14th Sunday Ordinary Time: 5 JUL 15: If you can dream it…you can live it!

14th Sunday Ordinary Time:  5 JUL 15

NLT Romans 8:

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean Christ no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?   37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am more and more convinced, that the only thing that can separate us, is ourselves.

Jesus couldn’t work transformation in the lives of so many who heard his message in his hometown, because folks just couldn’t allow themselves to risk opening their lives to Christ’s amazing and transforming message of hope.

I believe that is what we refer to as the Meta-Narrative of the Spiritual life!

Even when we are convinced of this powerful message, we wax and wane, we move in and out of living in that stream of transformational love.

The tapes of our upbringing, or of our lived experiences, or of the lies we have been told about ourselves over and over again, they seem to have a way of repairing their endless loops even after we go to all the work to break them.

We often stop the prophetic voices of our own lives and the lives of those around us because the tapes kick in….over and over again…don’t they…..

Tapes like: I am too old….I am too young….I am too wounded…I am not as holy as that person….or I could never….or the kicker…I am too sinful..too weak…too unworthy…

I call them the “TOO TAPES”

And they are extremely challenging to discard…..

Yet I believe that may be one of the greatest challenges and tasks of the Spiritual Life…..to really believe what St. Paul so eloquently described in Romans 8…nothing….absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God….

The most powerful motivation I have experienced in life comes not from answers to the big questions of life; it comes from powerful questions…that encourage us to dream, to vision, to live into the great invitation of Christ…

So here are a few questions AND one powerful statement from one of the prophets in my own life and maybe you might find them useful in yours and on your journey as well.

This week how about giving ourselves a little bit of time to ask ourselves these four questions:

  • What truly brings you joy?
  • What fulfills you?
  • What challenges are you willing to embrace to achieve those dreams?
  • What do you need to let go of or stop doing in order to pursue that dream?

My friends that same prophet in my life said this to me and I believe she would want me to share it with you as well

…If you can dream it…you can live it!

Why?  Because nothing…absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God…

As the sign above my office door in prison says:

Dream big dreams and pray big prayers!  Amen!

12th Sunday Ordinary Time: 21 JUN 15: Over 100 Billion Galaxies!

12th Sunday Ordinary Time:  21 JUN 15

First, may I extend to each and every father, each and every person who has nurtured faith, life and hope into or onto the lives of others, a most blest and happy Fathers Day.

Sometimes the Gospel has a way of putting life in proper perspective if you will.

I don’t know about you, but I do know that nearly every time I read a Gospel story and Jesus says…..hey….lets go do this….or…hey lets go here….I just want to scream….don’t do it!  Tell Christ you have a better idea….because it most likely doesn’t end up the way you or I have planned.

Story after story…one would think that the disciples would wise up after a while and say to Jesus….how about we go do something different than what you are suggesting…because your suggestions often end up to be really challenging….

This story is no exception…Jesus in all his brilliance

…..say its night time….what do you say we take this old fishing boat and row ourselves over to the other side of Lake Mille Lacs….oh sure…great idea there Jesus….lets just do that….duhhhhh.

The Sea of Galilee, also KinneretLake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias  is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately 13 mi long, and 8.1 mi wide. The lake has a maximum depth of approximately 141 feet.

Lake Mille Lacs is about 9 mi long, about 8-10mi wide and an average depth of 28-41ft.

So in many ways….it is very close to the same, and I can tell you there is probably not one fisher person in this entire state that would say….oh yeah…lets get a row boat and paddle ourselves to the other side of the lake tonight!

I think if I was one of the disciples I might have said…..hey Jesus…how about NOT….lets wait until morning like most sane people would do!

Anyway, that is not the point, but it does make for some good light hearted consideration.  It kind of helps us to put some historical perspective on what can often be remote or ambiguous.

But then lets try this perspective…..have you ever had the opportunity to lay out on a blanket under the stars out in the country away from any light pollution….and gaze up at the massive Milky Way galaxy and it spreads its light across the night sky?

It’s an amazing experience….and this is but one galaxy in the infinite mass of space….there are scientists believe over 100 billion observable galaxies in the universe!

Let’s face it, this little tiny planet of earth is hardly even a fly speck in the face of God’s creation, and we as people aren’t even the tip of a pin spot.

So do we really believe that God could possibly care?  Here is the Good News my friends…yes God does!  God cares so much, that we believe God became one of us, in Christ.  God became one of us, so that we could know that there is nothing, no human experience that God does not understand.  Even death….but all the readings from our Scriptures this weekend remind us to keep our lives in perspective.

If you think the thought of 100 billion galaxies is mind boggling, try understanding how vastly enormous God is that God would choose to become one with the people of the fly speck in the Milky Way….

It is a beautiful reminder that Christ gave to the disciples and to us…Why are you terrified…Do you not have faith?

I sent my beloved to be one with you….do you not believe that I am with you always?

Yes I am with you….in the joys and in the sorrows….in the dreams and in the dredges….I am with you in the ecstasy and in the agonies of life.

Christ didn’t come to take us out of this world or out of the experience of being human; Christ came so that we would know we never walk through that experience alone.

You see my friends….it is precisely why we gather each and every week around a table….bless and break bread, bless and share a cup…to remind ourselves and each other that we will never be alone.  We have each other, and we have a God who loved us so much that God chose to become one with us.

And here is the real kicker….that faith is not only God’s gift, it is our decision as well.  We….you and I can decide we are going to add to that gift…to help it grow in the lives of others, or we can become dynamically apathetic and dissipate God’s dynamism.

I hope that when God looks over all those billions of Galaxies and sees this one little fly speck, I hope and pray that God’s response is something like….wow….look at that….see how they love one another?  That is just why I created them!

I honestly believe…..if God could say anything to each and everyone of us tonight, it would very well be something like this….

Thank you….for being a light in the darkness, for being hope in the sorrow, and thank you for being you!

The Body & Blood of Christ: How does one describe the intimacy of no words?

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan, corresponding this year to April 4 through April 11, 2015.

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ 7 JUN 15

The Feast of Corpus Christi

How does one describe the intimacy of no words?

How do we describe the bond of holding hands, or a simple kiss?

How do we describe the nearly indescribable?

Last week, sitting in my office at Prison busy with preparations for upcoming Ramadan, an email pops on my screen.  It is an email from a particular Offender’s Case Manager, notifying me that a particular Offender had just learned of the death of his Grandmother.

Such and occurrence is not unusual for my day or days in prison.  With 1100 guys the angel of death often visits respective family members on a rather regular basis.

But this one has a bit of twist….

  • I have come to know this Offender quite well. He began serving his multiple life sentence at the age of 17, and is now recently 22.
  • I have met and embraced his Grandmother, several times over the course of the past 5 years as she has waited to visit her Grandson.
  • I too have come to know his mother and his father and his sister as well.

This was not going to be an easy conversation.

I called for him and as he entered my office, what I encountered was a young man who was torn, wounded beyond words, broken, bleeding and filled with pain, regret, and self hate.

One nearly inviolable rule in Prison life…..Staff…..no Staff….ever embrace an Offender…

But here in front of me stood one of the most broken of God’s children that I have ever encountered,  I opened my arms in a gesture of embrace and his tears started running like the Nile River and he wrapped his arms around me and said….Chappie…I finally get it!

I finally get it!

Here I was, in the embrace of a young man who had murdered both of the parents of his then best friend.

But in that moment, in that embrace, I believe Eucharist happened!

You see my friends; I believe our words fall short of the mystery they are so desperately trying to grasp.

But how do we explain the unexplainable?  I wonder if maybe we should rename this Sunday…the Feast of God’s Embrace…

Teagan was lying on our living room floor just the other day, and Megan was changing her.  She was less than happy with life, and even with a full tummy, and fresh clean diaper, it made no difference.  She was not happy and she was making sure that the world and anyone in ear shot knew it.

Arms outstretched….legs kicking….little hands clenched so tightly they could have made diamonds out of coal chunks;

Teagan was utilizing every tiny millimeter of her little vocal cords to let the world know she was not happy.

Megan, bent down, picked her up, laid her gently on her shoulder, gave her a kiss on her tear streaked face, she whispered…I love you Teagan…and patted her back and held her close….

And the tears stopped flowing, the screams of anguish subsided quickly and with a few simple breaths, the love of mother and child, gave way to calm, peace, trust, love and Eucharist happened!!

How do we explain the unexplainable?  Again, I wonder if maybe we should rename this Sunday…the Feast of God’s Embrace…

You see I believe that we gather as a community each and every week, not to listen to magic stories, and not to pray some magic words, or do some magic actions,

We gather, as a community to express and explain the unexplainable…to celebrate the Feast of God’s embrace…

We open our arms and God opens God’s arms, and we embrace, in bread and wine, and God whispers in our ear…..I love you…. and we whisper in God’s ear…I finally get it!

I hope it’s a great hug!

And I hope we share a lot of them with the world!