Thursday, July 30, 2015

Be Who You Are!!

Jesus says very clearly this weekend in our Gospel, He is our Bread of Life. No doubt about it, it is Jesus who nourishes us, sustains us, feeds us...Jesus is all we need to survive. Our daily bread.

What does this have to do with the quote so beautiful illustrated above by Br. Mickey McGrath? Everything, I think.

Jesus knew who he was, in his very core...a Son of God the Father...and he lived out his truth in every moment of his days.

Who are we? Who are you and I? Do we act out of the knowledge that we are God's sons and daughters or do we act as less than that?

I was gifted with the opportunity to see the show "Amazing Grace" on Broadway the other night. Even as I sat watching this historical drama, I knew I'd have to say something about it. There is a line in the play when one character says something like: "Audiences are fickle, they'll leave the theater and forget all about this...." "This" being the issue of slavery that is the core of the story. That makes me sad, for the playbill took the time to explain that slavery/human trafficking is a more extensive problem today then it was in the days of the slave trade, yet no one is paying attention...I can't even get my head around the reality of slavery, 200 years ago, or now. Certainly not an example of human beings acting as their best selves. What are we called to do about this now?

How do we act as our best selves, children of the God who created us, more often, rather than less? I guess we pray. I guess we try to serve others. I think I try to be more generous rather than less. More loving for sure. And when the opportunity comes to speak the truth...God give me the courage to open my mouth for the good of others.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not Counting Women and Children

We had a group meet in the parish last night, and together we broke open the gospel for Sunday about the feeding of the one of the group pointed out, in John's version of the story, it doesn't even say 'not counting women and children'. How much more invisible could those women and children possibly be?

I remember learning in scripture study that one school of thought on that miracle was that folks sitting on that hillside, once they saw the example of the young boy, opened up their cloaks and decided to share the food they had brought with them for the days journey. Who do you think prepared and brought that food?? I'm pretty sure it was the women!!

But the opposite of being invisible is being judged solely on how you appear in public. Which is the other issue that women and, yes, all people deal with all the time. Women are judged by an unrealistic beauty image and more often that not, found lacking. Men too for  that matter. We do it to each other.

It's impossible not to have a first impression, I guess. I think what I need to try and do is not ACT on my first impression. I have to learn more to look in the eyes of the other person and see who they really are. I need to listen to their story before I decide if this is someone who I want to get to know better. I need to be respectful of the humanity of another. And that's what I want to teach by example to my nieces and nephew, and to the children in our faith formation programs. In a society where we are so quick to judge people because of difference, I want to learn better to take a breath, and see for myself who the other person truly is. (And yes, I'd still like to be thinner, but that would be for my health, not because I need to look like a Barbie doll...)

Everyone has their gifts to share...and what a blessing it is in life to discover what each other's gifts are! Who can bake? And share their goods at the hospitality table? Who can sew? And make an amazing Glinda costume for a crazy aunt? Who had money to share? And does so very generously with the parish they love? Who can teach? And will help our youngsters learn about God's love for them? Who can organize? And will keep us all on track? Who can make us laugh? And will lighten the mood at any meeting?

I guess what I'm thinking as we approach the weekend is simply this: In God's eyes, we ALL count! The sooner we learn to live like that, see others the way God does, the better off the world would be!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Go off to a quiet place

I'm excited to say I'm going off to a wedding this weekend.

This lovely young woman, who I have had the honor of knowing since she was about five or so, is getting married to this great, fun, warm, charming guy. I am looking forward to celebrating the sacrament of their love, their marriage to one another.

The Gospel this Sunday talks about Jesus looking for a 'quiet place' to recharge his soul. We certainly all can understand that, especially since so many of us use this summer vacation time to do just that for ourselves! To get to this wedding I have a six hour car ride to use as my 'quiet place' before I enter into all the hustle and bustle that comes with a wedding.

If you've ever been involved in a wedding you know that the stress level of everyone seems to escalate in a mystifying way...and it seems difficult for the immediate players to really savor the moments leading up to and including the big event. Everyone is worried about all the peripheral things being 'just so'... to the detriment of the actual sacrament. And then the day is done and married life begins.
It reminds me of what it is like to live Ordinary Time in the church year. These green days of summer. I love them! I love how each day holds a beautiful mystery waiting to unfold. Small things like children laughing in a sprinkler or an older couple holding hands as they sit on the bus. Ordinary time brings difficulty too we know, but if we're lucky we have family and friends to help hold us up then.
This brings me back to my young friends getting married this weekend. I wish them a lovely day of course, but more than that, I wish them many many years of happiness and contentment in the ordinary days of their lives. I pray they can handle the stress of the big moments that will come their way, and more importantly, that they will enjoy and cherish the little ordinary moments that will make up their lives together. May God bless them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I feel very lucky, and most grateful.

The readings this weekend talk about the many ways God chooses us, cares for us, calls us to mission and accompanies us as we 'walk the walk and talk the talk' of being a Christian. The readings reminded me of another reading from Jeremiah where the prophet hears God say: "work for the good of the land to which I send you, for on it's welfare, yours depends" (Jer. 29:7)

As we move into the summer days in NYC I find myself with time to breath, time to reflect, time to plan for the year to come. And as I reflect, I find myself very grateful for all God has done and is doing in my life.

Yesterday, I took a break from the computer and went out to sit on the front steps of the parish house for a little bit. Surprisingly enough, the first person I saw was someone I knew from my last parish assignment. I said hello quickly before she vanished into the rushing 96th St crowd. She was surprised I saw her and said hello. We chatted for only a few minutes as she was in a rush...but one of the things she said as we ended our conversation was this: "you were so lucky, you went from one parish to another so quickly"! (and since my former place of employment is slated to close/merge this month...even more lucky)!

I do feel lucky to be here at St Francis. More than lucky, I feel blessed. I feel like God absolutely led me here, to this place, in this time. Therefore, I feel so very grateful. I am grateful for all the good things that have happened this past year, for the people I've met, the opportunities I've been given to grow professionally, as a parish minister. I'm grateful for the things that made me smile, and the things that challenged be to stretch my understanding of myself and others. In the midst of a larger church that is changing and struggling to find its equilibrium, the people here at St Francis are good, and faithful, and caring and committed to trying to live Gospel values. I am grateful to be among them.

In the Gospel Jesus says "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave".  I think of our parishioners here at St Francis. So many folks find this church when they move into the neighborhood because of a job opportunity. While they are here in the city, they make this place their church home. For one year, for five, for however long they are living here. And they get involved! Our challenge is to get to know one another quickly and work together well. This fast paced ministry turnover is quite a challenge! It's hard on the heart too, you get to know a family or a couple or a great individual and before you can blink they are moving on to wherever God is calling them next. Sigh.

So, while we have the time together, let us be grateful. Let us work for the good of this parish God gives us. Let us enjoy each other and our neighborhood at brunch this Sunday at noon, or with lemonade on our urban 'front porch'.  Please know how much I am looking forward to getting to know you better!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

To See With New Eyes

Lots of us will be headed out of town this weekend for family BBQ's celebrating the 4th of July.
In my family, the 4th was my dad's birthday, so we were always together, a tradition that continues today. This year, my dad's nephew, my cousin, (who was named after my dad!) is having us all over to his new summer house in Hampton Bays. Yay for him and double hurray for us!! I am looking forward to this family reunion to see cousins I don't get to see that often, especially the youngest who are 4 and 5 years old and live a few hours away. It will be fun to see them again and see how they've grown in the last year. One of the little ones was having some speech I wonder how he's doing now. The little girl seems to be 'the boss' of the boys, and it's always amusing to watch her run the show. My older cousins have finished another year in college, have new girlfriends and boyfriends, so it will be fun to see how they are growing into adulthood too.

The Gospel this Sunday speaks about how Jesus was received when he went home to his 'native place'. As we hear the story, it is apparent that this home visit did NOT go well. His neighbors were not happy to see him. They perceived Jesus as being 'too big for his britches' it seems. They sound like jealous,unhappy people. Yes, they were 'astonished' at his teaching, but apparently not in a good way. They took offense at his sharing his learning, his ideas about who God his Father was. Wow. Talk about not seeing what's right in front of you! Jesus, scripture says, was "amazed at their lack of faith." That's pretty bad.

They just couldn't see him with new eyes. They could only see the little boy who grew up in their midst as the carpenters son. I wonder what kept them from rejoicing at their 'native son' having grown so well in holiness and wisdom. What kept them from proclaiming with pride 'he's one of us!' instead of the hurtful 'who does he think he is'? Ah, we are all broken humans at times aren't we? Just like St Paul speaks of in the second reading...we all have a sin or a weakness we wish we could conquer, could grow past, and yet somehow, that one thing, so often drags us down. Yet Paul reminds us, it is in our weakness that God gets to show his power, his greatness, his goodness.

So this weekend as we gather together with family and friends, let us celebrate how good it is to be together in love. Let's try to see each other with new eyes and let go of the past. The handsome young nephew who is 26, yes, was once that bratty 5 year old, but oh my goodness, look how nicely he's grown up! If we can see the good things that have blossomed in others, maybe they will be kind enough to see the goodness that has grown in us as well.