Hosanna and destiny

Large EDIT Palms for Palm Sunday.jpgEach week at mass we pray these words aloud in song or prayer…

Hosanna, in the highest!

Today the words take on a deeper meaning as we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

There are studies upon studies to reveal just what lengths humans will go to in order to Continue reading

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New thing

EDITIsaiahLilacBud copyHaving attended a 4pm liturgy on Saturday, I heard a good homily, but I was left wanting. After hearing a young woman proclaim the First Reading from Isaiah with such gift and passion, and then to hear another woman proclaim the Second Reading with similar style, I felt so hungry – starved actually – to hear a woman’s preaching voice.

For the record, and to the chagrin of many, I do not support the women’s ordination movement as it exists today. Sorry, that’s another story for another day perhaps. Those of you who actually know me know that this is how I feel, what I believe, others – you will have to take my word for it and maybe I will go into it another time.

Anyway, these women’s proclaiming voices snapped me into a kind of openness and attention that left me vulnerable. Thankfully the homily was OK. The kind of homily an old friend might have described by saying Continue reading

Bread and desert living during Lent

downloadAs is often the case, my desire to blog is confronted with the reality of daily life – result, no time for blogging. Work has been busy, I have been dealing with a sick cat, and also working on some other projects. Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That said, I have a few minutes today and I’m wondering about how your Lent is going? What are you reading? Have you altered your prayer life? Many of us have obsessed over what to give up or take on, or both, but too much obsessing means a focus on the self and not God. Essentially giving up or taking on should be about creating more space to encounter God.

For the first time in a long time I am at peace with how that is unfolding this Lent. Various things had occurred that had my typical prayer practices disturbed, resulting in limited prayer. I was not at peace with that and have struggled for some time to find a new rhythm. Lent has provided me with a way to do that. Also, I am spending time each morning reading some wonderful texts, beginning with Give Us This Day. In full disclosure Continue reading

Forgive, be reconciled – start with self

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Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Does anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself,
yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?
If a mere mortal cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins? – Sirach 28:2-5

This morning I inexplicably looked at my phone soon after waking up but before praying. This is something that I prefer not to do as it will lead me down a rabbit hole of non-essential information and lost time – and most importantly keeps me from the quiet time of reading and prayer that begins my day.

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The news blazed across social media sites… Horrific New Zealand Terrorist Attack, New Zealand shooting, Christchurch Mosque Massacres.  Continue reading

I Need Help (First Sunday of Lent)

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“He used to remind us that the Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, and Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda.” Susannah Heschel, daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, now of blessed memory.

In today’s Gospel and readings I see so many parallels to where we are today. For those among us who have some yearning to “make America great again.” Well, that may sound nice, but I can never figure out what we might actually go back to that would be so great. Greatness, if you ask me, can never be returned to, greatness – if it is to be – is found only by going forward. For others who may long for a greatness built upon justice, unity, and equality, other things can be read into today’s readings by understanding the risk of temptation – and avoiding temptation.

Jesus has been in the desert a long time in today’s reading – even if we are at the beginning of our own Lenten journey.  Maybe he is hangry! No, I’m not trying to be funny. He has been sleeping in the wilderness without the benefit of a nice tent, cozy sleeping bag, a water filtration device, and energy bars. Think about what this means. Not exactly a comfortable retreat to “get away from it all.” Quite the opposite!

Me, I love the desert, but boy oh boy,  I have no desire to stay out there for 40 days and nights! Yet that is exactly what Jesus did. And then he meets satan, the satanas – which means the tempter or evil one in general. Now Jesus must be so tired and hungry. The evil one makes three pitches which all center on Jesus Continue reading

Even now

Lent2019Desert Heart (1).jpgEven now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.

The opening lines of our first reading from the prophet Joel sound different to me today. Even now, he begins, even now. Yes, even now, despite living through many Lenten seasons, God continues to ask me to turn around – even now. And not to simply turn around, but to do so with an open heart, one bereft of all the puffery of everyday living. It is my heart, God wants, my heart and your heart and all of hearts – not simply a world that overflows with uneaten chocolate bars, untouched French fries, quiet social media streams, and less meat. Whether not God wants those things, I cannot say, but it does seem evident… God wants our hearts. Even now, forever, always says God. Just turn around please!

Last Friday night I saw Elton John in concert. Near the end of the show he did something that brought me to tears. These tears were the kind that I hope and pray leads to the weeping mentioned by Joel in that first reading for today.  Sitting at the piano, Elton talked about how in 1990 he was ashamed of himself. His life lacked any sense of logic or control, he was living in a way that made no sense and that was harmful to him and to others. It was at that point he at long last uttered three words that changed his life… I. Need. Help.

This Lent I think that the thing I need to do before creating a list of things to give up or take on, is to simply bow my head in prayer and say out loud… I need help. Maybe it is time to stop working so hard on what I can let go of, and simply let go of my pride. In that way, as I ask for help, I have given up the biggest distraction of all. In that space, God can do some work.

As my heart opens and tumbles out before God, all messy, hard around the edges, cracked perhaps, and swollen with false pride, God can do something with it. Something I cannot do on my own, even if I have a long list, a bundle of books, and a plethora of prayers to launch my Lenten journey.  What if God is not looking for my perfectly polished List O’ Lenten Desires, but only for me to say, “I need help.” And then to simmer down and accept it?

Even now, as the dawn of Lent breaks on the horizon of my soul this year, I pray that I begin by praying these three words. “I need help.”  Lent is so typically filled with a to-do list of holiness, but I think this way may be the way to go. Each day, many times a day, may I say to God, “I need help.” With that, may I surrender to God, and may the transformation of healing begin.

What really matters

felicity and perpetuaApparently my efforts to blog more frequently during Lent have not been realized. *sigh* Oh well, so it goes. The inconsistent blogger returns and hopes that you are all well.

Today I received an email from Forward Today, part of Forward Movement, which is a ministry of the Episcopal church. Like many email things, I do not read it every day, but today I did read and what a gift I was given.

In the church, today is the feast when we remember Perpetua and Felicity along with their companions. They were early martyrs of the church. Author of the post, Rev. Scott Gun is an Episcopal priest and the Executive Director of Forward Movement.  He writes:

Perpetua was a catechumen, not yet baptized, when she was summoned to appear before the Roman authorities. She refused to make a sacrifice in honor of the emperor. At a public hearing, she said, “I am a Christian.” She was sentenced to death, to be martyred in an arena by wild animals. She faced death bravely, urging those around her to remain steadfast in faith.

This Lent one of the things that I have prayed and meditated upon is those who have been persecuted. Many in the United States believe that they are persecuted because of certain laws that seem to infringe upon faith. When I think of that versus the plight of the Christians in the Middle East who are seriously persecuted, I want to shake my head. Because freedom of religion is understood by many  in a particular way in this country, it kind of distorts things. Yes, people may be infringed upon, but persecuted? We kind of live in the belief that our right to practice holds a meaning, but what about when our right tramples someone else’s right? It is a problem.

Anyway as I read on and took in more of Rev. Gunn’s words, I really had to pause:

It might be tempting for us to read a story like this and think of it as little more than a fanciful legend. But it is more than that. For one thing, the blood of those martyrs, along with the blood of countless others, had the opposite effect from what the empire’s authorities wanted. From their witness, the church was made stronger. People were inspired by the way Christians faced death, clinging to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ until the end.

If fanciful legend is what we think, then we are in trouble. If comparing our contemporary issues with being killed for our beliefs, we are in even bigger trouble. How do we discern what really matters? Rev. Gunn gets to that:

We certainly do not face persecution for our faith. But there is another danger. It’s easy to make sacrifices to false gods. Do we worship the accumulation of wealth? Do we choose to remain silent while others suffer injustice? Do we treat our churches are social clubs rather than outposts of God’s kingdom? Do we honor power and might over love and sacrifice?

Some may disagree with the persecution part, but I stand by my understanding of what this means, and my understanding follows that same way of thinking. Yes, persecution can start small and get big, but small is not the persecution part. Is your life in danger for your faith? Or are you challenged by how the world is not in sync with your beliefs? If it is the latter, then that is where we are called to find God and seek what really matters.

These words bear repeating Continue reading