Monthly Archives: February 2018

A Thursday Reflection 2.22.18

I had a meeting with Bishop Sauls last week – preparing the Easter Service w/ Confirmations. So I schlepped down to the Cathedral to meet him – on the day after the most recent mass murders of our children. To say I had little if any enthusiasm for the trip or the planning session is a gross understatement. But then in those darkest moments, grace intervenes!
Now I have been taking the subways by myself since before I was a teenager, but in all those decades, this is only the second time I have witnessed this miracle.
On our #1 downtown Broadway local car, there was this young girl – a street kid – a teen whom Dickens might have described as a waif. She had that “far away stare” of someone who has seen (or done) too much for her years. She had eyes of ice blue and wore handed-on clothes. She kept her distance and yet invited conversation. She admitted she is hungry, needed money or food. She knows about homeless shelters and that’s why she avoids them! She would sing one song for everyone, and if you could help her, please do. Then she also said that she was singing not only for the kids who died in Florida yesterday but for all the ones “who avoided the bullets this time but are gonna die the next time.”
If I say her voice was powerful but angelic, you will dismiss this account as fiction. But it was.   She sang: “God bless the child” better than I have ever heard! She ripped a hole through my soul.
I wear a clerical collar – and people on subways watch what clergy do: and usually they shake their heads and scoff at us for being fools. I gave her the sandwich I had bought for myself for later.   Others stepped up and gave her either money or food (mostly fruit or granola bars). She was gracious and grateful. One stop later the doors opened and she disappeared.
I have seen folks take a moment to be gracious and helpful. I have seen an instant where the color of skin, the difference of gender, the isolation of age or the insistence of political rightness of my view counted for nothing. There was a need and people responded. There was a voice and folks were mesmerized.     Why does it take a tragedy for the barriers to come down for even an instant? Was she the lost soul among us – or are we the lost around her?
– Fr. Joe

A Thursday Reflection 2.15.18

I picked up on this scripture reflection last week – but what a wonderful way to initiate the spiritual growth and reflection that the season of Lent should bring us.  So – everyone,  here are some powerful thoughts for a Holy Lent.  Fr. Joe

 

Love Them
By the Rev. Ben Hankinson

The life of Christ stands in stark contrast to the rest of the world, or at least it should. That is not to say that it stands apart in the sense of being disconnected or disinterested. Rather, just as Jesus and Paul are deeply invested in lives transformed by the good news of God’s love, so too should the church be invested in the transformative work of the Gospel in the local community of family, friends, strangers, and even adversaries.

One known for such love, overcoming adversity and hardship in various shapes and sizes, is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She challenged herself and those under her leadership to embrace the radical life of Christ in their missions around the world, taking hold of Paul’s admonition to the Romans.

That charge is well summarized in these words found in Mother Teresa’s home:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Whatever our relationship with others, may we heed the call of Christ and love them in such a way that the love of God is made manifest in and through us.

 

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

A Thursday Reflection 2.8.18

Has anyone ever taken a hard look at the “facts,” legends or traditions we seem to put our faith in?  Question the usefulness of such a “fact,” and one might be branded either heretic or “you’re no fun at all.”

A week ago, sophisticated and educated humans descended upon innocent life forms such as gophers, groundhogs, etc., focused intense camera lighting upon them, picked them up without their permission, thank you very much, and infallibly declared that the predetermined outcome (seeing the creature’s shadow) will have meteorological consequences for determining the onset of Spring!   Although I have not seen this other “scientific” experiment recently, there is allegedly a captive octopus or squid at some university that has a higher percentage of picking both Super Bowl and Presidential Election winners than the gambling elite of Las Vegas who do so for a living!  And do you believe in the chicken who allegedly can tap out the tune of our national anthem on a keyboard – (the Opening ritual of Puppy Bowl XIV)?

I’ve been told that people need something “to believe in” – even when logic dictates that the event or “truth” never happened or at times is downright silly.  And I get that.  Our lives are becoming so frenzied and hectic that we’d like to have some stable element that anchors us.

And why not?  We can all use a silly tradition or three to put, if not our “faith,” then at least our feelings in!  What I find so curious is that for a culture that has so many questionable things to believe in (UFO’s have landed and their inhabitants now own stock in New Mexico; reality TV is actually real; only my political party tells the truth; our best days are behind us – whatever myth you firmly hold), we deem ourselves either too busy, involved, educated or exhausted to believe in the one Being – who is life … who is BEING and who desperately wants to have a place in our lives.   Take God out of our lives, and humans will replace God with other idols in which to put their faith.  Kind of goes back to a question I’ve posed before:  In whom do you trust?  Whom do you serve?  Who do you believe loves you?  What do you believe in and if not Our Lord, then how is that working for you?

Fr. Joe

A Thursday Reflection 2.1.18

Some of you have told me that you enjoy this message when it “shakes me up a bit.”  Well the other day, I read the following reflection on one of the Anglican Publication blogs.  How does this grab you as a preparation for the Season of Lent which will be here in 13 days?
Enjoy the reflection of a Mr. LeBlanc:
Are You Ready?
By Douglas LeBlanc
When I was a tween convert to the Jesus Movement, I remember seeing this T-shirt: “Jesus Is Coming Back, and He’s [Ticked] Off.” I thought, “Yeah, man, he’s so angry with all those old fogeys and hypocrites who do not see how precious we are in the Jesus Movement.”

While I enjoy laughing at the vanity of my tween self, I do not abandon the heart of the truth expressed in today’s Gospel passage: Jesus is coming back.  How he responds to any one of us depends on whether we greet him as Lord or merely as a symbol whose name we have invoked for self-focused purposes.

Bob Dylan expressed it well in the blistering blues song that closes his album Saved:

Are you ready to meet Jesus?
Are you where you ought to be?
Will he know you when he sees you
Or will he say, “Depart from Me”?

… Are you ready for the judgment?
Are you ready for that terrible swift sword?
Are you ready for Armageddon?
Are you ready for the day of the Lord?

Are you ready? I hope you’re ready.

–  Fr. Joe