Reflection on the Readings for 7-17-22 by Sandy Burnett

July 17, 2022 reflection

I know that we often say the basis of a true relationship is love, but for me, it always comes down to trust. I may love someone that I don’t trust, but it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship with that person. We want to have relationships with people who do what they say they will, and who are honest, even if it results in pain. Of course, we also want to trust that people will do their best not to hurt us. And we want to be trustworthy ourselves.

Today’s verses reminded me about this because they talk about promises. In the Old Testament, God has promised that Abraham will have descendants. As Abraham and Sarah get older, this promise seems to be less and less likely to be fulfilled. In the verses we heard today, three men — or angels — visit Abraham’s home. Abraham, recognizing their importance, takes his ragged old body and runs arounds the camp preparing them a wonderful feast. They predict Sarah will have a child from Abraham — and we learn later that the prediction comes true!

In the Psalm, we hear the question of “Who may abide in your tabernacle?” And we learn that you have to be a good and honest person. The psalmist makes it sound easy, but we know that it’s often very difficult to do what is right. Still, there’s a promise here that admission to the tent is attainable.

In the Epistle, Paul tells the Collossians that Jesus Christ has created a new promise, not only for Jews but for everyone who believes, and the evidence is something even more miraculous than Sarah’s old-age maternity — the rising from the dead of a man who was crucified and buried, and then his ascendance into heaven. But the proof also is in Paul’s and the other apostles’ dogged determination and willingness to sacrifice all because of their trust in Christ’s teachings and his instructions to them. Jesus was honest. He told them that following him would lead to anguish and pain, but he also promised that their end would be ever-lasting joy and peace.  I think they understood that He loved them and wanted only the best for them, but that the reaction to their message would be mixed. He told them he would be with them even in their darkest times, provided they kept their faith, something that isn’t always easy.

The Bible is clear that evil exists in the world. Bad things happen to good people, but the New Testament promises that we are never alone with this evil. Even when we do evil ourselves, there is a way to get back under the tent.

In the Gospel, we hear the story of Mary and Martha. Luke says Jesus was welcomed into Martha’s home. She, as head of the household, was responsible for the well-being of her guests, just as Abraham was when he received his miraculous visitors. Imagine how his story would have been if Abraham skipped the banquet and went straight to sitting at their feet asking about salvation!

But I think that’s one of the differences between the Old and New Testaments. Jesus doesn’t berate Martha for her concern, but tactfully lets her know that the old rules, even the rules of hospitality, are different now — not bad, not worthless — but different.  Mary has made better use of  her time by listening to Jesus, while Martha has wasted an opportunity with her worry. There’s a new promise that will change everything so that both Mary and Martha can rely on salvation.

Finally, these thoughts made me wonder about the difference between trust and faith. According to my phone, “faith” is used in the sense of belief or devotion, while the word “trust” is about  confidence and reliance. It’s hard to argue with Siri, but I think she got it wrong this time. As Christians, we have the belief and devotion that inspires our sense of confidence and reliance. I don’t think you can have one without the other. It was faith AND trust that inspired Abraham and Paul and even Mary and Martha. Amen.

Reflection on The Good Samaritan by Margaret Doleman

The Good Samaritan

This is a familiar story, about a man who was robbed and beaten and left to die on the roadside.  Two religious officials pass by, ignoring him.  Then, a Samaritan comes along, treats his wounds, and carries him to an inn, paying the landlord to look after the man.

I think I, and maybe you, too, tend to think we get the point of this story: don’t assume you know who the good guys and the bad guys are.  Everyone is your neighbor. What else needs to be said?

Well, I remember something that happened six years ago.  Summer, 2016, shortly before that election.  It was also the summer of the Pulse nightclub shootings.  In case you’ve forgotten the details of that particular incident, Pulse was a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  A shooter murdered 49 people and wounded 53 others, before he was shot dead by police.

The Benedictine spirituality group, AKA Ben, meets on Thursday evenings.  We do lectio divina, that is, a meditative reading, on the gospel passage for the upcoming Sunday, then we discuss it. One summer evening in 2016, we were discussing the good Samaritan.  We were talking about who would be like a Samaritan in our times. Two weeks ago, we encountered the Samaritans, and Christine explained in her wonderful reflection that they had somewhat different religious beliefs than the people of Judea.  You’ll remember that they refused hospitality to Jesus and his disciples, inspiring James and John to some most un-saintly impulses.  So that evening, we were suggesting that maybe Muslims, or LBGTQ people would be a good analogy.  Of course, being enlightened ourselves, we would never vilify such people.  Then, Peter mentioned that he had read an article about some Trump supporters who had gotten together to raise money for survivors of the Pulse shootings.

I wish I had a video recording of the next moment or two.  Trump supporters?  Trump supporters.  You could almost hear the wheels turning:  aren’t they all gun-toting, homophobic white supremacists?  Maybe not. Because we are at least somewhat enlightened, we resisted the temptation to cry “fake news!” It seems that even we regard some people as Samaritans – people who can’t be expected to do good.

And this is where I get stuck.  I don’t want to be a judgmental person.  Jesus is pretty clear about judging others:  Judge not, lest ye be judged. If I’m hearing it in the King James version, it’s been in my consciousness for a long time.  I know it’s wrong to judge people because of their ethnicity or their gender identity or their religious practices. But if someone has values that conflict significantly with my own, how can I help myself from judging them?  And if a person wants to vote for someone whom I believe would act in accordance with values I don’t support, doesn’t it follow that I can’t support that person’s values?

I don’t really know.  Maybe what Jesus is asking the lawyer, and us, to do is to look at our assumptions.  This week, in the Ben group, I heard another story.  One member of our group was a military wife during the Viet Nam war.  She was also a peace activist, who organized marches (with the full support of her husband). She told us that she heard, over and over again, from the peace marchers, that military people were war mongers, and from the military families she knew, that the peace activists were traitors.  Knowing people on both sides, she knew that the truth was much more complex.

Here in the inner Bay Area, we’re used to all kinds of diversity – except maybe diversity of political opinions.  Not that there isn’t anyone here that we might disagree with, but it’s always easier to stay in your comfort zone. So that’s where we’re likely to “other” people.  They think this. They do that.  They’re not like us.

And what do they think about people like me?  Liberal democrats from California?  That we’re all drug using communists who want to steal all the money from hardworking rich people and give it to people who can’t be bothered to work?

I think that I have to at least allow the possibility that some of my assumptions about “them” might be less than completely accurate. It would be nice if we could learn to talk with people that we don’t necessarily agree with.  In fact, I think it might be the first step in healing the divisions that are tearing us apart. Right now, though, that doesn’t seem to be very easy.

I don’t think we’re ever going to completely get away from judgment.  I’m not even sure we should. Maybe we could start by confining our judgments to what people have actually said and done, rather than what we believe we know about them.  If our leaders or our courts make decisions that I believe are going to harm a lot of people, I’m going to be angry about that.  And if people disagree with my anger, I’ll be unhappy and wish they could see it my way.

I would like to think, though, that if I saw someone in trouble, and I was in a position to help, I would do it, regardless of the bumper stickers on their car, or the slogans on their T shirt.

Image: The Good Samaritan by Dinah Roe Kendall

Sermon by The Rev. Deacon Jon Owens 7-3-22

Pentecost IV 2022

Gay, Straight, Republican, Democrat, pro-life, pro-choice, guns,
no guns, war?

This week we commemorate our country and all it stands
for. There is a lot to be proud of and for many of us there is
probably much to grieve. I say this as a youth who is a Boys
state alumni, the brother of a retired military army officer and
whose family was actively engaged in Civil Air Patrol and who
has served and continues to serve as a public servant.
In the end these are labels, ways we have chosen to identify
ourselves and our principles. Sometimes my principles have
been known as a form of division. I have a little secret for you,
all those labors are fine, but there is only one label that
probably matters. I am a Child of God and that makes me
worthy of love and to proclaim that love to others because they
are too children of God wonderfully made and that together we
must keep telling people the kingdom of God is nearby.
It is actually a quite simple message…. And yet it is so charged.
Of course, other decisions are made. You see we have to make
decisions every day. But how many of our decisions are made
completely out of love? Now I do not want to get fear disguised
as concern and love mixed up sometimes the two can get
confused. You see there is a message we are asked to share
with one another. Some people will receive it openly and

others might be ready to look at you like the zombie apocalypse
has happened and they will not be having any of that. You
know the people who throw their hands in the air, and they
immediately objectify the answer because perhaps they have
their own baggage to deal with. We all know those sort of
people. We simply shake the dust off our sandals and go on our
way to those willing to listen.

It is probably harder than ever to get those messages
across. We have all this technology and yet people have ways
of tuning out that which they do not want to hear. They choose
to not engage. We think we are engaging but all too often we
live in our own echo chambers. Think about it. If you are a
social media person you choose to join the like-minded groups,
we surround us with our friends, but some of when we do not
like what we hear we cancel friends and family and avoid them.
The real issue is people simply have unlearned how to have a
conversation around disagreement more than ever. We do not
have constructive debate or exchanges in dialogue and that to
me is the real tragedy of our country, not even our nation but
the world.

Many of us want to achieve the same results, but we get
stuck on the way to achieve it. For example, if I say who wants
world peace. I do not think there would be anyone here who
would not raise their hand. However, it gets complex… in order
to have world peace, do we have to be total pacifists, can we
believe in just war theory or is it something else?

We can debate theology and have for centuries.
Remember people like Isaac Newton who was considered a
heretic. He said the earth was round and he rejected the notion
of the Trinity. And yet after all this he was buried among Kings
and Queens at Westminster Abbey. Or Charles Darwin, the
person people attribute the theory of evolution and yet some
cannot handle it. Charles Darwin struggled with the notion of
becoming a priest. He was less concerned with the Bible as
history, but questions of morality and was worried about the
concept of evil. He too was buried in Westminster of Abbey.
There are many people who if given the opportunity would
jump at the opportunity to change the world. But it can seem
all so daunting. So many barriers to change. We think about
gridlock in our government when we want policies to shift to
help our society. We wonder is anyone even listening. But there
are those who will listen. Those who want to reinvigorate their
communities and be a part of something greater. But you know
where it starts. It starts with genuine concern. It starts with
nurturing of every individual, and it starts with an expression of
love. When people do not feel their own needs and concerns
are being addressed it is harder for them to act
compassionately toward the other. Barriers are thrown up and
meanwhile those with self-interest swoop in among the
divisiveness.I do not sway from my message that God loves everyone. I
have two questions for you to ponder today.

The first is in two parts
1) How do you cultivate love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-
control? How does this help you in bearing another’s
burden?
Again, we are called to support each other. When people
are not supported, they become apprehensive, hopeless,
feel trapped. But when people are supported, they feel
they can get through anything. We are called to help carry
the cross as people did for Jesus on a long and
burdensome road. I can tell you in my experience here at
St Alban’s this is something the community is actively
involved in. We as a community work hard to ensure that
all our members are connected and cared for. It is a sign
we are never alone.

“As a mother comforts her child, so God will comfort you; you
shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 You shall see, and your heart
shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall
be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his
indignation is against his enemies.”
But this leads to the second question. Going beyond our church
community.

2) What does it mean for you to be sent out into the
world in peace to love and serve the Lord?

A world who skeptical, scared, hurting and even self-
absorbed. A world in which we are seeing things unravel before
our feet. War has not become better. Inflation begins putting
pressure on family finances and policies that will cause some to
act in desperation. There is a lot of work out there to do my
friends and it requires you to be vulnerable. It requires to
accept the hospitality of others. Something sometimes we are
too proud to accept, but it is a gift. Being vulnerable is a
strength not a weakness in it we find peace and comfort and
able to express to others the “kingdom of God is near.”
And because this I will say to God, “How awesome are your
deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe
before you.” You are righteousness and source of all goodness,
justice and love. AMEN!

Reflection on Luke 9:51-62 by Christine Staples

Luke 9:51-62

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Notes:

I think it’s no secret that I am not a biblical scholar. I’ve never spent a lot of time reading the bible and analyzing it. In my church upbringing, I would go to church, read the passages with everyone else, listen to the sermon, and call it a day. Once in a while I’d follow up and look something up, but not very often. This lack of study on the one hand makes me singularly ill-prepared to give reflections, but on the other hand, means that when I sit and read a passage, I have to do a lot of research to understand it. I hope that this helps me develop some new insights into it.

This passage was no exception; I immediately searched online for guidance. Here’s what I got from the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Regarding why the Samaritans didn’t receive Jesus and his disciples: The aorist implies that they at once rejected Him. The Samaritans had shewn themselves heretofore not ill-disposed (John 4:39), and St Luke himself delights to record favourable notices of them (Luke 10:33, Luke 17:18). But (i) there was always a recrudescence of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans at the recurrence of the annual feasts, (ii) Their national jealousy would not allow them to receive a Messiah whose goal was not Gerizim, but Jerusalem, (iii) They would not sanction the passage of a multitude of Jews through their territory, since the Jews frequently (though not always, Jos. Antt. xx. 6, § 1) chose the other route on the East of the Jordan.

Well. That clears it right up, doesn’t it? I think we should take a moment and go around, and everyone should use “recrudescence” in a sentence.

But seriously, here’s a recap of the narrative of the passage, based on my research: Jesus is heading to Jerusalem with his followers; he knows it is time for him to return there for his crucifixion and resurrection. Along the way, they pass through a Samaritan village, and his followers go on ahead into the village so that the Samaritans can prepare for his arrival, but the Samaritans don’t want them to visit. The response to this news from James and John on the one hand makes me laugh really hard – can’t you just see them swaggering like wannabe tough guys showing off for Jesus, saying hey “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” It makes me laugh because it’s so absurd; they aren’t tough guys, and do they not know that they have absolutely no power to call down God’s wrath? But it also makes me really sad; here is Jesus, trying to teach them, to prepare them for a life without him, a life where they will need to take over the work that he’s been doing. And they are so fundamentally stymied by all the lessons he’s taught them, over all this time, that they think Jesus’s direction would be to smite a village full of people because the inhabitants didn’t welcome them?

Here’s another interesting thing: I bet you all know this; I’m sure I looked this up at some point, but it didn’t stick with me – I had to look this up again: Who were the Samaritans, and why did they not want Jesus and his followers to stop by? Well, Samaritans are also Jews, but they only accept the five books of Moses, and not the books of the Prophets or later texts. And they therefore had a different high temple, in a different location (the one in Gerizim), so there’s some discussion that, despite having been accepting of Jesus on earlier trips, they didn’t want him to visit when he was on his way to Jerusalem, the seat of the OTHER high temple.

The passage from Luke then covers a few of Jesus’ parables, covering the need to let go of our comfortable habits to follow him; someone says he’ll follow Jesus; Jesus makes it clear it won’t be easy. Another person says he wants to follow Jesus, but first he has to bury his father. Okay, legitimate excuse! But Jesus says, essentially “if you’re going to follow, follow. No excuses!” And another person says he wants to follow, but first he has to say goodbye to his family. Another valid excuse! But Jesus uses the parable of looking back when you’re plowing, which would make your row go all crooked. So, again, no excuses! Because if the prospective follower goes home to say goodbye, I’m guessing next comes lunch, packing, maybe a nap… and next thing you know, “oops! Looks like I missed my chance! Oh, well – next time!

But let’s go back to James and John, and their offer to Jesus to call down the wrath of the great Jehovah on the Samaritans for not offering them welcome. I feel like this may be the heart of the reading. I mean, these guys are disciples of Jesus; they’ve had quite a bit of personal time to learn his teachings, but they still haven’t fully absorbed all of the lessons of “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “turn the other cheek”. And these guys eventually became saints! So maybe that’s the real take-away for us; that a Saint maybe isn’t someone who’s perfect and Christlike. Maybe a Saint is someone who tries, and fails, and tries again. Someone flawed, whose ego and pride get in the way of the work, who struggles to absorb the lessons. But by sticking with the struggle, and not giving up, they eventually master it. They didn’t stop to bury their fathers, or say goodbye to their families – they followed him. And therefore, we CAN aspire to do the work, instead of saying to ourselves “well, first I’ve got to…..” before I can start, or “I am unworthy” or “I am incapable.” How many times we play the endless loops of our failures; the time we said that thing to that person (cringe!). The time we did that thing. The times we were selfish, easily offended, ego-driven. But God still loves us. God still beckons us. Every day, with God’s help, we can get up to do the work, even when we’ve failed a thousand times. Amen.

Reflection for Sunday, June 19 by Barbara Metcalf

Proper 7, Second Sunday after Pentecost

Year C, 19 June 2022

 

1 Kings 19: 1-15a

Psalm 42

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 8 26-39

 

‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

The Lord asks Elijah a question we can ask ourselves.  ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ Here matters. Should he/should we be somewhere else? And what matters. What are we doing with the finite, fleeting time we have.

Here is today’s story. Ahab was the eminently wicked king of Israel; Jezebel, a notorious worshipper of Baal, was his queen. But one person cast a persistent shadow over their lives.  Elijah today has just cut the throats of 450 priests of Baal. They had lost a competition to see who was greater, their gods or Elijah’s. For hours the priests of Baal [had] hopped and danced around the altar they had prepared. And still their gods had failed to consume the sacrifice they had prepared. Elijah, in contrast, had prepared his sacrifice very precisely but said very little to Yahweh,  focusing on these three words, “Answer me Yahweh,” an abrupt, intimate request. And God sent down fire.

No one terrified Elijah so much as Jezebel…Elijah knew that the game with the queen was far from over. The very next day Jezebel sent him a message: “So may the gods treat me or even worse, if by this time tomorrow I have not made your spirit like one of theirs.”  By “theirs” Jezebel meant her gutted priests. And the queen had used the formula of the oath, calling upon her gods.

Elijah had to get out at once. He headed south, toward Egypt. He kept going into the desert, as if intending to follow Moses’s footsteps in reverse. He despaired. But an angel brought food and a command to eat and continue his journey, 40 days of wandering. Elijah retreated to a cave. At last he heard a voice, that might have seemed mocking, for it said: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah said, “I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” The voice told him that the Lord was about to pass by. Then, wrapped in his cloak, he stepped out into the open and waited to hear God’s voice through wind and earthquake and fire.

And then Yahweh decided to speak to him. It was only thanks to his long flight, and because his desperate escape had reduced him to such a state of exhaustion, that Elijah was able to recognize Yahweh in the barely perceptible sound of the breeze. And Yahweh told him to cross the desert to Damascus.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah was called to prophesy. But he strategized. “I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He thought: What good will it do if I get killed? That will be the end of the prophets. So he retreated to the desert. Who can blame him? He shuts out God’s voice, until he hears it at last.  God tells him that he has to keep going.

And to look ahead from what we read today: Elijah will go on and anoint another king. He will keep on appearing before Ahab as a kind of bogeyman, to remind him of the law. And – spoiler alert – it is Ahab and Jezebel who die grizzly deaths as Elijah predicted. Elijah was worried about the wrong thing. Jezelbel wasn’t going to kill him. He wasn’t going to die at all. He would be whisked away in a chariot of fire.

Elijah didn’t know that ending, but even without that ending, he needed to go back. He is not to strategize, not do the wrong thing, not think that wrong ends justify good means. His job is to stand up for truth, for God’s law.

So that’s the question. Are we in the right place? Should we be somewhere else? The stakes for us are not life and death. Some of our steps, some of our asking has more to do with will than risk, like taking up the kind of concrete steps of the work of love, of living, and prayer in the Spirit, that Larry shared with us at Pentecost. Or, that Jon Owen, in the same spirit made in a list of in this week’s newsletter —  concrete actions on the pressing issue of gun violence, made even sadder if that were possible with the shooting at our fellow Episcopalians at the Church of St Stephen in Alabama this very week. The kind of actions that Jon and Larry suggest are an example of what we can think of — in the unforgettable image of Father Jim’s vision of engagement with the Trinity that he delighted us with last week — as a moment of perichoresis!! a dance where we are handed off from Person to Person. (I had to go look for that word but it certainly is one to cherish.) To dance with the Son, Jim said, is “serving Jesus in the neighbor, concerned with social justice, and working to help those on the margins.”

Juneteenth asks us the question of what we are doing in relation to our place in the systematic racism that has marginalized and distorted everyday life in our country’s history and present. It is

an invitation to engage with the past – sins we have done and sins done in our name – and what is needed for us to live our ideals. We’ve had study groups – Sacred Ground, the anti-racism reading group, an on-going group with All Souls’ on criminal justice. Some of us joined with OrZarua pre-pandemic in doing bystander training. We’ve had a modest discussion on finding an equivalent to ASCAP licensing fees for when we use spirituals. For some of us it’s time to look forward to the November election — money if we can, with get-out-the vote postcarding, with canvassing in Nevada or the Central Valley, writing letters right now to express outrage at DNC strategists supporting right-wing and denouncing moderate Republicans. Gandhi knew that ends never justify wrong means.

This is not a time – overwhelming as so much seems, worn out by Covid stops and starts – to retreat to the desert.

Look too at Luke, a passage from an amazing chapter that starts with a parable that reminds us to act not only with our lips but in our lives; that turns us toward community; and that then overflows with four miracles. The miracles tell us that Jesus is in the midst of crises of the natural world, of grievous sickness, of untimely death, and even societal oppression. Today we encounter the marginalized unhoused man possessed of demons, whom Jesus cures and whom he comes to know by name. Madness takes many expressions depending on time and place, and our Gerasene has the madness that comes with (let’s say) exploitative disrespectful colonial rule. The multiple demons who possess him take for him the multiplicity of the undoubtedly oppressive Roman military unit, the Legion. The man is saved. The demons die and they take with them the despised unclean swine that presumably under God’s law, not Roman, should not be there.

Once he is healed, the Gerasene too must answer the question. What are you doing here, Elijah? He  thinks he has found his place, sitting at the feet of Jesus. He begs to stay. But Jesus tells him that he must go, to reintegrate into society. Long marginalized, looked on with contempt, like Elijah, he has a gift: “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.”

I have a parting thought. If “you” is our little congregation, What are we doing here? Are we in the right place, the Zoom-land? Should we be in our sanctuary more, with or without clergy? And beyond that, what are we doing as a congregation? Our gratitude for God’s grace and for each other in sustaining our community in these last years against all odds is unbounded. But still we need to question what we should be doing differently. It was a question posed to us in early pandemic times by Deacon Kathleen, trying to shake us up about our small and not growing numbers – maybe a question asked too early but good to return to now.

Our hymns this morning are about moving, moving to get where we are meant to be. “Good Lord, show us the way.”

Amen

– – –

1. My friend Lee, in Ann Arbor, eight months into glioblastoma, recently started a reading group to discuss Roberto Calasso’s The Book of All Books (2019). Lee is beginning to manifest some of the effects of this cancer though they were only slightly evident when he moderated the first discussion last Friday. Calasso recounts stories from the Hebrew Bible, imagining himself into them. It seemed uncanny that Calasso’s section on Elijah was in the section we are reading for our next meeting, just as I was turning to this reflection. Calasso’s wording is so evocative that I’ve taken some of his phrases w/o quotation marks, defying all academic conventions.

2. There was an NPR segment on the Brookline project noted in the site below that peaked my interest in this. Note that our hymns today, unlike the classic spirituals, have known composers so do not fall into this category.

https://www.mnchurches.org/blog/2022/05/2/reparations-royalties-black-spirituals-historic-settlement-canada-and-more-crosspost

Trinity Sunday 6-12-22 Sermon by The Rev. Jim Stickney

St. Alban’s Church June 12, 2022

Trinity Sunday Pastor Jim Stickney

 

“Do you want to know what goes in the core of the Trinity?  I will tell you.

In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs, and gives birth to the Son.

The Son laughs back at the Father, and gives birth to the Spirit.

The whole Trinity laughs, and gives birth to us.”

 

This whimsical theology was written by the 14th century Dominican preacher,

Meister Eckhart, whose daring writings caught the attention of the Inquisition.

Fortunately for him (or perhaps not) he happened to die before his trial started.

 

I have a whimsical speculation of my own — about the time-honored practice

of placing our recitation of the Nicene Creed right after the sermon. Now, most Sundays

this may not matter too much, but on Trinity Sunday the preacher may be liable

to fall into one of the many subtle heresies that arise from trying to articulate a mystery:

one God in three persons. So no matter which heresy I may seem to articulate,

soon we’ll all proclaim the Creed together and vigorously affirm our orthodox beliefs.

 

Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker: If Jesus is the answer, what is the question?

We may feel far removed from the questions that led to the teaching about the Trinity.

So: If the Trinity is the answer, then just what was the question? This theology

did not begin as some kind of abstract divine geometry. Where did it come from?

 

The first Christians grew up as Jews, insistent upon the basic insight that God was one.

Jews speak of God like this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Yet the first Christians experienced that God was revealed in a completely new fashion

through the life and death and rising of Christ Jesus. Slowly and carefully,

these believers questioned their way through until they could speak of “God the Son,”

and understand that God was not divided, & yet was manifested in human form.

A later generation of Christian thinkers understood that the Holy Spirit (whose feast

we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost) also revealed the power of God’s love.

 

Now, we know some people who are “spirit” persons, who cultivate inspiration —

these are the poets and musicians, people who bring into existence new creations.

Other people are more like “Christ in action,” serving Jesus in the neighbor,

concerned with social justice, and working to help those on the margins.

Still others are the strong silent types, not talking much theology, but just living it.

These three spiritual types don’t always understand one another’s views,

but today, on Trinity Sunday, we can say that all three express a face (facet) of God.

 

Some people are very uneasy about sharing “what God is doing in my life”.

If you’re one one of them, “Rejoice! You are God the Creator’s strong silent types.”

Next, consider a title from the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer for Jesus:

“Pain-Bearer.” Jesus is the personal expression of a God who knows human pain.

He is the divine Pain-Bearer, and human pain-bearers find refuge and meaning in Jesus.

 

Lastly, Jesus promised to send an energy, a power more than just memory, a Spirit

unlimited by time and place, a Holy Spirit that works to overcome all human obstacles

of language and culture. These cultural differences, far from being suppressed,

are celebrated in the worship and witness of Christian communities around the world.

 

Human beings can know some things about God, not directly, but by a reasonable faith.

In our spiritual progress, we don’t proceed from the Father to the Son to the Spirit,

even though that’s the sequence in which we proclaim the sections of the Creed

 

The Creator is opaque to us, the least able to be perceived by the limited human mind.

Instead, we are first moved by the Spirit (in community, or family, or in beauty).

The Spirit’s task is to remind us of what Christ Jesus said and did.  And when we look

more closely at Christ’s words and deeds, we find Jesus wants us to meet “Abba.”

 

And we do — for a moment, briefly.  But humans can never endure too much divinity.

Something in us backs off from infinite love and power — we hide our faces.

We get distracted, or feel unworthy. So we need a human model — Christ Jesus.

And he in turn continues to send us the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate & Comfort.

 

Do you see the pattern?  When we consider one person of the Trinity for a while,

we soon find ourselves handed off to another divine person — and so on and on.

When we feel inspired and even ecstatic, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

When that inspiration leads to serving the neighbor, that’s what Jesus wants.

And after our work is done, we rest in quiet, “Alone with the great Unknown” —

which is a favorite phrase of mine for contemplating God the Creator.

 

Theologians used a Greek word for this pattern: Perichoresis: Trinity’s “round dance”

from “peri” (as in perimeter), and choresis (as in choreography).

The theologian Elizabeth Johnson, in her book, “She Who Is”, enlivens

this unusual theological word “perichoresis” with a compelling image:

 

A divine round dance modeled on the rhythmic, predictable motions of a country folk dance 

[is] one way to portray the mutual indwelling and encircling of God’s holy mystery.

I have one final suggestion for contemplating the community of the Holy Trinity —

by looking closely at the little prepositions we use in our Eucharistic Prayer.

We address our community’s prayer TO God the Father, THROUGH Christ Jesus,

IN the Holy Spirit. Notice these prepositions at the end of the Eucharistic prayer:

 

All this we ask THROUGH your Son Jesus Christ. BY him and WITH him and IN him

IN the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father,

now and forever. Amen.

 

I’m going to conclude this sermon on Trinity Sunday in the same way I started —

with that brief reflection of Meister Eckhart from the 14th century:

 

“Do you want to know what goes in the core of the Trinity?  I will tell you.

In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs, and gives birth to the Son.

The Son laughs back at the Father, and gives birth to the Spirit.

The whole Trinity laughs, and gives birth to us.”

 

 

Modalism

Tritheism

Arianism
Sabellianism

Unitarianism

Noetianism

Ebionitism

Docetism

Macedonianism

Adoptianism

 

Patripassionism

(gets around objection of crucifixion as divine child abuse)

Reflection 6-5-22 Pentecost Sunday by Larry DiCostanzo

Reflection for June 5, 2022
Pentecost Sunday

Lawrence DiCostanzo

Acts 2:1-21
Romans 8:14-17
John 14:8-17, 25-27
Psalm 104:24-28, 30, 33

Today is the Feast of Pentecost, and I’d like to begin with a quote from Hymn 209 which we sang last Sunday. The quote is just part of a verse, really just a fragment. And it goes:

We may not touch his hands and side,
nor follow where he trod . . .

When I think of Easter, I think of the Resurrection, and I think of the beautiful traditions of the holiday – the Easter eggs, the family dinner. And when I think of Christmas, there is literally an explosion of exciting tradition – pictures of the Nativity from all the ages, the smell of greenery, the darkness and the candles, the songs. You can each put yourselves into the atmosphere of these holidays.

But when I think of Pentecost, there are no Pentecost cakes or dishes, no family dinners, no colorful traditions. At least, I don’t know of any. It does not seem a feast that brings up a lot of exuberance. – except of course in today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles.

Why is this? I think it’s because actually Pentecost is the holiday of our loneliness. Or maybe I should say it is the holiday without Jesus. Since Ascension, the apostles had to deal with the absence of Jesus in the flesh. And we have to do the same. As much as we love Jesus, he is not physically present to walk the trails and roads with us, to eat with us, to touch us, to take our hands, to wash our feet, to talk to us. Jesus has ascended and he is not here on earth anymore. And we are left with the deep expressed among the very last words of the Bible – Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Jesus knew that we would feel alone. In the great farewell of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, Jesus prays: And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, protect them in your name . . . so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name . . . I guarded them. . . [I] am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them . . . (John 17:11-12) He knew that the Apostles would need and that we do need protection and care.

So, I feel sometimes that the great challenge of being a Christian is how to live in a world in which Jesus the man is no longer walking. The Gospels give us such a bright picture of him and now he’s gone.

How do we live with this challenge? Well, he feast of Pentecost addresses this loneliness. We are challenged to find God. And Pentecost supplies the Holy Spirit. But, despite the exciting events of the first Pentecost in Jerusalem and occurrences like Philip’s being whisked away by the Spirit after he’d spoken with the Ethiopian eunuch, the Spirit seems fairly quiet. Yet, the Spirit is Jesus’ great promise. The Spirit is the beginning of the Age of Us. It’s the beginning liturgically to the “long green season” of Pentecost.

So, how do we meet the challenge of Jesus’ physical absence? How do we sensitize ourselves to his promise of the Spirit? We have to do this because we live in a demanding world that claims our energy and attention. Just look at all that the Apostles had to deal with in the story Saint Luke relates in Acts. How do we live? How do we hope? How do we endure?

Well, first, as a child, my catechism taught me that “Our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” This is a healthful call to respect the body, but now I think it goes beyond. In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul makes a memorable statement, or perhaps he is quoting even a pagan philosopher: . . . [T]hey would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being . . . (Acts 17: 27-28

Paul is saying God and Jesus are in you. They are close to you. They are family members. They are part of our being. They are as close as the joints of our limbs. . . . [B]ecause I live, you also will live. On that day, you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:19-20). I think this is what Jim Stickney meant when he mentioned “divinization” in his sermon last month.

And so we look for Jesus in our hearts and in our bodies. I say we look for Jesus, but I think I mean we try to realize that he is present. He is in us as he is in God the Father. This occurs because we have the Spirit.

Second, the gentleness and strength from the Spirit is our being together! I mean in Saint Alban’s, the church as the Body of Christ. It is we who obey Jesus’ command that we love one another. (John 15:12) We can find the power and the courage to love, which as Steve Hitchcock preached a couple of weeks ago, is in fact our work. He did not say it is something that we just do: he said it is our work.

How I would love to meet Jesus in the flesh. What a great hope that is. In the meantime, let’s consider how we act in this world without Jesus in the flesh.

So, here are some suggestions kind of in the spirit of how Margaret Doleman called on us to talk about the occasions when we thought we’d said the right thing at the right time::

Suggestion 1: On the first Pentecost, Peter preached and quoted the prophet Joel, saying . . . your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams . . . (Acts 2:17) So, when have you prophesied or dreamed dreams. Was it the thrill of hearing the notes of the first hymn of the service? Was it saying to a non-Christian or unchurched friend that you’ll pray for her daughter with Covid and seeing their eyes light up? Was it being in a meeting to hope and plan and manage something beautiful, like a musical ensemble, or in a vestry meeting to plan our continued future and to scratch heads over what to do about the drainage on the north side. Was it calling someone in the hospital and taking the lead to pray over the phone with them?

Suggestion 2: So, when have you loved recently? Did you grocery shop for your children and grandchildren? Were you kind in your interactions with people on any given day, both friends and family or simply people you encounter in a shop, a homeless person you give a banana to? Have you tried to put away the thought that some people are lesser because of their opinions or political party. Did you care for someone sick or disabled in your home or family? Did you give away some money – even a widow’s mite – to the Alameda County Food Bank, or the Richmond Rescue Mission. or something else. I am not going to ask whether you’re planning on becoming President of the United States or founder and leader of an NGO because actually we have to love where we are.

Suggestion 3 involves seeking God within us, in the joints of our body, as the person in whom we live and move and have our being. I can only imagine that a big part of this finding of the “absent Jesus” is prayer. Prayer is the place I know of where we sit down and actually talk to God. It is direct. And there is no such thing as bad prayer! You can be distracted, your mind might wander. That’s fine. You can say, “I’m sorry, Lord. I drifted off.” or not. The point is you are talking to him. If you talk to him, you realize he is there, to comfort us, to just be present, to strengthen and assist, to recognize us.

I want to close with another quote from Hymn 209. It summarizes in four lines just about everything I’ve said. Here goes:

We walk by faith, and not by sight;
no gracious words we hear from him
who spoke as none e’er spoke;
but we believe him near.

This is our season. Happy Pentecost.

Thank you.

05-15-2022 Reflection by Margaret Doleman

By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. For me, this is the core message of our faith.  Love one another.  And, in Acts, Peter confirms that Gentiles, that is, others, are worthy of love as well.

We all know that sometimes, we just don’t get this.  We talk a lot about how we fall short of Jesus’ commandment to love one another.  But today, let’s talk about the times we get it right.  We do a lot of good deeds around here, some small, and some pretty big.  And I’m betting that every one of us can think of a time when we found ourselves in the right place to do the right thing, maybe for someone we didn’t even know, When I look back on experiences like that, sometimes I feel as if it wasn’t really I who did that, or said that – God was using me. I’m just glad I could get out of the way, and let God use me.

When did you get it right? When might you have been the face of Jesus for someone?

I’m going to tell you a little story about something that happened to me, and then I hope that a few other people will feel comfortable sharing a few sentences about a time they felt as if they were showing God’s love.

It was maybe 15 years ago.  I was setting up the altar on Saturday, and there was a work party that day, so several people were around, and the church doors were open.  I saw a woman I didn’t recognize, kneeling in one of the front pews, praying.  Then she got up, and I heard her tell someone that her grandson was having surgery the next week.  That person was in the middle of some task, and didn’t really know how to respond, so she started walking out.  Here’s what went through my mind: her grandson can’t be very old. If he needs surgery, he might have a birth defect.  I know something about birth defects (since I’d been looking a birth defect data for about 20 years).  I also thought, she wants to talk to someone, and the first person she found wasn’t able to talk to her, so she’s leaving.  I need to talk to her. So I scurried off after her. As soon as I caught up with her and spoke to her, she started telling me all about her grandson (who did have a birth defect), and pretty much all about herself.  I realized right away that what I really needed to do for her was mostly just to listen, and I did. I couldn’t tell her anything that someone who knew far more than I did about her grandson’s case already had. My knowledge probably helped me to be a more active listener, but who knows? I just know that I was in the right place at the right time, and I think that with God’s help, I gave her something she needed right then.

 

05-22-22 Reflection by Steve Hitchcock

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church ● Albany, California ● May 22, 2022

Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10,22-22:5
JOHN 5:1-19

For me, one of the blessings of this ongoing pandemic years been working with Becky
Osborn-Coolidge as she prepares the bulletin for our Sunday services. I’m always
impressed how Becky assembles the assigned Scripture readings, finds appropriate
prayers, and puts everything together in four, easy-to-use pages.
It’s not entirely Becky’s fault, but this Sunday’s bulletin is somewhat deceptive.
Becky does use the Episcopal Church’s Lectionary Page. She cuts and pastes the
lessons and psalm for each Sunday. Thus, we see that the Gospel for today, which
Margaret just read, says John 5:1-9.

The truth, though, is that Margaret read only seven and a half verses – not
nine. That’s because the oldest and most authentic Greek manuscripts omit the last
part of verse 3 and all of verse 4. You may recall that those verses suggest an angel
periodically stirs the pool of water, imbibing them disease-healing power.
The other peculiar thing about today’s Gospel is that the last word – Sabbath –
is the key to unlocking the very good news in this Scripture reading. That last word
also explains why the spurious verses should be omitted when reading this Gospel
text.

The promise on offer today is that if we hear that one last word, we
too will experience healing in our lives. We will be able to get up
and get going – and face our challenges with hope and confidence.

John’s Gospel gives us signs

Before we get there, though, let’s step back for a minute or two. During this
Easter season, except for the Second Sunday of Easter, we’ve interrupted our reading
Luke’s Gospel to be treated to the Easter-drenched Gospel of John. Like Matthew,
Mark, and Luke, this so-called Fourth Gospel is comprised of stories and sayings, but
90 percent of what’s in John’s Gospel isn’t found in the other three Gospels, which
share have 50 percent or more content with each other.
The first half of John’s Gospel is built around seven signs, what other Gospels
depict as miracles. The first was the wedding at Cana with its overflowing
abundance of premium wine. The second also took place at Cana, where Jesus cured
the royal official’s dying son – without actually going to see the boy in Capernaum.
Today’s Gospel is the third sign, which like the Cana wedding and the
Samaritan woman at the well in chapter 4 involved water. After today’s Gospel
comes the feeding of the 5,000 in chapter 6. Here, once again an abundance of

nourishment takes place. Then, for the fifth sign, we’re back to water: this time Jesus
walks on the water during a storm. In chapter 9, we have the sixth sign: the healing
of the blind man.

The seventh and final sign wraps up the first half of the Gospel: the raising
Lazarus from the dead. This time, Jesus does go to the dying person, but he arrives
too late. So, Jesus must go into the tomb and shout Lazarus alive.

God works on the Sabbath

Now we can look more closely at today’s Gospel, the third sign, and get back to
that last word: Sabbath. As is often the case, the verses that follow today’s appointed
text explain the significance of what we heard read the Gospel. On the Sabbath, no
work is supposed to take place. At first glance, it appears that the crippled man – not
Jesus – is actually the one working: he carries his mat, which was considered work.
And we learn that the crippled man didn’t even know who it was who had healed him.
As all this comes out, the Jews – John’s words for Jesus’ opponents, not the
Jewish race – become incensed with Jesus for breaking the Sabbath.
Jesus rebuts their accusation in a different manner than he does in Matthew,
Mark, and Luke. And that’s good news for us today.

Jesus reminds his opponents – as well as those first readers of John’s
Gospel and us today – that, even though the Sabbath was a day of
rest, God, the creator of all that exists, does not stop working on the
Sabbath. God, who is the life force, is always at work.
And this is what really upset Jesus’ opponents. Jesus claims that he is the
Child of God. As God’s equal, Jesus too works on the Sabbath. Jesus is busy working
– creating abundance out of scarcity, washing us clean through baptism, healing our
infirmities, rescuing us from death.

That’s why it’s important to omit the verses about an angel stirring the waters.
It’s not some angel or agent of God who is at work in our lives. No, it is God at work.
It is God in Jesus who makes it possible for us to get up when life knocks us down –
or when we’re too tired or discouraged to face another day.

I don’t know about you, but these days when I get up in the morning and make
coffee with my achy hands and foggy brain and then read my newspaper articles, I’m
ready to get back in bed. Another wave of coronavirus, a faltering economy, the
brutal war in Ukraine, and hate-filled killings in our own country. Overwhelmed by
confusion and anxiety, getting up out my chair seems a chore.

God, who is supposed to be constantly working as the Creator of all things,
seems to be on an extended vacation – if not part of the great resignation.

Jesus’ death is God’s life-giving work

In the midst of our uncertainty and weariness, John’s Gospel shows us how
Jesus is busy in our lives today, how he heals us and gets our discouraged selves
moving. Paradox of paradox, Jesus does this life-saving work by dying. We hear in
chapter 5 that Jesus’ opponents begin plotting against him. By chapter 11, the raising
of Lazarus finally puts his opponents over the edge, and they begin seeking a way to
put Jesus to death. In other words, giving life to Lazarus precipitates Jesus’ death.
That’s where all those signs in the first half of John’s Gospel were pointing: to
the hour of Jesus’ death on the cross. The hour when he would be lifted up, when he
would be wounded for us. If we had any doubt about this, not long after the raising of
Lazarus, his sister Mary anoints Jesus’ feet – with lots of very expensive perfume.
Jesus defends her extravagance by saying that she’s preparing him for his burial.
And it is this fragrant extravagance that invites us to trust the Easter promise
that, in his death, Jesus overcomes death. That Jesus is lifted up to be with God, the
one who is always working on our behalf. That the wounded Lord is able to breathe
his Spirit of new life into us. That, even in our dying – which is our human condition,
for some more noticeably than others – God is giving us new hope, deep joy, and –
yes – life eternal.

We are fed so we can busy doing God’s work

After John reveals the unfolding plot that will put Jesus to death, he takes time
to reminds his readers – and us today – how we can trust that Jesus’ death – and our
own death – is not the last word. In chapter 6, we are invited to share the loaves and
fishes that become the new manna of the new Exodus. We are invited to take part in
the Eucharist that is the Bread of Life. We have this “standing invitation,” John tells
us because of our baptism, by which we are adopted to be siblings of Jesus, to be part
of God’s family.

Because of the pandemic, we don’t get to take part in the Eucharist as often as
we would like, but the good news is that just a morsel bread – and a sip of wine –
become a feast that nourishes us for weeks on end.

And strengthened by this holy food, we can get up and walk. We, too, as
adopted children of God, can be busy doing God’s work all the time. Despite our
frailties and infirmities, we are a source of healing and hope for others. Our smallest
gestures make the biggest difference. In a time of worry and despair, we are beacons
of joy and hope.

As we heard in last week’s Gospel – and in Margaret’s marvelous reflection –
this work we’re doing is called love. It’s what holds our lives – all creation – together.
So, today – and every day – is our Sabbath. Let’s get to work! Amen.

Easter Sunday Sermon by The Rev. Jim Stickney

Easter Sunday 2022                        St. Alban’s Church

 

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!        The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Christ did not die and rise from the dead just to make bad people into good people. Christ died and rose to make fearful people truly alive!

 

I’d like to begin this sermon for Easter morning with a special word of welcome

to those who are visiting with us today. We’re glad you’re here this morning,

and we invite everyone who wishes to join us to receive Communion.

 

Today we celebrate the heart of Christian faith, that death is not the end of the story.

Today we rejoice that we share in the new life of Christ Jesus beyond death.

Today we proclaim our freedom from any fear of being imprisoned in this world

of such swift and varied changes — we know where true joys are to be found.

 

Last Sunday we waved joyful palms to celebrate the easy way of being believers —

following Jesus in fair weather, when there’s a crowd cheering all of us on.

Then we shifted and became a mob crying for this one man to die for the people.

Some of us gathered on Good Friday in a vigil for divinity seeming to die —

trying to be faithful, when bring a believer seems to be the hardest thing to do.

And today we celebrate new life, risen life in which we all can share.

 

Christ did not die and rise from the dead just to make bad people into good people.

Christ died and rose to make fearful people truly alive!

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!        The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

 

I’d like to share an unusual sort of Easter story, dating from the year 1996.

I had taken a two-month sabbatical from my ministry as a Rector,

and I spent several days at an Episcopal monastery above Santa Barbara.

I was not on a silent retreat, and I shared a few lunches with some gay men

who were on a very different form of retreat — they were living a kind of resurrection.

 

All of these dozen or so men had contracted AIDS. They had seen friends

and lovers die all around them. They themselves had been facing their own deaths —

in a sense, they had been preparing for death quite intentionally.

But around 1996, scientists had developed new treatments for those with AIDS —

a class of drugs called “anti-retrovirals.” They were not a cure,

but by working with an array of drugs, doctors could extend their lives.

 

These men were spending a few days at a monastery, getting spiritual guidance

about re-entering the regular ups and downs of daily living after getting ready to die.

I might be off-base, but I think they experienced a kind of Easter story.

 

Christ did not die and rise from the dead just to make bad people into good people.

Christ died and rose to make fearful people truly alive!

        Alleluia!  Christ is risen!                        The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

 

In the Gospel reading we heard, a woman named Mary, from Magdala, just can’t sleep.

She is thinking of what she plans to do at dawn — to visit the tomb of Jesus.

Finally she thinks, “I’m not sleeping anyway — I’ll just walk over there by moonlight

and be ready at first light for the anointing of the corpse of my beloved teacher.”

 

She discovers that the stone (the stone of doubt) has been rolled away, the tomb empty.

Then she runs and locates the official apostles, sharing this amazing news.

The men visit, and one of them has the insight that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Mary waits until they leave, and then peeks in, and sees angels robed in white,

who ask her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”     Why are any of us weeping?

 

Well, we grieve for the return to European war in Ukraine, war in Somalia

and other countries. We grieve the divided state of our country, and of course COVID.

We try to help with donations and prayers, but it can seem so limited.

 

Are we holding back our tears, our anxieties, our dread of the future?

“Why are you weeping?” Tell God what it is that deeply touches your heart. For a few,

though, it will not be anxiety, but joy — you are weeping to express your bliss.

 

In Luke’s Gospel, the men in dazzling robes ask a different rhetorical question:

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Why do we keep returning

to old habits of mind and heart that we know do not bring us joy and peace?

On this Easter, on this day when we celebrate our share in Christ’s new life,

let’s look for new attitudes of mind and heart, and not seek new life in old dead habits.

 

Was it difficult for the disciples who went to the tomb to open their hearts again

to the love they felt for Jesus? Is it difficult for us to break out of the tombs and the traps

of our fond pleasant memories, and look around at the changed circumstances

of our life today, and find Jesus there? Among this world’s swift and varied changes

we know where the true joys, the authentic riches, are to be found: in our souls

and in our communities, which will not fluctuate like the breaking news of each day.

 

Let’s not be pasting last year’s leaves on the tree and trying to call that Spring.

Instead, look at your life this day! This moment Christ Jesus wants to live in you!

The new life     just won’t be the same as the old life — God intends to do a new thing.

 

Christ did not die and rise from the dead just to make bad people into good people.

Christ died and rose to make fearful people truly alive!

 

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!        The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!