Father Richard's sermon for May 20, 2018
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Sunday, May 6, 2018
Friday, April 27, 2018
The dormancy of winter was extended this year. Snow on Easter, freezing temperatures throughout April - patience was wearing thin longing for the burst of color and warmth of the sun. Sometimes the season of winter drags on. It seems like little to nothing is growing in our life. Life is filled with the memories and comfort of what was and is; but we long for a season of new and wild life.
Maybe what is happening in our lives is the same that happens all around us every year. The landscape grows empty and bare to make room for new life in the same space. Every summer the trees, shrubs, fields, and gardens become full for a season, and then they yield to the emptying of fall and winter.
I believe the same cycles, perhaps not annually, but cyclically, occur in our life. We experience the universal flow and rhythm of eternal life: seasons of fullness and growth yield to seasons of emptiness and dormancy. And sometimes, like this year's winter, the season of scarcity feels too long.
It takes faith and patience to trust that our lives will yield yet another spring. Our relationships will produce more surprises and greater love and friendship. New acquaintances will become beloved bonds. The community we share in our parish, rich with many years of fellowship and devotion and tradition, will become a whole new place for persons we have yet to meet.
At the Eucharist we say, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!" Can we not also proclaim, "Life has died; Life is risen; Life will come again! The message of Easter commands such a proclamation.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
In the fourth week of Easter, we are invited to imagine God as Shepherd. This image comes to us from the Jewish tradition. The Lord as shepherd who tends gently and lovingly amidst creation is one of the many intimate images of the divine presented by Hebrew prophets and poets. What a contrast to the reckless and mischievous and even childish images of the gods handed down through other ancient cultures.
I look around today and I wonder who experiences or even thinks of God as shepherd? People feel more harassed and herded than tended, I think. There is a distance growing between the soul of humanity and the heart of God. God is not trusted. Humanity is staking out on its own. The “gods” have become mischievous and untrustworthy, again.
I don’t blame people’s exodus from trusting God as Shepherd, so much misrepresentation. But like the psalmists who wrote of God as Shepherd in their own day amidst more common images of angry and warrior gods, the message of Easter invites us to trust again in the God who tends and guides us along life’s pathways to the places of goodness, compassion, and belonging.
Friday, April 20, 2018
There is soil embedded in my fingernails this evening from plunging my hands into the top soil of my garden. There are aches in my legs and weariness in my bones from the digging and raking and tilling and planting of garden bed and flower baskets. My work today has readied my south facing plot and it has brought new beauty to the Sol House deck. The work of Easter is the work of new life, beauty, and planting seeds. Seeds that will merge with the fertile soil of the earth and produce new life.
The earth is ancient and yet she is the field for new life again and again. Our own lives, even in the eldest of years, are only a passing moment compared to the ground we walk upon. And yet, we believe ourselves so spent and exhausted unable to be the field of new life.
We approach the 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. We will read Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd... he leads me beside still waters, to green pastures... Allow the eternal spirit of the Good Shepherd to lead us to new places and renewed spirit. Do not believe that your life is done. Believe instead in the season of Easter and believe new life emerging from your seasoned soul.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
When I sit in the chapel I find myself staring at the carved image of Jesus with arms open wide. In a contemplative state I am drawn into the kind presence the image evokes. The chapel itself is an intimate and effective place to experience the loving presence of God we know through the life and spirit of Jesus. The season of Easter is about enjoying intimate, informal and surprising visitations from the risen Christ.
In the Gospel story Jesus breaks into the disciples huddle in the upper room, appears mystically upon the waters while fishing, awaits them by a fire where he has prepared a meal for them, speaks Mary's name in the garden where his body was laid to rest. Easter is filled with unexpected visitations of God through the loving image we know as Jesus. These "appearances" are intended to encourage us along our own journey in life and to fill us with the peace and spirit to walk the path of faith, hope, and love.
So be ready to see our risen Lord in surprising and unexpected times and ways throughout these seven weeks of Easter.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
In this week following the 3rd Sunday of Easter our eyes are open to see the wonder and beauty of God in the simple and ordinary of our lives. Just like the the eyes of the disciples were opened when Jesus broke the loaf of bread, we can be enlightened by the smile of a child, the luminous light of the moon, a radiant bulb amidst the brown of early spring garden. We are invited to "be aware" of the sacraments of God all around us - the physical manifestations of invisible and divine mystery.
Be awake to the myriad of divine hints and wonders all around you amidst the plain and ordinary of our days.