“The Samaritan Woman” Lent 3

May God use my words to feed your sons and daughters with your wisdom and compassion.

Amen

Jesus was a bit of a jokester in my opinion, or maybe just creative inventing the style of a counselor’s use, by answering questions with phrasing things in a way we answer them ourselves.

You know the “how does that make you feel?” or “is that what you think?”

So, to say that Jesus was creative on how he interacted with people would be an understatement. But Still …

It amazes me at how some people think that Jesus spent much of his time ministering in the Temple at the time. Temple like church is today meaning that it being the building to some people.

He spent most of the week out wandering the streets and interacting with the sinners and like the Samarian woman at the well. He would find the sinners, call them out on their sins, and then point them in the right direction. The majority of the people went off happily and partially because I believe they felt renewed and partly because they were simply respected by anyone let alone the Son of God!

It may have been the healing miracles that most people stand up and notice, but Jesus has showed us how by his love and compassion for all people that we were truly brothers and sisters and not strangers. He showed us that miracles can be simply giving someone hope or faith by a smile or a hug. He never withheld his example of loving and caring of his sons and daughters from anyone and he was kind to all even if they were thieves or adulterers.

Again, the Samarian woman was not a straight arrow, but when Jesus showed her compassion she went off and made her life right by proclaiming his ability to forgive and fix her brokenness.

We are all sinners and yet we have the capability not to sin and even forgive. We learned from Jesus that humanity as flawed as we can be, are not able to absolve sins but we can forgive! What a miraculous thing that is small in the scope of things, but more profound than almost any other act we know and one of the most effective cures for the soul are alongside of prayer.

Jesus would meet others failures with encouragement and guidance. You might call these not only learning moments but hugging moments as well. He would not fix your problem for you but he would steer you in the right direction.

Jesus is like the rain when the sun has beat down a flower from the heat until it starts to wither away bringing a renewal of strength and a renewal of life.

God is wise, in order to be used as the best context a human can understand, and he shows us hope and life in our everyday surroundings by using the trees, water and the earth that the natural beauty that acts like therapy to the soul.

So much like the inspiration and rejuvenation we get, starts in the word we receive in church each Sunday. So let it spread and blossom into our lives with every step we take all the way home and then back each week as we return to be watered and to be helped in  preventing our brothers and sisters from withering away in the sun.

“Love our neighbors as ourselves”

Amen

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“God to Abraham: ‘You’re Not Dead Yet.'” Lent 2

Last week we spoke of Adam. This week we move on to Abraham, “What then shall we say about Abraham?” Let’s dig in shall we?

“Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

When I first think of this statement by Paul – I think of the faith of Abraham who was willing to trust God to the point of sacrificing Isaac – the Son of the Promise.

I remember one time when my dad and I were talking about this – and not normally one to emote, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “How could a father ever be willing o do that to his son?”

(I can barely talk about this incident without tearing up myself.)

Abraham was so convinced of God’s promises by this point that he know that if God wanted his Son sacrificed, he would somehow bring him back to life – anything to fulfill his promise to Abraham of making him a great nation.

But this is too late in the story of Abraham to be the incident St. Paul references–at this point he had already seen and experienced God many times. He even felt comfortable enough with God to try to talk God down from his wrath against Sodom.

Actually St. Paul’s reference point here is Abraham’s response to God before anything took place.

Right before our lesson today, we get the “generations of Terah,” Abraham’s father.

St. Stephen in Acts tells us that Terah, though in the line of Shem Noah’s good son, knew nothing of God – he was a pagan.

So when God came to Abraham – Abraham at that point – he knew nothing of God either.

But the Lord came to him and said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”And to his credit, “Abraham went as the Lord told him.”

At this point in his life Abraham was 75 years old – that is he was well on his way in life. He was established  75 is not normally the age in which one forsakes everything to follow a God he had never met. Yet that is exactly what happens.

He took his wife, his nephew Lot (who was to be his heir) and all their possessions and moved them over 500 miles away. He had no more safety net – he was all in at that point. All in on merely the promises of God – a God whom he has just met.

This is the faith St. Paul builds up. Abraham seemingly at the end of his life faced certain death in a land of uncertainty. Yet, St. Paul says. “Our God is one who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

God eventually proved himself faithful plus more to the promises he made to Abraham, but Abraham did not know this at the outset – he just placed his trust, took a deep breath, and took the plunge.

Today we would call this impulsive and probably chastise Abraham for taking such a chance.

But 1) Scripture is sadly silent on the theophany Abraham received when God introduced himself. I imagine it left some with little doubt of the reality of God and 2) we normally play things too safe.

“Why take risks? We are well established and we have done it this way for a long time.”

The problem with this statement is that it fails to recognize that at one point there was a time when this could not be said – a point when risks had to be taken. Institutions that no longer take risks are already dead — they just haven’t yet run out of money.

This is what Jesus paints out to Nicodemus when he comes to Jesus for advice. “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit.” If at any point churches back off pushing forward — they have cut themselves off from life in the Spirit and are coasting on the man-non of the flesh.

I say this about the church, but it also applies to our lives as well. Abraham was 75 when he packed up everything to move to Canaan, “The Promise Land.” This is proof enough that whenever God calls us to follow, we are never old enough to say no. At any age individually or institutionally we can always gather our possessions and follow where God wants to lead us.

“You Have My Permission To Sin” Lent 1

Today is the day that we get to beat up on Adam.

He had one rule: of all the trees in the garden he couldn’t eat of the one — Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.

And yet he ate.

Now I’m  sure that prior to that bite it looked like it would be the best tasting fruit ever.

-Maybe the light always hit it just right.

-Maybe it always had the perfect amount of moisture on it.

-Maybe it was a fragrant fruit that always seemed to catch the breeze and make his mouth water.

*Remember there was no such thing as death & Decay in the Garden, so it would always have these characteristics.

Now maybe this was only in Adam’s mind.

He would be going about keeping the Garden and guarding it from whatever it was that he was to be guarding it from and there it was, like a bad penny that keeps turning up – there it would be when he least expected it.

-There in its perfection – it would taunt him.

Then the Serpent tempted him, he was really just giving license. I’m sure that this encounter was merely the tip of the ice berg.

I can see him, when Adam wasn’t looking,

-with a spray bottle, perfectly misting.

-adjusting it so that it was perfectly lit.

-and fanning it so that the smell would drift his way and – then sneaking over to tap him on the shoulder to bring his attention to it. So that like Willie says, “You are always on my mind.”

When Adam finally did succumb, he found out that it was just fruit. – Nothing particularly tasty about it. – It was just a piece of fruit Yet that piece of fruit almost brought about the destruction of mankind. – Almost.

It seems to me that God, if this apple was so destructive should have made an impenetrable fortress around it to protect it? – Because he knew that man would one day eat of it.

Why did he not do this? Because it was man’s testing ground. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “God allows evil to happen in order to bring greater good therefrom.”

In fact the saints speak of this incident as the “Happy Fault.”

Seems strange. This was almost the destruction of man and yet the saints call it a good thing.

St. Ambrose say, “Innocence made me arrogant, transgression made me humble.”

A toddler pulling on a stack of books that will result in something heavy falling on their head, learns more by actually being hot on the head then from an adult stepping in to protect it.

-innocence means I can do whatever I want.

-transgression means there are consequences to my actions.

The fault of Adam caused the need for a redeemer. Our redeemer not only brought about our redemption from sin but also, through his unification with us, brought us up to him. Now we are sons & daughters of God – a status higher ever then the angels.

So our present status is now higher then it would have been had God stepped in an prevented Adam from eating the apple.

Now let’s spin that forward to out Lenten observance now.

Whatever you gave up for Lent has the ability to own you.

You give up chocolate – all of a sudden all you want is chocolate.

You give up Facebook it seems as though it is always lurking needing to be clicked.

You give up curse, yet that is the first thing that jump onto your lips.

When we sin, we have two options – we can ignore it and let it consume us or we can acknowledge it & learn from it.

Whatever we give up pales in comparison to what we are taking on.

We are taking our spiritual discipline to be able to live as what we are sons & daughters of God. We are taking our life lived to the fullest.

When we give in and indulge ourselves in whatever it is that we gave up – we know exactly what it will happen

-chocolate will always taste like chocolate.

-Facebook will always waste your time and make you upset.

-cursing out people will always just make need.

We know exactly what it is because we experience it everyday. The Mundane.

But when we sin and realize that it isn’t anything we haven’t already experienced before and choose instead for greater unity with God – that is an experience that is never the same and always getting better – because it isn’t limited by the mundane.

So this Lent, I am giving you license to sin. But as you sin – realize that you’ve already done it before. You know exactly how you will feel after, and that actually, like any drug high won’t be as high this time. As you sin allow it to be your own happy fault that allows you to break the hold it has on you. This will then free you to progress in your spiritual life. Happy fault, indeed!

In the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit

Amen