Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Thursday Reflection 5.25.17

     As I’ve told you, from time to time I will share various spiritual reflections that I happen to read over the course of any given month.  Again, I do not know who these authors are except that they are Episcopal priests serving somewhere here in the USA.  So I share Fr. Dave’s thoughts on the need to take Sunday seriously as a time to make things right with God and each other – and this needs prep time.  So let me know what you think of his reflection.    – Fr Joe

 

Spiritual Errands
Daily Devotional • May 20
By the Rev. Dave Halt
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Summer is only a month away, although it may appear that it has already arrived. The days are increasingly longer, and there is more time to do the things we like to do outdoors. Saturday is great day to accomplish all the outdoor work that has built up over the last week. It is a day for chores and errands, and if all of it gets done and the day is fine, maybe there will be an opportunity for a bike ride, a walk, or an excursion with the kids. A fine day indeed.

All of these are lovely things and good things. We should not deny ourselves the wonderful possibilities of a beautiful Saturday. However, there is another good and beautiful thing about Saturday. Saturday is a day to prepare us for the most important work we can do each week, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in our local parish. As we tend to all those important things we must do each Saturday, we should also tend to our spiritual lives in preparation for our work together tomorrow.

Is there someone whom I have offended that I need to be reconciled with? Am I in harmony with my neighbor, my fellow parishioner? Is there a barrier to being able to glorify God with one voice? Am I living in accordance with Christ Jesus? These are questions that should be asked as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table and partake of his Body and Blood. In answering the questions we should take the steps needed to be in right relationship with God and our neighbors as much as it depends upon us.

This theme of harmony was an important part of the life of the Early Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 117 AD) mentions it often in his epistles to the various churches. He writes to the Ephesians: “become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, you may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ” (4:2).

God has graciously allowed us the work of tomorrow’s liturgy for our own good and for the life of the world, and has given us time for confession and peace that we might put to right any disharmony we have. Let us become the choir of God tomorrow, having had our rehearsal today.

Let not the harmony be weakened and the one voice of the Church muted by our absence.

 

Romans 15:1-13
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

A Thursday Reflection 5.18.17

Last week, a fellow suffering N.Y. Mets fan sent me a link to an article entitled “Does God Hate the Mets?”  Being passionate about the game I love and having little to “do” as I sat in the hospital waiting room “waiting” word of the outcome to JoAnne’s surgery, I began to reflect theologically about such an issue. My conclusions are not as one-sided as I had imagined.

First of all, beware of anyone who dares to speak for God!  If you read through the marvelous and haunting text of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, you soon learn that too many presume to speak for their God and are really only mouthing their own prejudices and presumptions.

Secondly, the notion of God choosing any sporting event in which to invest God’s time is a bit troubling.  Now I would not ever dare inform the Holy Trinity that they shouldn’t have some time off, but think about it:  how many issues are there in our world that we humans have so totally screwed up that perhaps God needs to be more directly involved since we can’t seem to get out of our own way.  Not quite enough time in any day to waste settling the not-so-serious questions of whether Michael or LeBron is the greatest player of all time.

Now here’s an argument against God’s involvement with sports.  Where God is, there is justice!  In sports, justice is never assured. Why is it that the better team does not always win?  Why have the Yankees won so many championships and my Mets have won 2, and if not for a freak error by a Red Sox first baseman in 1986, that number would be 1.   Why do professional athletes make zillions of dollars and those who teach our children or care for our sick or clean our buildings make so little?

On the other hand, where God is, there is Love!  In fact, God is love (so St. John wrote more than once).  The love of the competition, the love of pushing oneself beyond what is comfortable or what we think we can do, the love of the community which is the team, the love of the challenge, the love of the journey even if not always fulfilled in being seen as “the best” – they are but pale shadows of the love that God has for us and which we are called to have for all who cross our path.  I can see God, the source of all truth and love smiling upon athletic competition.

So do I think God hates the Mets?  I think I’ll let you try to figure that out.

A Thursday Reflection 5.11.17

I am well aware that “Mother’s Day” is a “created” holiday that fuels our economy each May in terms of funds generated for travel, time spent in long distance communication, purchase of flowers, cards and all sorts of things edible (whether good for one or not)!  I am also very much aware that this Sunday will mark the first Mother’s Day since my mom passed from this life into life eternal.  For those of us of a certain “time” (and there is no predictability when that “time” will arrive), a visit to our parents is not a journey to an apartment but rather a trip to a cemetery.

I hope I don’t fall into too many platitudes or sound too saccharine.  I am well aware that there are those in this parish who have not always had the best relationship with their mothers.  (And yes, you know your rector is one of them!)  I hope you will use this coming Sunday as a catalyst for spiritually important considerations.

First and most importantly, don’t let one designated day of the year be the only time to demonstrate appreciation for any person in your life (mother, father, sibling, child, life partner, member of your church family, etc.)  Christians celebrate Holy “Eucharist” – and the word “Eucharist” literally means “thanksgiving.”  Being persons who are thankful for those whom we love or who love us ought to be our “brand” or visible sign to the world.

Remember on Sunday that our culture still does not appreciate women in spite of its lip service.  Do you truly believe in gender equality in terms of respect, salary, and the right to express oneself without all the snide accusatory (and stereotypical) retorts?

Remember that if bringing out life and nurturing life are among the obvious acts of “motherhood,” then there most likely have been so many other women who deserve our honor and respect as well: those who have taught us, mentored us, cared for us (or our aging family members), nursed us to health, cared for our pets, stood as our advocates, healed us, and those whose intellects have changed our world.  (Again, see the film: Hidden Figures.)

To all of you, and you who know who you are, may God bless you and may you have a Happy Mother’s Day.

A Thursday Reflection 5.4.17

We’ve got to “be” what we’re intended and meant to be!  Abby has been teaching me a negative lesson the last week or so.  As winter finally came to an end, we had an “understanding” that it was time for a bath, like it or not – NOT !!!  O the trauma, the crying!  Greater speed and agility than an Olympic sprinter but reduced to a whining lump of pathetic puppy treating her humans as if we were “Mommy Dearest” (a cultural reference for those of you over 40).  And then, to top it all, she has now taken to waiting for me to relax my gaze and vigilance when we go walking so that she can do these 2 ½ double flip slides on her side to return to the self-scent which she craves!

Here’s the theological lesson:  This (in my view) naughty dog, as others I assume, needs to be and smell as she knows herself to be and smell.  Call it “dog-i-tude” or her “nature” or whatever.  She knows what she is meant to be and does all in her power to achieve this.

We Christians have, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, a new redeemed “nature” There is a new “normal” for us.  Living in ways of darkness, human imperfection, sin and death are not what we’re supposed to be.  We’ve been given life and given it abundantly (cf. this Sunday’s gospel)!  Living in the fallen ways of our culture that exalts death should make as much sense to a Christian as trying to make Abby live into the nature of her dog soap and smelling Chateau Foo Foo #56 .  We need to be what God has called us to be: it’s our true nature, now redeemed!