Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, February 16, 2013 [ First Sunday of Lent in the Christian Kalendar ]

Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.

Jesus, from the Gospel called Luke, chapter 4

The complete readings for this Sunday can be found at

Worship. Interesting word. Essentially, it means “to recognize and to acknowledge the worth of”. So, that raises the question:  Just Who is this God that we worship? What is this God like? What is the image of this God that we hold in our hearts, in the church … and is this image indeed worthy of worship? The danger, of course, is that God can very easily become an idol … we know this by human experience.

We know how easily good can turn to evil, light to dark, love to indifference, compassion to hate. We know how we feel, as individuals, as a people, when this happens:  to put it simply  -  miserable, afraid, heartsick.

The Collect speaks of a God Who “knows our sins”, and is “mighty to save” … because that’s what Judaism and Christianity essentially proclaims, despite the horrific ways that the Bible and it’s God have been made into an idol of anger, judgement, and punishment. Most psychologists and spiritual guides will tell you that such things rarely lead to “salvation”!

Deuteronomy reminds us that God seeks to “bring us home” to a “land of milk and honey”. Idolizers have sttempted to make us think that that means some physical “home”. I don’t think so. God desires us to find that “home” at our core that is the place of light, joy, love, peace. Showing us our unloving ways (sins) yet loving us unconditionally is the path God points us to.

Psalm 91 reminds us:  Because you have made the LORD your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. Again, the reminder that when we live in the presence of Divine Love, we turn our backs on the dark.

Paul, in Romans 10, reminds us that Jesus is an image, an icon, of this worthy God, and that if we follow His Gospel, we have chosen a worthy path to wholeness and freedom.

Worship the Lord your God; serve only God.

says Jesus to Satan. The message of Lent I is simple: Know the true nature of the God you follow, and worship only this God. Reject all idols.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 7, 2013


Actually, after all the serious illness and all the surgeries I’ve been through since my aortic heart valve replacement in 2002, I am constantly amazed that I’m still alive. I’ve also drunk the poison for decades … held tight the anger over homophobia, as I’ve experienced it personally and in the World at large. Some of you will perhaps remember some of that anger seeping through in various ways.

I think I’m still alive because the Life Force has an innate persistency … a built in determination to help us “get it”. Or, to put it in the language of my faith journey, God loves me unconditionally, and keeps giving me opportunities to “get it”. I think it’s working … finally! Though it will, I think, be a life-long effort!

If we drink the poison, we’ll “die” … in some way. Living will be curtailed, limited. Our contribution to Life diminished. We need to learn to avoid poisons. One way is, always forgive yourself and others.

Good luck … or, work hard … whichever … probably both.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, Feb 3, 2013 - Epiphany IV C RCL

Love is patient; … it does not rejoice in wrongdoing,
but rejoices in the truth.

1 Cor 13

But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven
was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land;
yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,
and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.

Luke 4

The complete Readings for Epiphany IV, Year C, RCL can be found at:

If you are interested, read the lessons before worship tomorrow.

First, let’s be honest. “Truth” is a very problematic concept. Lots of people and lots of religions and lots of philosophers and lots of scientists think they have “the truth”. “Knowing the truth” is a tool of power-mongering … and many claim it. I do not believe that any one of these has “the truth”. I have come to see, over more than 66 years as a priest and as  a person and as a reader and as a meditator that “truth” is a gift of Life … to those who seek it. Living Life reveals the truth … and Truth is only come to when we all share our experience.

Love, in the Gospel, is the source of all Truth … and Truth belongs to us all, never to one person or group or religion.

When I go to worship tomorrow, I will have a very powerful image in my mind. I will see Jesus sitting in that synagogue. And I will see Him replacing the scroll of Isaiah, and sitting down, and saying what He said. I will see Him looking with riveting eyes into the men (yes, just men, then) and saying what he said about the non-Israelite widow, and about the non-Israelite Naaman. I will have a clear picture in my mind’s eye of the synagogue-goers, and their rage at being confronted … yes, in love … by Jesus.

Jesus wanted them to see the Truth … that they were not living God’s way of Love, that they as God’s beloved people had greedily appropriated God’s full and unconditional love to themselves, and despised and rejected everyone else … something they were later to do to Jesus which led to His crucifixion.

That reality hit me right in the core. I began thinking of all the ways that I had appropriated God’s unconditional love for every human being to myself, and withheld it from others. How I have though that some of us deserve God’s love, and some don’t.

If you should be hearing these Readings today … these direct and honest and loving words of Jesus in the Temple that day … perhaps we should be pondering the ways in which the Christian Church in many places these days is, like Peter, denying Jesus and His message – and denying to countless people who need to know God’s amazing love the power of that gift.