Discernmnent for Life

“When morning come to Morgantown, the merchants roll their awnings down”  Joni Mitchell’s bell-like voice and odd guitar tunings wake my day as the early morning light comes through the blinks on my bedroom window and I am magically transported back to our small apartment in the West Village in 1975.  Ernestine is still sleeping in the living room as I sit at my drawing board doing what I cannot remember now more than 40 years later.  When we are that young, everything has a sense of urgency and immediacy…we’ve got to do it NOW, while the thought and the urge are seizing us.  There is no sense of history to measure our days against…only what we want and what we need right now!  And this morning I remember that life and all of the people who were in it and who I miss very much.  There are people who struggle through their lives without ever knowing that they are loved and because of that have never learned to love another and that is a dreadful and terrible thing. Then there are those who, like me, have been loved throughout their lives but not maybe as we wished we had.  That is the kind of person I think I once was.  Stumbling through my life, assuming that what I was given I was entitled to and that it was never enough. Always wanting more and not really every appreciating what I already had.   And then I began to lose that life as she began to lose her life to cancer (I don’t dignify the word with a capital C) and in that awful sense of loss, loneliness and despair I discovered a new life that constantly surprise me with the gifts I am given,  I have very few material belongings and I am not terribly financially secure…but I have what I need and if I can stop myself from comparing what I have to what others have…I am happy. Very happy. Not for who I might be, but for who I have become and the love I am able to give others and that surrounds me as another day of promise shines through my window and illuminates my being.  I have no regrets about where I have been but I am bathed in the sacred light of where I am.  Where God wants me to be. It has taken my 70 years to understand this passage and flow of life: that by listening and responding to God’s call , I am being who I was destined to one day become.  That to love and to be loved is our greatest gift and the reason we were created. And I am grateful.

 

Amen

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An Advent Beginning

“Ave, verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum immolatum
in Cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
unda* fluxit (et)* sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.”

Those are the words in Latin to the magnificent motet by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart written in 1791 for the feast of Corpus Chrisi at Saint Stephan in Baden, Vienna. This is how the words translate into English:

Hail,true body
born of the Virgin Mary,
Who truly suffered, sacrificed
on the Cross for man,
Whose pierced side overflowed
with water* and blood,
Be for us a foretaste**
In the test of death.

I tell you that this evening because as I made a second attempt at writing tonight’s sermon I had this magnificent music playing on a continuous loop. I had gone to sleep the night before with a lot on my mind. And as I began the new day… somehow with humility and prayer, God had helped me find a way to face some difficult issues that were troubling me a great deal. I didn’t want to concentrate on the news of the day or what was going in Washington, I wanted some music that would help me to focus on the centrality of my faith. Because once again I was feeling overwhelmingly grateful for the help I had been given to find a better path and to begin again.                                                    It seems like Advent has just begun and here we are already at the Second week. The Gospel reading this week from Mark starts with two words:

“The beginning”.

I think if I had my way I would call this Sunday “Beginning Sunday” because we are not just at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark which we will continue reading through Lent but we are also at the beginning of Advent and the beginning of John the Baptist. Of the four Gospels that feature the life of John the Baptist, Mark introduces us to him at the earliest time in the Jesus story and gives the briefest of the four accounts. It says “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” But before we go there, our Old Testament reading from the prophet Isaiah is indeed prophetic because within his words “a voice cries out in the wilderness prepare the way of the lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” we find the genesis of the entire story of John the Baptizer.

It is here, that the role John will come to come to play in the lives of the early church and in our lives even today finds it’s true beginning.

Jesus will be born and this will change the world. And although all we know about his birth, his life, his teachings and his death on the cross could be interpreted as a beginning and finally as the end… we Christians believe that the end has never come and that with his death and resurrection we entered into a new beginning which has no end.

In the beginning of the Gospel of Mark (and as far as we can know, this is the very first time in the bible that the word “Gospel” which means “Good News” is used to refer to a written account of the life of Jesus Christ”) we are told that Isaiah said “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”. That messenger in Isaiah is assumed by most to be John the Baptist who while proclaiming a baptism for the forgiveness of sins was assumed by many to be the Messiah, that is until he told them directly “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me, I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

So here we have a people who are looking for a savior, a leader and many think they have found him in John. How disillusioned and disappointed many of them must have been when John refused this notion and said NO. I am not the Messiah but I can show you the path to him that starts with me and ends with repentance, forgiveness and salvation. I wonder, how many clung to him thinking…I’ve gone all in on this. I’ve bet the farm and the future of my family on John being the Messiah. It could have been seen as a dead end but it was really the beginning of the extraordinary. In a real way, the arrival of Christ that we await during this Advent time could not have happened if John had not come first, preparing the way, clearing the path, setting the stage for a new beginning.

I am in a stage of my life that finds me trying to understand once again how I fit into God’s world. But I too am making a new beginning. 15 years ago in another place I began the path to ordination as a vocational deacon. And I am still on that path with the expectation of that ordination in the next year. There have been many stops and starts during those years. Many times I thought my path had come to an end but the end I could see only blocked my view of the beginning that was coming my way. In fact, it is only through the encouragement and support of the late Capers Limehouse, a Deacon of this church that I am here at all. This is how I think the our lives are. A series of beginnings and I do not believe they end until we die which my faith teaches me is nothing more than another new beginning. So for each of our lives I think it is a good thing that this week’s readings focus on beginning.

There is a saying that I think is attributed to Helen Keller who supposedly said, “When a door is closing, most people are so focused on the door that has closed that they cannot see the door that is opening.” And I believe that for all of us, there is almost always another door opening, another potential beginning that we either cannot or will not see.

Advent is a good time to do some self reflection and to try to come to terms with and cast off some of the negative feelings and beliefs that we harbor that make our lives less joyful than they can be. I have a confession to make: I have been thinking a lot about justice recently. Not about the court system or about what happens in Washington but about what justice means in my life and yours. Over the years of my discernment for the diaconate many things happened, which were not to my way of thinking, either fair or just. Where I know now that I should have simply accepted these things and gone on with my life, I stored up the hurt and resentment they have caused me instead of letting them go. Rather than move on to my next opportunity I have fed on the anger and resentment I have allowed to to damage my heart. I have carried this feeling with me until very recently when I was finally able to understand it is true that life is not fair. It is sometimes, but not always so although justice is indeed a good thing, it is in no way guaranteed or promised to us. Unjust things happen all the time for reasons that are sometimes impossible for us to understand or explain. Babies die, innocent people are sent to jail, people lose their jobs, their homes and their security and housing. Even God cannot promise Justice. He can and does promise unquestioning forgiveness and love through Grace. He gives us the gift of free will and the loving heart to be fair and to engage in acts of justice, but he does not insure a just outcome. Just look at the world and the absence of justice in so many of our human conflicts. I realized some time ago that I had this allowed this fixation on un-promised justice to hold me back, make me bitter and angry at times and keep me from a deeper and more rewarding relationship with God. Like expecting our imperfect lives to ever be perfect, my expectation that everything would always be just was an irrational and unachievable expectation.

So now every morning with every new beginning and the gifts it brings, I ask God to free me from the unreasonable expectations I carry around with me and that has helped to make me a more generous humble and happy person…much more aware of the gifts I have been given than those I lack.

I came upon the following Advent meditation this week from the Virginia Theological Seminary:

“Simplify, travel lightly. Cast off the things and thoughts which are dark and heavy. Put on the “armor of light”. Clean out the closets of   your mind and of your house. Simplify and share the best of your mortal life”.

As we enter into the second week of Advent I invite you to the new beginning that God gives us each with every breath and with every new day. I invite you to unburden yourself from those thoughts and convictions that hurt you and keep you from God. To clean out the closets of your mind and of your house of the troubleing and soul deadening things that are holding you back from the love, understanding and forgiveness of God and to use each rising of the sun…as a fresh beginning…a new and unsoiled opportunity during this season of Advent as we await the coming of the one who will save our broken world as we begin anew.

Amen

 

 

 

 

Repairing a Broken World

This evening I think it’s helpful to remember where we left off last week in Matthew in fact I think it is helpful to go back to chapter 24 when Jesus having just assailed the scribes and Pharisees sat at the Mount of Olives and the disciples asked him “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” And Jesus proceeds to tell them what will happen when the Messiah will come. He warns them not to be deceived and to be vigilant and he says many things about being ready and prepared for this coming “Keep Awake” he says, “ for you know neither the day or the hour”. Don’t be deceived by pretenders who claim to be the Messiah and don’t be lazy and negligent…Stay awake because he could come at any hour. Any hour at all. This warning to be vigilent and to be ready is echoed again in our Epistle this week from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. We are in the days just prior to his crucifixion on the cross and his brutal death. Jesus is trying to tell them about what is to come so they will see and recognize the signs he is telling them about. “Keep Awake”…be ready, be prepared…”Keep Awake”.

This week’s Gospel lesson from Matthew, tells us the parable of the Talents. Three slaves are given a sum of money (a “Talent”) by their master before he goes away for a long time. When he returns he asks for an accounting and finds that two of them had invested what they were given and had doubled the original amount and he rewards each with praise and greater responsibilities. But the third in fear and trepidation had hidden his Talent in a hole in the ground to protect it and although it had not lost value it had not grown. The master angrily addresses him and says

“You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.” Then he tells one of the others, “take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten talents…for to all those who have, more with be given, and they will have an abundance, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” And then he throws the slave out into the darkness.

We are talking about a great deal of money here. By one reckoning one talent could be more than 1 million dollars. SO it is easy to get caught up in the monetary nature of this story and the complexity of our capitalist economy or even in the concepts espoused by those who preach the prosperity gospel. But this is a parable and parables are complex riddles not factual news reports. Parables can leave us with questions that can confuse and puzzle us. And they are frequently not about what their actual words seem to tell us. In this instance when the Gospel of Mathew was written there was no such thing as a capitalist economy, so to judge the meaning of these ancient words only in economic terms would, I think be wrong.

I think it helps to remember that the 25th chapter of Matthew begins with these words:         “When the day comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like this”. I think the purpose of this parable is to give us clues as to what we should expect the kingdom of heaven to be like and to show us what God expects of us.

The Jesuits have an interesting and helpful way of looking at scripture. It is called the “Composition of Place” and it calls them to approach every passage by first descending into the heart to discern what God is trying to tell them and then to put themselves into the place of every person in the story. In this way they place themselves inside the scene not on the outside looking in. They actually try to imagine what they might see what they might hear and what they might touch by actually living in the scripture. SO in this case we would be the master and we would also be each of the slaves…and through that exercise they try to determine the message that God is giving us.

Here I think we are being told something that has little to do with the monetary value of the gifts we are shown in the parable. I think we are being shown that each one of us receives gifts from God of all kinds.

The gift of prophesy, the gift of intelligence, the gift of being able to write or to sing or to take care of the poor and the sick, The gift of great wealth or of great empathy. The gift of being able to be a parent and raise a child or the gift of being able to care for the elderly in their last days of life. There are far too many gifts to name but we all receive them each according to God’s needs for us.

SO I think what this parable is trying to tell us is that whatever gifts we are given, we must first understand or discern them and then we must use them to the best of our ability offering thanksgiving for God’s grace. We then multiply the power of our gifts and can come closer to reconciling with the person God wants us to be and the person we truly are.

Father Adam told us two weeks ago in his sermon about the dancing saints that fill the ceiling of Saint Gregory of Nyssa church in San Francisco. Last Sunday I had one of those experiences that I no longer refer to as coincidences but instead call God Incidences. We were in New York, walking up town from Wall Street to the Whitney Museum on 16th Street when we passed by Trinity Church Wall Street. We had no plans to attend church that morning, but as we passed the open doors the service was just ready to begin and we decided to stop and go in. After experiencing a life changing sermon by the remarkable Reverend Mark Bozzuti Jones I am ready to ask God to help bring those saints down from their lofty perches to help us create a new revolution in how we actually live and use our faith.

Father Mark used his sermon to tell us that we need to find the means to love more deeply and to live our faith more deeply to combat the hatred, discrimination, greed, sickness, dishonesty nihilism, growing militarism in our country and the hunger and poverty that causes millions throughout the world to die before their time.

In light of all the negative and soul dampening things taking place in our world it is crucial that each of us mine the full potential of the gifts we are given. We must live our faith in a new and dynamic way to help bring about the freedom, justice and love that millions of people throughout the world cry out for.

I think that we are being called though this parable to use the gifts we have received to bring God’s love to a broken world. So with this message… I ask all of those saints on all of the ceilings in all of the churches throughout the world to come down to us to help us in our time of need and repair and restore our brokenness. I ask God to help me and each of you to use your gifts to stand up and walk forward as a new army of the faithful…committed to loving each other and to actively fighting to do what we say with our mouths and through the efforts of our hearts and with our hands begin a revolution of the millions of the faithful to multiply the power of our efforts to restore our world.

Amen

Writing the sermons we need to read.

I have a good friend named Lindsay Lunnum who is a very talented and faithful Rector of an Episcopal Church in the New York metropolitan area.  I recently sent her one of my sermons for some feedback and she responded with something that has continued to echo in my life. She said “we need to write the sermons that we need to read”.

That was never move true than in the past week when I wrote and delivered a sermon based on the story of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel of Matthew.  The sermon focuses on the concept of rejection and how it impacts us all at some point in our lives. On Monday I had my own experience with rejection and when I confided how angry and disappointed I was, Margaret said “maybe you need to go back and read your own sermon.  I did.  Truer words were never spoken.  Lindsay and Margaret were both right. I do not know what God has in store for me…what his plan is.  I need to stay positive and open to what will come next.

Here’s that sermon:

It is an innocent children’s game. 10 chairs and 10 children.

The music starts and the children circle the line of chairs ready to sit as soon as it stops. Every time it stops a chair is removed and one child without a seat is removed from the game until there is only one chair left and two children. The music starts, one child claims the chair and is declared the winner and the other the loser. 9 losers and 1 winner. No one wants to be the loser, the rejected one, the “other”. Being rejected is a sad part of our lives. Something that almost everyone experiences at some point but it is often painful.

Walt Disney

Steven King

Michael Jordan

Each of these celebrated and successful people were rejected (sometimes brutally) or fired at least once and many over and over again before they achieved success. In our society, success (and now celebrity) seems to be the most important thing that can be achieved. Those who succeed are deemed the winners and every one else the losers…so what’s it like to feel like you are the person in the room who is always surrounded by everyone else who is so successful. What is it like to be the person who is not at the top of the deck but who thinks he or she is at the bottom and just never good enough?

Michael Jordan probably thought he was at the bottom when he was cut from his high school basketball team. Steven King probably felt pretty low when his first book “Carrie” was rejected 30 times until in frustration he threw it into the trash and his wife fished it out, submitted it one more time and it launched his writing career. And the name Walt Disney might never have evoked the flights of imagination we now connect with the images he created if he followed the advice he was given in a rejection letter after submitting his work which read, “you don’t have much talent and your ideas are not very good. You might well be advised to seek another profession.”

Success and professional accomplishment are real but the acceptance and recognition that come with them are elusive and ethereal things and there is not much distance separating those who are accepted and those who are rejected. In our lionizing of the successful we are all involved in the creation of those people who society looks down on as the failures, the outsiders, the others. Who never seem able to find a place that brings them strength and acceptance and shelter.

Our lesson this week from Matthew is a deceptively simple story about such a woman, a Canaanite who appears in both Matthew and in Mark’s gospel (although in Mark’s gospel she is called a Phoenician of Syria.) That is the only significant difference between the two accounts. But neither name is terribly important. The important thing here is that Jesus and his followers were Jews and this woman was a Gentile. The point of this story is that Jesus was sent specifically to be the savior and protector of the Jew. the time. So when this poor woman comes to him and begs for his help for her afflicted little girl, his disciples urge him to reject her and send her away because she was a gentile and because she was a woman and because she had very little status in the all male Jewish world…But when she falls to her knees in front of him and pleads “Lord, help me”. This woman, this Gentile woman, this “other” the outsider who doesn’t fit the description “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” who Jesus was sent to… calls him “Lord” As she does this and her heartfelt pleas are rejected by the disciples, Jesus hears her and sensing the sincerity of her faith makes plans to help and save her not because she is Gentile but because of her deep commitment to her faith.

There is a famous passage here that has always bothered me: Jesus says: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs!” but this lowly third or fourth class woman responds: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table.” She is humble and grateful for his help and Jesus is willing to take her faith from what more fortunate and privileged people leave behind and take for granted. She takes nothing for granted and her sincere statement of faith in the light of her expected rejection, causes Jesus to open his heart to her, He says “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish”! And her child is healed.

So what are we to learn from this? That Jesus’ disciples would reject this faithful supplecant because of her status as a non Jew? No. I think we learn that although Jesus was sent to save and protect the Jews…his heart is truly open to all people of faith and when that faith is demonstrated he responds with love and support. In an ideal world, I would hope we could construct a society where we could judge people only with the conviction that every child created by God is inherently valuable from its first breath. That there are no “others”. Only a holy commitment to love accept and embrace each other with great enthusiasm and sense of mission.

But in the absence of that, may we like the woman in our Gospel lesson, walk in the shoes of the outsider who when rejected, uses that slight as a reminder that God loves us and will protect and defend us.   May we when faced with rejection simply and unabashedly fall to our knees and thank God for his acceptance and love and the strength and conviction to love each other with immediacy and enthusiasm. We cannot know God’s plan for us. An experience with rejection may be a gift in disguise as we turn in pain and sadness from something that we wanted so much but did not get…we may find that another pathway becomes clear another portal opens that we could never have anticipated and that could never have happened without the initial rejection we have faced. I can tell you that this has happened to me many times in my life.

There are those people who go through their lives from childhood to old age feeling like they never belong, they never fit in they are always on the edges of our society struggling to get by. They are chosen last in school yard games, face loneliness and isolation. They are the people with their nose pressed against the window looking at everyone inside having a good time while they are outside in the cold. They live without love, without friendship and without human companionship. They are the opposite of what most of us strive for. They are “the other”. To be the other is a sad and heartbreaking experience and sadly that many share. Here is a bit of a poem by Amber Jones called the outsider where she describes this person:

The Outsider by Amber Jones

I am the outsider, the nobody
Always watching,
As your pains and fears pass by,
Always waiting
For some place to belong, to be
Even though
I know that I belong nowhere,
Always to be
Without another
I am the outsider, the loner
Always seeking
Some form of acceptance, but I
Find none
No longer hoping, but pleading for a cure to my
Everlasting depression
I am the outsider, the lost
I am the outsider

We are all involved in the creation of the “Other”. The rejected one. Yes sometimes a person can be so caustic and difficult to deal with that he or she virtually pushes people away. But I find it true that when a group is formed an awful lot of our time is spent keeping people out rather than inviting people in. And every time we do that we are involved in creating “the other”. I went to a very popular disco one night in New York many years ago. There was a huge crowd outside trying to get in and bouncers baring the door to almost everyone. We were with someone the owners knew so the doors opened for us and we were ushered in to find the place almost empty. The owners were trying to make it seem like it was so hard to get in that once we did get in there was nothing to get in to.   I think it is truly un Christian to be about creating a society that marks people as in or out. Winners or Losers. Successes or failures. In reality we should be about inclusiveness not exclusiveness. We are told to love each other. To love thy neighbor. It seems to me that to look down on any child created by God is to grossly ignore Jesus’ charge to us. We were created out of God’s love and we are made to love each other. If we are truly to live a Christian life we need to find the means to eliminate exclusivity and learn to love and include all of God’s creation.

Amen

 

 

 

All You Need is Love

A sermon from Robin Bugbee. Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina.  Saturday, July 22, 2017

Here’s a quote I like from John Lennon:

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

That quote has stayed with me since I first heard it in a song of his called “Beautiful Boy” many years ago. The quote actually first appeared in a cartoon caption in 1957 when Lennon was 17. Doesn’t really matter. It is a great comment on the way most of us live our lives… running around so frantically and so stressed out that we can’t seem to take the time to just stand still and appreciate all that we have. And I am not talking about the value of our worldly goods.  Those things, believe it or not, don’t really count for much.   But it would be hard to tell that from what appears in our mass media. I spent some time last week taking note of the number of TV commercials aimed at us that have to do with protecting our health, so we can supposedly live forever, or making great investments so we have the means to supposedly live forever.  The things that are truly important are the people we love and who loves us…our families and friends and the incredible beauty of God’s creation.

I want to tell you a story about a video I saw recently that made me think about this message I was going to bring to you tonight, It hit me hard and brought a tear to my eye and it warmed my heart.

We see a young boy, maybe 6 or 7 outside with his father. The father hands his son a pair of sunglasses and asks him to put them on and it is then that we can tell that the child is profoundly color blind. The little boy looks around and is amazed by seeing the world in color for the first time after only seeing things in shades of grey. It is a kind of miracle these magical glasses that completely overwhelms the child and he begins to cry tears of great joy hugging his father’s legs and sobbing softly over and over again “thank you Daddy…thank you Daddy”. Not so very different than the words we utter in prayer often as a matter of course: Thank you Father.

Several days after I shared that video I was sent another. A very similar scenario. Except this time the color blind person was middle-aged adult…but the end result was the same. Overwhelming gratefulness and freely flowing tears for the gift of being able to see the vibrant colors of the world for the first time.  I tell you that story because of the reasons why it was so inspirational to me. I am not one to pass up the magnificence of the gifts we are given every moment of every day. In fact, I spend a great deal of my life trying to help others find and recognize those gifts in their own lives. But I am just an average guy and like you and most of us get caught up in the meaningless confusion of our lives, the petty things we worry about and I am apt to miss the big picture: those things that are truly important. That is one of the main reasons we come to this place: to help us to reconnect with the magnificent gifts God constantly gives us and to help us understand that our lives are so much more than how important we are, how much money we have and how grand our houses are.   That the true gifts we are given by God are what binds us to him and to each other.

I watched a magnificent concert this week that was filmed in front of Buckingham Palace in London several years ago to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Every major musical star in the galaxy was there with a full symphony orchestra and an enormous audience of thousands. Suddenly, Paul McCartney walked out, the crowd erupted and the orchestra and singers began jubilantly singing the Beatle’s “All You Need is Love”.

And it struck me: this is what Paul is trying to us in his letter to the Romans.

You are God’s. He is yours. He will never leave you alone. He will always be with you bringing you all the gifts you need… there is nothing you need do to earn any of this and there is nothing you can do to lose it. It is simply a matter of love and Grace.

I love this week’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans…but then I love the entire book of Romans because in it Paul speaks so sincerely and with such love about the wondrous gifts we have been given as the children of Christ. His letter is an attempt to build up the faith of the people in Rome who are following Jesus Christ and he does this by talking about what it means to have faith, by showing us that we can never be separated from God’s love and by demonstrating in the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes how to truly live a Christ centered life. He pours his love for his life in Christ into every word and is so clearly trying his best to build up his fellow Christians not so much with the word of God but with what it has meant to him personally. He tells them that they are good when he says:

“I myself feel confident about you… that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”

He gives them good and helpful advice

“We, who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.”

And most importantly, he tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, not height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is our promise from God. These are the gifts that we are continually given. And like that little boy who sees the colors of a rainbow for the first time…we need to continually tune in to the wonders of this world and the magnificence of the gifts we are showered with daily and instead of taking them for granted…use them as Paul would want us to, embrace Gods love to try to return it as best we can, and love each other with great enthusiasm and joy.

So back to John Lennon’s quote: by all means, make plans. Our lives are uncertain and fragile. and can change in an instant. We all have both wonderful things and terrible things that happen to us throughout our lives…but we have to embrace all of them.  Everything is a gift from God although many times that is difficult to understand.  We need to try to keep in mind that trying to live a life in Christ requires us to live by his plans not the ones we make. The mystery is we cannot know his plans but we need to try to be open to understanding what he would have us do and how he would have us live and love.

Because we were born of his love for us.

And that is all we need.

Amen