Monday, April 23, 2018

Shepherding 101!

A shepherd was tending his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a dust cloud approached at high speed, out of which emerged a shiny silver BMW. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Ferragamo shoes, the latest Polarized sunglasses and a tightly knotted power tie, poked his head out the window and asked the shepherd, "Hey! If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?" The shepherd looked at the man, then glanced at his peacefully grazing flock and answered, "Sure."

The driver parked his car, plugged his microscopic cell phone into a laptop and briskly surfed to a GPS satellite navigation system on the Internet and initiated a remote body-heat scan of the area. While the computer was occupied, he sent some e-mail via his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, nodded solemnly at the responses. Finally, he printed a 150 page report on the little laser printer in his glove compartment, turned to the shepherd, waving the sheaves of paper, and pronounced “You have exactly 1,586 sheep."  "Impressive. One of my sheep is yours." said the shepherd.

He watched the young man select an animal and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?" Pleased to meet a fellow sportsman, the young man replied “You’re on.”  "You are a consultant." said the shepherd without hesitation.  "That's correct," said the young man, impressed. "How ever did you guess?" "It wasn’t a guess," replied the shepherd. "You drive into my field uninvited. You ask me to pay you for information I already know, answer questions I haven’t asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog." (Author Unknown)

Sheep definitely have not changed, but the shepherds have changed quite a bit.  At the time of Jesus, shepherds were not considered good.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  They were known to be dirty, thieves, and were forbidden by Jewish law from being witnesses in any trial because they were flagrant liars.  So why would Jesus call himself a “Shepherd” and a “Good” one at that? 

Well, isn’t this Jesus’ usual style of inviting the listener to go beyond “the box”?  For with Jesus, there was no box.  He turned the world upside down and inside out; he crossed boundaries and borders of rules, regulations, and traditions that bound the spirits of the eager of heart.  He was a presence that disturbed the religious and political worlds.  He lived on the edge and the margins of society and ministered to those who would be found there.  He banqueted with sinners and tax collectors; challenged people to become light and salt, and told them to forgive their enemies.  He also could speak to the wind and the waves; he cast out demons, and gave sight to the blind. 

So who are the Good Shepherds of today?   We are all called to be shepherds of our world today – to care for creation, to be voices for the poor, the marginalized – "the least, the last, and the lost."  We, as shepherds. need to be willing to confront the systems that keep humanity and creation defenseless and vulnerable.  Here are a few of today’s shepherds who are willing to “smell like sheep.”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

An Earth Day Reflection . . .


God Be With Us
May God be with us in strength, holding us in strong-fingered hands; and may we be the sacrament of God’s strength to those whose hands we hold.

May God be with us in gentleness, touching us with sunlight and rain and wind. May God’s tenderness shine through us to warm all who are hurt and lonely.

May God be with us in wonder, delighting us with thunder and song, sunrise and daisy; enchanting our senses, filling our hearts, giving us wide-open eyes for seeing and splendor in the humble and majestic. And may we open the eyes and hearts of the blind and the insensitive.

May God be with us in love and friendship, listening to us, speaking to us, drawing us close as we tremble at the edge of self-gift.  May God’s love in us light fires of faith and hope, glow in our eyes and meet God’s love glowing in the eyes of our friends.

May God be with us in compassion, holding us close when we are weary and hurt and alone – when there is rain in our heart. And may we be the warm hands and the warm eyes of compassion for our friends when they reach out to us in need.

May God be with us in joy, thrilling us with nearness, filling our heart to fullness and filling our throat to ringing, singing exultation.

May God be with us in peace, stilling the heart that hammers with fear and doubt and confusion, and may our peace, the warm mantle of your peace, cover those who are troubled or anxious.

May God be with us in simplicity, opening us to a clearer vision of what is real and true, leading us deeply into the mystery of life and may our dealings with others be marked by honesty.

May God be with us today and every day. May God hold each of us, empowering us with understanding, love, and respect.
May God’s forgiveness touch our hearts, enabling us to forgive ourselves and each other.

And finally, may we experience God’s peace and the joy that results from unity and prayer, shared values, and common vision
Author Unknown


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Quieting Prayer . . .


I weave a silence on my lips,
I weave a silence into my mind,
I weave a silence within my heart.
I close my ears to distractions,
I close my eyes to attentions,
I close my heart to temptations.
Calm me, O God, as you stilled the storm,
Still me, O God, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease,
Enfold me, God, in your peace.

(Author Unknown ~ Celtic Tradition)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Eastering . . .a third week . . .

In her book, “Open the Door, A Journey to the True Self,” author Joyce Rupp reflects on the power and gift of thresholds in the visible and invisible realities of our lives.  She writes: “Thresholds grant passage between two different external spaces.  Thresholds are doorsills or entrances to a house or building; it is any place or point of entering or beginning.  . . . A threshold contains the power of transformation. In this place of uncertainty and decision-making we are forced to slow down and take stock of what’s happening. Threshold experiences contain tremendous energy.  They hold the power to unglue and shake us deeply and they can set an imprisoned spirit free, and bring peace to a desolate mind.”

As a metaphor, a threshold is that unique and significant piece of our spiritual journey. It is that invisible and sacred space within us that marks the divide between who we are now and who we will become.

In the past few weeks, we have walked with Jesus and the disciples from threshold to threshold as we have reflected on the Resurrection accounts of the Gospels in which the writers have endeavored to tell the story of this glorious mystery. These accounts were not only what they remembered, but how these events touched them and how they reacted to what had happened. 

We have heard the story of Mary of Magdala waiting and weeping at an empty tomb.  It is in her turning that she encounters Jesus and crosses over an inner threshold in which she views him through the lens of fear and believes him to be the gardener.

We have heard the story of the two disciples passing over the threshold from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were carrying within themselves desolate spirits and visionless eyes unable to recognize the stranger walking with them to be Jesus. As they conversed with him, he is rebuked as being the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in the recent days.

We have heard the story of the frightened disciples who crossed over the threshold of the upper room with closed hearts, locked minds and anxious spirits.  It is within this space that Jesus appears to them with greetings of peace, and yet they think him to be a ghost.

The power of the threshold echoes in the resurrection event and through all the appearance stories that surround Jesus.  He passes from cross to tomb and from death to new life; he shatters all boundaries and moves through closed hearts, locked minds and anxious spirits back then and even now. 

It is in the intimate and early moments of an Easter dawn that Mary hears Jesus whisper her name and then upon being known, she names him Teacher.

It is in the quieting of the early evening the two disciples invite Jesus to stay with them and in the breaking of the bread Jesus passes over from being stranger to friend leaving them with a blessing and hearts blazing!

Jesus waits for them on the seashore.  He calls to them to throw their nets to the other side of their boat - casting aside their shame, fear and old ways of being and doing.  It is here in this early morning mist that Jesus invites them to breakfast on love and friendship - and in so doing, they name him, Lord.

Jesus shows up in the upper room to those behind locked doors companioned by their post traumatic stress and dread.  He greets them with peace, shows them his wounds, and breathes on them to receive the Spirit.  He frees them from everything that holds them hostage, and challenges them into a new discipleship and sends them on a mission to believe in him no matter what.

Jesus challenged his disciples to receive this new Easter Alleluia Peace and to come to their own inner rising above and beyond fear and doubt – passing over a threshold to a new freedom and faith, courage and compassion, justice and joy, passion and peace. 

We are Easter People whom God continues to call us to take up the challenge of discipleship, and to carry on the mission where Jesus left off.  It is the Mission of loving and serving one another, doing good, showing mercy and compassion, justice and forgiveness.

So what is the Good News for us today?

“The resurrection stories reveal the always-present tension between coming and leaving, intimacy and distance, holding and letting go, at-homeness and mission, presence and absence.  We face these tensions every day.” (Henry Nouwen)

Let us pray for God’s gift of transformation which awaits us at every threshold of our lives.

Let us pray for the courage to cross over this Easter threshold for it contains tremendous energy and has the “power to unglue and shake us deeply.“

Finally, let us pray for openness to lovingly welcome the daily invitations to come to our own inner rising and to live as Easter People because Jesus has risen.  Alleluia, Alleluia!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Prayer of "Letting Go" . . .

To let go does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off,
it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To let go is not to enable,
but allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means
the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
it’s to make the most of myself.

To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.

To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their destinies.

To let go is not to be protective,
it’s to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny,
but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.

To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more
To let go and to let God, is to find peace!
Remember: The time to love is short.
 “Letting Go Takes Love”, Author unknown

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Knot in Your Life"

"Knot in your life"!
The Knots Prayer
O God,
please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart, and my life.
Remove the have nots,
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.
Erase the will nots,
may nots, might nots
that find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots,
would nots, and should nots
that obstruct my life.
And most of all, God,
I ask that you remove from my mind
my heart and my life all of the ‘am nots'
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough. Amen.
Author Unknown . . .

Endless Presence . . .

God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need.  Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace.  And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone. . . just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with God.  Then you will be able to rest in God ~ really rest ~ and start the next day as a new life.
St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein)