Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday April 22, 2011

What would I do?
This Holy Week, after hearing the Passion and pondering the story, I had a thought.  What if Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion happened now?  What if it happened in my small town in North Central Kansas?  Whose side would I take in the great argument between the rebel and the establishment?
Sure, I can stick my chest out and say I would stand side by side with Jesus of Nazareth, but would I really?  Would I listened to the little voice in my heart saying this indeed is the Messiah or would I listen to the logic and reason in my head and turn my back on Him.
A pious, honest, devout religious Jew in the time of the Passion, one who did all the right things, went to the right ceremonies, paid the right sacrifices would have done what?  Probably the "right" thing and stood side by side with the church leaders against the blasphemer.
It is all very confusing. Hopefully, I would stand with the Lord, but I imagine my best case scenario would be to do what Peter did.  Deny I knew Him to save my butt then run and hide.
Curious, what do you think you would do?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shame On Me

"If we, as Kansans and as religious communities, who are committed by our core values to look out for the marginalized and most vulnerable in our society, if we are not paying attention to this, what are we about?  If this doesn't matter to us, what does?"    
"What happens to these folks when nobody is looking?  We need to, as citizens of Kansas, hold ourselves accountable to the value of taking care of these people.  Not just today, but tomorrow and the day after tomorrow."
-Pastor Tobias Schlingensiepen
Topeka First Congressional United Church of Christ.

This time of the year (tax time) finds me moaning and groaning quite a bit about the money the governments take from me.  This year was even worse than usual, with all the Tea Party Limbaugh Fiscal Conservative-ness floating around nowadays. 
I am driving home the other night and listening to Kansas Public Radio.  They ran a locally produced piece from a series they are doing on health care.  This particular piece was a response to the Kansas governor's proposal to close the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka, one of the last facilities for the severely disabled in Kansas.  As Pastor Tobias Schlingensiepen began to talk (Listen at link below) about a sermon he gave, which has taken like wildfire throughout the Topeka clergy community, the lightbulb began to go off inside my head.  Pastor Tobias nailed the very essence of what it means to be a HUMAN BEING, what it means to be a faith-filled member of society.  After several minutes of self-reflection, a shadow of shame crept in and dimmed the light bulb in my head.  I realized I had failed, I had placed my own selfishness in front of those who "marginalized and most vulnerable" people out there who need me to care.  I should be willing to pay, not complaining to pay, the meager tax amount to help provide these citizens and their families a safety net.  I should be doing more.  I should be more Matthew 6. Shame on me.

Clergy Question KNI Closure 

For more background

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whose name is written on YOUR foot?

Whose name is written on YOUR foot?
by Coach Hays
I sat down in my man-chair.  It was comfortable. It was quiet. It was peaceful.  I was reading some Sherlock Holmes. Life was good.  In comes offspring #2, who plops down on the sofa and turns on the TV.  Toy Story followed by Toy Story 2.  I cough.  Then I loudly clear my throat, but to no avail.  And wanting to avoid an international incident requiring mediators and negotiators, I let the intrusion slide.   I ignored Offspring #2 and went back to reading.
But pretty soon...well, you all know what happened.  The giggling and laughing from the sofa caught my attention and before you know it, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is safely closed on the end table with me and Offspring #2 both laughing and reciting lines by heart.  (Admit it.  "Positive is positive and negative is negative!" is one of the greatest quotations ever recorded on the intricacies of battery polarity engineering and placement.) 
Well, the following morning, in that magical mental place between the alarm ringing and full consciousness wrestling back the proper mental faculties, I had a thought flash into my head with the vivid mental image of Woody looking at the faded name of ANDY written on the bottom of his boot. ANDY.  The name that represents belonging to and being a part of.  ANDY. The name that gives Woody purpose.  Looks what happens to Woody in Toy Story 2 when the cleaner wipes those four letters off his boot.  He gives up trying to get back to Andy and the others. Gives up and floats away from all that is important to him.  When the name disappears, so does the very core of who he is.  Eventually, it takes a monumental effort by his friends to bring him back.


Then came the big question.  Whose name do I have written on the bottom of my foot in permanent marker?  Who do I choose belong to? Who do I choose to give myself up to?  What is the purpose, what is the driving force I stand on?  Is it a name to provide solid footing or is it one that will cause me to slip and fall?  I know now.  After some mistakes and some trial and error (see here), I now know.  
God on the right foot.
Faith on the left.
Family on the toes. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"God loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth"

Pope Benedict's Homily: Christmas Eve Mass 2010

“God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. 
Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth. Saint Luke does not say that the angels sang. He states quite soberly: the heavenly host praised God and said: "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2:13f.). 
But men have always known that the speech of angels is different from human speech, and that above all on this night of joyful proclamation it was in song that they extolled God's heavenly glory. So this angelic song has been recognized from the earliest days as music proceeding from God, indeed, as an invitation to join in the singing with hearts filled with joy at the fact that we are loved by God. Cantare amantis est, says Saint Augustine: singing belongs to one who loves. 
Thus, down the centuries, the angels' song has again and again become a song of love and joy, a song of those who love. At this hour, full of thankfulness, we join in the singing of all the centuries, singing that unites heaven and earth, angels and men. Yes, indeed, we praise you for your glory. We praise you for your love. Grant that we may join with you in love more and more and thus become people of peace. Amen.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

John the Baptist vs. The Establishment

Gospel, Mt 3:1-12 

1 In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea,2 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'3 This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.' 

4 This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather loin-cloth round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.5 Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him,6 and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.

7 But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, 'Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution?8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance,9 and do not presume to tell yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.10 Even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.11 I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.12 His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.' 

This is a scene from Matthew I wish was captured on video.  Can you imagine?  Picture the Pharisees and Sadducees faces when they get called out by John.  They'd heard the rumors and the mumblings about the madman in the desert, preaching, baptizing in the Jordan and proclaiming the coming of the King.  They sensed the drumbeats of a revolution, they sensed a HUGE threat to their status quo religious establishment and they crawled their way out to spy on what was really happening.  They weaseled their way into the crowd to bear witness of wrongdoing by the preacher in a camel hair garment who ate honey and locusts.  But John had guts, John was powered by the Spirit and laid into the Pharisees and Sadducees with a verbal attack the likes they had never been exposed to before.  I love it!  The holier-than-now Pharisees and Sadducees probably tucked their red faces between their tails and squirmed like snakes back to the comfort of their homes.  John the Baptist!  I think him and me would have got along very well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mountain

I used to think of the road to heaven as a strenuous, lifelong climb up the side of the mountain.  But, after our Vincentian mission with Fr. Richard Gielow, I see now that God puts up at the top of the mountain right next to him.  Its up to us, with the free will He provides, not to slide downward away from him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Joy.  It is all really so simple.  It is a hit-yourself-in-the-forehead kind of simplicity.  God wants us to have joy.  He wants us joyful in heaven and joyful in our time on earth.  That is why he sent his Son to die for our sins, so we can have that joy.  Isn't that awesome?  Be joyful, spread joyful, shine joyful. 

Note: We had parish mission this week with Vincentian priest, Fr. Richard Gielow.  It was very uplifting for our parish and for me personally.  Over the next couple of posts, I will try to put into words some of the things I learned.