Saturday, April 17, 2010

Meeting Desmond Tutu

Spent a wonderful Saturday, April 17th in Hartford at the Ordination & Consecration of the 15th Diocesan Bishop of Connecticut - Ian Douglas. Also, met a new "friend" along the way, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter 2 - Unlocking the Doors

When I was at The General Seminary in Chelsea,
Cheri and I moved into what the Seminary called
a second floor two bedroom apartment.
Today, I would call it more like a hallway with two closets…
it was small and loud.

But one of the things,
which still stands out to me about that building
was the front door entrance.

Now granted we were coming from a small town
in the deep south,
but I remember that door had several locks on it.
And I wondered why we would need so many.

I discovered that the benefit was mostly emotional.
Because I after unloading the moving van,
and picking up dinner at Frankie’s corner deli,
I was just about to our building
when I suddenly realized three men
were walking very fast
and coming up right behind me.

I stepped up my pace a bit and hurried up the steps
to put my key in the door…
finally opening the door I rushed inside
and just as it “clicked” shut behind me,
I suddenly felt safe again
and there was a calm hush of peace.

I think of that door and that feeling of protection
when I listen to people describe how they cope with their fears.

Because, in a way,
some of us can keep our hearts behind a huge door, full of locks…
when something or someone makes us afraid.

If someone tries to get in before they’re invited,
especially if that heart has been hurt before,
then we hear that "click" of the lock again.

Well, on the night of that first Easter,
the disciples were huddled together behind a locked door.
But, I often wonder what they were really afraid of?

Somehow, I don’t think
they were only worried about those who had killed Jesus.
Their fear must have been even deeper.

Maybe they didn’t want to deal with the scorn
of those who knew they had failed to protect Jesus.
In spite of all their earlier boldness,
they were now afraid of the cross.
Ashamed of his death.

Maybe like the disciples,
we too can try to hide
when we’re ashamed.

We keep our hearts locked up tightly
because we know the truth about ourselves…
and the truth is that we are really NOT what we want to be,
or even what we pretend to be.

In fact, Garrison Keillor –
who rarely has time for hypocrites, once said..
"We always have a backstage view of ourselves.
We let the audience see only the neatly arranged stage.
But behind the curtain all kinds of things are lying around…”

Very often here in Greenwich…
the beautiful manicured lawns and tall stone walls
are not big enough to protect us from pain and fear.

I am sure there are many failures,
guilt and shame to go around for all of us.

Trouble is American media like People magazine tells us,
that we are living in a shameless society…
where post-modern people are no longer bothered by shame.

Well, what the heck is going on with
Tkki Barber, Jesse James,
Tiger Woods and his disgusting Nike ad last week.

Well, I refuse to allow this culture
to define American moral and ethical standards…
I believe every human being at some deep level
is bothered by something.
In fact, if allowed…
it can plague our souls.
I know it does mine…

Psychologists say that shame sweeps over us
when we overstep our abilities,
or when our fantasy about who we would like to be
encounters the backstage reality
of who we REALY are.

Nothing is more crippling than working at hiding shame.
We lock up more and more doors,
sealing off more and more rooms of the heart
to prevent our true selves from being discovered.

This moves us right into the heart of today’s message…
Jesus Christ comes looking for us.
And, according to John’s text,
he walks right through the locked door to find us.

Jesus shows us his wounds from the cross,
which are the marks of our forgiveness.
Then he says, "Peace be with you."
We are forgiven,
loved and now set free…

The word Forgiveness actually means "to free up" or "to let go."

But not freedom to continue making bad choices,
but freedom to accept Christ as the ONLY means
to lasting change and healing of heart.

No question, everyone at some point makes bad choices…
count me in that group!

But, I like these words from Lewis Smedes,
"When you forgive…you set a prisoner free.
And then somehow you discover, that that prisoner was really you."

What this means is we disciples
are not called to produce forgiveness by ourselves.

We are simply called to open the locks,
throw open the doors,
and walk with Boldness and Peace
into the warm Light
of the Resurrected Christ.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Vigil 2010 - Thin Slicing

Have you ever heard of the term….
“Thin Slicing?”

And I am not talking about a beautiful birthday cake…
or a nice piece of Apple pie.
This is an idea or concept.

Well, if you are a fan of the Canadian journalist
Malcolm Gladwell,
like I am,
you might remember Gladwell introduced this term
a few years back in his book called,

makes the claim
that quick decisions
based on narrow slices of experience
are actually more effective…
than decisions based on
long term process thought and consideration.

Now, my apologies here go out to those of you
who do consulting for a living,

I actually believe Gladwell is on to something.
When he says,
snap decisions made “in the blink of an eye”--
can reveal…“everlasting Truth.”

At least, according to Gladwell,
for some individuals
first impressions, gut feelings and knee-jerk reactions
are often, quite reliable.

To prove his point, he packs this book with,
great examples such as when
Art Historians can spot a fake in a second;

Marriage counselors will know, within minutes
after a couple walks into their office,
whether or not
they will make it past five years.

A tennis coach who can tell when a player
is about to double-fault.

It’s all about “thin-slicing,” he says…
that is, developing the skill to notice,
in a split-second,
by a certain look,
or a tilt of the head,
what is going to happen.

To break it all down,
a “snap judgment”
is usually “right-on-the-money.”

We can trust our instincts…
it’s ok to “go with that gut feeling.”

So on this most Holy Night…
and in this Ancient Easter Vigil liturgy,
what does your gut tell you about
believing in the power of Resurrected Christ?
Certainly, there are many in popular culture today
who make a living trying their very best to debunk
the Resurrection of Jesus.

Well, if you are wondering about this, too…
you would be been in the same boat
with some of those early disciples, long ago
who failed to notice the ultimate thin slice,
on that early Easter Sunday morning.

fortunately for us,
there was still one person left,
who trusted her gut that morning,
when she woke up.

Mary Magdalene.

She knew deep down in her heart,
that Jesus would never leave her.
She got up that morning
and walked out to the tomb one more time.

And there in just a split-second she encountered
the glory of the Risen Christ
and, in the blink of an eye,
she knew her life and the life of all the disciples --
that is you and me --
would never be the same again.

Mary Magdalene trusted her gut feeling,
that the God of Abraham who loved her into creation,
would never abandon her to the darkness of death.
None of us here tonight
have set our eyes on the Risen Christ just yet
as Mary Magdalene did or Peter, John, or Thomas.

But when it comes to what we truly believe,
about Christ and our life after death…
what does your “gut-reaction” tell you?

The poet Gerard Manly Hopkins said,
the risen and glorified Christ presence,
“plays in a thousand places,”
in Extraordinary experiences,
in Ordinary friends
and in all the “thin slices” in between.

There are many sure signs of the Resurrection
“slicing” their way into our life today…
in things we see, hear and touch…

They are found in the child we hold,
or the feel of a canoe paddle moving through clear water…
we can come to trust what we see and feel.

But Faith is a funny thing, isn’t it?
It is not always easy.
For me, faith is really about taking that leap…
going with my gut,
even when my head tells me something else.

The Holy Spirit can show us the way…
to those thin slices revealing the TRUTH

And the truth is –
Jesus Christ has been Risen from the Dead…
He is Alive…
and in the blink of an eye,
we are all set free forever!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen,
The Lord is Risen, indeed.