Clergy Corner

Thoughts for the Season

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 9:45pm
Category: 

We are destined to be holy

Dear Believers in the Resurrection. Alleluia is our song!

The biggest lie most Christians tell themselves is that they are not destined to be holy. Holiness is for some old person, or monk, or nun, but not for me. Among some ethnic groups, mothers are holy not me. It is not a lie about us but a lie we tell ourselves. Jesus turns that lie upside down and inside out. Jesus teaches we can and must be holy as His Father is holy. Now that’s going right to the top! And how is the Father holy? He loves those who do not love Him. He forgives those who do not forgive. He cares for those who claim independence from Him. He never gives up on us no matter how many times we walk away from Him. We can be like the Father because we inherently are given the abilities to love, to forgive, to care, to persist. Jesus, the Face of the Father, tells us the truth: be holy as the heavenly Father is holy.

Jesus risen is proof positive that Jesus keeps His Promises. He is risen as he said! We can trust Jesus to lead us along the path to holiness by offering us Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. For all of the objections, the convoluted explanations and the out and out distortions, without deviation, Jesus tells us to do things His way, to say things His way and to live life His way. He is the model and exemplar. That is holiness. When we celebrate Easter, we in fact tell ourselves we believe, we trust, we follow. The true beauty of this Truth is God fits the package which is holiness to our individual size and capacities. It is not “one size fits all”. For Jesus, it is very personal. — Rev. Joseph Protano, Pastor, St. Andrew Catholic Church

 

From Good to Great

Spring Cleaning. Every year it comes around just like clockwork. All the springtime chores that we’ve been looking forward to doing all winter long. (Not!) The list is different for each of us, but it’s a long list, nevertheless. So we begin:

Wash the windows. Air out and flip the mattresses. Replace the air filters on the air-conditioner. Empty out the coat closet. Dust where you don’t normally dust. Wash the walls and lighting fixtures. Launder the curtains. Polish the furniture and silverware. Sort through and donate or recycle clothing, books and magazines that you don’t use anymore. Oil change on the lawn mower. Rake out the flower beds. Collect dead branches in the yard. Get ready for the summer season! And the list goes on…

So much of our lives are occupied with doing mundane work, with completing simple seasonal and every-day chores. With all of this ordinary work demanding so much of us, where do we even find the time or the energy to do extraordinary work, the things that ultimately matter most?

“God has created us… to live lives filled with good works that he has already prepared for us to do.”  (Eph 2:10)

Sometimes good works can appear to be just as ordinary as spring cleaning. But, if God has planned them for you, then He has also given you all the time and resources that you need to accomplish them. And, if God is counting on you to accomplish them, then there is nothing mundane, common, or trivial about what God is setting before you to accomplish.

 God has given each of us good works to do, things that we can call great.

Where do we find the opportunities in our lives each day to experience greatness through simple good works? Maybe the list begins with things like:

Taking care of a sick friend or relative. Offering a kind word or note of encouragement to someone who may be out of sorts. Having a listening ear for a friend who is struggling. Fixing a leaky faucet or faulty heater in a friend’s cottage. Making sandwiches for a meal at a homeless shelter. Writing a check for a charity. Changing your schedule to meet with someone who needs some moral support. Sharing some wisdom from your life’s lessons learned with someone younger than you. Sharing information with someone who doesn’t have it but could sure use it. Being there for a child or spouse who needs a little extra TLC. Helping an old friend go through mountains of paperwork that they feel like they’re buried in. Doing a small something for someone that they are unable to do for themselves. And the list goes on…

Often we mistake greatness for fame, reputation, or celebrity. We think that for something to qualify as great it has to be recognized by many, or be wide-reaching in its effects. Not so. What makes good work great is not necessarily its scope but the impact that it has in the individual lives of those around us.

What good work is God “calling” you to do this spring?

Whatever it is, call it what it is: call it great!

Have a Blessed Passover and a very Happy Easter. — Pastor Peter Preiser, Harbor Church

 

The depth of love 

“On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.” (Luke 24:1-12)

Close your eyes and let your imagination work a bit. Now try hard to let go of what you already know. Try to imagine that you have never heard of Jesus’ resurrection so that you can put yourself in the women’s place. As you get closer to the tomb, you notice that something isn’t right. The tomb is open, the stone has been rolled away.

You realize that Jesus’ body is gone. You are devastated. It was bad enough that he was crucified, now having his body missing is intolerable. The thought of a resurrection wouldn’t even cross your mind. It wouldn’t make sense.

Actually, the resurrection is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many Christians to comprehend, to embrace, to accept, to believe. A body snatcher would be more plausible for the brain to accept. We are rational and intelligent human beings. We are uncomfortable with unsolvable mystery and we are challenged by the unknown and the incomprehensible.

If it were true, if such a thing could happen – what would it say about God? Yes, it is easy for us to believe that there is a creator. This complicated world with all the diverse life that lives upon it and the space that surrounds it within the universe, including the black holes (aren’t those pictures amazing) is beyond happening as an accident. It is obvious that there was/is a plan, a purpose, a design, a desire.

The truth is that a God who can create such wonders can do anything, can even decide to enter into the world through a virgin. But why? Why would God want to do it? I believe for a few compelling reasons. First, to correct the misunderstandings about his true nature that he is not an angry vengeful God, but a God full of love and mercy.

Second, coming through a human being as the bearer of that love was the only way that God did not interfere with or take away the gift of free will. It is a love freely given and one that only desires love freely given in return. It was a way to express that depth of love through a human life and still allow other human beings to accept it or walk away from it.

Through the spoken word and a healing touch, Jesus offered God's love, mercy and forgiveness. Ah, more stumbling blocks. Some people find this so hard to believe because it is so hard for them to do. Unforgiving hearts find it too difficult to offer and to receive love, mercy and forgiveness.

Other miracles like the feeding of the thousands showed that God's abundant love can satisfy all hungry souls. The living water from Jacob’s well, the well that never ran dry expressed the never-ending source of love that would refresh the dry and thirsty soul. The Samaritan woman represented all people, even those who were rejected by others. Race, creed or even lifestyle did not and does not prevent God from loving all that he created.

Mark Brown, a priest and brother of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Mass. once wrote, “…it was Paul Tillich (a 20th century theologian) who defined God as, ‘The object of our ultimate concern.’” He said, (but) "I think we could turn that around the other way, too. I think we might say that the human being is the object of God’s ultimate concern.”

So why the virgin birth and the resurrection? Because we are the object of God's ultimate concern. We are the object of God's love. It is God’s amazing love story that does not end with the resurrection of Jesus. It is an ongoing love story that continues to be experienced in the life of every human being that accepts that love.

Blessings. — The Rev. Eletha Buote-Greig, Vicar of St. Ann’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church