noticed that several of
them were bruised. He reached into his wallet and said to the boy,
“Here, please take this ten dollars for the damage we did. I hope it
didn’t spoil your day.” As he started to walk away the bewildered boy
called after him, “Are you Jesus?” He stopped in his tracks. And he
The work of Lent is to transform the fear, sadness, and despair
around us into the compassion, forgiveness and hope of Easter.
“Lord, there is a lot of work left to be done. Please help us to do
our part now.” Amen.

Extreme Faith 1-14-2024

Monday, December 18th, 2023

I picked up a major California paper – there was this big article on
Extreme Sports and how popular they are. Tied into that article was
another item about all our extreme fashions – not only extreme clothes
but also ornaments attached to the body. There was a cartoon in this
article which shows a teenager who has a nose ring – baggy clothes and
spiked hair. He says to a friend “I don’t really like dressing this way,
but it keeps my parents from dragging me everywhere they go.
There was NO article in this paper on “Extreme Faith”.
Maybe we have made being a Christian too easy. Maybe we need
to offer people the opportunity to risk life and limb for Christ, as did the
early church. Maybe we need to give people the opportunity for danger,
as did the great missionary movements that have swept through the
church throughout the centuries. We have made being a Christian so
convenient and so comfortable that our faith has lost its edge. A faith
that demands too little will not grab hold of the passion that many people
need in their lives today.
Maybe we have made it all too easy. And that is a shame. People
are risking their lives simply for the purpose of getting high. People are
mutilating their bodies just to get others to notice. And yet there is a
world out there that still needs to be saved by men and women with
adventurous spirits who are committed to Christ.
I want to particularly address the younger people in our community
for just a few moments. The most rewarding adventure a young person
can devote himself or herself to is that of following Jesus. That is what
extreme faith is all about – following Christ.
Our scripture lesson today is about a young man named Samuel –
perhaps twelve or thirteen – who gave his life to serving God. Samuel
had been left at the Temple as a child by his parents to serve as an
assistant to the prophet Eli. One night as he lay in his bed Samuel heard
God speak his name. At first he thought it was Eli who was calling for
him, but Eli realized it was God. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down,
and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So
Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord called his name
again. And this time young Samuel said, “Speak, Lord, for your servant
is listening.” And the Lord spoke to Samuel. Here is what he said:
“See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of
everyone who hears of it tingle.”
In other words, God was saying to Samuel, “I’m getting ready to
cause some excitement in this land and I want your help.”
Young people, that is God’s call to every generation: “I’m getting
ready to cause some excitement in this land I want your help.” And, if
enough young people – and enough older people answer as did Samuel,
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” then exciting things do
happen. Suddenly extreme adventures as well as extreme fashions seem
somewhat irrelevant. Suddenly you are in tune with the mind and the
heart of the universe and every day throbs with the excitement of being
alive to God.
A missionary society wrote to the great missionary David
Livingstone deep in the heart of Africa and asked, “Have you found a
good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other

men and women to join you.”  Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men and women who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them.  I want men and women who will come if there is no road at all.”  Christ is still looking for men and women like that today, people who will come if there is no road at all.  Better than extreme sports – more exciting than extreme fashions.  God is looking for men and women who have extreme faith.  What will our answer be?