Sunday, May 17, 2009

Follow up on Newsletter

While looking for some illustrations for my homily, I came across this story.

Don't let others determine how you're going to act. A Sydney Harris syndicated column started with this story: "I walked with a friend to the news stand the other night and he bought a paper, thanking the owner politely. The owner, however, did not even acknowledge it. 'A sullen fellow, isn't he?' I commented as we walked away. 'Oh he's that way every night,' shrugged my friend. 'Then why do you continue being so polite to him?' I asked, and my friend replied, 'Why should I let him determine how I'm going to act?'"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Telos Agape Phobos

In 1st John 4:18b we hear in the Greek "Telos Agape Phobos" perfect love drives away fear. There are a ton of things to be frightened of in the world. Yet knowing God loves me, allows and encourages me to go out into the world and reflect the love. God's love is so perfect, it provides a feeling of peace when the odds are totally against there being peace in that moment.

Imagine during a hurricane, a 5 year old calls out from the bed “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy, I'm scared!”

And gliding into the room with her bathrobe trailing like a cape on a super hero, mom's there
offering words of comfort. Soon the tears subside, even as the storm winds pull gutters from the house with the creaking and slamming noise of metal tearing and smashing making it seem as if the whole wall was going to give way and the rain would drive into the room. Mom is there, holding on to her child, and a feeling of peace washes over the child, even though the hurricane rages on against the house.

This is the power of God's perfect love, telos agape phobos, God's perfect love drives away our terror and fear and frees us to do amazing things.
  • To love an addict by confronting them and holding them accountable
  • To love family and friends by standing vigil at a bedside in the valley of the shadow of death
  • To love others by volunteering even you're not sure you have the time
The energy for this love does not come from within, it does not flow because of what we know
God's love flows abundantly because God is pure love

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Shepherd Sunday

This past Sunday is nicknamed “Good Shepherd Sunday”. We hear a favorite psalm and encounter the well know phrase the Lord is my shepherd. We hear the gospel and listen to how Christ is a shepherd who protects the flock at all costs

Yet I wonder, how many of us here in suburbia truly know the challenges and hardships in the life of a shepherd??

Did you know that shepherds found the water for the flock? That they would build make shift corrals at night out of brush and sticks and then go around stomping the ground to ensure there were no snakes on the ground before bringing in the herd?

Most of us picture a serene life; sort of a little bo peep cleanliness cliché. There are days, that I think the image doesn't work, because we don't understand.

Seriously, if you were to describe God to a co-worker or friend who has no clue about the Almighty; would you say...the Lord is my shepherd. Or do we need an upgrade to an image we all know and can relate to?

I choose to speak about crossing guards the recognizable florescent vest or coat standing out in all sorts of weather knowing the names of the children

Psalm 23
the Lord is my crossing Guard
I shall not want
She leads me across busy intersections
He guides me to a place of learning and understanding
and restores my trust after a scary day
She leads me in right pathways all the way home

even though I walk where there are bullies
and scary things
I fear no evil
for you, the crossing guard, are near me and watching me
your stop sign and bright vest comfort me

The whole reason for Good Shepherd Sunday is to highlight our active God who is involved in day to day activities, not sitting on the divine duff on some mountain top.

Our God shows up daily with the tools of the trade to get the job done. In days of old the image of a shepherds crook was seen as an offensive and defensive weapon for dealing with predators but it was also a herd management tool which could whack, yank or pull a sheep that was straying from the fold.

What tools do you put in Christ's hand? How does he use these tools? To steer you, protect you, and bring you safely home?

I picture our Messiah in a bright vest that makes us pay attention, holding a stop sign, and making sure we don't let ourselves get run over by the highway of life.