Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

God the Cheerleader 5-22-2022

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

Most people like to get gifts. In today’s Gospel Jesus says that
he’ll ask the Father and the Father will give us a gift, something called a
paraclete. You are now the proud owner of a paraclete. However,
sometimes you get a gift from a friend and you’re not sure of what it is,
even after you open it, one might rightly wonder (what this paraclete is).
Breaking the word down into its parts helps. “Paraclete” is a
Greek word and the “clete” part of it means to call out or yell. The
“para” means vigorously. So “paraclete” means to call out vigorously.
Now in some Bibles the word paraclete is translated into advocate or
consoler. Those words are good, but somewhat churchy and really not
earthy, the way that paraclete is in the original language. I think the
closest English word we have for paraclete is “cheerleader.”
If you’ve ever played on a basketball or football team, you
know that there’s such a thing as home field or court advantage – when
you are on your home turf and when the stands are full of your fans
cheering and screaming for you, you’re much more likely to play your
best game and give it your best shot.
Today’s Gospel presents a stunning and delicious picture of God –
God the cheerleader. Your biggest fan, according to scripture, is God.
God shouting for you; God standing up and cheering when you do
something well; God going into agony when you fall into the mud or get
beaten; God calling and pushing onward; God telling you – you can do it
– God the cheerleader.
There’s an important difference between God the cheerleader and
human cheerleaders. When you and I are cheering for people form the
stands, we might get so caught up in the excitement of the game we wish
we could go right down there on the field and do something concrete to
help. When I’m at a 49’er game and the 49’ers are behind I sometimes
get carried away and would love a chance to stand next to whatever
quarterback they have and help him throw the football. Well, you and I
can’t do that, but God can. God does not remain an impassive observer
in the stands while you and I make our way through the game of life.
God gets so carried away that in a fit of enthusiasm he leaves the stands
and becomes a member of the team. That’s the mystery of Jesus – Jesus
our brother, Jesus a member of the human race, Jesus walking with us
toward eternal life.
And as if that weren’t enough, Jesus says that he’s going to ask the
Father and we’ll be given still another paraclete, still another cheerleader
–the Holy Spirit, a little energy, something inside us that urges us on.
Imagine it! Three cheerleaders totally full of love and concern for you,
cheering you onward—God the Creator, cheering you from the distance,
calling you forward; God the Son, cheering you as your brother; walking
next to you; and God the Holy Spirit, cheering you from inside, kicking
you in the rear when you need it, pulling you, pushing you, tugging you,
congratulating you, forgiving you, telling you to keep on going and you
can do it.
And if we believe in this cheerleading God, there’s only one thing
for us to do – and that is to become cheerleaders ourselves. The vision
of Jesus is for husbands to cheer wives and wives to cheer husbands; for
old people to cheer young people and young people to cheer old people;
for single people to cheer their friends and friends to cheer single
people; for parishioners to sometimes cheer their Pastor, for all of us to
cheer each other and forgive each other and lift each other up into new
I close. Today the scripture invites you to consider the delicious
picture of God the cheerleader, God who is your best fan, God who is
the one urging you onward. There are already enough boo s in this
world – that’s the voice of the world telling you, you can’t be any better,
you’re just you. You’re stuck in that rut and that’s it. The world telling
you to lie down and die. But stronger than the voice of the world, strong
enough to bounce from one side of the galaxy to the other, is the strong
and silent word of God coming to you from the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit. The voice of the cheerleader that says “You’re Terrific. I know
you can do it. Get up – you’ll make it. HALLELUJHA!!”

A ‘Lap’ of Refuge 5-15-2022

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

A highly-skilled physician who treats patients with AIDS keeps a picture of her grandmother in her home. Every morning, before leaving for the hospital, she sits quietly before the picture. Her grandmother was an Italian-born woman who held her family close. Her wisdom was of the earth.
Once when Louisa was small, her kitten was killed in an accident. It was her first experience of death and she was devastated. Her Mom and Dad assured her not to be sad, that her kitten was now in heaven with God. But little Louisa found little comfort in that. She prayed, asking God to give her kitten back. But God did not answer.
In her anguish, she turned to her grandmother. “Why?” she asked. Her grandmother lifted her up and held her close. She did not tell her that her kitten was with God. Instead, she reminded her of the time when Grandpa died. She didn’t know why either. She prayed, but God did not bring Grandpa back. Louisa turned into the soft warmth of her grandmother’s shoulder and sobbed. At one point, she turned to see her grandmother crying, too.
Although her grandmother could not answer her question, a great loneliness was lifted and Louisa felt able to move on.
“My grandmother was a lap….a place of refuge” Louisa remembers. “I know a great deal about AIDS but what I really want to be for my patients is a lap, a place from which they can face what they have to face and not be alone.”
Our identity as disciples of Christ is centered in the compassion we extend to others – in our willingness to be a “lap”, a place of refuge, a source of peace for others. Our faithfulness in imitating the love of the Risen Jesus is not in having the right answers or in our dogmatic judgments but in our openness of heart and spirit to love selflessly, completely, unconditionally, as God has loved us in Christ.

A Lesson in Bedside Manner 5-8-2022

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

It was near the end of the E.R. resident’s second straight week of 14-hour night shifts. She was nauseated and cold from fatigue.
At 5 A.M. she was called to the examining room to see an 86-year-old man. Looking at the triage report, she had him categorized immediately: He’s going to be demented. He won’t be able to give me any history. Taking a deep breath, she began.
“I’m sorry to wake you, sir”, she said, trying not to overreact, reminding herself that this happens countless times. “Here’s some water”, offering him a glass.
As he sipped, she started firing questions at him about his symptoms and medical history. His speech was painfully slow, his answers inconclusive. She tossed the chart aside. On to the physical examination.
“My hands are cold”, she warned.
“Do what you have to do, Doctor”.
The doctor placed her frigid palm on his chest as she listened through her stethoscope. He didn’t flinch.
When she finished, he grasped her hand. Then the old man, who moved so slowly and painfully, began to rub her hand rapidly between his. The doctor stared at him with a combination of disbelief and annoyance.
“To warm you up, Doctor. My wife also gets cold when she’s tired. This helps her. You should be taking care of yourself; not old men like me”.
When he finished rubbing one hand, he took her other one. It felt incredibly good; the doctor continued to watch, but now in amazement.
He was the sick one, not her. And yet this man, the object of her impatience, was concerned about her well-being.
The doctor’s haste dissipated. At that moment, it was the patient, not the doctor, who had the healing touch.
The “voice” of Christ speaks to all of us – but to hear his voice demands that we come out of the soundproof isolation of our own interests and needs and hear Christ speaking in the plight of the poor, the needs of the helpless, the cry of the persecuted. Easter faith calls us to put aside our own crosses when we hear the voice of Jesus pleading in the struggle of those being crushed under the weight of their crosses; to rise above our own pain when we hear the voice of Jesus crying out in the pain of others; to give from our treasure when we hear the voice of Jesus begging in the poverty of others.