Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rogation Days

Prayers for Rogation Days

I. For fruitful seasons

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: We humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper all who labor to gather them, that we, who are constantly receiving good things from your hand, may always give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

II. For Commerce and Industry

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

III. For stewardship of creation

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sermon: 6th Easter (April 27)

(Notes from the sermon)

To be continued…
-like the old movies (picture of Roy Rogers)
-like TV nowadays…

This week’s Gospel is the “to be continued part…”
-after the foot washing
-after Judas leaves
-the disciples are agitated and troubled
-believe in me says Jesus
-Thomas how do we know the way?
-I am the way…
-Philip, show me the father…
-I have shown you, if you love one another you will do what I have done…

And for this week, Jesus continues…
-I will not leave you alone
-send the Advocate (Gk. Paraclete)
-Spirit of Truth – will abide with you (in you)
-you will not be orphaned
-follow my commandments
– love me

Of course, Spirit would descend upon them at Pentecost. The Spirit rushing over them like wind or breath

Prince Caspian
-Aslan breathes on Susan to relieve her fear
-he breathes on others and they join his throng

Similar the Spirit will descend and all that tormented the disciples will be gone and new disciples will be formed. At the 10:15 AM service:

Bible – stories collected and given to us know for our faith and it is that spirit of truth that abides with us to learn from such stories ·

Our own blank journal, the part that hasn’t been written yet… what will be written of our lives? What has been? How has the Spirit (the Advocate) been with us? What has that abiding presence bidden us to do? What is left to write?

Finally a story about…

Little-known stories of World War II: the greatest art theft in history. While the Nazis marched across Europe in the early 1940s, Hitler and his deputy Herman Goering were systematically stealing civilization’s most treasured works of art. General Dwight Eisenhower formed a small band of art historians and museum curators — the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section — to minimize the damage to monuments and architecture and track down works stolen by the Nazis.

The 350 members of the unit, who became known as the “monuments men,” conducted the greatest treasure hunt in history. They tracked down and returned tens of thousands of pieces of stolen art and cultural artifacts. In the end, they had discovered more than a thousand repositories of paintings, sculpture, furniture and archives stolen by the Nazis, hidden in warehouses, caves and castles. Perhaps the greatest cache of loot was found in a salt mine in the Austrian Alps, where the Nazis had stashed hundreds of crates of paintings and sculpture, including stained glass removed from Strasbourg Cathedral.

The “monuments men” painstakingly searched archives, translated documents, collated records and extracted needles from thousands of haystacks to ensure that works were returned to their rightful homes. Their records are considered invaluable to art historians and curators today; some works are only now being returned to their original owners. The work of the “monuments men” is only now being recognized.

As one of the last surviving “monuments men” said, “We Americans, for the first time in the history of civilization, adopted a policy which said that to the victor do not belong the spoils of war.”
[From Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe’s Great Art — America and Her Allies Recovered It by Robert M. Edsel.]

The little-known story of the “monuments men” is a sign of the Spirit of God, the advocate who guides us into the Truth. May the Advocate whom God has sent into our lives, guide us in whatever opportunities we all have to restore hope, to heal, to make right what has been broken, to bring back the lost and forgotten and marginalized. (Jay Cormier)


As I listened to the Engines of Our Ingenuity on NPR, I was struck by the commentary on BEGINNING WITH CONCLUSIONS.

Here is a snippet...

We've read so much lately about attempts to turn Intelligent Design into science. I hadn't meant to put my oar in this water; but I realize that all this is much larger than a few people trying to build science upon religious belief. Everywhere we look, we see the same dismaying increase in attempts to build arguments upon foregone conclusions, which can never be disproved. We see it in Internet blogs, religion, science, politics, the law ...

You can read (and hear) the rest here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

World Malaria Day

Today is World Malaria Day. Remember the millions of children and adults who are affected by malaria. Help keep them safe. Buy a net!

The startling fact is that Malaria is preventable and treatable, and yet:
  • 1 million people die from malaria each year
  • 300 to 500 million infections are estimated each year
  • 75% of those who become sick and die are children under 5
  • 3,000 children a day die in sub-Saharan Africa
Episcopal Relief and Development commemorates World Malaria Day. This year’s theme, “a disease without borders” highlights the need for cross-border action and cooperation in malaria prevention efforts. To learn more about what you can do, visit the Nets for Life website:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Give it for Good

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Kahlil Gibran

The Basic Idea

Take the "economic stimulus check" you'll get from the government in May (or a similar amount if you don't qualify for a check) and pledge to give all or part of it to organizations working to alleviate global poverty.

Why A "Stimulus Check" Campaign?

How we spend money has spiritual underpinnings. Our society encourages overconsumption far beyond our actual needs. It's both morally and economically unsustainable.

Now, the federal government has rewarded the overconsumption that led to economic slowdown by providing many tax filers with an "economic stimulus check" of between $600 and $2,100, encouraging Americans to go out and consume even more to bolster the stagnant economy. This fiscal policy is doing nothing more than feeding our national addiction to overconsumption – and continuing the destructive cycle that got us here in the first place.

Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation is committed to following Christ's call through the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. So we are engaging all Americans in this campaign to commit those stimulus checks to the MDGs. While fully understanding and appreciating that for millions of Americans, the checks will provide much needed relief in everyday living expenses, for millions more of us, the funds are nothing more than ‘found money.’ Let’s give it away – all of it, a tithe, or the 0.7% that we are all encouraged to commit to relief of extreme global poverty.

Join the campaign to Give it for Good!

Earth Day 2008

Prayers for Earth Day:

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what thou givest, that men and women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O merciful Creator, thy hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us, we beseech thee, ever thankful for thy loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From Episcopal Relief and Development:

Today, Episcopal Relief and Development commemorates Earth Day 2008. Earth Day is a call to action to protect the earth against the destructive impact of climate change on the health and well-being of all people. By working to achieve Millennium Development Goal 7 -ensure environmental sustainability- Episcopal Relief and Development is committed to protecting the earth’s threatened ecosystem. The organization’s programs to alleviate hunger, create economic opportunities, promote health and fight disease and respond to disasters are implemented with respect for the earth and defend against environmental degradation while alleviating the suffering caused by poverty.

“Episcopal Relief and Development's programs strive to help individuals to address and to counteract the devastating effects of climate change at the local level,” says Abagail Nelson, Vice President of Programs for the agency. Episcopal Relief and Development’s worldwide programs implement forestry projects, create tree nurseries and maintain woodlots. Families are provided with smokeless stoves that require minimal wood to burn and protect against the severe respiratory infections caused by the smoke from open fires. Farmers are taught innovative techniques that safeguard the land while improving the food supply.

For example, in Ghana, Episcopal Relief and Development is working with the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization (ADDRO) to counter the effects of erratic rainfall which has been made worse in recent years by climate change. Mariama, a 48 year-old mother of six was struggling to grind out an existence from a small farming plot in a part of Ghana that is plagued by persistent drought. Thanks to a local partnership between Episcopal Relief and Development, the Diocese of Tamale and ADDRO, Mariama was trained in soil-replenishing dry season vegetable gardening and was given $100 to become a member of a farming cooperative. Within one year, the group tripled their initial investment and added new crops to their rotation. “Before the program we could hardly feed ourselves,” said Mariama, “now we can feed, clothe and educate our children.”

To help Episcopal Relief and Development protect the environment while alleviating suffering, please make a contribution online at

Prince Caspian - Return to Narnia!

Here is the official trailer.

Movie hits the box office May 16.

We will go to see it later in May...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sermon: 5th Easter (April 20)

Jesus said, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 12-17)

Familiar to you? It is the passage from John we use on Maundy Thursday. It is the passage where Jesus washes the disciples feet and sets an example for us to follow. This is part of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John and sets the scene for our reading today. After the washing, Judas leaves the others to betray Jesus. The disciples are confused and agitated about what is going on. In the midst of this Jesus tells them: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34 & 35)

But they cannot hear it, they are worried about what Jesus means that he is going and they cannot follow and then we hear the start of our reading from today: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” (John 14:1-2) Jesus’ words are meant to reassure his troubled disciples. It is no wonder this reading is often used at funerals because those words of reassurance are for us too. Believe me says Jesus, I will come to bring you to that place prepared for you in my father’s house.

But the disciples don’t entirely get it…
-Thomas: How can we know the way?
-Phillip: Show us the Father?

The Gospel of John in its first chapter tells us the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It is that truth that this 14th chapter shows, that it is Jesus who is the Son of God, who came down from heaven to be with us, who shows us the way to life and will bring us to his father’s house at the end of our days. Jesus said to the disciples, you have seen me, followed me, been part of it all, you know/seen the Father, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except by me.

That is our faith, our creed, our belief too. But when it comes to our living that truth out in our lives, of loving one another, of believing in Jesus and trying to follow his ways, we find that we often go on diverse paths and see God working in different ways.

For Stephen, who was one of the “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3), he is chosen by the apostles to distribute food and care for the widows in Jerusalem. From this call, Stephen, became the first to do what the Church has called the work and ministry of a deacon. However his work, led him to preach and live out his faith in ways that got him into conflict with the religious leaders who as we heard in the first reading from Acts this morning led him out of the city and stoned him to death, but not before he continued to speak about his faith in which he had a vision of seeing the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God and asked God not to hold this sin against them. For Steven, he understood his faith, and he followed Jesus, the way, the truth, the life, even as he was led to his death.

Sometimes not following the way, leads us down the wrong path. I have just enjoyed reading the book, Prince Caspian which is part of the Chronicles of Narnia, written by that great author and Anglican C.S, Lewis. Prince Caspian takes place hundreds of years after the first book, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. A time when the people who now inhabit Narnia have forgotten and do not know about Aslan, the stone table or even talking animals. In one part of the book, the youngest of the Pevensie children, Lucy, believes she has seen Aslan the Lion as they travel to help Prince Caspian.

Aslan who in many ways symbolically represents Christ, is not seen by the other children, Peter, Susan and Edmond and they doubt their youngest sister has seen him. Lucy tells them that Aslan has told them to follow him (which looked like a very difficult path), even as she struggles to say how Aslan has signaled this, Peter and the others who did not see him decide to follow what they thought was a better route, which nearly resulted in their capture. Lucy finally convinces the others to follow her (because she is going whether or not they follow her) and along the way, they realize that this was the right path all along and Lucy was right. Their eyes are opened and they see Aslan in front, guiding them. Each apologizes and Aslan tells Susan that she has "listened to fears." Which is true of all Lucy’s siblings…

Such coming to faith, overcoming our fears, is what our lives are about.

For Stephen, chosen by apostles to be a deacon in the midst of Jerusalem caring and sharing with those in need. He was following the Lord’s example, he was loving others and he followed the way, the truth and the life even as it meant certain death.

For Lucy, it is realizing what she was seeing in faith, that was Aslan before her. And she would not let the others who denied it to convince her otherwise. And her faith ruled the day.

Fear holds us back. The path that Jesus has laid before us is there. It is not the easiest route but it is the one that leads us to the way, the truth and the life. Other paths will only put us where we don’t want to be. Our troubled hearts may want us to strike out on our own. To choose what we think is the right or safest path.

But to know that abundant life promised to us, we must be willing to lose our lives in order to gain them, to understand that Jesus is leading us to the fullest life and finally to the father’s house with so many rooms, with so many we know there. May we celebrate this Easter season by following Christ’s “way” to God through love and service like St. Stephen; may Christ’s vision of “truth” open our eyes to our lives and our world just like those children of Narnia; and may the “life” of his Resurrection lead us to fruitful lives, overcoming all fears, for Jesus reminds us, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

May we be so blessed. Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sermon: Easter 4 (April 13)

I love sports but I am not such a sports junkie that I watch post game interviews. But there I was catching up with ESPN and listening to the Memphis coach, John Calipari, explain his team’s collapse at the end of the NCAA Basketball Championship. I was expecting something about the terrible free throw shooting of his team, something they have done all year, in the finals losing a 9 point lead in 2 minutes but instead his comment caught my attention.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Calipari said and he elaborated. “And I sat there and I looked up and I said, 'Lord, if he makes this, these two, we're supposed to be national champs.' And if that's your will, I'm fine. And if he misses them and we're not, I'm fine with that, too.'”

One analyst that heard his comment, remarked that it wasn’t God’s will that Memphis should lose, it was missing so many free throws in the last 2 minutes of the game. A writer remarked on his comments by saying that God must be a Kansas Jayhawks fan…

Such reasoning that God’s will happened on the basketball court that night struck me then as it does now, a very strange idea. Oh, I believe in the will of God. I just don’t believe it has anything to do with our recreational sports, or for that matter, that everything in this world happens for a reason. Certainly there are reasons why things happen. My father died of a heart attack, not because God willed it, but because his arteries were blocked. He hated going to the doctor and a simple procedure might have saved his life, if he had gone to the Dr. or if we had seen the warning signs and forced him to go. But in that moment, I believe the choices my father did or didn’t make were still redeemed by God, whose will it is to welcome us home.

I understand the coach was trying to be OK with the outcome of the game, but his reasoning falters because things do not always happen as planned, and if we think about it, there are not always reasons or meanings behind every event, especially when it comes to tragedy.

It was an ordinary Wednesday morning in the small Scottish town of Dunblane on March 13, 1996. Before that day was over, 16 children and a teacher lay dead. A massacre perpetrated by one 43 year old man from town, who had guns and was mentally unstable. No reason was ever given why he did it. No note left… “Evil visited us yesterday. We don't know why.” said
Ron Taylor, head teacher of Dunblane Primary School. Of course, 3 years later we would have our own school massacre at Columbine HS, perpetrated by two teenage gunman.

Such terrible, tragic events are not reasonable events, we may come to understand why such events unfolded but God’s will is thwarted when such innocent life is taken away. Evil does not allow what God intends for us. What we do with such events, is strive to resist such evil, to strive for justice and good.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis, wrote, “I believe that God can and indeed intends to allow good to emerge from evil, even from the greatest evil. To that end, he needs people who make the best of everything. I believe that in every situation of distress God give us as much as strength to resist as we need. But he does not give it to us in advance, lest we come to rely on ourselves rather than on him alone.”

Bonhoeffer would continue to write, continue to speak out even from prison. He prayed with prisoners, they had communion with one another, he wrote letters, they couldn’t stop him, his faith buoyed him even on the worst of days. Just before the end of the war, as the Nazis were eliminating their prisoners, they hung Bonhoeffer. His last words on the way to the gallows, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.”

There was no reason for his death save the Nazis finally wanted to silence him, but he refused to give into their evil, and he lived faithfully even in those last moments because he understood who it was that held the real power, the real gate to life.

"I am the gate," said Jesus. “Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Sadly we have too many thieves still in our world who through war, violence, extreme poverty, and disease, impede what God wants for us and all of God’s creation. Too much killing, stealing, destroying… Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Abundant life is God’s will, and if we look for it, we can find it in places, where it has risen out of such evil like Northern Ireland.

After 31 years of violence in Northern Ireland, a power sharing agreement has brought together the long warring parties and there is real peace in the land. And people from both sides who suffered, who lost loved ones, have come together for forgiveness, reconciliation and hope.

Our own Bishop Curry shared his story of his cross that came from a disassembled ak-47 rifle. How the country of Mozambique is coming back from a terrible civil war and how the people were destroying the weapons of war to create a climate of peace.

And it happens in our own encounters, in our own country…

A man was walking along the East River promenade in New York City in a very dejected state of mind. He was more than dejected—he was suicidal, was seriously contemplating climbing over the railing that separated the promenade from the river and throwing himself in. Life felt empty, meaningless, hollow. He felt that the writing he had devoted himself to for decades had no real value, and didn't amount to much, what had he really accomplished in life? As he stood staring at the dark, swirling water, trying to summon up the courage to do the deed, an excited voice interrupted his thoughts. "Excuse me," said a young woman, "I'm sorry to impose upon your privacy, it aren't you Christopher D'Antonio,* the writer?" He nodded indifferently. "I hope you don't mind my approaching you, but I just had to tell you what a difference your books have made in my life! They have helped me to an incredible degree, and I just wanted to ink you." "No, my dear, it is I who have to thank you!" Antonio said as he wheeled around, turned away from the East River and headed back home. (from Small Miracles)

This is our place of worship and communion knowing that we are kept safe by Jesus in his sheepfold, and from here we go out into the world to do God’s will, to live out abundant lives and to help other live abundantly too even with a simple thank you to a stranger.

Jesus the Good Shepherd will guide us out to the places where we need to be and will gather us back into the fold. And when that happens, then all of us, will begin to experience life as God intended. Amen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

This I believe... (from NPR)

I heard this the other day on NPR, important stuff for us to hear and remember. It is a great series!

A God Who Remembers
by Elie Wiesel

I remember, May 1944: I was 15-and-a-half, and I was thrown into a haunted universe where the story of the human adventure seemed to swing irrevocably between horror and malediction. I remember, I remember because I was there with my father. I was still living with him there. We worked together. We returned to the camp together. We stayed in the same block. We slept in the same box. We shared bread and soup. Never were we so close to one another.

You can read the rest of his essay here.
(You can listen to Elie Wiesel read his essay by following the above link as well.)

To read more essays, you can find them here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today is the feast day of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Episcopal Church's calendar.

“We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ's large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Chris­tian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brothers & sisters, for whose sake Christ suffered.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison)

A prayer for today:

Gracious God, the Beyond in the midst of our life, who gave grace to your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and to bear the cost of following him: Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example, may receive your word and embrace its call with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Learn more here.

The Last Wish of Martin Luther King

The Last Wish of Martin Luther King
Published: April 6, 2008 by the NY Times

FORTY years ago on March 31, at the National Cathedral, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what would be his last Sunday sermon, on his way back to Memphis. That same night in 1968, President Johnson shocked the world by announcing that he would not seek re-election.

I was a senior in college. My mother was visiting four nights later when all conversation suddenly hushed in a busy restaurant. A waiter whispered that Dr. King had been shot. Civil rights, Vietnam, Dr. King, Memphis — these are historic landmarks. Even so, this year is a watershed. Because Dr. King lived only 39 years, from now on, he will be gone longer than he lived among us. Two generations have come of age since Memphis.

This does not mean that our understanding is accurate or complete. A certain amount of gloss and mythology is inevitable for great figures, whether they be George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, Honest Abe splitting a rail or Dr. King preaching a dream of equal citizenship in 1963. Far beyond that, however, we have encased Dr. King and his era in pervasive myth, false to our heritage and dangerous to our future. We have distorted our entire political culture to avoid the lessons of Martin Luther King’s era.

Read the rest of the article here.

How do we preach?

I came across this article on preaching, tell me what you think...

Emerson’s portrait of the preacher: ‘Life passed through the fire of thought’
by Jay Cormier

In July 1838, the faculty of the Divinity College at Harvard invited an alumnus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to address the seminarians. The speech was not well received. Emerson had left the ministry a few years before: the death of his young wife drove him to question both his beliefs and profession. Emerson’s Divinity College address challenged what he saw as a lifeless Christian tradition and humanity’s inability to encounter God in the hearts of every man and woman.

You can read the rest here:

Sermon: April 6 (3rd Easter)

Growing up, I was the only one in my family that didn’t have glasses. I was proud of that fact. I didn’t need them. My older brother and sister had them since they were kids. When I started seminary, Ellen noticed I squinted to see the chalkboard, or to read the road signs. One pleasant Saturday afternoon, when Ellen and I were dating, we went for a drive and she wouldn’t tell me where we were going.

We parked the car on a street lined with shops and she still wouldn’t tell me where we were going. She lead me to “Site for Sore Eyes” and had an appointment for my eye exam already set up. An hour after that exam I had my first pair of glasses. I still remember the difference it made. How sharp and clear everything seemed, how I didn’t need to squint to read things. It was a humbling experience but one I needed in order to see so much better, the world was made new.

In our journey of faith, there comes a time when we need to have our eyes opened to God’s work around us. When we walk our road to Emmaus… And there are many so roads we can call Emmaus:

“A mother and father rush their child to the hospital in the middle of their night. They have done everything they can, but the baby's fever will not subside. It has been a long night of waiting, of trying not imagine the worst, of second-guessing, of desperate prayers. From their child's room to the hospital, from the emergency room to the waiting room, this young mother and father walk the long road to Emmaus.

And another...

While not a complete surprise, it was still a blow. Her job was one of many that were eliminated in the merger. There would be a modest severance package, of course, and some outplacement help, but to find another job in her field at her salary would mean a move to another city -- or she would have to “retool” and begin a new career. So begins her journey to Emmaus.” [from Connections April 2008]

Like the disciples who had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel who walked away in sadness and disillusionment, or the examples that I just read remind us that in the disappointments in life, in the moments of sadness, despair, anger, that we walk the road to Emmaus but God promises in God’s Easter that God walks with us and will make God-self known to us, if we have eyes of faith to see God in our situations.

How do we get our eyes to see? Do we need some special pair of glasses to help?

Jesus shows us as he did to Cleopas and the other disciple on that road to Emmaus, he opened up the Scriptures to them, but it wasn’t until they broke bread together, that they realized what was happening and in the blink of an eye he was gone and everything changed! "They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread."

Our eyes of faith on our journey will be open if we realize that to understand Easter, to understand that new life of Jesus is to experience the Risen Christ around us, to find him in the scriptures and when we gather to break bread together. But sometimes that road to Emmaus, full of our disappointments, sadness, may seem so much easier to travel than to come here with hope and faith.

Frederick Buechner eloquently wrote about the experience of “Emmaus” in his book The Magnificent Defeat (New York: Seabury, 1966): “‘Emmaus’ is where we go when life gets to be too much for us: ...the place we go in order to escape—a bar, a movie, wherever it is we throw up our hands and say, ‘Let the whole damned thing go hang. It makes no difference anyway.’ Emmaus is whatever we do or wherever we go to make ourselves forget that the world holds nothing sacred.”(p. 85 - 86)

Those two disciples leaving Jerusalem, going to Emmaus, maybe they were going home or maybe they were just getting out of Dodge, afraid of what might happen to them back there. Everything seemed to die on that cross and they wanted to leave. It was easy for me to keep saying my eyesight was fine, to deny what I really knew, that my eyes needed real help to see better. Sometimes in the midst of all this we need someone to help us on our road to Emmaus. Maybe its our spouse, our child, a friend maybe even Jesus who comes and breaks into our fear, our sadness and anxiety, who breaks bread with us and we feel again that we are not alone that indeed God is with us. And it is then that our eyes are open to the Lord.

It is as Frederick Buechner put it in another part of The Magnificent Defeat, he writes: “It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want, but… the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.” (p. 47)

The Easter miracle is to experience God’s presence, God’s reality in our daily lives. As the “Tuesday evening team at the soup kitchen gathers. It’s nonstop from three in the afternoon until well after seven, preparing, cooking and serving supper for as many as three hundred guests. When the last guest has left and the tables are all cleared, the Tuesday team sits down to eat. Their meal begins every week with a simple ritual: After everyone is served, the evening’s captain takes a big slice of bread and breaks off a piece; then the captain passes the bread to the volunteer next to him or her, who breaks off a piece and hands the bread to the next volunteer, and so on. No words are spoken; none are needed. There could be no better reminder of why they do what they do than a broken piece of bread.” [Connections – April 2008]

Others can help us with our glasses, to help us see that indeed Christ is at work in you and me and this terrible hurting world. So whether or not, you are travelling your own road to Emmaus this Easter, if you are wondering, if you have doubts, if you had hopes and you want to have that experience of God.

Then come to this table this morning, come to the altar, kneel or stand at the rail receive Christ in bread and wine and remember that Jesus invites you and I to come together and take again the bread that he blessed and broke and gave. And open your eyes and your hearts and be hopeful for God is with us. The women who went to the tomb were right, Thomas was right, Cleopas and the other disciple were right: Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Feast of Baseball

Now that Opening Day has taken place, we ought to observe a moment of silence and a prayer for the season:

For the absolution and remission of our sins and offenses this baseball season, and for the lifting of your ancient curse upon the Chicago Cubs, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For granting another Detroit Tigers World Series victory overs said Cubs, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord have mercy. Hallelujah! Amen.

and don't forget to sing...

by: Jack Norworth (1879-1959)

      ATIE Casey was base-ball mad,
      Had the fever and had it bad;
      Just to root for the home town crew,
      Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
      On a Saturday, her young beau called to see if she'd like to go,
      To see a show but Miss Kate said "no,
      I'll tell you what you can do:"

      Take me out to the ball game,
      Take me out with the crowd
      Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
      I don't care if I never get back,
      Let me root, root, root for the home-team,
      If they don't win it's a shame
      For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, at the old ball game.

      Katie Casey saw all the games,
      Knew the players by their first names;
      Told the umpire he was wrong, all along good and strong
      When the score was just two to two,
      Katie Casey knew what to do,
      Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
      She made the gang sing this song:

      Take me out to the ball game,
      Take me out with the crowd
      Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
      I don't care if I never get back,
      Let me root, root, root for the home-team,
      If they don't win it's a shame
      For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, at the old ball game.