Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Time out

For the time being (and maybe longer) I won't be putting You Tube on line.

Thanks to all who have watched them. You have to be 'reading' until, and if, I'm on You Tube again.

During the pandemic, I've been reading a lot!

Of course, I 'read a lot' before that.

Honestly, except for not going to church in person, Covid 19 hasn't changed my life much.

Novels galore, time on line blogging and playing Hearts, cooking every other night, taking out the trash and re-cycling and Brigit.

I haven't missed much except seeing family and friends in person and up close.

I've missed that so much...

I have an appointment a week from Friday for my first vaccine.

Things will get better, eventually.

Until then, I'll read a lot.

After then, I'll read a lot. 

I read a lot....

 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Minutes

MINUTES

A minute can hold so much.

A minute can be seen

   in a flower

   in a flying bird

  or a summer rain.

 

A minute is long enough    

  to be born, to hope,

  to dream, to hurt,

  to doubt, to die.

 

A minute is a heart-beat of God--

  now it's gone, only to come again.

 

A minute is

  a laugh, a tear, a memory, a forgetting.

 

A minute is so much to be so little,

  and so little to be so much.

 

God help the minutes,

  they are the matter 

  of which life is built--

they are the pages

  of the only book ever written.

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdTebleamxYfCasoyjiXB9Y40J4IesPwU (link to my youtube blog)

 

 

 

  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Lent 1

Lent I, 2010

 

          It’s the first Sunday of Lent, so you knew it was coming—the story of Jesus’ temptation in the Wilderness.

          It’s such a familiar story that it almost speaks for itself.

          However, not unsurprisingly, I have a few things to say about it….

          First of all—it is interesting to note that it is the Spirit that leads Jesus to the Wilderness for his temptation. The Spirit leads him there. One of the gospels that didn’t make it into our New Testament says it more vividly: “The Spirit of God took Jesus by the hair of his head and carried him to the wilderness….”

          Pretty brutal. So it might just be that it is the Spirit of God that takes us into Wilderness times. Though we pray, “lead us not into temptation”, perhaps the Spirit does.

          NOT to ‘test us’, I don’t think. I’ve never bought into the theory that God sets up ‘tests’ and ‘trials’ to see what we’re made of. That just doesn’t make sense. But perhaps the Wilderness Times are times we should recognize that we are not alone—that God is with us and will ‘deliver us from evil’ if we choose to be delivered.

          The temptations themselves deserve a little pondering—the nature of them is interesting and perhaps informative.

          First, since Jesus has not eaten for 40 days, Luke tells us ‘he was famished’. That might be understatement! So, the initial temptation is to satisfy his basic human needs by turning rocks into bread.

          Surely we can all understand that. Each of us—all of us—must find ways to satisfy our needs. But Jesus refuses to defy the laws of nature merely to eat. “There is more than bread to living,” he tells the Enemy. I’m not sure, but there is a message there for us. We seem to be transforming and destroying the planet so we can have ‘what we want’ whenever we ‘want’ it. The laws of nature don’t seem able to convince us not to satisfy our longings far beyond what are basic needs.

          Then Satan offers him the Kingdoms of all the world if Jesus will only worship him. Satan is appealing to human ‘ambition’. And since Jesus came, after all, to ‘save the world’, wouldn’t just simply ‘taking over’ do the trick?

          “Ambition” may be the temptation that is most seductive to people in our culture. Aren’t we all told we can ‘succeed’ if we only work hard enough or try hard enough or study hard enough? Aren’t we told that from the cradle?

          And who among us could be blamed if we took a ‘shortcut’ here or there? Found an easier way? Or were clever enough to succeed without all the hard work? Would that be such a problem? Who could that hurt?

          Jesus chose the higher path. He rejected ‘ambition’ and chose faithfulness and commitment instead. He really ‘took the road less traveled’ as I look around at how people ‘get ahead’ and succumb to the temptation of their ambitions.

 

          The final “tempering” is a challenge to Jesus’ pride and ‘hubris’.

          (I used the word ‘tempering’ instead of ‘temptation’ because that is what this story; it seems to me, is really about. Metal is made stronger by heating it and cooling it rapidly over and again—we “temper” metal to make it strong. What if the ‘temptations’, which come from the same root word, are not ‘tests’ at all, but experienced, accompanied by the Spirit, to make us stronger by teaching us our weaknesses?)

          That’s why the temptation to jump from the top of the Temple is so terribly seductive—it challenges Jesus…and us…to DENY OUR WEAKNESSES and our vulnerabilities.

          “Hubris”—the kind of ‘pride’ that blinds people to their own frailties—is one of the greatest ‘temptations’ of our time.

          How often have we watched public figures or celebrities or powerful people or sports heroes go on TV and give ‘explanations’ of their weaknesses and brokenness without giving an “apology” at all?

          I know I find myself making excuses and explaining how I ‘really didn’t’ do or say or mean what I most definitely did or said or meant. If you’re anything like me, you might just be able to think of some times you’ve been in that position as well.

          The old saying is “Pride comes before a Fall”.

          In the case of ‘hubris’, “Pride comes along to explain away a Fall….”

 

          So, it is a good thing that year after year on the first Sunday of Lent we must hear of Jesus’ ‘temptations’. Lent gives us a chance to reflect upon and ponder our frailties, our brokenness, our weakness, our failures…and to take responsibility for them and ‘fess up to God and ourselves and those we have pained.

          That’s a good thing—to be reminded clearly, in a way we can’t avoid—that we are weak and broken and fragile creatures…and that, in fact, it is when we acknowledge that—as painful as it is—we can know God loves us anyway and always and without limit…just the way we truly are….

          That’s a good way to begin Lent, I believe….

          

Friday, February 19, 2021

A tale of two elected leaders

 While Ted Cruse (R-Texas) was in Cancun, Congresswoman, AOC asked her twitter followers to donate to various Texas charities.

They contributed $2 million in 24 hours! Now up to $4 million and she went to Texas to volunteer in a food bank!

And AOC is from New York....

It's amazing to compare how various folks 'represent' us as voters.

Beto O'Rourke, who if there is a God will run against Cruse when he's up for re-election to the Senate, was manning a phone bank, calling elders in his state to see how they were managing.

The Governor of Texas was blaming--of all people, AOC--for the grid failure because she supports the Green New Deal, when it was actually because Texas hasn't upgraded their infrastructure and isn't connected on the grid to other states who could have sent them power.

Texas is for Texas.

Well, how's that working for you, partners?


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Snow and Scoundrals

 More snow today, but not as much as was predicted. So that's bad news and good news.

I'm so fed up with Republicans I can hardly believe it.

Ted Cruz, with his state literally dying from the weird winter storm Texas can't deal with, flew to Cancun for a little fun and sun. His picture on the plane got into the media (of course it did) and he came back the next day saying he was merely flying with his girls and intended to come back the next day. Yet video of his leaving Mexico and arriving in Texas showed him with the largest carry-on suitcase I've ever seen. A back pack would have done if he was planning on staying only one night!

Nikki Haley, who I used to respect for her handling of racial issues as Governor of South Carolina, is blaming the 'media' for the divisions in the Republican Party. That's like blaming the weather reporter for the weather!

The rift in her party is due to the former President (who will not be named here). Mitch McConnell blasted the one WWNBNed after voting to acquit him in the impeachment trial.

Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority leader, flew to Florida to kiss the ring of the former President.

The party is ripped down the middle.

Alas and alack.

My father's Republicans are rolling in their graves.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A Sermon for the last Sunday before Lent

Packing for the journey 1/25/01 (St. John's, Waterbury)

    The hardest part of any journey is NOT “the beginning” or “the middle” or “the end.”

    The hardest part of any journey is BEFORE “the beginning”. Somebody has to pack the bags….

 

    We are at that awkward “Before the beginning” part of the long journey of Lent.  This Sunday is the Last Sunday After the Epiphany. On Shrove Tuesday we’ll have a farewell dinner and on Ash Wednesday we’ll set off on our journey. Today is the hardest part. Today we have to pack the bags….

 

    The Gospel reading for this last Sunday before Lent is always the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. The Transfiguration event takes place on a mountain top, far above the concerns and needs in the valley below. Jesus is joined miraculously by Moses and Elijah who represent “the Law and the Prophets”—the gathering of the core of Judaism.

    And what are they talking about—Moses and Elijah and Jesus? Luke tells us they “were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Jesus is on the mountain-top “before the beginning” of his journey to Jerusalem and the Cross.

    Moses and Elijah are helping Jesus pack his bags….

    The disciples are not ready to go to Jerusalem. They are full on anxiety about what lies ahead. Jesus has been hinting that betrayal and suffering await him in Jerusalem. The disciples don’t want to go.

    MASTER, Peter says to Jesus, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE. LET US MAKE THREE DWELLINGS—ONE FOR YOU, ONE FOR MOSES AND ONE FOR ELIJAH….

    Peter didn’t understand. A cloud overshadows the disciples, some of the fog that occasions mountain-tops, and they are terrified. Their fear was well-founded. Before the journey’s end they would face many dangers. No wonder they wanted to stay put on the mountain.

    But Jesus is ready. His bags are packed and he’s ready to go.

 

    Today we are baptizing three children. Jacob, Austin and Tiffany are setting out on the journey of life. And before they depart, we will help them pack their bags. Through water and oil we will proclaim they are loved by God and “marked as Christ’s own forever.”

    That will go with them through the years and decades ahead. Whatever dragons they must pass, whatever dangers they may encounter, whatever fears may grip them…they will not travel alone. God goes with them.

 Even when they feel they are by themselves, God goes with them.

 Even when those who love them cannot protect them, God goes with them.

 Even when they experience life as a desert, filled with wild beasts, God goes with them.

Today we will pack their bags full of the love of God and the grace of Christ. They’re almost ready to go.

 

As Jacob and Austin and Tiffany depart, so must we. We will gather around the Table on the Mountain Top and take be refreshed by the Life of God. But we cannot stay here. The world waits for us outside those doors. It is a sometimes frightening, confusing, lonely world. But it is the world God loves, and we do not journey alone.

The Wilderness of Lent awaits our footfalls. We must pack our bags with Love and face the wild beasts there. It is almost time. Soon we must depart.

But before then, some bread and some wine to remind us we are never alone…some water and some oil to remind us we are “marked as Christ’s own forever.”

This is the “getting ready time”. This is the time before the Beginning. This is the “bag packing” time. Then we’ll be ready for where the road may lead us and what the journey will hold.

When it’s time to go, we’ll be ready….Amen. 

   

 

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.