Sharing–3rd Sunday of Lent Homily

Hello Friends,

Here again is another homily from Pastor Dick Dahl in my absence–enjoy! 


The Gospel according to John was written decades after Paul’s letters to the Christian churches and after the three Synoptic Gospels by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Holy Spirit over time led the first Christian community to have a deeper understanding of the mystery of Jesus the Christ. This is reflected in the Gospel according to John. It’s purpose is to be less a history than an understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ actions. They are presented in episodes that serve as signs which draw us into the mystery of God among us.

All three of today’s readings focus on water as a sign of life. In practical terms life originated in the oceans and seas. Living organisms need water to live. We would die sooner from a lack of water than we would from a lack of food. The Israelites in the Sinai desert feared they would die unless Yahweh provided water to quench their thirst. The Native Americans and their supporters at Standing Rock know that water is life.

Today’s Gospel story, however,  is a sign that reveals more than our practical need for water, as crucial as this is now and as it will likely become even more so in the near future.

It was noon, the sun was hot. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water from the well. This man, a Jew no less, speaks to her. He asks her for a drink of water. Her people were considered inferior by most Jews. No matter. Her religious beliefs were considered heretical. No matter. Her personal life—five husbands—left something to be desired. No matter. Jesus did not argue with her about religion. He did not show disrespect for her as a woman, He did not condemn her for living with a man who was not her husband. He spoke to her about “living water.”

Actually, this is where I think John’s Gospel is speaking to us. She probably had no idea what “living water” was, and we may not have much greater understanding ourselves.

When John and his followers put this Gospel into written form, they were conveying the deeper meaning that the Spirit had led them to see and understand in this event.  What is meant by the gift Jesus called “living water”?

Today it’s as if we are at the well and Jesus is saying to us what he said to the Samaritan woman. If you recognized the gift and who it is who is speaking with you, you would ask him. “The water I will give you will become a fountain within you, springing up to provide eternal life.”

John’s Gospel reflects the awareness St. Paul shared years before to the Romans, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It’s the intimate and immanent presence of the Trinity—the love of the Father for the Son immersing us though the Spirit, the Spirit poured out in our hearts.

What does this mean for you and me? First, it is our growing personal awareness through faith that we are swept up in the evolving creative love and presence of our Triune God. But beyond an individual aspect to this gift of “living water,” there is a social one as well. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus  said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.“ In our own limited but real way, the Trinitarian presence calls us to become aware of and work to change systems that oppress and trap people in demeaning and dehumanizing conditions. We find some of those oppressive systems even in the Church…in the community of believers…perhaps even in ourselves. Jesus always went where the pain was. Wherever there was human suffering, Jesus showed his concern about it now and about its healing now. He always paid attention. So must we.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the “living water” that heals, that strengthens, that enlightens, that makes us aware.

Religious belief and science are both ways of looking at reality, of striving to better recognize what is true and and to have a greater understanding of it.

Ironically, the more humans know, they often realize how much they don’t know. For example astronomical physicists who study the universe, the cosmos, realize that about 68% of it is made up of “dark energy” which no one understands. Another 27 % is made up of “dark matter” again which no one understands. That leaves only five percent or less of the cosmos that is visible to us. Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity proclaimed a dynamic universe. Even when an atom is reduced to absolute zero on the Kelvin scale, it still vibrates.

I find it striking that science is discovering a dynamic imprint in all creation, a vibrancy so like the dynamic and evolving creativity of the Trinitarian force. So, the gift of “living water” that gushes up like a fountain extends our vision of Trinitarian activity beyond individuals and society, and connects us even to the farthest reaches of the universe, the rest of reality, visible and invisible.

The way science painstakingly discovers more and more about the mysteries of the universe in time and in space makes even more awe-inspiring the Christ mystery—namely that “even before the beginning of the world,” the love of God has been given to us, waiting to be poured as living water into us. The Israelites in the desert asked, “Is our God in our midst or not?” Sometimes we may be tempted to ask the same. Let us not harden our hearts, but in gratitude be aware of the Spirit, the “living water” in us that connects us to each other and to the entire universe. Let us pay attention to each other and everyone we meet, as Jesus did to the Samaritan woman.

 

Sharing-2nd Sunday of Lent Homily

Hello Friends,

I am sharing a homily by Pastor Dick Dahl in my recent absence–he has given us a great message here–I will use it as a Lenten reflection for this week–enjoy! 


When I last spoke with you in November, I shared many thoughts from the Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, who is Director of the Center for Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am continuing to share much of his thinking in this homily.

The dictionary describes the word “God” as a noun, but it should be as a verb.  Father Richard Rohr writes, “We’ve been worshipping an image of God that is not the God of Jesus. Today’s Gospel reveals the God of Jesus  when from a cloud the Father says of the man Jesus, “This is my Son, my beloved.”

A few hours before his imprisonment and death, Jesus promised that he and the Father would send the Spirit to us—to guide when we are confused, to console when we  are in darkness, to strengthen when we are overwhelmed, to make us one with the Father and Him. The essence of God is a triune relationship.

The Spirit draws us into the dynamic, ever-creating love of the Father and the Son. This intimate and immanent indwelling envelops us and, moreover, it pervades the entire universe. The Spirit reveals that all of creation reflects the relational nature of God. It makes perfect sense that the universe contain the relation-al imprint of the relational love of the Trinity that created it.

Scientists and contemplatives alike are confirming that the fundamental nature of reality is relational, from inner quantum reality to the furthest galaxies of the cosmos. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving as the very nature of being!

People are hungry for connection. Two thirds of Millenials who say they identify with no religion nevertheless say they believe in God or some ultimate Source. They are forming new centers of social community in their attempt to meet that need. We need relationship with God and one another.

Like Abraham and his wife Sarah in the first reading from Genesis today, we also are called to take part in the journey which is our life. We have left the familiarity of our childhood into the present. We face an unknown future.

But what we know, by the indwelling Spirit, is that whatever our present circumstances, we are part of the Trinity’s forcefield, the divine dance, the relationship with Father, Son and Spirit that embraces us in relationship with each other and with the entire universe.

Father Rohr says that God’s mystery rests in mutuality.  A Trinitarian person lives in the mutual relationship that God is—the relationship that God has gratuitously drawn us into. The Trinity is a participative mystery.

Relationships are what Jesus spoke of by word and act. “Whenever you fed, gave water, clothing and comfort to the least of my brethren,” he said, “you gave it to me.” He called those who were despised by others—the tax collector, the prostitute, the leper, the Samaritan—to have a meal with him, to touch him, to experience his love, his respect, his understanding and acceptance.

The relational essence of our God draws us to look at our relationships, or lack of them, with the people caught in the web of our lives. As most of you know, I have a close relationship with people in the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship. Many of them present themselves as former Catholics and former Christians. I struggled in my relationship with one man in the group who despite, or perhaps because of, his Catholic education from elementary school through four years at a Jesuit university, repeatedly expresses his distain for organized religion. However, another member of the group who sees himself as agnostic, has been an instrument of the Holy Spirit for me by his pointing out to me the principle that has guided his life through fifty years as a social worker: Relationships are more important than what people say they believe. By valuing the friendship with the person I had had problems with, regardless of his beliefs, our relationship has persevered and grown.

I found the same to be true with a cousin of mine whose political beliefs offended me deeply and alienated me. Fortunately my agnostic friend’s words and the message of his life has helped me to value and nurture the relationship with my cousin over the beliefs that he expressed.  Words are important, but love is more important.

The Triune God is why we must not revert to clannish tribalism or nationalism. We have a divinely given relationship with every person in the world—no matter how they may seem to differ from us. We must not let differences frighten us nor allow us to see them as “other.” We are called to discover and celebrate the more important ways we are alike.

The Spirit draws us by the overwhelming love of the Father and the Son. Each time we inhale life-giving air, we can think of inhaling the loving embrace of our Trinitarian God. Each time we exhale, we can respond to that gift with our own grateful love.

Let this prayer by Father Rohr resonate in you:

God for us, we call you Father.

God alongside us, we call you Jesus.

God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.

You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things, Even us and even me.

Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.

We can only see you in what is.

We ask for such perfect seeing—

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Amen. So be it.

 

Sharing – 1st Week of Lent

My Friends–we continue again this week with the wisdom of Fr. Ed Hays…

Kything Day–The Scottish word kything means to be spiritually present to another person. Today, experiment with the practice of being spiritually in communion with someone. As you connect with a friend, a family member or someone you know who is in need, do so by recalling memories of that person, perhaps an image, a common thought or emotion or a scent. In your kything prayer you might strive to picture that person in his or her environment.  Then add to your kything a blessing prayer for whatever needs that person might have on this day. On any day, whenever the thought of someone enters your mind, practice the prayer of kything.  Blessed are those who do not only go to Communion but live in Communion.


We need each other.  By consciously connecting yourself with those who share the same vision as yours, those with whom you are joined by love and friendship, is to be for them a source of graceful energy.  While invisible to the eye, even the eye of a microscope, love is as real a source of energy as electricity.  Perhaps someday we will have the technology to see love.  For now, we can  only see its powerful effects all around us. Even when we love others at a distance, we see those effects by eyes of faith, for love knows no limits or boundaries.

Blessings on your Lenten Week!

Pastor Kathy

Sharing – 3rd Week of Lent

More wisdom from Fr. Ed Hays—

The Feast Day of Your Conception–This week on March 25, we will celebrate the Conception of Jesus, whose birth will be celebrated nine months hence on Christmas.  Today is a feast to remember the day you were conceived in your mother’s womb.  As a symbolic gesture, count down nine months from the date of your birth and turn to that day on the calendar. As one of your Star-Date entries, inscribe it as Conception Day. When we come to that day, remember your father and mother prayerfully and with gratitude.  Then reflect on how, along with their love, the Holy Spirit was also involved as the Spirit of Love in the holy act of your conception.


If you believe the life begins at conception, then consider measuring your years from that date instead of your birth date. When asked your age, you can playfully give two numbers.

Or you can count six months from your birth date and inscribe that day on your calendar as your half-birthday. Consider throwing a half-a-party for yourself on that day. On your half-birthday you might reverse the usual birthday custom and give gifts to those you love to celebrate the occasion.

Life is a celebration, and the more personal feast days we enjoy the more life can be lived as a joy instead of a duty.