Homily – 3rd Sunday of Easter

My friends, our alleluias continue today as we celebrate the love of our God in Jesus. These six weeks of Easter leading up to Pentecost keep calling us back to the profound mystery of God-With-Us—Emmanuel. Jesus uses this time to sharpen his disciples hearts and minds to the truth of all that has happened—that he has indeed fulfilled the Scriptures—not perhaps in the ways the people had expected—but fulfilled them just the same.

In our gospel today; we see Jesus patiently opening the minds of his followers to the realization that he came so that we all would be saved, perhaps from ourselves, by being brought to new life in him.  All that Jesus ultimately suffered was part and parcel of his life of love, justice and mercy given for all.

Simply put, Jesus died because of how he lived—the powers in his world weren’t ready for his message that our God loves everyone, even the least among us, and for that boldness, for being the prophet that Moses and all the prophets before him, as recorded in Acts today, prophesied about, he had to die—as if dying could silence his message! But the joy of this season is that he rose—death could not hold him, as it will not hold us.

And it is this awesome reality that death is not the end that Jesus’ followers are spending a great deal of time struggling with—and we can hardly blame them.   Our purely human minds are incredulous along with Thomas—“We saw that you died, but now you are with us!” It is clear that their minds needed to be opened—they forgot so quickly how Jesus was always turning things on their heads.

And, Jesus does open their minds through their humanity— “Have you anything to eat?” If Jesus was not a ghost, but in his body, now resurrected, he would naturally eat.  Jesus always spoke and taught in ways that people could understand and therefore get his meaning.  That was why he often spoke in parables—stories from their lives with an added twist—a higher meaning.

And if each of us will see the risen Jesus, it will be precisely in this way—in our ordinary lives—seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary—we all know those times when we see family, friends, colleagues doing the patient work of bringing about the kin-dom—going the extra mile—speaking the kind word, giving the gentle touch, sharing the warm smile, the word of support when no one else is stepping up, being the catalyst for others doing the same.

This past Wednesday, we had the privilege of viewing the 1980’s film, Weapons of the Spirit, the story of a small town in France whose inhabitants, along with their pastor, sheltered 2-3 thousand Jewish people from deportation and likely the loss of their lives in Hitler’s death camps. When the townspeople were later interviewed and asked why they had risked their lives in this way; they simply said, “It was no big thing; they were doing the only thing they could—the right thing. I would say, “They were walking the talk!”

Jesus is patient with his incredulous, yet faithful followers as he prepares them for the gift of the Spirit—the one who will bring them the courage to speak truth with love, no matter the personal danger.

The work that Jesus called his first followers to after the resurrection and by extension, calls us to as well, takes strength, and a deep faith that took them and will take us to places we might not always choose to go. We may not always understand, but we will have the knowledge that we don’t have to do it alone—our brother Jesus will be with us.

I have asked this community to consider being a Sanctuary Support Community for those in our midst who are struggling to stay in this country in the face of changing deportation rules and regulations.  Being a Sanctuary Support Community means that we would attempt in whatever ways that we can to give support to the church that may eventually become a Sanctuary Church in our community.

The Easter Season calls us to remember that we have the same Spirit of Jesus that gave him and us by extension, caring hearts and minds to see the needs in our midst. When we see evil, sadness, brokenness, lack of love, whether it be in families, among friends, locally, in our churches or within our city, nationally or beyond—we must offer the “bread” to eat that is needed.

Some of us from All Are One a week ago served the simple physical food needed at The Feast, sponsored by Central Lutheran Church weekly.  Food and the action of eating are often the catalyst that Jesus uses to teach us profound things.  I found myself reflecting with the group of us gathered to serve those who came to partake of the meal, on the gift of food.  One gentleman came through the line three times to have his plate filled and I remarked later to those serving, “This is probably all he has had to eat today!” It made me realize that I have never known the feeling of wondering whether I would eat today!

We see in today’s gospel that the disciples on the road to Emmaus knew Jesus, “in the breaking of the bread”—in the action of outreach to others.  We recall many other times when food or a meal was center stage in profound teachings—feeding the 5000—“you give them something to eat”—Jesus said to the apostles when they suggested he send the people away so that they could get food.  Certainly the instruction was to feed more than their bodies, but the feeding began there.  There were meals at the home of Martha and Mary, at the home of a prominent Pharisee—always Jesus used an ordinary event to raise an extraordinary point about how to live life.

Within the meal, celebrated at the home of the Pharisee, a woman comes to Jesus asking for forgiveness, for light—a new vision, a more meaningful existence and he gives it to her, while teaching the Pharisees present how they are to be in life—how they are truly to serve, by of course, being servants.

There is a group of Catholic priests who are taking Pope Francis’ words to heart that the formation of priests be renewed—one of Francis’ points, which this group is pursuing, is that priests are to be “servants.”  Imagine that!

So—our task is to offer as Jesus did—the bread that is needed—be it physical or emotional—knowing that the gift is always spiritual.  We see Peter then—emboldened by the Spirit in the 1st reading speaking truth with love to all the people, even though some may not want to hear it. His life will ultimately be endangered, but as John in his 1st letter says today, if we say that we know God,  then we must act accordingly walking in the footsteps of Jesus, no matter the cost.  As Anglican Bishop John Shelby Spong is fond of saying, in regard to God’s love for us, “We must love wastefully,” as our God does, and we see this so clearly in the life of Jesus.  As Jesus said to the apostles in our gospel today, you are my witnesses that love is stronger than death—stronger than any suffering that can come to us—suffering and death are not the end.

Let us pray then this week for each other that our inner eyes might be opened to see the Risen Jesus in our midst and to respond as he did—offering peace—modeling forgiveness in our personal lives, which is a profound gift in and of itself and one that does bring peace, and heals our fractured world—reaching out to the poor, sharing what we have so generously been given ourselves, and in these actions—proclaiming the Good News to all. Amen? Amen!

 

Homily – 2nd Sunday of Easter

All this past week and today, the Acts of the Apostles lets us know what life as followers of Jesus, post-Easter, was like.  In his physical absence; they remembered all that Jesus had taught them about right living.  Their days and nights after the joy of the Resurrection were about living as Jesus had taught them—living in love, with compassion, justice and mercy toward all of God’s People.  Their lives were about sharing with those who had less, so that no one would be in need.

This first week of Easter, I found myself thinking realistically about the living situation at our home.  As you all know, our daughter Eryn, her husband, Adam and our grandson, Elliot have come to live with us, sharing our space, meals, schedules, all of what makes up our life for the most part, as they work to get settled in a new home here.

We are into the 4th week of a possible 10 week arrangement as they are preparing to close on a selected house.  This arrangement calls for patience from all of us to “accommodate” each other, put our singular desires aside in deference to what is best for all of us.  This is our post-Easter experiment and I would say that we are doing quite well, everything considered.

Not unlike the original post-Easter community that “held everything in common,” there are times of stress for all of us, born out of winter colds in a spring that hasn’t found us yet, tiredness and lack of personal routines.  But, there is the joy of being together and sharing the otherwise rare moments that come with this arrangement: a little, clear voice at 6:30 in the morning wanting to begin his day, an afternoon of romp and tumble in huge Minnesota snow piles provided by Grampa’s plow, shared meals, lovingly prepared and presented by different cooks, complete with blessings including all the special things that went on that day in the mind of a four-year-old, and daily conversations with extra voices and shared ideas and perspectives.

Like that first community of believers, it is about joy, it is about dark, it is about light—it is about finding the best that each of us has to offer.  And that, simply put, is what Jesus calls forth from each of us in Easter time, which we know from last week, is about all time—Easter is not an historical event we remember, but an action that is on-going.  So for that reason, sharing our living space with extended family is a wonderful, yet realistic Easter experience.

Joy then, seems to be an element in living after the Resurrection—a joy that was palpable, sensing Jesus’ presence in a new way and trying to allow their actions to radiate that joy.  For us too, my friends, because we have never known Jesus’ actual physical; we must look for him, “in a new way,” in each other.

Joan Chittister names Easter as a mystery of light and darkness—she says that we must go into the tomb, into the dark and decide if we will follow Jesus’ disciples back into the world of the living and here-in lies the light. The only way to respond to death is with light—the light of goodness—inclusivity—justice and mercy.

This past week, we remembered that day, 50 years ago when a prophet of our times, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken from us. He is quoted as saying, among other things that “Darkness cannot put out darkness, only light can do that!”

There is much in our world today that seems to be about darkness—from the halls of power in Washington, we see a great lack of moral sense, a lack of general leadership and guidance in deference to selfishness and a lack of true caring for our people beyond what they can do for those in power.  The light and joy that Easter can bring was never more needed than now.

After February’s mass school shooting in Florida, a new surge of moral leadership and fortitude has arisen in our nation’s young people—a light that came out of darkness—a light that we all must uplift and not let die.

I began reading an older volume this week, entitled, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by gynecologist, Dr. Christiane Northrup.  Even though it has a 1998 copyright, the truth she speaks about women and their wisdom and how it has been discounted over time in the patriarchal society in which we still live, to the point of making women physically, emotionally and spiritually sick is something that must be continually addressed until this darkness becomes light.

Another reflection on Easter that I read this past week uplifted the fact that those who witnessed the Resurrection seem to be doing “a lot of running.” So marvelous a thing was witnessed, by Mary of Magdala, by John, the apostle, by the disciples on the way to Emmaus, that the Scriptures tell us that “they ran” to tell the others!

A question we may want to ponder this week is, how excited are we at hearing the Good News that Jesus has risen, and does it inspire us to actions of light, or are we more like Thomas, in need of proof?—“I need to see this or that and then I will believe and act on my beliefs.  The Church gives us 5 weeks to ponder and reflect on our response.

As Joan Chittister also said this week, Easter is not a fairytale with a happy ending, once and for all—Easter is just the beginning!  Our choices are darkness or light—may we choose to be bearers of the light!

Amen?— Amen!— Alleluia!

Homily – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Friends, we can hardly miss that last Sunday we were at the crib with the baby and now today we are with Jesus as he begins his public ministry.  Other than his visit to the temple when he was 12 on the occasion of his bar mitzvah; we don’t know much about those “lost” years between then and when he began to share publicly what God, his Abba had sent him to do.

With the help of our imaginations, as Joan Chittister names, “a distinct gift from God;” we can assume that this passage of time included much listening, much communing with his Abba—another term for Loving Parent, about just what he was to do.

He no doubt spent a good deal of time studying the Torah, the first five books of the Bible that all good Jews were knowledgeable in, the Psalms of David and the Prophets.  It was the words of the prophet, Isaiah that he would later come to proclaim and fulfill, “I have come to bring good news to the poor,” and so on.

It is good for us to try and imagine what this “coming out” must have been like for Jesus—he left the comfort of his hometown to show himself around the Jordan River where John the Baptist was preaching.  He apparently looked like everyone else—nothing outstanding as John had to point him out to his disciples and friends, “There is the Lamb of God!” and instructed them to follow him, now.  These two, Andrew and John must have had great faith to have left the Baptist and follow Jesus, whom they didn’t know.  Could we have done that?

Then, it is good to reflect on the interchange between Jesus and his first two disciples.  When they catch up with Jesus, he asks them, “What are you looking for?” At this beginning of another new year, we too might ponder Jesus’ question, “Just what are YOU looking for?” What would make your life better, in the truest sense of the word?” Could you imagine it?

Their response to Jesus tells us a great deal—they want to know where he is staying! This is a question that tells Jesus that they want to come to know him much better.  We might think about this question in terms of two people dating for a while and at a certain point they want to take their special friend home to meet their family—to share what they have found!

Jesus’ answer is equally intimate; “Come and see!”  These first two disciples found Jesus to be the One they had been waiting for—by spending time with him, listening to his words—which, by the way, is a very good definition of prayer.  In all of this, these first disciples came to know him as the Messiah.

The readings for this Sunday as we transition once again into Ordinary Time for a few Sundays before we begin the Season of Lent on February 14th, call us to be listeners, intent on hearing God’s voice.  Sister Joan Chittister, through her monthly calendar, The Monastic Way, is taking this New Year to look at women who imagined great things and acted upon those imaginings–St. Joan of Arc was burned as a heretic for claiming that God talked to her through her imagination and when questioned about this seeming phenomenon, she answered, “How else would God speak to me; if not through my imagination?”

Samuel, in today’s first reading is told to listen and if he hears God’s voice, he should reply, “Yahweh, I am listening.”  He already had a sense of being present to Eli, the prophet and knew that when he heard Eli call, he should say, “Here I am,”   which meant he was ready to do the prophet’s bidding. Samuel was soon to learn that his response to God should be the same, “Here I am!”

Are we ready to do what God may be asking of us on this day, in our time? And how will we know if it is truly God who is calling?  My kind of litmus test for if it is God calling is if “peace” also comes with the request—somewhat the feeling of, “I can do this!” And while I may not be entirely sure, I am at peace that I won’t do it alone, that God will be with me.  Maybe this is the year that I can step out of my comfort zone and respond to Jesus’ request to, “Come and see.”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is basically a discussion between the material and spiritual world.  He is trying to help them see that following Jesus’ call means that they should respect themselves and others—try to be their best selves, try to seek after good and that good will come back to them.  It is through Jesus’ Spirit that we can come to know our God better, become more able to see God in others—which is really, “communion” again, in the truest sense of the word.”

The Spirit was alive and well at the Golden Globe awards a week ago when the whole program was transformed by women and the men who support them speaking their truth in a way they have never been able to before due to the unnamed sexual abuse and domination that was present in Hollywood. The climate this year was changed due to those brave women who have come forward this last year through the “Me Too” movement, exposing the pain and suffering which came to be accepted as, “the way it is!” Women in all walks of life have said definitively through another movement that, “TimesUp.”

Time is up to accept anything less than to be treated with the respect that is due each person.  Now-is-the-time, especially for Christians and all other believers, for those in fact, who claim to be human, to open their eyes to the abuse that we give license to when we do not respect the fact that we are all equal and treat each other that way—that I am not better than you and you are no better than me.

It is to each of us, wonderfully made by the Creator, that Jesus came to-be-one-with.  Let us make a New Year’s resolution that we will listen well to each other’s stories and remember that we cannot truly thrive in this world on the backs, the souls of others.  Our world needs now, people who can imagine a better existence for all of earth’s inhabitants and then act upon those imaginings knowing that we won’t be alone—that our brother Jesus is with us loving us into greatness.  Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 10 A.M–REMEMBER TO TURN YOUR CLOCKS BACK ONE HOUR BEFORE SLEEP ON SATURDAY EVENING (Fall Back!)

REMEMBER to sign up for the pot-luck supper which will be held after the Saturday Mass at 4:30 P.M. on November 18, 2017–there is always room for more! 

November is the month that we remember all our loved ones who have died.  Next Sunday I will have the Book of Life at Mass and throughout the month of November so that you can add the names of loved ones who may have died. 

This Sunday, Robert and I will be absent from liturgy due to a family wedding.  We will be with our kids and their families for the weekend.   Pastor Dick Dahl will be with you!

Come; celebrate together as we continue to remember that our peace comes from God.

Love and peace,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Malachi 1: 14–2:2, 8-10
  • 1 Thessalonians 2: 7-9, 13
  • Matthew 23: 1-12



 

Sharing

Dear Friends, 

Today is All Saints Day! Below is a piece by Sr. Joan Chittister on Saints that I wanted to share with all of you–enjoy! Pastor Kathy


In need of heroes
“Saints”—spiritual heroes of character and courage—are very elusive figures and not always all too comfortable ones either: They carry with them the ideals of ages often quite remote from our own, even, in some cases, psychologically suspect now. They seem to uphold a standard of perfection either unattainable to most or, at least in this day and age, undesirable to many. Their lives are often overwritten, their struggles underestimated and their natural impulses underrated. They have become a rather quaint anachronism of an earlier church full of simpler people far more unsophisticated, we think, than ourselves and whom we think ought to be quietly ignored in these more enlightened times. I disagree.

“Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes,” wrote Bertolt Brecht. And every day the crime sections of our newspapers prove the point. We could use a saint or two, perhaps, to raise our sights again to the heights of human possibility and the depths of the human soul. It might not even hurt to pass one or two of them on to children who are otherwise left with little to choose from as personal idols than what Hollywood, TV, and the music industry have already given them, of course.

Here are five saints to tell your children about.

•Julian of Norwich, a 15th century anchorite who was devoted only to God, gave the world three learnings that would change the very things we call holy: that God is mother; that fear of God is not humility, and that even though we sin all will be well. Those are brave, heroic concepts in a world where God who is all spirit had been reduced to the notion of a male judge.

•The Baal Shem Tov was a man with an eye for the spiritual and a song in the heart. Nothing clearly authentic is known about him but nothing much less has been forgotten about the man either. The Baal Shem Tov insisted that the presence of God lurked in life as it was, that it was there for the seeing, that to live life joyfully was itself the real task of life.

•”The purpose of prayer, my daughters,” Teresa of Avila wrote, “is always good works, good works, good works.” Given her heroic and unending attempts to make religion spiritual and the church holy, she of all people had the right to say so. She did not use prayer as a refuge; she used it as a beacon. Learning to persist in the pursuit of good should make saints of us all.

• John XXIII is really remembered for making the political, the scholarly, the efficient, the clerical and the papal, human. What stands as a monument to his heroism is the indictment of ageism by an old man who turned a system upside down to make it new again. Now, thanks to him, age is no excuse for doing nothing.

• Joan of Arc’s heroic commitment to conscience over authority is a mighty one. There are some things in life that belong to God alone, Joan implies: human life, human responsibility, and human will. Joan of Arc is patron of those who hear the voice of God calling them beyond present impossibilities to the fullness of conscience everywhere.

HAPPY ALL SAINTS DAY, EVERYONE.
—from The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister