Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Cleaning the Insides

Psalms 119:49-72 * 49 (53); Ecclesiasticus 28:14-26; Revelation 12:1-6; Luke 11:37-52

Jesus says today: Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? And after castigating the Pharisees he goes after the lawyers who are sitting around the table to which he was invited.

There are times when I am cleaning my home, vacuuming, polishing, dusting, where I do what is euphemistically called "a lick and a promise". That's where I do not do as thorough a job cleaning as I might, just polishing up the outside so to speak (no one is going to look inside that bowl on that shelf and notice all that dust, right?.....) Sometimes this is because of the exigencies of time and at other times it is caused by a degree of laziness, of which I am not proud. If we extrapolate this idea a bit, we get to where Jesus is going.

Today's Gospel selection is along similar lines of yesterday's, where Jesus is talking about the light of faith shining in and that light then shining forth. Jesus goes further today, using the metaphor of cup and bowl cleaning to drive an important point home. This kingdom Jesus is proclaiming is not one based on shallowness. This kingdom is not one where false facades will be able to stand. Jesus is saying that, much like the light of his word entering our eye and bouncing off the clean walls of souls and then emanating back out to attract others, so the work that we do, the justice that we aid in occurring in the world must come from a place of integrity: a place of realness within us.

We all know of and have met phonies in this world: people who we know are not authentic. Perhaps, at times, we have acted this way. Jesus is calling us to a deeper place of existence, a truer attitude of interaction in the world. At times, not something easy to achieve, but a target on which we all should be focused.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Shining Eyes

Psalms 45 * 47, 48; Ecclesiasticus 24:1-12; Revelation 11:14-19; Luke 11:27-36

Jesus seems to be a bit ticked off today. He calls the crowds that are building around him an evil generation. Yesterday he healed an individual who had been a mute and Jesus was called an agent of the devil. So he finishes speaking yesterday and at the beginning of today's Gospel account a crowd-member blesses Jesus' Mom and Jesus in turn says: well instead, the individual who is blessed listens and acts on the things I am saying and doing! (Once again, Jesus' sainted Mom is used by Jesus for him to make a point.) Jesus says that even the people of Nineveh got Jonas' message, but the folks he is dealing with are just dim-witted at not recognizing the power and presence of the Almighty in this Kingdom of God Jesus is establishing.

And then Jesus uses the metaphor of the lit lamp being used for its purpose, not hidden in the basement. He says our eyes are like that lamp, not only letting the light in (his light) but also our eyes shine forth the great Good News that infects all of us when we are members of this Kingdom. And if we believe we have some darkness within us, when we let this light that Jesus is to us, in to those dark places, that light can and will withstand and overtake all our pettiness, our anger, our dislikes, our sinfulness. The light that is our faith gets into those cob-webbed corners and sweeps that nastiness away and then rebounds off those cleaned spaces and shines out of us: we can't help or resist that from occurring.

This cob-web cleaning process, this light quelling the darkness, is not a one time event in our lives. We need to practice allowing the light to shine in, so that it can rebound and shine forth, bringing others into the fold of the kingdom.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Then the Kingdom of God Has Come Near You

Psalms 41, 52 * 44; Ecclesiasticus 19:4-17; Revelation 11:1-14; Luke 11:14-26

On Friday October 22nd, 2010, in the mid-afternoon, the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary caught fire and was destroyed. The picture to the right is taken from the Aspinwall tower, looking down at the remains of the chapel, and was taken by a current student. The community of VTS and all of the alumni around the world mourn the loss of this space that was an integral part of each member of that community's formation.

I attended chapel services in that space for the three years I attended that institution. Initially it was daily Morning Prayer, and Eucharist once a week on Wednesdays. Durning my tenure, the chapel became an even greater hub of activity with Daily Eucharist being offered at noon, and MP and EP also being offered daily. And although I am saddened at the physical loss of this space, God is present still. That space offered a place of sanctuary for many, a quiet place to pray as well as a community-filled space during services that allowed each member to not only worship together but hold each other up. A place of learning, a place of thoughtful sermons, a place of history, both personal and public.

But all things human-made fade. Sometimes slowly but oft-times with a sharpness that can bring us all up short. God's presence was palpably present in that chapel. God's presence was also clearly present elsewhere on that campus and in the world. God's presence remains. Yes, those Tiffany windows cannot be replaced, but God's touch on each of us who were graced to feel that thin place where the Spirit is so palpable, know that God cannot be limited. Jesus proclaims again today that with his healing, which is from God, then the Kingdom of God has come to you. Bricks and mortar cannot limit this kingdom.

New bricks, mortar, plaster, glass will replace that burned chapel. In the meantime, we all can remember that God's Kingdom has come to us, is near unto us, and there is plenty of work to do.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: So Simple

Psalms 37:1-18 * 37:19-42; Ecclesiasticus 10:1-18; Revelation 9:1-12; Luke 10:25-37

There is testing and justifying going on in today's Gospel selection, much like what happens regularly in our daily lives. People often test: others and themselves. Just as often we justify our actions, whether out of a sense of insecurity, defensiveness or some other reason. Jesus does not let the perpetrator of these actions get away with them. He asks about basic rules and then tells a story and asks a question to which there is only one answer: the one who helped, the surprising character, lives according to the precepts of the kingdom Jesus is announcing. And then Jesus tells us the simple truth: Go and do likewise. Go and help, respond to those who cross our path.

I think we can fall into justification and testing because we do not follow these instructions as well as we might. We can so easily get absorbed into the grind of our daily lives, our over-filled schedules, our "other" commitments, perhaps our self-absorption in the woes that can afflict us, that we turn a blind eye to those in need. Or, perhaps, we write a check to a favorite charity or cause and think that is enough to respond to Jesus' instructions. The parable Jesus gives us today clearly indicates that we are being self-delusional to think that just giving money is enough: our individual response and actual personal involvement is just as important.

We are reminded today that when someone in need crosses our path, no matter how busy we are, our call is to reach out and help. So simple.....and so hard to live in to.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Faithful Friends

Psalms 26, 28 * 36, 39; Ecclesiasticus 6:5-17; Revelation 7:9-17; Luke 10:1-16

Luke has Jesus send "the seventy" out to evangelize and spread the news of God's kingdom come near in today's selection. Jesus warns these travelers that not all will accept them or kindly welcome them. He gives them pretty explicit instructions about how to react to rejection: wiping them, and their very existence, from their consciences, leaving no tangible reminder of them on their person, down to the very dust of the town. When we pair this with the reading from Ecclesiasticus, which focuses on the fickleness of human beings and the rarity of true friends, we are given a lot to ka-noodle.

If we think about how long ago Ecclesiasticus was assembled, and look at the wisdom and truth found in these 12 verses, I can't help but wonder at how constant our human condition can be. I believe in redemption and that people can change. I believe in doing what I can to be a part of that change. Yet these words from Ecclesiasticus give me pause.... and at the same time delight. For even though they provide a rather caustic (and accurate) assessment of people's actions and reactions, they also provide this hope:

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;

Uncommon and yet not impossible to find, true friends are just this. Just as Jesus warns his early evangelists about rejection, so too today we are reminded that when we are gifted those rare finds of faithful friends, cherishing them, recognizing those moments and relishing them, help make our work of building this kingdom Jesus calls us to, that richer an experience.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: St. Luke the Evangelist

MP: Psalm 103, Ezekiel 47:1-12; Luke 1:1-4
EP: Psalms 67, 96; Isaiah 52:7-10; Acts 1:1-8

Many, many, many moons ago, before I joined The Episcopal Church, and during a period of "un-churchedness", while I was living in NYC, a friend of mine invited me to attend church with him. He told me he had found this great church not far from where I was living and that I should come with him some Sunday. I knew where this church was as I had walked by it on a daily basis on the way to the subway, but had never paid much attention to it.

After a number of invitations by Frank, I finally said yes, okay, I'll go. We arrived on this particular Sunday, and discovered that it was "the feast day" for that particular parish and that they were going to have a luncheon after the service to celebrate. I had not been in a church for quite a while, and knew nothing about The Episcopals. Yet, when the entrance bell sounded, and the organ started, and the choir began leading the entrance hymn, and the thurifer began swinging the thurible filling that space with smoke and smells making the morning light coming in through the windows defuse in interesting and different ways, I felt something twist within me, like that swirling smoke. I knew there was something there for me; I knew, without really knowing until years later, that I was home. That something that was missing in my life need no longer be missing.

The name of the church was St. Luke in the Fields and today is somewhat of an anniversary for me as we celebrate Luke's feast day. Holy Women, Holy Men tells us today that Luke's "Gospel is not a full biography (of Jesus) - none of the Gospels are - but a history of salvation." I was given the gift of salvation all those many years ago on that beautiful Sunday morning. A morning that I remember as if it was yesterday. For me it was a very slow change, a creeping under the skin of this mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, altering my perceptions and understandings of the world and God's workings within it.

I think many of us can look back and see a moment when something changed within us, something started us on a different path in our journeys. Mine was a seemingly small thing that took many years to mature and radically shift my life. But today is an anniversary of sorts for me, and a glorious one at that. I have a tremendous amount to be grateful for today, not the least of which is finding a place and a group of people that helped nurture a small (and what I thought of at the time as a lost) seed of faith into something far stronger and larger. Happy St. Luke's Day.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: National Coming Out Day

Psalms 1, 2, 3, *4, 7; Micah 7:1-7; Acts 26:1-23; Luke 8:26-39

It is not often that the Gospel reading matches an "event day". An "event day" you might ask, how is Columbus Day also an event? Well, today is not only Columbus Day, with many (most?) people in the nation's capital off work, but today is also National Coming Out Day. An important day for those of us who are out to stand up and support those who are taking those first steps out into authenticity. Steps into a world that is still frighteningly a place of intolerance and bullying. Yet still, steps people do and must take.

Jesus heals the naked-cemetery-dwelling-legion filled-demoniac in today's Gospel selection from Luke. The people from Gerasene are frightened by this turn of events and ask Jesus to leave their area. The individual Jesus healed begged to accompany Jesus on his travels, but Jesus says no, as you were content to be by my side after I healed you, and were so frightened of me just before I healed you, remember that contentment and go spread the word of the peace that you feel having been healed.

It must have been a hard life for that healed demoniac while he proclaimed the greatness of God to those who asked Jesus to leave the area. Leave because Jesus had healed those legions that had tortured this individual for so long. Hiding in the closet is like having those legions of personalities inside, never allowing the true light of who you are shine forth. But God made us all, just as we are: gay, lesbian, straight, bi, transgendered. As hard as being ourselves can be, we must always be who we are, as God made us. To do otherwise is living a lie and not giving the gift that is ourselves to the world.

Is this still dangerous? It shouldn't be, but yes it is. We need look no further than today's New York Times and see a candidate for governor of that great state expressing neanderthal-like ideas in regard to sexuality. Just as Jesus healed and affirmed and supported those he healed allowing their true selves to truly shine, we need to support and encourage and love those who are coming out, who have come out, and tell the world that God loves all of us, in all of our wild diversity. And in the same breath, and by our example, tell those who profit from bigotry and hatred that they must stop.

A small step in fighting bigotry and hatred is not accepting the use of terms like "alternate lifestyle choice" for people who are gay. These types of derogatory terms should never be acquiesced to: I do not live alternate to my fellow humans, nor is my sexuality a "lifestyle", nor is it a choice. I am quite simply, a human being who God made gay. This is just a fact.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo courtesy of ("borrowed from") The Louie Stewart Collection.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Emanating Light

Psalms 137:1-6(7-9); 144 * 104; Micah 5:1-4,10-15; Acts 25:13-27; Luke 8:16-25

We have a huge amount of information thrown at us this morning by Luke. First we have Jesus saying that our light should not and cannot be hid, followed by his saying that nothing will stay secret and that we need to listen carefully for more will be given to us, but woe unto those who think they have some things for even those things will be taken away. His Mom and siblings show up, and he diss-es them. And then Jesus takes the disciples on a boat ride in a storm and he calms the raging seas and criticizes his companions lack of faith. Kind of information overload today, like a large dog charging you on an empty beach with her forgetting that she isn't a tiny puppy anymore.

We need to remember that yesterday Jesus told the parable of the seed falling on four different kinds of ground and saying to his disciples that they are the repositories of the secrets. Followed today with his saying that secrets are not going to remain hidden. There is a seeming contradiction in those verses. With the plethora of information dumped on us this morning, this issue of a shining light and revealed secrets is the one that tweaks my curiosity.

I was raised being told not to draw attention to myself. I know I was told other things contradictory to that as well, but for whatever reason, that message of keeping attention off of me took root and has informed a great deal of my interactions with the world. I am a lawyer by training and practice and a priest by choice and training and calling. Both of these professions run counter to that informed root of how I operate in the world. Contradictions abound this morning. I have been fairly successful in both of these areas (with the usual highs and lows associated with any career choice or job). And yet, I have never tried, or liked, to put myself on stage, front and center. I have always made my focus the message, letting the light from the message be the thing that shines. Allowing the argument in regard to the law be the shiny object of attention; letting God's holy word shine through my attempts at explaining them. Look at this, not me...... look over there. And I think this is one of the things Jesus is pointing us toward today: the light of God's love for us is going to shine and our attempts to hide it will not succeed.

I firmly believe that light will shine, and our efforts to fuel the light are always welcomed and encouraged. Our efforts are about that fueling, not about our own ego.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Four Types

Psalms 140, 142 * 141, 143:1-11(12); Micah 3:9-4:5; Acts 24:24-25:32; Luke 8:1-15

Jesus gives four examples of how people receive God's Word that he is proclaiming. He uses the metaphor of seeds landing on different kinds of ground: a trampled path, on rock, within thorns, and in good soil. This parable can be read, and has been read, to indicate that when we fall into one of these four categories, there we are stuck. Our faith is either trampled on and eaten by birds, or withered up on rocky ground, or starting to grow and then chocked by the world, or taken root and growing in good soil. This seems a bit too fatalistic and pre-destination minded for me.

I think one of the things Jesus is saying is that when we are spreading God's love, we ned to expect one of these four metaphors to take place during our efforts, and to not be discouraged that all the seeds we throw do not immediately take root. I also think Jesus is saying, not that we are stuck in one of those four categories for all time, but that there are options for us, always. That, yes, seeds are fragile and take care to root appropriately, but that we are given endless opportunities to be that good soil. And being that good soil we can stand up to those lean and draught-filled times that come to all of us. I believe this Gospel can be read to exemplify the transitive nature of all our spiritual journeys, for we are never finished being formed and growing into God's image.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Half Full, or Half Empty

Psalms 119:145-176 * 128, 129, 130; Micah 2:1-13; Acts 23:23-35; Luke 7:18-35

In Luke today, John the Baptist sends some of his lackeys to find out if Jesus is the real deal or not. And Jesus is quite pastoral to John, for after he provides that beautiful poetry of:
Tell what you have seen and heard:
the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk,
the lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
the poor have good news brought to them,
Jesus then tells John's followers that no one should take offense at him. Jesus is reaching out to John saying, good job cousin, now it is my turn. You cleared the path for my walking.

And then Jesus turns to those who doubt and question and scolds them for criticizing John for his asceticism and in turn criticizing him (Jesus) for associating with tax collectors, prostitutes and eating and drinking at the homes of those thought unworthy. Which is it? Jesus asks.

Jesus is pointing to a common human endeavor: that of criticizing for the sake of criticizing and thereby bolstering our own position, no matter what the facts are in front of us. Today's Gospel account is a small part of the larger picture Jesus is painting of what the kingdom he is creating can and will be like. Where the glass is always half full, where there is plenty for all....

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Self-Care

Psalms 106 1-18 * 106:19-48; Hosea 14:1-9; Acts 22:30-23:11; Luke 6:39-49

Jesus just dumps metaphor upon metaphor on us today: blind stumbling along behind blind; specks and logs in eyes; good and unhealthy trees and their respective fruits (or lack thereof). And he throws in an example of the person who "gets" his message, imaging a person who builds a home on good and deep foundations, as opposed to the person who does not listen whose house falls over in the floods because of inappropriate footings.

Jesus is driving us to understand that we need to start somewhere personal, deep within us, in order to "get" his message, his teachings, his lessons. We need to be able to care for ourselves and understand our own short-comings, and work on those before we can reach out and say to others: do this! This does not mean we need to be perfect and solve and completely annihilate all of our faults. We need to be able to understand them though, and be able to not let those weaknesses be empowered to instruct how we act.

One of the ways Jesus models for us to help us do this digging (not so much today, but in other areas recently read in Luke), is that Jesus goes for quiet time, he does things that help refresh his spirit, he prays, he opens himself to God's Spirit, and he uses the gifts God imbued into his being. Take a walk today, pray. Take 45 minutes or an hour and delve into that favorite hobby that sits packed away in a closet or dumped in a corner: play the guitar, paint, sew, knit, crochet, exercise, write. Do something that helps center you, so that you can set fresh eyes on yourself, understand yourself so that care for others is based on Jesus' precepts and not our misconceptions.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

19th Sunday After Pentecost

Preached at St. Thomas' Parish, 10/3/10 (Luke 17:5-10)


e have two interlocking triangles given to us in today’s Gospel reading: one on Discipleship and one on Faith. The three sides of the discipleship triangle are: faithfulness, forgiveness and humility. The three sides of the faith triangle are: (faith through) learning, (faith that is) handed down, and the last is (faith) given by grace. (For those of you who are graphically oriented, I just painted a Star of David with my hands.)

This parable of the servant who serves without reward is probably not a favorite of any of us. This seems like a harsh parable, but we must remember that Luke is utilizing one of his favorite motifs: that of the master and the slave. It was the custom of that time and place (perhaps not so different from today) to use strong and vivid language to drive a point home. Certainly the first part of the Gospel reading with the apostles asking to have their faith increased results in Jesus being quite imaginative in his choice of metaphor.

To understand why the apostles ask for more faith, we need to know what happened just before today’s Gospel selection. Jesus had been asked how often someone must be forgiven and Jesus replies that if someone sins against someone seven times in a day, that person must be forgiven seven times. The apostles see this as impossible and, that is where our Gospel selection kicks off with their asking for more faith to allow them to follow this instruction about forgiveness. Jesus lambasts them by saying if they had the smallest amount of faith they could uproot one of the largest trees in the area and transplant that tree where it does not seem to belong. This is not a miracle story that Jesus is telling when he talks about moving a mulberry tree. Jesus is saying that even with the smallest amount of faith, anyone can live as a disciple and follow his teachings. Jesus is leading the apostles, and us, to understand through the use of the mustard seed and mulberry tree, that things that appear to be impossible are not when faith is involved. Jesus is saying that we cannot have the mindset of “this is impossible”, but instead “this is what must be done”.

At first the parable of the servant who should seek no reward might seem disjointed from the mustard seed/mulberry tree metaphor just preceding, but there is a strong connection. We are not talking about politeness here or social obligations and expectations as we might understand them. Jesus is telling the apostles, and us, that we need to refocus away from wanting recognition for that which we are charged to do by being his follower. Jesus needs us to understand that we are gifted God’s grace as a part of doing the work of building the kingdom and that should be thanks enough. Simply put, this is what we do… like the servant to the master, no thanks are needed. We are doing our best, doing the things we agreed to do when we signed up to be part of this kingdom, and thanks and recognition do not need to be part of the equation, Jesus is saying. We should not confuse giving thanks when it is appropriate and expecting thanks. Expectations and the giving are two separate things.

We are robbed a bit from the punch of this parable by not being given the verse directly following our Gospel selection, for Luke tells us after the verse “we have done only what we ought to have done!”, Luke says “He (Jesus) was on his way to Jerusalem.” Jesus knows what his duty is, where his faithfulness lies, what faces him as he approaches that Holy City, and what lies beyond. Think about the impossibility of the Cross and of the Resurrection….. Faith makes sustaining self during our times of Cross-bearing possible…… Faith makes Resurrection moments happen for us, even in those darkest and impossible seeming hours.

This is all possible through our integrating into our lives that faith triangle: a faith we have learned from others and our experience. Faith that has been handed down to us from the saints and that cloud of witnesses that surrounds us at all times: a faith that is undergirded by God’s grace. And those three things enable us to enter discipleship with a faithfulness that allows and fosters forgiveness. A faithfulness that brings with it an understanding of a humility we must adopt. A humility that allows us to stand firmly in the face of self-righteousness and false spirituality that is fueled by a lack of faithfulness, a lack of forgiveness and a lack of humility.

The apostles were struggling with forgiveness in today’s Gospel, stirring Jesus to push them hard. Their struggle is so very human: to not want to forgive, to hold a grudge, to get even, to seek retribution or punishment against those who have transgressed against us. We can lose ourselves so very easily if we do not forgive, if we forget the humility necessary to embrace those who have done us wrong. Think about how often God forgives our transgressions. But that is God, we can say, we can’t do that! …. Not true. Jesus is pointing us to a compassionate, generous, constant God who we must try and mimic. Anything less takes us away from the discipleship Jesus is talking about today. Anything less drives a wedge between faith and ourselves, a faith that actually is burgeoning within each of us.

Think on that mustard seed/mulberry tree metaphor Jesus throws at the apostles. Perhaps the apostles are like that mulberry tree, uprooted by faith and placed in the sea, in completely unfamiliar territory, a place where they do not seem to belong. That is what discipleship is like for these apostles, God has uprooted them and placed them somewhere they do not seem to fit, asked to do things they believe to be impossible, and being human, wanting recognition for what they have done.

Our Gospel is pointing us toward reflecting on how we react when we are placed somewhere unfamiliar, uprooted from what we know. For as Christians we are meant to stick out like…. stick out like a mulberry tree planted in the sea. Isn’t that what forgiveness is like in a world that so often lacks the grace to follow this instruction by Jesus?

Jesus is telling us that faith is the greatest force available in the world, and that force is right there for us to grab a hold of. Part of that faithful force is the realization that as we approach those seemingly impossible tasks, we are not approaching them alone, for God is truly there with us….faithfully there with us….forgiving us and gifting us this faith that grace and imbue all of our interactions and existence.

But how do we find the strength to forgive, or the faith to understand in the face of the tragedy of four teen suicides because of the abuse of bullying….As with so many things in life, there is a balance needed here….Jesus was no milk-toast (nor a limp willy) when it came to confronting misdeeds, sin and injustice. And remember that the forgiveness instruction tha apostles weree struggling with today, and Jesus’ 7 times 7 instruction….this was based on the individuals repenting, asking for forgiveness: this is not given automatically. And that is where we can start to find the strength to forgive and the faith to understand because there is room here for action. This tragedy of teen suicides because of the abuse of bullying brought on because those teens found themselves sticking out like a mulberry tree transplanted into a sea bed begs for our action. That bullying that is sweeping our culture at the present time is based in a self-righteousness and a false spirituality fueled by a lack of faithfulness, a lack of humility, a lack of an ability to forgive….. At every opportunity, we are called, as Christians, to stand up to bullies, whoever they are, whomever they are abusing and say: Stop. Shut Up. We, as individuals and as a corporate body, need to reach out and protect those who feel lost and see no way out, and show them there is one: more than one way out. Show them that there is a place for them where they are accepted and loved for who they are and how God made them. We need to do whatever is necessary to say this kind of behavior is anathema in our society. This behavior is certainly a sin that inhibits the creation of the kingdom Jesus is calling us to form.

So our Gospel selection today is framed by: forgiveness and Jesus heading toward Jerusalem. In the middle of that frame is Jesus instructing his apostles, and us, on faith and discipleship. Wouldn’t it be lovely for us to open our eyes and realize that through this gift of faith given us by grace, no matter how tiny we may believe that faith is within us, we have been uprooted, placed in unfamiliar territory and are joyfully able to stick out, be different….and look at the wondrous works of God, and bring that joy to those who have yet to experience that loving, generous and constant God? That is what Jesus is asking us to incorporate in our lives. This is possible (not impossible) with those two interlocking triangles of discipleship and faith being integrated into our lives….faithfulness, forgiveness, humility, learned faith, faith that is handed down, faith that is given by grace…..all guiding us, supporting us and making us whole.


Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved