Perfect Storm – Good News for January 2

2 02 2011

Mark 6:45-51

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.

When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded.

The Daily Path: How often do we find ourselves in the storm of life, rowing madly to stay afloat. But all the rowing in the world won’t save me if I’m not in control to begin with. Having faith that God is in control and will provide all I really need is what’s important to remember.

Recently a good friend of mine received news that he was being sent on a rotational assignment. He loved his work and the people he worked with. The news left him stunned and devastated. In many cases these rotations turn out to be a permanent shift intended to provide greater exposure to the participant. The position my friend was in made him happy and enabled him to use all of his amazing talents. His leadership brought the best out in his team that in turn brought great profit to the company. As I thought about the situation I felt his pain. It didn’t seem fair or very rationale.

Then I recalled that God gives us what we need. It started me thinking about what my friend could do while on the “rotational” assignment. The group he will be working with finds itself in a very stressful situation as they face a major challenge. From what I’ve heard, it’s not a very joyful work environment at the moment. That’s when it struck me that my friend could once again use his skills and leadership talents to help calm the storm and bring some joy to that space. It may be the perfect storm situation that God is asking him to calm.

Please pray for my friend and ask the Holy Spirit to activate some radical grace within him. As Richard Rohr would say, it’s change like this that puts us on the road to being blessed.

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Advent Day 12 – Good News for December 9

9 12 2010

Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The Daily Path: So many are without work this Christmas. Men and women, who up until recent years have never had to worry about paying the bills or feeding their kids, now find themselves feeling incredible anxiety. On top of it all Christmas is coming, adding worry related to the commercial side of the season. Then there are those who haven’t had a home to call their own for many years. They seek a shelter each night, hoping there will be room at the inn so they can avoid the peril of living on the streets.

Like Jimmy Stewart in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, I’ve been given a glimpse into what that side of life can be like. I’ve experienced what real worry is. I’ve laid awake at night wondering how I will care for my family and what the future holds. Fortunately, as with Stewart’s “George Bailey”, I had “Clarence the angel” enter my life in the form of people who genuinely cared about me. They helped me get through a bout with depression. They’ve provided opportunities to help us stay afloat when so many others have gone under.

I think of these blessings often as I move through Advent in a much better place than I was not very long ago. Like me, I hope you will reflect on the joy of blessings that have come your way in the past year. And while doing so, perhaps you’ll find a way to reach out to someone who might need a hand this Christmas season. Relieving worry can come in many forms. You’d be surprised at how the smallest things can make a difference in people’s lives. Believe me, for some it doesn’t take much to provide a peaceful night’s rest.

Be an angel this Advent. Hee! Haw!






Potholes – Good News for November 27

27 11 2010

Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Daily Path: Note to Management: “I would appreciate  large “Road Under Repair” signs be installed at regular intervals along this journey.”

Maybe it’s just my driving, but I seem to hit a lot of the potholes that frequent this highway. It’s not just the obvious vices that line the road, equally dangerous is the spiritual lethargy that sometimes trips us. It’s not unlike Thanksgiving dinner. You hit the table running, filled with enthusiasm and joy. Then 20 minutes after you stuff yourself, you’ve had enough family engagement and fall asleep on Aunt Winnie’s shoulder, deep in a turkey comma.

The spiritual journey has distractions. There are peaks and valleys. Sometimes I feel very close to God. Other times I’m in the back row dosing off. We’re not perfectly enlightened beings. We’re not Porsches speeding along the Autobahn able to reach our destination in a few hours. We’re more like Russian made Volgas, spitting out black exhaust, losing hubcaps and tailpipes with each pothole hit, as we creep ever closer to home on the back alleys of Leningrad.

At the very least I need to aspire to drive out of the potholes, keep my engine chugging along – one filling station at a time. It’s never easy, but I’ll get there.





Not Just Coin – Good News for November 22

22 11 2010

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: We can give from our wallet or we can give of ourselves. Certainly both types of giving are needed. Jesus points to monetary giving in this example but I think the message is broader than just coin. I’ve found that “being there” for someone in a time of great need can provide incalculable value. I’ve been on the receiving side and can tell you from my own experience that when things seem darkest receiving a note from a friend, an invitation for coffee, or a friendly call, can dig you out of the depths like nothing else. This type of genuine outreach keeps you going when the weight of the world feels squarely on your shoulders.

This week, as we prepare to gather as family and give thanks, perhaps it’s time to think about making one of those calls. Who can we share our spiritual wealth with? Who’s feeling alone or bearing the great weight of worry? Who could benefit from a little joy? Friends, I think our horn of plenty comes in all shapes and sizes. See what can be shared from your pantry of love.





Hearing Aid – Good News for September 18

18 09 2010

Luke 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.”

After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

The Daily Path: Lately, I have given great thought to those walking along side us in the faith community who hear the Good News but are having trouble Listening. Like them, I have trouble living the Word of God 24/7. I like to think that some of the time I am able to follow Christ’s teaching, yet succumb to lapses where I, too, become choked by anxieties and yearnings for a better material life. Pursuing the ME life is like driving a truck along a narrow Afghan mountain road that falls steeply away on either side. If you lose focus for more than an instant, truck and cargo will go crashing down into the valleys and canyons below.

Through the Good News, Jesus shows us the safe path to God. It’s not an easy journey. Often it’s like that Afghan mountain pass. If we LISTEN to the Gospel… not just hear, but truly listen and follow these teachings, we can safely navigate the journey home.

My dear friends and fellow travelers, embrace the lessons of love and forgiveness we find throughout the Gospel. Fight the urge to lash out when your Me life is threatened. If we as followers who call ourselves children of God are attacking those within our faith community, how then can we hope to reach our desired home?

The Gospel is a living word, not some antiquity who’s relevancy passed thousands of years ago. It is today as it was when first spoken: Your road map home. Plug in your hearing aids. LISTEN to the parables and live. Presume innocence. Stop the attacks on each other. Resist the ME. Embrace those you feel challenge the ME and become stronger in living more fully as WE.

Sorry if I sound so preachy this morning. Pray that we both may improve our listening and in doing so truly hear the Word of God.

Thanks for spending a moment here today.





The Narrow Gate – Good News for June 22

22 06 2010

Matthew 7:6 and 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

The Daily Path: In recent days I have come to understand more clearly that when I chose to follow Our Lord it also meant that I was choosing the cross. Yet in bearing this cross – for what are relatively just a few moments in this life on earth – I have the promise of an eternity with the Father. I accept this.

Faith in the Promise no matter what is thrown at me. One day at a time. One foot ahead of the other… on the way to the narrow gate.





Giving Up – Good News for May 25

25 05 2010

Mark 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

The Daily Path: I have been blessed with the company of many fellow travelers on my spiritual journey home. A good number of them are right here in my parish comprised of two spirituality groups I participate in. We gather together on a regular basis to openly share what we are experiencing along the way. Some of our discussion focuses on the challenges we all face in living the teaching of Christ and following his example.

Some of the most poignant moments in our gatherings relate to “giving up” the false self to embrace or enable the true self. We live in a fairly affluent area and are surrounded by the trappings of wealth and material success. With that comes some heavy baggage and pressure to uphold a certain image. Despite outward appearances many in this community are deeply wounded inside. Part of the fellowship the men in our spirituality groups share is based on allowing ourselves to give up the facade and expose our wounds to each other. I believe this is also part of what Jesus is explaining to us in today’s Gospel when he talks about giving up.

Yesterday, when I chose to openly share with GNTG readers the fact that I suffer from a disease, I was giving up the pretense of invulnerability. By giving up the lie – that I was in control – I was freed from a great burden. I started to feel lighter as I accepted my weakness and saw how others accepted my woundedness. I grew stronger as I received amazing signs of support throughout the day. The death of one thing brought new life to something else. My story is just one tiny example of how “giving up” the false self brings us closer to the one truth – God.

As Christians we uphold the ultimate symbol of woundedness – Jesus on the cross. After his death, when Jesus returned to his friends, did he say “Hey, look at me! I’m the almighty Son of God who can overcome everything, including death!”?

No.

The first thing Jesus did was to draw them close, open his robe and reveal his wounds.

Giving up draws us closer.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for inspiring so many to live your commandment of love. The outpouring of genuine support I’ve experienced in the past week has been nothing short of miraculous. Though sometimes we walk in valley of the shadow, we are never alone. Truly, all things are possible through you.