6/18/18

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 6/19



Here's something I've learned over the years, Lord:
One Size Does NOT Fit All!

We come in so many shapes and sizes:
sometimes because there's such variety
in the people you created
(and that's awesome!)
and sometimes because of what we've done
with what you gave us to work with
(not always so awesome!)

We're all just so different:
that's true in clothing
and it's true in so many other ways, too, Lord.

You didn't give us human beings
a OSFA personality...

You didn't give us OSFA gifts and talents...

You didn't give us a OSFA intelligence
or imagination...

You didn't give us a OSFA place of birth
or family of origin, or set of childhood experiences,
or economic, social and educational opportunity...

You didn't give us a OSFA temperament, or insight,
or wisdom, or intuition...

We come in all physical shapes and forms, Lord,
and our inner workings vary just as much as
our height, weight, color and facial features...

The soul of everyone of us mirrors you, our Creator,
but each individual soul reflects you
in ways as unique as our fingerprints...

And yet you offer us, Lord
(each and every one of us)
you offer us a OSFA merciful love
large enough and deep enough to hold in its embrace
the whole history of the human race
(past, present and yet to come);
you offer us a OSFA merciful love
that tailors itself perfectly to each of us
with an intimacy beyond our deepest desires...

Forgive me, Lord,
when I have OSFA expectations of others
and especially when I'm tempted to believe and act
as if other people should fit themselves to me
and my finite understanding and expectations...

Teach me to love as you love, Lord,
with a love that stretches and expands to welcome,
to accommodate and to include others
by honoring the infinite ways
in which all your creatures mirror you, our Creator,
whose love is great enough, broad enough
and deep enough to hold in your heart
all the sons and daughters you call your own,
brothers and sisters to me
in Christ
whose Cross and heart are of a size divine,
one size
that fits us all...

Amen.





     
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

Monday Morning Offering: 6/18


Image: George Mendoza


Good morning, good God!

As you know, Lord,
I'm writing this on Sunday night,
sitting on my porch by some candle light
with a mild breeze brushing my bare arms
as your Spirit brushes my soul...

But the peace of the moment is burdened
by the rancor, anger and division
kindled by the daily news
and the plight of those who have no porch or home
where they might shelter and find rest...

The issues are neither as easy as
some would make them out to be
nor so complex
that they couldn't be resolved
without causing further hurt and harm...

I offer you this sad story, Lord,
and pray for your wisdom
to help those on all sides
work to find a way, a middle way,
respectful of the most vulnerable
and respectful of the laws and rights
of everyone involved...

I lift up our shameful name calling,
our hatred of people we've never met,
our prejudice in favor of our own stances,
our failure to listen to your word,
and our rush to judgment on issues
about which we might know next to nothing...

Give us your counsel, your wisdom, your insight, Lord...

Give us the strength we need
to stand firm for what we believe...

Give us a compassion for the truly poor
and an empathy to override our selfishness and greed...

Give us the will to act with courage
when we hear the cry of the poor...

Give us a respect for just laws, statutes that protect
both those whose tables overflow with feasting
and those who ask that we make room at ours
for them, their children and their needs...

Give us hearts fashioned after your heart, Lord:
hearts neither slow nor unafraid
to empty themselves out for those in need,
hearts ready to name the truth,
to stand by those who ask a share
of all we have...

Give us hearts ready to open wide 
to receive those with no place to go,
no home to call their own,
no food to give their children,
no strength to bear their burdens
and little hope beyond the welcome
we might, in your name, offer...

Lord, I'm offering you the mess we're in,
begging for you to pardon our sins
and to heal and mend anything and everything
that keeps us apart,
that keeps us from welcoming you
when you come knocking on our door
seeking a place in our hearts
and in our neighborhoods,
all brothers and sisters in your name...

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil
and graciously grant peace in our days
that by the help of your mercy,  
we may be always free from sin 
and safe from all distress, 
as we await the blessed hope 
and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ
who knocks on our doors
and on the doors of our hearts...

Make us just and generous,
compassionate and challenging
and faithful and fair
in all that we do... 

Receive our morning offering, Lord,
and open us to any and all the gifts
you might leave on our hearts' door steps
and at the borders of our nation's land...

Amen.






 
 
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments

6/17/18

Homily for June 17

Image source

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio

 
When I was younger, much, much younger, I was taught
to live  according to the Ten Commandments, the words of Jesus
and the teachings of the Church
- LEST I sin and end up in hell.

Are you familiar with the concept of “teaching to the test?”
It’s a term for any method of education
whose curriculum is heavily focused on preparing students
to pass a standardized test.

Analogous to “teaching to the test”
is an approach to faith that might be called “living to the test,”
the test being God’s judgment of me at the end of my life.
Or, as Saint Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians and to us:
Therefore, we aspire to please the LORD…
for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ
so that each of us might receive recompense,
according to what we did in the body, whether good or evil.

Just as “teaching to the test” might suggest
that the purpose of education is passing an exam,
so “living to the test” suggests
that the purpose of leading a Christian life
is escaping eternal punishment.

And while there’s some validity in both,
neither one tells us the whole story.
The purpose of education
is something far greater than passing an exam
and the purpose of living according to the law of Christ and his Church
is more than getting into heaven.

True education prepares a student
to be a more fully developed human being
long after any exam is taken.
True education teaches not only content
but just as importantly teaches the student how to learn.

Analogously, the goal of the Christian life
is to help us human beings live and more fully participate
in God’s loving plan for his people
long before we appear at the pearly gates,
waiting for St. Peter to post our final grades.
True faith teaches the believer not only how to die
but more importantly - how to live!

Nowadays, one doesn’t hear much about hell, or the threat of hell,
and many tend to think that somehow,
just about everybody goes to heaven
regardless of the far-ranging degrees of accountability and success    
we experience in living or failing to live as God desires.

As is so often the case, this isn’t so much matter of either/or
but much more a matter of both/and.
It’s altogether both helpful and valuable
on the one hand, to keep in mind that one day
God will judge my life as worthy or unworthy
of the place he has prepared for me in heaven.
AND, on the other hand, to live each day as its own,
simply striving to love God and my neighbor
because such love is what God asks of me
and is good for the welfare of the human family
and my own well-being.
                       
God’s commandments, the gospel of Jesus and Church teaching
are not intended as a series of hoops through which we jump
[on our way to the judgment seat of Jesus
but rather are meant to help you and me be and become always more
the persons God created us to be.

• As children, we often obey our parents out of fear of being punished
but as we grow and mature,
we observe and meet societal expectations and standards
out of a love and respect for others and for God.
“Both/and...”

• We don’t obey the law simply to avoid being arrested -
we keep the law because it establishes good order for our society -
even if there are times when fear of arrest
keeps us from pressing too heavily on the gas pedal. 
“Both/and...”

• A marriage doesn’t develop and flourish based on fear of divorce,
but rather on the love that spouses mutually promise and share -
although there may be times of temptation when it’s precisely fear
that keeps a partner faithful to his or her vows.   
“Both/and...”

So it is with God and us.
A life lived according to the rules - out of fear of hell -
]is not the life God envisions for us.
Rather, the life God desires for us
]is a life shared with him and with others - in love.
It’s possible that we might go through life keeping all the rules
]and yet never meeting, never experiencing the person of Jesus.
If keeping the rules doesn’t lead us to a deeper relationship
of trust, love and intimacy with God - something is critically missing.
Although here, too, there may be times when fear of God’s judgment
may keep us from sin and living apart from his love and grace. 
“Both/and...”

We all need always to keep in mind that we’re called to lead holy lives
for the sake of holiness
- and by holy lives I mean lives generous
in goodness… truth… mercy… prayer… kindness…
peace… justice… healing… and compassion.

And we need to keep in mind that it’s on just these points
that one day we’ll stand before the judgment seat of Christ,
hoping to pass our “final exam”
and, in God’s mercy, be welcomed to life that has no end,
a life with no end to its joy and peace.

Simple thoughts like these,
thoughts about how we live, day by day, in God’s love,
in preparation for being judged
simple thoughts like these should be in our minds and hearts
as we consider complex issues,
issues like immigration policy and reform:
how we meet and welcome our neighbor
at our nation’s borders.

And thoughts like these, day by day, should just as keenly inform
how we meet and welcome the neighbor who lives
in our own homes, in our own families, in our neighborhoods,
in our town, in our parish, at work and at school.

We need to consider what it means to lead a holy life, day by day,
because it’s on this evidence
that our lives will be reviewed and judged by Jesus.
“Both/and...”

Jesus uses a beautiful image in today’s gospel
to help us measure ourselves and our lives of faith:
the image of planting seeds.

We can’t wait until the “final exam” of the harvest at the end of our lives
to see if we have been faithful farmers.
Our fidelity begins with the seeds we sow every day
and how we nurture them.

Alden Solovy is friend of mine in the blogosphere.
He’s not a Christian, he’s a Jew, and he writes, beautifully,
from the perspective of  his Jewish faith.
Let me close by sharing with you
a fine poem Alden wrote about planting seeds.

Planting Seeds

Every act is a seed:
Every laugh, every smile.
Every song, every dance.
Every outstretched arm
And every open heart.
A seed of holiness. 
A seed of redemption. 
A seed of grace.

Every act is a seed:
Every frown, every angry word.
Every dislike, every disdain.
Every closed fist,
And every hardened heart.
A seed of loneliness.
A seed of isolation.
A seed of despair.

How many seeds have I planted, God of Old,
Seeds that hurt, Seeds that heal?
How many seeds have I yet to plant,
Seeds that hurt, Seeds that heal?

Ancient One,
grant me the discernment
And the skill
To plant seeds of wonder and awe
In my life and the world.

Let me be a source of wholeness,
Let me be a source of thanksgiving,
So that my life yields
A garden of blessings
In service to Your Holy Name.

- ©Alden Solovy at ToBendLight.com
-->


 

     
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

On Fathers Day




(Holidays are often bittersweet times: bitter for some, sweet for others: Fathers Day can be one of those times. On Fathers Day I offer again this post on praying for dads.)

My own father was a good man, a loving, hard-working, faithful provider and protector of his family, a man of faith.  Still, as I observe dads with their sons today, I see a kind of relationship I wish my father and I might have shared, a closeness that seemed to escape us in spite of the love I know he had for me and I for him. Times have changed and parenting is different today than what I remember growing up - and so much of what I see is good, so very good, indeed.

What Fathers Day means to each of us depends so much on our relationship with our dad and his with us.

So, on this Father's Day weekend, here is a litany of prayers for dads of all kinds.  And following the litany, a little fatherly advice from someone whom many call "Father" though he has no children of his own...

Let us pray…

For all our fathers,
            let us pray to the Lord…


For fathers who had no opportunity 
   to know their own dad,
         let us pray to the Lord…

For our fathers who have died,
      let us pray to the Lord…


For fathers who grieve 
   the loss of their dad,
         let us pray to the Lord…

For fathers who are chronically 
   or terminally ill,
         let us pray to the Lord…

For fathers expecting 
   the birth of a child,
         let us pray to the Lord…

For fathers awaiting the arrival 
   of an adopted child,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For men who desire to be fathers,
   let us pray to the Lord...



For fathers who see the sun rise and set
    in the eyes and smiles of their children,
       let us pray to the Lord...

For fathers in good relationships
   with their children and for those who aren't,
        let us pray to the Lord…
For fathers who grew up without a dad,
   let us pray to the Lord…

For fathers who have failed their children
   and who are trying again,
      let us pray to the Lord…


For fathers whose hearts break
   over the troubles their children face,
      let us pray to the Lord... 


For fathers of children
   who won't forgive their dad,
      let us pray to the Lord...


For fathers 
   who won't forgive their children,
      let us pray to the Lord... 
For fathers who will be forgotten
   or ignored on this Fathers Day,
      let us pray to the Lord..
For fathers who work multiple jobs 
   to provide for their families,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For unemployed fathers,
   desperately looking for work,
      let us pray to the Lord...


For fathers whose sacrifices
   are unknown to their families,
      let us pray to the Lord...

For fathers unable to provide 
   what they want their children to have,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For every father mourning the loss 
   of a child he loved,
         let us pray to the Lord…

For fathers who are single parents,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For divorced and separated fathers
   who miss their children,
      let us pray to the Lord...

For fathers estranged from or barred
   from seeing their children,
      let us pray to the Lord...


For fathers away in the military
   and for all those who serve in harm's way,
      let us pray to the Lord...


For fathers of sons and daughters 
   lost in war,
      let us pray to the Lord…


For fathers who are in prison,
   let us pray to the Lord...
For fathers of children who've been abused 
   or gone missing,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For grand- and great-grandfathers 
   who care for their children's children,
      let us pray to the Lord...
            
For teachers and coaches and mentors
   who've been "father" to many young people,
      let us pray to the Lord...
For priests, men we call “Father” 
   who have no children of their own,
      let us pray to the Lord…

For all fathers in need of our prayers,
   let us pray to the Lord...



God our Father,
   in your wisdom and love you made all things.
Bless our fathers, living and deceased.
Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, their families,
   may love and honor them always
   with a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
God our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless our father. Let the example of his faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, his family, may honor him always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen. - See more at: http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/fathers-day-prayer-from-catholic-household-blessings-and-prayers/#sthash.7GW9evfb.dpuf
God our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless our father. Let the example of his faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, his family, may honor him always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen. - See more at: http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/fathers-day-prayer-from-catholic-household-blessings-and-prayers/#sthash.7GW9evfb.dpuf

God our Father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless our father. Let the example of his faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, his family, may honor him always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen. - See more at: http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/fathers-day-prayer-from-catholic-household-blessings-and-prayers/#sthash.7GW9evfb.dpuf
                   And a little fatherly advice for Fathers Day... 

Dads, you can't too often tell your children 
     how much you love them…

You can't too many times hug your children tight 
      and kiss them good night…

There's no limit on how many times
      you can take each of your children, individually,
         for a walk, a talk, a ride or an ice cream cone…

Call your children by name
      and have special names for each of them…

Be a father whose thoughts, words and deeds
      set a standard for his children who will be parents…

If you have a boy, be sure he hears you call him son 
      in a way that lets him know how happy and proud you are 
         to be his father…

Every son, without even knowing it, looks for his father's blessing 
      on who he is and who he will become:
         find a thousand ways to give your son your blessing…

A daughter learns how a man loves a woman
      through how her father loves his wife and his girls:
         be the best of loving teachers for the women in your life...

Make sure your children know that you're a man of faith
      who believes in the God whom Jesus calls his Father…

Pray with your children at home: at table, at night before bed,
      when times are hard and when times are great…

Pray with your children at church every Sunday
      so they'll know the place God holds in your heart…

A father's relationship with his children
      is a great and untapped natural and spiritual resource:
         wisely conserve and generously share the resource you are…

Too many dads come to the end of their lives 
      wishing they'd done "more of this and less of that"
         with and for their children:
            take stock of all this now, before the time's too short…

You can be sure that your children, in their heart of hearts,
      want you to be the dad that you, in your heart of hearts, 
         want to be for them:
       never be afraid to be the father all your hearts desire...

Happy Father's Day!


 

   
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments