Sunday, July 31, 2011

You feed them!

The needs are too many

Obama dismisses House debt plan, urges Senate compromise

"They need not go away; you give them something to eat."

Fort Hood bomb suspect held without bond

"We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish."

Larry Flynt says he's offered Casey Anthony $500,000 to pose in Hustler


"Bring them here to me."


Man made hunger in Horn of Africa

All ate and were filled

West Nile Virus reported in Indianapolis

They took up what was left over of the broken pieces


Quadriplegic Chic Kelly just wants enough money to pay for his care


Twelve baskets full


Roadside bombs kill 17 in south Afghanistan

And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

A week later, Norway mourns 76 victims of massacre

5 + 2 = 12

Applications for unemployment aid drop below 400K

The needs are too many

Rising hunger among children

YOU give them something to eat

Jesus has gone away to a solitary place to mourn the death of John.  Yet even then he is followed by those needing him.   Needing his love, his healing, his words, his presence.  You have probably been there, I know I have. 

Coming home after a long and difficult day.  Just as you change into comfortable clothes begin to think about supper or just get curled up on the couch the phone rings.  

Be honest, you think to yourself, “No.  I just can’t handle one more thing.  I am tired. I am hungry.  I need quiet time. I will just let the answering machine get it.”

Jesus may have had those thoughts, yet he looks beyond his own grief, his own need to mourn, to be alone and meets the needs of the crowd.  The needs are many.  It is a long day of healing.  Of teaching.  Of sharing.  Of loving. 

Evening is coming and the disciples are ready for the day to be over.  They are tired.  They are hungry.  The want to put their feet up.  Take a cold shower.   

They tell Jesus to send the crowd home.  The needs are too many.  The people will be back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  It will never end.   

They just want a quiet meal with close friends. 

“Jesus send them to the store.  Let them go home and get their supper.”


“The needs are too many.  We don’t have enough.”

“Ah but you do!  5+2=12, You feed them.”

“We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”

5 + 2 – 5000 = 12 baskets of left overs

“Bring it here, it is enough.  You feed them!”

What we have, what we are is enough.  Yet like the disciples we want to believe we do not have enough.  The needs around us are too many, too great.  What difference could we possibly make in this world full of hurt and need?  We do not have enough.

Enough time.

Enough money.

Enough… fill in the blank.

Yet Jesus tells us, it is enough.  It is enough because thanks be to God, what we have, who we are in Christ is enough.  More than enough.  Enough to give, enough to share.

In this story of the feeding of the 5000 there were five loaves and two fish.  It was enough.  We are not told there was absolutely nothing so Jesus had to do another Cana miracle.  We are not told there was too much so that the point of God’s grace is irrelevant.  No, it was enough.  What the disciples thought was too little, was more than enough to meet the needs that day.  And there were even left overs.

The grace given to us by God is always enough.  It is we who think it is not enough, that the needs around us are too great.  That we could not possibly make a difference.   

We do not have enough.  

Our church is too small.  

We don’t have a mission team.   

We don’t have fancy programs, big budgets, or a new gymnasium.

We use these things to justify our desire to stay in our safe place.  Besides, who are we to meet the many needs around us?  We say we are inadequate to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, heal the sick.  We hide behind our lack forgetting that God gives us enough.

Enough time.

Enough money.

Enough to meet the needs around us one heart at a time.

Our willingness to move out of our safe place and meet the needs around us give us the chance to let God take what we have, what we offer, bless and use it.  As individuals and as a church. 

We are called to take who we are, what we have and offer it to God.  All of what we have.  Be it a little or be it much.  We are asked to use it meet the needs of God’s people around us. 

God doesn’t ever say no, no matter how meager the portion we give.  When it is given to meet the needs of God’s people, God will bless it, the rest is up to us.

We are called to bring the resources.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.   Jesus told the disciples to feed the people.  Their not enough was more than enough.  What they had was multiplied as they gave it away.  It was enough. 

We say we cannot make a difference.  The needs are too many.  We have too little.  Someone else is doing it.  Our church is too small.

Yet we are asked, “How much do you have?” 

We respond, “We having nothing here, but….”

Jesus says, “Bring it here.  It is enough”

When we do bring it to Jesus, what we have, what we are is blessed.  And in that we discover it is enough.  Just as 5 loaves and 2 fish fed a whole slew of people, when we give what we have it will be more than enough.

What we have as individuals, what we have as a church is more than enough.  Can we offer it to God?

Will YOU give them something to eat?

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I haven't been writing much lately because I have found a new obsession.  I have begun doing Zentangle (  

Tangling has given me the place to pray, process, get centered, and just be.  Here are some of the things I have done:

I am lovin' this way of expressing my thoughts, praying, and creating.  Be in touch if you want to know more.  Words will come again in time.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene - 2011

Our parish was dedicated on this feast day in 1884 which may explain the name, yet sadly we will never know why Mary Magdalene was chosen as our patron saint because that is not a part of our written history.  Much like our patron saint was misunderstood, people outside these doors often don’t understand us.

Mary Magdalene has been mislabeled as a prostitute or viewed as a wanton woman, depicted in the art world baring her body to the world.  Views about her range from the possible to the ludicrous.

Yet scripture does not validate these views.  What we see there is a woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons.  A woman who was broken.  In her brokenness she encounters Jesus.  In that encounter she is healed.  That healing comes as the result of the love of a savior who met her where she was.  Her response is to follow, support, and walk with Jesus all the way to the cross. 

At that cross she appears to lose her savior.  All her hopes appear to be dashed.  She mourns what will never be.  On a morning a few days later, she arrives at the tomb to prepare her Lord for burial.  Instead she finds the stone that sealed the tomb has been rolled away. As tears run down her face, the two men standing there ask why she is weeping.  She says, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and I do not know where they have laid him."  She repeats these words to a man she thinks to be a gardener.  When he calls her by name, she recognizes her Lord.  She comes to the tomb in grief which is now turned to joy. 

Yet rather than stay, she follows Jesus’ command to go, to tell, to share all that she has seen.  Imagine how different the story would be if she had stayed there and just worshipped Jesus.

Over two thousand years later we sit here in this place named for the apostle to the apostles.  We are given the chance to see and be seen by our Lord.  Do we recognize him? Do we hear him when he calls us by name? Like Mary Magdalene, we are called to share with others the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.   Do we do so?

I hear it as I listen to stories about Hannah’s House.  Tales of the CDC give me glimpses of it.  I’m sure it is there as a wee one opens her latest book from the Imagination Library.  I know it is there as a meal is dropped off to one who grieves.  I know it is there when a visit is made to one who is ill.  I know it is there when I hear about the phone call made or the card written letting one know they have been missed from this place.

I hear it in stories of our past and catch glimpses of it in our present.  Here in this place, lives have been changed one heart at a time.  As we celebrate today, I wonder, how would our community be changed if each of us shared beyond these walls?

What would happen if we each committed to share the love of Christ with our hands and feet outside these doors? 

What if we, like Mary Magdalene, worshipped Jesus and then went to tell others about him?

What if our passion to make this world a better place became a reality and not a dream?

What if we began to change lives one heart at a time outside these walls?

What if we became that cute little church with the red doors that made a big difference in our world because we share Christ’s love as we work, play, go to school, shop, golf, swim, or whatever we happen to be doing?

So I challenge you today as we celebrate our patron saint, to not only dream with me, but to begin sharing ideas and making plans about how we change our community one heart at a time.  We may be little in size, but I know we are big in love and we have a God who loves even bigger.

Tell Them

Breaking through the powers of darkness

bursting from the stifling tomb

he slipped into the graveyard garden

to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that I have journeyed far

into the darkest deeps I've been

in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that fear will flee my light

that though the ground will tremble

and despair will stalk the earth

I hold them firmly by the hand

through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

the globe and all that's made

is clasped to God's great bosom

they must not be afraid

for though they fall and die, he said,

and the black earth wrap them tight

they will know the warmth

of God's healing hands

in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

smelling the blossomed air,

tell my people to rise with me

to heal the Earth's despair.

-from a warm moist salty God c. Edwina Gately 1993.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 2011 (11A)

The parables truly are the hard sayings of Jesus. Sometimes they are hard to understand but then other times like today, their message is clear and hard to follow.

Today’s parable shows us that some accept and some reject the Gospel.   Some are saved and some will not be.  That part is easy and while it is painful to realize there are people I love dearly who don't accept the gospel, it is black and white. You either accept or reject the Gospel.  There are no shades of gray.

This parable reminds us that in the end there will be separation between the just and unjust. Again, this is black and white. We are to leave it up to God to settle the score. It is for God to judge. That takes the weight off of us and that is a good thing. I judge myself, and sometimes others, much more harshly than God judges.

This parable also tells us there are two responses to evil and the evil one: pull out the weeds to maintain purity or instead to be patient, letting God have the final say. Now it isn't so black and white, is it?  There seems to be too much gray.

There was a young man who had just celebrated his thirtieth birthday. He had a beautiful daughter and three wonderful step children. He also had a woman who loved him deeply. He had much to live for.

As a young boy his mother left the picture. No one knows quite what happened, but she was not part of his life. He didn't talk about her or what happened.  His father coped by becoming hard and cold. It was easier than feeling the pain.  His father's way of coping left the young man with no tenderness or love in his life.

As a teen he turned to a group that made him feel as though he belonged. They also taught him how to dull the pain with drugs and alcohol. The increasing need for that dullness led to petty crimes. A burglary here or there to meet the need. Soon those break ins were not enough to cover the expense as the need to dull the pain increased. Next came a break in with people home. To get away he had to inflict harm. Perhaps that taught him to feel. Inflicting pain can feel good when you are dead on the inside.

Over time the severity of his need to dull the pain created a cycle of increasing violence and crime. He spent time in jail but never prison. He then met a woman who saw through his hardness and coldness. She saw the hurt little boy on the inside and tried to help him heal the pain. But his pain was greater than her love.

One spring morning, a series of events resulted in him taking the life of another. He felt  as though there were no other choices, backed into a corner with no way out. After the shooting he ran. There was nowhere to go. After many hours, he made his way to the woman who loved him so deeply. As she reasoned with him, he told her he was tired of the pain and hell of his life. As she watched, he ended his life with the gun that took another life earlier that day.

That spring day two lives were lost, nine children became fatherless, and two more widows now need our care. The events of the day a tragedy. We are tempted to sit in the judgment seat. This young man did wrong and acted as God in taking the life of another.

Yet this morning’s parable counsels patience and tolerance. We are not to know or to worry about how the end is sorted out. We can only trust that God is a good and just judge. God loves with a love we cannot comprehend. God loves each one of us and loves this young man just the same as you or me. In spite of wrong choices and crime, God loves this young man. And that is hard, isn't it?  At some level we don’t want God to love so fully, so completely, so blindly.

Yet it is good news.  As much as I might want to be the one to separate the wheat from the weeds, it is not in my job description.  Nor is it in yours, nor anyone else who thinks it is.  This does not mean we make no decisions about faithful or sinful behavior.  Nor do we stop teaching our children right from wrong.  And it certainly doesn't mean we close the church because it makes no difference whether or not we serve God. 

It means that the eternal difference it makes is not ours, but God's.   We can stop pretending it is our job.

The psalm Jesus quotes here is a plea to be heard and the promise of a parable not to hide but to make clear what God is doing. The point is that in order to understand what God is up to, you have to be up to the same thing yourself. This is what discipleship is – the life of the parable.  My life, your life, and the life of the church too.

This parable speaks of the kingdom of God, but this isn't simply to do with what happens in the future. It has also to do with the in breaking of God's future into our present by making us realize that we are living in the future, now. The present isn't just the present, what happens now forms us for our future.

The kingdom is a mystery. Yet we are not alone in the kingdom.  We sow and tend and weed and harvest, not just individually but corporately and it takes a community to do so as Paul reminds us. Paul also reminds us that in the end we are not condemned.

Worthless as we all are, we are counted worthy by God. Blind as we are, we will see and know, as we are seen and known by God. The kingdom is God's secret, freely revealed to those with the key to it, a key which is freely offered to all.  That’s right, to all, even this broken man who did wrong.

That is indeed good news.  So my sisters and brothers, may we continue to grow and bear fruit while leaving the tending and weeding to God.

Sources:  Tuesday Morning and Conversations with Scripture: The Parables by William Brosend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Missing the Call

I feel your nudge
As the new widow leaves 
knowing part of her light bill is paid
I hear your sigh
As the mentally ill sister 
leaves with soap for her laundry
I hear your tears
As I close my eyes to the pain in front of me 
in the one fresh from prison
I am convicted
When I am reminded of my call
To feed the hungry
Clothe the naked
Heal the sick
Visit the prisoner
I am ashamed
When I see you and fail to love
When I give things
And withhold my heart
Tear down my walls
That I might give me