Inclusive Text – Reading Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25 / Psalm 138: 1-2AB, 2CDE-3, 7C-8 / Matthew 7: 7-12
Friends, we are entitled to so much. We know that our Creator God has not forsaken us and has not abandoned us. We know that as we seek to place ourselves in the loving care of our God, how can the God of all look to diminish what God has created. We know the things that are and aren’t good for us. God on God’s part seeks to always remain in conversation with us. I think our part is to just remain faithful to the conversation process. To trust, listen, and pray, as we do to listen more deeply with the ear of our heart. Let us not grow weary and trust that God is always with us. I recently read the book, “The Shack” written by William Paul Young. My friend, this book is a powerful book on the awesome and un-restrictive scope of the power and reach of God’s love. The movie on this book is currently playing in movie theaters. I recommend reading the book first, if you are able to then go see the movie. I promise you, you will not be disappointed as God doesn’t disappoint.
In the readings today, we see 2 significant moments In the history of salvation. The first is the acceptance of Abram(Abraham) to pull up stakes and leave behind his kinsfolk and all that was familiar to him and set out to a place unknown to him to become a father of a great nation. Remember he was 74 years old and in that time travel was difficult and leaving meant that he would never return. It was a key moment of faith to accept the call. Even later at his death, Abraham had one son as heir and 2 grandsons. While he had 6 other sons, they were not in the line of those who received his inheritance, although they spread far and wide and we know today that Abraham is known as a Father of faith to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Thus, while his inheritance was small at his death, ultimately many nations have been born from him in the course of the centuries. His relationship with God and the fidelity of those who came after him brought us to the entrance of Christ into the world and the age of Christianity he started.
The Transfiguration in the gospel today is a transformational moment because Jesus chose 3 of his disciples to share a moment where, in a glorified state, he spoke to Moses and Elijah. It was a moment of confirmation and of passing on from the prophets Moses and Elijah to Jesus. At that moment, with the voice telling the disciples to listen to him, the relationship from the time of Abraham to that moment was passed on to Jesus. It was a moment and experience that the 3 disciples didn’t completely understand until Christ’s death and their encounter with the risen Christ. This moment in a way prepared them for the Passion and death, but still in their own human weakness and fear were challenged by the events of Christ’s death. Despite that, Christ continued on, for he came for the weak, for those who sin, for all who are fearful or doubtful. His love, the love of God, was for all and he freely gave without judging asking only that those he met to believe. In all times, that love which also encompasses forgiveness for all our faults is what is at the real core of life. So perhaps our best response to what was read today is “I believe”
Inclusive Text – Readings: Isaiah 55: 10-11 / Psalms 34: 4-7, 16-19 / Matthew 6: 7-15
In Tuesdays reading Jesus gives us the Our Father.
“Creator God, Abba, God- Mother and Father, Papa ….” What is your name for God?
Sisters and Brothers yesterday we read Jesus telling his disciples how one doesn’t have to have fancy elaborate words to talk to God
I attended a day retreat by my former beloved pastor and friend, who officiated at my wedding. He held a day retreat on the Our Father. In that one day alone I found it to be a day of self-realization. My pastor went on to explain that the Our Father could be stretched out into a whole week to give the participant ample time to reflect on each line of the Lord’s Prayer. To me it speaks about living in the now, the present moment. How it reminds us in all that we do, hear and see how we are to give self-awareness to the God who created us and how our God reciprocates that love. The Our Father reveals the realization of creation before us, thanks for what has been given to us, and for the bread not yet received. It speaks of forgiveness which is so hard for us to forgive others, let alone to be able to forgive ourselves. If we can’t forgive, even if it takes years hopefully we reach that moment of forgiveness when we can finally release the chains that will untether from this world, not remaining stuck, preparing our hearts In this present reality and for the existence to come when we pass from this world to the next. If we look for the will of the Most High to be done, we have to engage in the process of conversation with God. We need to be faithful to the conversation even when we feel that it may be too much for now. Even when we may feel that way it is up to us, even after the pause if need be to pick up the conversation again. ….and lead us not into temptation.
Jonah 3: 1-10 / Psalms 51: 3-4, 12-13, 18-19 / Luke 11: 29-32
In Wednesday’s reading Jesus talks about how the people want a sign.
We cannot see the sign because we keep ourselves bound, who is it that we need to untether as the hurt, the wrong that was done to us keeps playing over and over again in our minds? Isn’t it us who needs to free ourselves of these shackles? Whose presence is it that we need to keep and be reminded of? It’s right in front of us. What do we need to let go of? Could it be anger, fear resentment, jealousy and anything that is preventing us from seeing the sign of how much God loves us?
rev. Michael Theogene
Reading: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 11-18 / Psalm 19: 8-10, 15 / Matthew 25: 31-46 Inclusive Text
Sisters and Brothers we see yesterday in our first Sunday of Lent how we are many times in our lives led into the desert. The temptations are all around us. It is in these times that we need to have our faith because we don’t see God. We may not hear God or feel God who I believe is always communicating with us but we are too wrapped up in ourselves to notice. It is at these times that God is most present to us in spite of not feeling God. Even though we may feel abandoned, do we believe that God is there and that God is going to get us through? I am reminded of a woman in a former community I attended whose prayer was always giving thanks for all the many wonderful blessings of those things that are seen and for those things that are not seen in spite of the obvious struggles she encountered. Still to this day I find wonder in that statement.
All the things that we go through in life, we may think we are done and have accomplished so much. We may ask ourselves, ‘why am I still here? Because love is an ongoing commitment that grows until we are in the arms of the God who loves us.
Readings: Isaiah Chapter 58 verses 9-14 / Psalm 86: verses 1-6 / Luke 5 verses 27-32
Inclusive Lectionary Text
How in tune are we to those we encounter each day? In my secular work this is usually a question I start off with when speaking about support for co-workers or family members. The same can be asked among us in any setting whether it be home, work, or at ones house of worship. I think it can always be so easy to hear the automatic response, ‘I’m okay, or fine, etc.,’ Even if we get a hint that something is wrong, we listen briefly and then move on. It can be so easy to neglect and go right past the ones we love, the ones we are so very close to. We have become so insensitive that we do not see or hear the person in front of us. We do not treat everyone equally. We raise some up and put others down.
In the book “The Power of Now” written by Eckhart Tolle, he writes a story telling of a Zen Master who overheard a conversation between the butcher and a customer. The customer apparently wanted the best cut of meat. The butcher stated that all the cuts of meat were the same. It was at that moment that the customer became enlightened.
The Pharisees and Scribes were complaining that Jesus was associating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus showed us that he truly saw each person as Gods creation and truly listened to them treating equally them with compassion and love.
Reading: Isaiah Chapter 58 verses 1-9 / Psalm 51 verses 3-6 & 18-19 / Matthew Chapter 9 verses 14-15
Hello sisters and brothers. There is nothing wrong with fasting, but what is the intention behind it? Is it a ritual that we are fearful of breaking because we may get punished? Or is it something we do so we will be rewarded. Or do we fast so others can see how “holy” we are? As I stated there is nothing wrong with fasting for the right reason. What is the right reason? To me it means I want to fast so I can become more open to what God is calling me to be. There are many aspects of fasting it doesn’t necessarily have to be fasting from food. That’s good but another way of fasting can be to go out of our way to help someone in spite of how busy we may be. What about holding back an unkind word when someone annoys us? Sometimes we are addicted to television; this can be a good thing to fast from for a while. We can fast from whatever it is that keeps our hearts bound, unable to free ourselves from.it. We can fast from getting wrapped up in formal prayers. This causes me to forget that I should want to pray out of desire to do so and not out of obligation. If we sincerely greet God in the morning and say thank you and goodnight at the end of the day, our entire day is a prayer. Our desire to fast no matter what form it takes is a gift we give to God, this is done out of our deep love for God and humanity.
Reading: Deuteronomy Chapter 30 verses 15-20 / Psalm 1 verses 1-4 & 6 / Luke Chapter 9 verses 22-25
Friends I think we sometimes take so many things for granted like the very essence of time in our lives. Do we live as we should be living in the manner of complete and total being? Do we take the time to appreciate all that we encounter, what may be in front of us at that very moment? I am reminded constantly about living in the present moment. For me it can be difficult. I can find myself re-living the past which is long gone and thinking about the future which has not come yet. I guess I can worry focusing and planning on things so unimportant that I am not living in the present. Are we so focused on what was or what will be that we lose the precious present moment where we can begin to heal, help, love and not make ourselves the center of attention. Then and only then can we begin to find true happiness. God bless.
Readings: Joel Chapter 2 verses 12-18 / Psalm 51: verses 1-4, 10-12, 15 / 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 verses 20- Chapter 6 verse 2 / Matthew 6 verses 1-6 & 16-18
Inclusive Lectionary Text
My dear friends I am reminded for this season of Lent that our spirit is strengthen by our witness. I remember when my wife and I sold our home some time ago and the movers we used were African Muslims. They were very good and so professional that we continue to recommend them today to other people. During the move, two out of the seven men took a small break, laying out a piece of cardboard getting on there knees and began to pray facing east.
I guess the normal reaction from anyone else might of been that, I am paying you to move, not pray. However, my wife and I were shocked with admiration and respect. The leader proceeded to ask us if it was okay for the workers to do that. For us, of course it was. We even invited the others workers to follow suite if they so desired. They did not, but my wife and I did standing some distance away behind the workers praying.
What impressed us was their freedom and willingness to do it. That they did not feel embarrassed or prohibited in doing such an act of living in the presence of now. To come and offer simple prayers to the One who created us. I think of the recent times we have all experienced with this last election. No matter who we wanted or voted for, I am simply reminded that I don’t need to become an angry (your political affiliation) Democrat, Republican or Independent. I don’t need to defend our candidate or elected official. We all have voted for whoever we thought was the best regardless of not agreeing with some of the platforms they may stand on. Even in my secular employment we were all civilized and spoke on issues sharing our opinions peacefully.
I am not suggesting to simply let things go but definitely, when we feel that an injustice is looming or being performed to speak out in a way that cries out for us to be humane with each other. After all we are all sisters and brothers on the journey together. As well as the usual Lenten sacrifices, I recommend that we continually look into ourselves to enter into the desert of our lives and find that way to look past our differences and work together in love centering on God not our ego. As the Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory sing in one of their songs, “Let us set out on a pilgrimage of the heart, wandering in the wilderness, learning how to dance.” Happy Lent!
2007 The Benedictine Foundation of the State of Vermont, Inc.
Song (Pilgrimage of the Heart)
Recently, we had the experience of sharing in the birth of little Isaac. What is there not to love in the birth of an infant? But, you know what comes to mind in seeing this, is that each infant, each person in this world is entirely unique. Even identical twins or triplets etc, are individually unique because at gestation everything becomes different for each one. Each person though does have a relationship with God, even if the person chooses not to pursue it. As each of us develops, we are certainly conditioned by family and all our surroundings and experiences. Jesus himself was a unique human being, but even more so as he had a second nature as he was divine also. His life, his work was to make it possible for humans to have a relationship with God. His life seems to have been a period of gradually preparing to do his ministry. After his baptism, we see today he goes off alone to the desert to contemplate, to prepare. As is common in Mediterranean culture and the middle east, the spirit of evil or the devil appears to once again challenge humanity to somehow be equal to God as we saw in the Genesis reading today. As we see in today’s gospel, Jesus rejects the devil and moves on to his ministry.
For us, the gospel and the story of the garden reminds us that as human beings we are vulnerable to overestimate ourselves, to have an inflated notion of our very self, to want to stand out in some way. Yes, our uniqueness can sometimes make us feel more important or even superior to others. We all know that within a family it is important to know and accept each other as they are, and so it is in the family of humanity itself. Christ’s message of love and care of each other means that we live and work and accept others. In doing this, we must learn and accept the abilities of all and the role we play in working together. While we certainly can not solve all the ills of the world, we certainly shouldn’t be adding any to the list. As we look forward to the coming weeks, we should be positive in examining all the good things we do and what more we can do or change to further the kingdom Jesus has given us. This will truly make us ready for Easter Morning.