A Season of Grace!

Ash Wed 2013 Homily



Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to break open the Scriptures today with you and to reflect for a few moments on the meaning, depth and grace full ness of this amazing season.


I must admit I absolutely love the imagery of the opening prayer of our liturgy today: 

Gracious and loving God, we ask that in this season of Lent, you would lift us up to discover the holinesss that lies deep within each and every person.  With a gentle breath, blow from our lives the dust of sin and remind us once again that we are your people!


You see my friends, the older I get, and I admit the years seem to be flying by…the more and more I am convinced that deep with in each and every person, is the reality of our fundamental goodness, of our holiness, of the fact that we are Children of God.


I used to have a Spiritual Director that would say:  I am God’s favorite child!


Let me share one story that I think illustrates this reality and their are many stories:


I minister in an institution which most of us know, but few ever will have the opportunity to visit or even imagine.


In the Chapel, with 55 guys, who have raped, pillaged, murdered, killed, maimed, and every other unthinkable act known to the human race, is one Officer, who was standing guard over a service.  He collapsed in a medical emergency, these guys, ran to him, at their own risk, took his radio and called for assistance.


These are not the kind of folks one would expect to come to the aid of another, but human tragedy often triggers our most holy responses.


Sandy Hook, the shootings at the Mall, the Theater, in Oakdale….nearly every place that tragedy is encountered, we find the very best of our holiness coming to the surface.


What that tells me, is that truly deep down, deep within we are holy, we are good.  So where does our sin come from?


From our past I believe!  From almost the beginning of our earthly life, we begin the process of wounding and healing….and when we live out of our woundedness we fall short of our holiness.


Our past carries us into our future, but only if we let it!


This season of Grace, is a season to re discover the fundamental goodness that lies within us all.  To stop, before we react, before we say or do anything and simply ask ourselves the question….is this the loving thing to do or say?

You see my friends….our holiness comes from being who we are,

our sin comes from being how we are!


Fear, resentment, scars, wounds, lack of trust, selfishness, envy, every sin that I can imagine, comes not from who we are, but from how our past leads us to believe and behave.


This season my hope and my prayer is simply this:


Let us Fast…..from negativity…from judgementalism, from living out of our woundedness.


Let us Fast….from our hurt, pain, and resentments……


And live into our holiness….live into being who we are….not how we are…..


In this season of Grace let us focus on fostering our holiness and fast from our sinfulness.


It will be an amazing Easter….when we end up a more loving, more patient, more kind, generous and holy people….because then our Alleluia will carry meaning even beyond our words.



1st Sunday Lent 2013

My friends we have a challenge before us…..

It is a challenge of about twelve inches…

Probably the longest foot we will ever encounter in the Spiritual Life….

It is the average distance between the human heart and the human mind….

A dear friend of mine shared a little book with me a few years back….a book that had a tremendous impact in my life and in my spiritual journey.

The book is entitled:  You don’t need a title to be a leader….written by Mark Sanborn

In that book he says:  The measure of a person’s character and integrity is revealed in the distance between our lips and our lives.

Between what we say and what we do….as I put forth in the homily of Ash Wed….it is the distance between who we are which is good, loving, holy and how we are….which may or may not match the who….

There was a linguist at Ash Wed. and he came up to me after and said….Fr. Marty that was brilliant…and not only that but it is true.    Who and How are some type of linguistic manuevering….of which I had no idea…but I do know and believe one thing, that words have and carry much power and much meaning.

You see my friends we don’t talk or speak alot about Sin here at Spirit of Hope….not because I or the other leaders don’t believe it, but because more often than not I have not found it helpful to focus on or speak at great length about negative things.  I would prefer that we spend our time and our lives living into our holiness than focusing our time and energy trying not to live out of our sinfulness.

There is one interesting reality though that one of my Spiritual Directors helped me to understand….and that is this:  Sin/Evil rarely presents itself as sinful or evil, but almost always presents itself in our lives as an alternative good!

Something wrong, rarely looks wrong or if it did we would be able to resist and be repulsed by it.

An example:  I am called to the hospital for some pastoral emergency…someone is in need of my presence….now I would never think of driving 50 mi/hr in a residential neighborhood….that would be absurd, reckless, the risk so great that I would not even consider it.  Now add in the fact that someone is at the hospital and in desperate need, and the likelyhood that I would put my foot into that gas pedal is probably pretty high….always an alternative good….it may even be a split second rationalization, but it happens!

How is it in your life?  I can’t tell, that is one thing about Sin and Grace, they are unique experiences of the individual….I don’t encounter sin the same way that you do and you don’t experience grace the same way that I do….but make no mistake we experience them both.

The question is, in those experiences, is the gap between our heart and our head being closed or is it being widened….is our foot shrinking or is it growing?

This is a season of Grace….one that I hope and pray that we can experience God’s amazing presence in our lives….in those 12 inches between our heart and our head…

As we step forth this week, as grace and sin both unfold in our lives, we can simply be a bit more mindful…..a bit more aware….is our who matching our how?  Is our foot growing or shrinking?  It’s only a matter of inches from hell to heaven!

Experiencing the depth of the Lenten season

If we can strip away our daily chaos, surrender in prayer and thoughtful imagination we may be surprised.

This is my prayer


To meet the stranger, to welcome the adversary, to consider and reconsider how I perceive another.

Lord give me the grace to see my sisters and brothers with your eyes.  To walk in their shoes.   To quietly look and listen and see the holiness in those people who think or act in a way that I do not understand.

It may be in this quiet uneasy surrender that humility, kinship and mystery come together to provide a space for hearts and souls to open.

-Peace to all-

Faithfully, Deacon Colleen

I wonder if?

I wonder if we would simply choose to see every situation in life with new eyes how much brighter our world would be?  Sometimes I have found that the only reason I do not experience the abundance of God’s grace in my life is because I am not able to see because of fear, or resentment or the chains of my past.  When I can set the fear aside, or let the resentment go, or uncuff myself from the chains of my past I can experience God in new and amazing ways.  I hope this eve of this season is a time we can all step into this graced season with a new perspective of hope!

Pastor Marty