Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

Love one Another 5-9-2021

Sunday, May 9th, 2021

I have a truly sad story for you today. Couple of years ago, I was
called to the cemetery to officiate at the burial of a woman who had
no parish priest. She was very old – 97 – and had been active to the
end. But when the hour for the service came, there was only one
mourner, her 75 year old son.
“Tell me about your mother, “I asked. “She must have been a
positive, energetic woman to have lived so long entirely on her
own.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “She was difficult. She had
no idea how to love. She was never abusive to me; she was just
nothing to me. And now she is gone.”
And so he cried for what might have been, could have been,
should have been. He cried and spoke softly to himself the
saddest words in our language, “Too late.”
Too late! May none of us ever have to speak those words. But
how can we avoid it? There’s only one sure path and Jesus laid it
out for us his gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you.” A simple formula for a life without regret. And yet we
misunderstand it all the time. We keep confusing the cheap
imitations with the real thing. Infatuation, sentimental tears, the
teenage crush, a passionate song, that warm and cozy feeling – all
very nice, but they’re not love.
To love is to give a piece of one’s heart and not take it back.
Love sticks around in the good days and the bad ones. It does
what needs to be done in tiny pieces and can be done even by the
smallest of us.
Love has its bad days when its heart is cold and there are few
cheery thoughts to warm it. But even then, love does not falter,
and does not take back that piece of the heart that it gave away.
Love’s work is never done, but its yield is never ending.
True love will never have to speak the words, “Too late!”
Long ago Jesus our brother gave his whole heart to us once and
for all. May he help us to give our hearts to one another and never take them back. May he help us never have to say: – “Too Late /
Too Late!” Let me close with this:
OH GOD,
The bumper sticker said:
“SMILE IF YOU LOVE JESUS.”
So I SMILED all day long…
And people thought I was acting a little weird.
The bumper sticker said:
“HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS.”
So I HONKED…And the policeman said I was disturbing the
PEACE.
The bumper sticker said:
“WAVE IF YOU LOVE JESUS.”
So I WAVED with both hands, lost control of the car, and
crashed into a TELEPHONE pole.
OH GOD!
If I cannot SMILE…or HONK…or even WAVE…
How will Jesus KNOW I love him?
OH CHILD OF GOD!
Mere smiling or honking or waiving is too EASY!
IF you really want to love Jesus, you must love one
ANOTHER! PLEASE DON’T FORGET!

You Come Back Now 5-2-2021

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Sam is a great kid, but Sam is the only kid he knows that goes to
church. But Mom insists.
Mom is a writer. In Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith,
Mom explains why she wants her poor little Presbyterian church to be
part of her son’s life:
“I want to give him what I found in the world, a path and a little
light to see by. Most of the people I know who have what I want—
which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with
a deep sense of spirituality. They are people in community, who pray,
or practice their faith…They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of
their own candle.”
“When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St. Andrew tied a
knot in it for me and helped me to hold on. The church became my
home. They let me in. They even said: You come back now.”
Sam was welcomed and prayed for at St. Andrew’s seven months
before he was born. When I announced during worship that I was pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-
thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose
grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced
for me…Women [who] live pretty close to the bone financially on small
Social Security checks…routinely came up to me and stuffed bills in my
pockets—tens and twenties…And then, almost immediately they set
about providing for us. They bought clothes. They brought me
casseroles to keep in the freezer. They brought me assurance that this
baby was going to be part of the family.
“I was usually filled with a sense of something like shame, until
I’d remember that wonderful line of Blake’s—that we are here to learn
to endure the beams of love—and I would take a long breath and force
these words out of my strangled throat: Thank you.”
Today’s Gospel calls us to realize the connections between Christ
and us and between us and one another. On the night before he died (the
setting of today’s Gospel) Jesus reminds his disciples of every time and
place that, in his love, we are “grafted” to one another in ways we do not completely realize or understand. As branches of Christ the vine, we are part of something greater than ourselves, something which transforms
and transcends the fragileness of our lives. May our families,
communities and parishes become extended branches for all of us who
struggle to realize our own harvests of joy and discovery, of grace and
faithfulness.
I close – “When I was at the end of my rope, the people of St.
Andrew/the people of San Carlos  tied a knot in it for me and helped
me to hold on. The church became my home. They let me in. They
even said: You come back now.”

The Good Shepherd 4-25-2021

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Introduction
For most of us I think it is safe to say this image of the Shepherd is not
something we see very much everyday. It was a very common scene in
the early Church: – it is a common scene in the Middle East. People in
the early Church could really understand what was involved in being a
shepherd. It was very real and earthy to them. The Biblical figure of the
Shepherd – has been romanticized a lot in paintings, pictures, Holy
Cards, “rosy cheeked young men – among pure white fluffy sheep on
beautiful green hillsides – very serene and peaceful.”
I did a little research into what Shepherds were like in the Time of
Jesus. It was a very lonely, dirty, dangerous job – that could not be
managed from a distance. Shepherds lived among the sheep in the filth
and stench – the lives of the sheep were their primary concern. A sheep
sometimes wandered far off from the others – when it got lost and could
not find its way back, it would simply lie down where it was and refuse
to budge – the shepherd would search out for the lost sheep – carefully
pick it up and carry it home. There was a personal relationship between
the Shepherd and each individual sheep. They were not just numbers.
I believe this image of the Shepherd points us to God. God is
not squeamish; God will not run away when things get messy in our
lives; – God’s hands are dirty (not lily white); God’s clothes are stained
with waste, mud and blood – the waste, mud and blood of our roller
coaster lives. This God gets in the middle of the mess with us.
Does the mess magically disappear? Not most of the time; but
there is a sense we are not alone and that helps us get through it. A key
question for us; Are we afraid to share our messes with God?
How does this shepherding image of God come alive? Become real to
people – Today –
I believe most of the time thru people – we are called to be shepherds
for each other. We are responsible to pick each other up when we are
down.
“I thought just priests and ministers were shepherds – no we all are if
we call ourselves Christian and mean it.”
“Don’t we need special skill and talents – training to do this? No! We
need a caring heart, a little common sense and a few less excuses.
“What about when you don’t have the answers or solutions to people’s
problems? You don’t know what to say or do. Just listen and just be
there for them.
I close with a story I am sure we all have heard;
A man dreamed he died and went to heaven and there was met
by Jesus. The man had lived a long Christian life, but it had not been
without some time of great trial and tribulation as well as those times
of joy and victory. As he met with Christ, the man was given a
panoramic review of his life – all the highlights and low periods. In
the review of his life one of the things that continued throughout were
his footsteps along the sands of time.

The man noticed that at those times in his life when it had really
been rough there was only one set of footprints – not two as in the
good times. The man turned to the Lord and said, “Lord, I don’t
understand. You promised to be with me always. But when I look
back now, I see that in those really rough times there was only one set
of footprints. Lord, why did you leave me then?”
The Lord looked at him, smiled and said, ‘Leave you? I didn’t
leave you at all. Dear friend, if you look at the one set of footprints
carefully, you’ll notice they are a little deeper than the others. Those
were the time I was carrying you.”