Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day




It is one of the most moving and thought-provoking national holidays.  Memorial Day is set aside to pay tribute to those who were killed in battle while serving in the United States military.  Flags will fly, people will celebrate, attend barbecues, spend time on boats or at the park.  

We walk by the monuments and graveyards and at some point the twinge of remembrance must go deeper than the celebratory. It has to go deep.  We must come together to remember why.  Politics and division should give way to memory and sacrifice. The names, the wars, the battlefields, the granite markers are not simply numbers or words - they are real stories of beautiful lives. 

The stories of who we are as a people and a nation. The son, daughter, husband, father, wife, mother, brother and sister who believed in this country.  They stood and served.  They walked forth in service, and their blood spilled.  Precious lives for the ideals and promise of the United States.  Why?  The knowing that all want the same thing - freedom, kindness, hope, love, laughter and liberation from oppression.  The belief this country can make a difference in this world for good.  The United States represents hope - for everyone.   Let us remember and call forth the “better angels of our nature.”

The words written long ago should mean something.  There is a reason for “we the people” rather than “I the individual.”  Meaning in “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” Clarity in Lincoln’s Second Inaugural:  “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

This weekend, go deep and recall the more than 1.3 million Americans killed in our wars.  Let us take a moment to pray and offer our gratitude.  O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy.  (Book of Common Prayer pg. 839)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Jesus loves me....



While visiting a hospital in Nepal, Philip Yancy encountered a woman consumed by leprosy. Her body calloused, deformed stumps for limbs, blind eyes mottled, and one could see far into her sinus cavity. She was not what the world would consider beautiful. When she heard his voice, she pulled herself toward him with her elbows. She leaned her head on the shoulder of Yancy’s wife and they began to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” She knew the song and believed it. This child of God had an all-consuming belief in the power of Jesus Christ.

Yancy wrote “Out of that deformed, hollow shell of a body, the light of God’s presence shines out. The Holy Spirit found a home.” What a beautiful and hopeful statement. To realize the Holy Spirit continuously moves and lives in unexpected places. Moves and lives in each one of us. Hope and light sparked by the all-consuming belief in the transformative power of Jesus Christ. A woman with leprosy, the faithful, the hurting and those seeking a path forward. To realize that even through the seemingly deformed hollow shells of our lives, the light of God’s presence will shine. The Holy Spirit seeks and finds a home in our lives. Imagine the opportunities and possibilities.
Jesus loves me this is know….

Monday, May 02, 2016

Pray



Prayer.  The sacred conversation between God and God’s breathtaking creation.  We pray in church, in times of need, to make a request, out of love, or only to become vulnerable before God.  I find that when I do not pray, I feel adrift.  When I pray, I breathe deeper, I move easier, the sense of peace is transformative.

In the movie Shadowlands, Anthony Hopkins plays C. S. Lewis and says of prayer: “I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”  

The world needs prayer.  Take a moment to grasp the number of people in the world in need of our prayers.  Pick one person that you will pray for this week.  It can be someone you know or someone you don’t know.  Pray for them throughout the day, every day for a week.

A teacher, the police officer, the lady cleaning our hotel room, the waitress, a child on the playground, a prisoner in jail, the soldier away for her children, your Priest, your wife.   Pray.   That God holds them, and they sense the presence of Jesus Christ.  Share Jesus Christ with them and reaffirm in a spiritual way that they, that we are never alone.

Monday, April 25, 2016

You are worthy


A television news segment reported on the pressures facing teenagers.  During the interview, many teenagers questioned their “worth.”  Worthy of the attention of others, worthy of being accepted into popular culture, worthy of their parent's attention.  We have become obsessed with societal acceptance, or monetary worth and have forgotten our inheritance.

We are children of the creator of heaven and earth.  The one who spins galaxies in the palm of the divine hand.  The one who breathes life into the tiniest red ant.  The one who sent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the world because of our “worth.”

In a daily devotional reading.  Max Lucado wrote “The Lamb of Christ over the child of God? Whenever the Father looks down on you, what does he see? He sees his Son, the perfect Lamb of God, hiding you. When God looks at you, he doesn’t see you; he sees Jesus. And how does he respond when he sees Jesus? He rends the heavens and vibrates the earth with the shout, 'You are my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with you'” (Mark 1:11).

You are worthy.  Jesus, I am yours.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Interesting Sacred Encounter at Grocery store







Stopped on the way home and while in check out line noticed a man watching me;   inspecting the collar.  “So, you a Priest?”  Yes, I am.  “So, you believe in miracles?”  Yes.  “Why? all a bunch of bull.”  

I smiled, put his bread on the counter and said “I am not smart enough to explain it.  All I know is I believe in Jesus; he is my everything, and somehow I know He is true. His miracles are real - even today.  It happens”  

He was never angry or pointed.  He smiled a bit.  As I was paying the cashier, I said - I consider it is a miracle that someone had the guts to ask me the question.  

Said goodbye and left told him “my brother, I will say a prayer for you tonight.”  He looked at me and said “thanks”  I am always blessed by sacred encounters.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The cross at Good Shepherd Mission

This has to be my favorite cross.  

It is located at Good Shepherd Mission in Navajoland.  The faith, the people, sheep in the far distant hills and a lone shepherd.  It speaks to who we are as followers of Christ.  Always close, always seeking, a simple profound beauty.  I am grateful for God's presence in my life and the hope in Him. 



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Politics, Polls, Torture

Hope, peace, goodness, and love.  In this Advent time of holy expectation, the words seem more than ideals or dreams.  Our hearts yearn for the possibility; they feel real and attainable.  I want so much to feel their truth.  I am a hopeless believer.  I follow this beautiful man whose life epitomized the fullness of their meaning.   I want them to mean something.  I want to believe in those words as much as I believe in Him.

Hope, peace, goodness, and love.  And then the world groans.  Brutality by a segment of law enforcement, angry protests in response, and then news of a Mississippi teenager horrifically murdered on a lonely road. Are those words simple dreams?  I wondered as I read two small articles buried on pages 5 and 6 of the newspaper. 

132 children and nine adults murdered by the Taliban.  Innocent children filled with hope, slaughtered by hate and justified by a horrific aberration of faith.  The father of his 14-year-old murdered son wailed “My son was my dream, and now my dream has been killed.” I lose my breath at the pain.  

I read the next article and am at a loss for words.  60% of Americans believe the use of torture is appropriate and justified under certain conditions.  I read the reasons for torture: anger, vengeance, counter terrorism, self-protection.  The ends justify the means.  We knowingly condone and inflict the same horrors we so emphatically detest in others. It seems that hopelessness and fear reign.

Do we truly live in a world where violence is accepted, torture is condoned and vengeance is commonplace.  I feel much like Fr. Gabriel in the 1986 movie “The Mission, who says “ If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so; it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that.” 

It may be so; it may be so. I do not want it to be so. I pray that it is not so.  I believe in the goodness of humanity. We have seen it time and time again.  Throughout the centuries where the worst of mankind was present. There were people who believed in the power of good. Through the periods of genocide, greed, starvation, lust, cruelty, hate, and hopelessness; these women and me of goodness gave life a breath of hope.  

Women and men who have believed in the power of hope, peace goodness, and love. Fellow sojourners who envisioned a different world.  Hopeful people whose lives expressed a deep and abiding love for all of creation. A world where forgiveness is stronger than revenge, where empathy abounded over hate, acceptance mightier than exclusion and that the light of love shone brighter than the darkest of hearts. 

I follow a man who said, “put down the sword” as he was being led to the torture chamber.  Jesus whose dying words spoke forgiveness for his torturers.   I am struggling to learn that by following this beautiful man, I do not have a choice.  I cannot pick and choose his message.  I cannot choose who to love, accept or who to forgive.  I must follow him; all or nothing.  

By following him, I know. I know inherently that choking a person to death while they scream for a breath is unconscionable.  I know that vilifying every law enforcement officer is wrong.  That flying airplanes filled with innocent civilians into buildings is horrific and against God. Killing children in the name of God is evil.  I know that torturing another human created in the image of God is simply beyond His and our understanding.  

Hope, goodness, peace and love goes far beyond the obvious.  We know that no child should be abused, trafficked  or die of starvation.   No one should live on the margins because of who they love or where they live. We know this because we are made for hope, peace, goodness and love.  Because of this, I know we cannot accept a world where children will be slaughtered at school and humans accept torture.  

I believe in my brothers and sisters who share this small place called earth.  I know that we are inherently good, and we will shout “no more.”  Hope, peace, goodness, and love are not simple words or far away dreams.  These words represent who we are.  It is our only path we have for a world that has a tendency to slip into the darkness.  May we all believe in the transformative power of hope, peace, goodness and love.  May it be so, may it be so.