Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Flowers Bloom
"Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death
should not be a greater one." — Vladimir Nabokov

Death and suffering are all about us these days not to mention the man made sufferings from continued war and strife in the Middle East.  It can be very disheartening to our souls.  When you talk to some of the elderly or if you look back at history you come to find that death and suffering have always been a part of our lives and no matter how hard we try to insulate ourselves from them we cannot escape it.  As we go through Lent we remember the darkness that this world sometimes has to offer.  It becomes easy to get caught up in the events around us and to feel despair or that we are too little to make a difference.  It’s into and through this world that Jesus enters into our lives.  Jesus was no stranger to pain, oppression and human despair…a world where everyone was too small to change things…a world we they needed a miracle – a messiah – God promised!  Where is God in all this?

…and God came, but not with trumpets and armies; he came in the hope of a small baby who would grow up to be the son of God.  His words would be the seed of God in men’s hearts. His life, death and resurrection the foundations of God here on earth - Christianity and the Church!  Take note that God may seem almost insignificant at first.  As it is said in his parables God comes to us in smallness, he uses the broken and downtrodden to do his will and bring the kingdom of God to earth.  His only son had to suffer this same anguish to enter into our lives, and through the darkness God’s glory came to us in the resurrection - the hope and light of the world!  To say that suffering and death don’t have the final say in our lives!  But even that took three days…God’s work in the world requires patience… WAIT… for the kingdom of God requires patience – the kingdom of God is likened to a seed not a vending machine.  Sometimes in the midst of despair and darkness, when we are experienced suffering, death and the empty tomb we want God here - RIGHT NOW!

God’s work in the world also requires YOU!

Remember the Kingdom of God is first and foremost a reality to be experienced.  You can write about it, think about it and talk about it forever... but it needs to be experienced to be understood.

There’s tension between how the world is and how we want the world to be.  The kingdom is about expressing God’s peace, joy and love right here in the tension.  It becomes a reality that transcends our human circumstances.  By emptying US of self importance, poured out for others, we make room for Christ, whose grace pulses into the world through US that love and serve in the world.

Faith in Jesus is neither a vehicle to cultural power nor spiritual self-improvement.  God has far bigger plans than that.  C.S. Lewis compared God’s work in human restoration to that of renovating a cottage.

“Imagine yourself living in a house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently He starts knocking the house about in ways that hurt abdominally and does not seem to make sense.  What on earth is He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of…throwing out a wing here, putting an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.  You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it himself!”

As Jesus points out “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:8).  By nurturing and offering the life giving fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control - Gal 5:22-23) we become branches of divine grace, vehicles Christ uses to extend himself to others – that’s US!

God’s image is always under construction in us.  God calls people not for what they have but for what they lack – empty hands can receive, empty wombs can be filled, empty tombs can proclaim the RESURRECTION!

In fact, God does not ask us to give ourselves to others. God asks us to give CHRIST…who transforms us, dwells within us, and fills us with self-giving love.  Paul says it like this (Gal 2:20) It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.  In the fruits of the Spirit, we offer Christ to others, not some holier version of ourselves!  The kingdom of God is here…right here and right now…The kingdom of God is inside each one of you!  That’s what Jesus continues to tell us. 

Alleluia, the LORD is risen indeed, ALLELUIA!

Happy Easter!  The seeds have been sown…The Flowers Bloom!

Your faithful servant,


Thursday, March 10, 2016



When Christ performed the miracle during the Sermon on the Mount, he fed thousands with seemingly nothing – a couple of loaves of bread and some fish.  This miracle symbolizes more than just the actual feeding, it symbolizes what can happen when we come together and share God’s abundance with the world.  The apostles were restless and worried because Jesus was preaching too late and they would need to feed everyone.  They knew they barely had enough to provide for themselves.  Jesus ignored their fears and continued his ministry.  Then the miracle started: inspired by the love of Christ, a few of the people offered up and shared what they had.  This tiny bit of food shared by the people for the people fed the masses.  This is the only story that is mentioned in all four gospels.

As Christians, we need to pay close attention to these stories.  In the story, we are being told to share.  Economic times are tough right now, and this can lead us to have a scarcity mentality - to hoard our “stuff” - just in case!  Now is when we are especially called to share with our neighbors that have less.  Trust that God will get us through this together, and turning outwardly to love of our neighbors will help us all to live healthy and meaningful lives.  We need not turn inward, taking care of only ourselves and saving everything.  Christ urges us to turn outward instead and share the graces of God that we have been given with others.  What seems like so little, will feed “thousands”  And the hunger that the people of this world crave does not only take the form of food; many of us have plenty to eat but are spiritually staving.

Lent is a time for renewal.  We fast, we feel hunger!  It is a time to quietly reflect on our blessings and all the grace and mercy that has been shown to us by God.  As we move towards Easter we hope and pray for transformation and re-creation in our own lives.  But we must first acknowledge our own hunger and blessings.  Then we must share our blessings with one another and we will find that we are in fact feeding one another.  There is story about Heaven and Hell where many people are sitting in a circle around a pot of delicious food, but are only given access to a fork which is too long an extend outward.  In Hell the people, determined to feed themselves, are starving as they cannot connect the fork with their mouth.  Yet in Heaven people are full and content as they use their fork to feed one another!

So what my friends are you hungry for?  What do you need to be satisfied, and what do you have that will feed another.  In the end it is only through extending ourselves outward in love that we will come to feed one another that which we have all been so blessed to receive!

Lord, open our hearts so that in the midst of plenty, we are aware of those who hunger, and in the midst of friends, we remember those who are friendless.  Please keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.  Give us a hunger to do your will, and an appetite to see your kingdom, here and in the world to come.  We ask this through Jesus, your Son. AMEN.”

Your faithful servant,