Taking Stock

Here at the tail end of hurricane season (officially Nov 30th), let me ask you…. How many of you were prepared this past season, stocking up on extra flashlights and batteries? Extra water and food? Something to charge your cell phone? Of course, forecasting is pretty good these days, we always have advanced warning, and there is time to run to the store or borrow from our neighbors. Right?  Given the scenes from the days preceding Hurricane Irma, I think that was most people’s strategy. But not all things in life are well forecast.  Some rain comes down upon us without notice. Continue reading

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Dating Advice

 

I am always somewhat bemused when folks ask me for dating advice. Is it that they see in me a font of wisdom, experience, and a treasure chest of great advice?…, yeah…OK…that passes pretty quickly. More apropos is the naval expression: “any port in a storm.” The storm of dating confusion is upon them and I happen to be the nearest port; and that’s ok. If you are a parish priest long enough, you have had this conversation hundreds of time and often you know how the different stories turns out. So, perhaps there is a wealth of advice in the stories. Continue reading

In Whose Image…

If you are old enough you will remember the 1990s-television ad campaign for Canon cameras featuring the then very young Andre Agassi. He was a brash young tennis pro sporting long hair, a head band, and was ready to take on the world. He was flashy, a media star, a great tennis player. He was hot, happening, the icon of cool. At the end of the commercial he looks into the camera – into your soul and simply says, “Image is everything.” Continue reading

Careful

In Jesus’ parable, the King has prepared the feast – all is ready, the invitations sent … and resent, and yet amazingly, people don’t come. In our reading it says that people ignored the invitation. The underlying word in Greek means to ignore in a way that is careless – or perhaps, not being sufficiently careful with treasures with which we have been charged.

Parables are meant to get you to stop and think about what you have just heard. Why would people pass up on this extraordinary invitation: it comes from a king, it involves a lavish feast for the wedding of his son. The invitation is issued several times. Who could refuse it? Who would be careless with it?  Why don’t they show up? I guess their lives were filled with other things – other than the great feast. Continue reading

Your Vineyard: sign of Hope?

Gardens are a necessity. Vineyards are a sign of abundance beyond the necessary. As terrible a gardener as I am, I can get a crop of vegetables in several weeks’ time. Not so with a vineyard. Vineyards take a long time and hard work to develop.  Try googling “starting a vineyard;” the results might surprise you.  After you buy the land (and not just any location will do), it costs $20,000 a year per acre to cultivate a vineyard, and there is no cash flow for 3 to 5 years while you wait for the grapes to be good enough for the harvest.  There is a lot of patient, intensive work and commitment.  Vegetable gardens are near-term cash crop; you can change it up every year. Vineyards are a long-term investment with one fruit produced for one’s lifetime. Continue reading

Moving Fences

In Bible Study, we are blessed to have a participant who teaches biblical Hebrew at the college and graduate level. She always brings interesting insights into the origin of Hebrew words and expressions. For example, there a root word in Hebrew that is used to form the words for “neighbor”, “friend,” and “enemy.”  Suddenly the expression, “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer” has a bit more depth – and in either case, they are neighbors. So, when Jesus responds to the questions, “…and who is my neighbor?” Then the we see the challenge – to cross over to embrace the other. That challenge is even in the very word “Hebrew” which comes from the Semitic word “a’piru” – those who cross over. Continue reading

All figured out

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isa 55:9).

This passage from the prophet Isaiah is a good thing to remember right about the time you think – “I’ve got this figured out….”  The “this” can be just about any on-going aspect of our life. Think you have high school figured out?  Being a parent or grandparent? Business? Marriage?  Relationships? Tampa Bay Bucs football? Maybe someone is so bold to think, “I have this whole God-thing figured out…”  Hmmmm? Really? Continue reading

Words spoken in Love

Words have meaning, power, and consequences. The words today are pouring in from friends and folks across the nation, via text and email, letting us know that we are in their prayers as Irma bears down on the region. Those words of prayer are powerful indeed.

I should especially mention one email we received from the pastor at Beau Sejour, our sister parish in Haiti – wishing us well and that the whole community there was praying for our safety.

It is time such as these when people’s faith and expressions of faith rise to the fore. Maybe it is the very public nature of the crisis that brings their faith to the public forum. For I am often curious about people’s attitude towards faith and religion.  I will ask them if their faith is a personal matter – and almost always the answer is “yes, of course.”  Then I will ask if their faith is a private matter… and you can see in the hesitation, you can see it in their eyes – “Didn’t he just ask me that?”  Too easily we in the West equate the “personal” with those things that are private.  But that is not Christianity.  Christianity is a faith that is quite personal – “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.” It is very personal, because it is about Jesus who loved us, each one of us, personally, individually, and held nothing back from us – not even his very life.  It’s very personal.  But it is hardly private – it communal, it is in the open, it is commanded to go the ends of the earth and “teach them all that I have commanded you.”  To get face-to-face and share the good news. Continue reading

Sinning against you: first 10 words

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.” (Matthew 18:15-17) Continue reading