Friday, January 22, 2010

Mystery of Evil


When something like Haiti's earthquake happens we are faced with the mystery of a good and all-powerful God who lets such evil happen. A Haitian woman said, "God, you are the one who gave me life. Why are we suffering?" A Haitian reporter said, "If God exists, he's really got it in for Haiti." A 28 year old computer expert said, "It may seem like a strange moment to have faith, but you can't blame God. I blame man. God gave us nature and we Haitians, and our governments, abused the land. You cannot get away without consequences."
This young man's response is helpful, but there is no completely satisfying answer. In the Old Testament Job tried to make sense of suffering and failed. God seems to tell him that it's beyond his understanding. In the New Testament the Cross can help us get some inkling of understanding. God lets his own Son die on the cross and then brings good out of it for Jesus and for all of us. Somehow all the suffering we and the people of Haiti endure is bound up with the dying and rising of Jesus.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Marginal


I noticed this snowman this morning shrunken and aged by the recent above freezing days. His scarf now a hood and shawl. Off by himself, forgotten.
I've been reflecting on Luke's account of Jesus' first sermon (4:16-21.) He sets the tone for his ministry with a quote from Isaiah that begins: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor."
In a comment the New Interpreter's Study Bible says, "Within Luke's world, 'the poor' are understood best as 'the marginal,' as those excluded from social and religious intercourse because of any number or combination of factors, such as those related to gender, age, economic destitution, physical malady, or religious impurity." Jesus devoted himself to them throughout his ministry.
I think of all those we push to the edge of our society because of illness or age or poverty or sexual orientation or race or ethnic background. Good news! you can't take communion with us! Good news! you can't stay in our country! Good news! you are not welcome in our gathering!
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010



An extravagant splash of summer color to make a dreary winter day splendid and to aid reflection on Jesus' extravagant miracle at Cana. Jesus changes about 150 gallons of water into wine during a seven day wedding celebration after the guests have "drunk fully." John doesn't say which day this happens. No matter! That's a lot of wine. I am moved that God enters so fully into our human condition in Jesus. He wants the guests to continue celebrating. He also wants to save the host embarassment and to please his mother. Jesus is not healing the sick or raising the dead. His first miracle is worked out of concern for a simple human situation. He manifests his divinity and his disciples begin to believe that this man is also God.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King


God has blessed our country in Martin Luther King. He not only helped us to see the evil of racism but gave us a tool to defeat it: non-violent resistance. We still have far to go to achieve his dream of racial equality, but we have come a long way from the days I experienced when restaurants prominently displayed the sign "We reserve the right to serve whomever we please" and black people were segregated in a special section of a theater, if they were allowed in at all, and no property where I live could be sold to blacks.
One of his quotes that has helped me think about the Cross as well as the tool of non-violent resistance is:
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love
will have the final word in reality.
That is why right, temporarily defeated,
is stronger than evil triumphant."
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunny Sunday


I came out of church Sunday morning and saw this scene as I was approaching my car. The snow is covering an old coal bank that has managed to grow some trees since I went to school here. The school building and the convent would be in this picture if they hadn't been torn down years ago. It got me thinking of the sisters who had such a strong influence on my young mind and my developing faith. And of the games we used to play on the hill, some of them pretty cruel.
What struck me most, however, and held me for a few minutes, was the contrast of the snow and the blue, blue sky
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Seize the Moment


Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day) Don't miss an opportunity! When it comes to taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets I don't usually get more than a moment. I can't procrastinate - my usual mode of operation. This morning's color didn't last a minute, but it took me out of myself.
I did my whole walk this morning, about two miles. 12 degrees but no wind. For the past two weeks or so I have walked only the mile with no houses, just woods on both sides of the road because it was either very cold or very slippery. Today as I started back home I thanked God that I lived here and that I loved this weather so much, not just the beauty of the snow, but the crisp cold.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A White Epiphany


This is the ancient date of Epiphany when the Roman Church celebrated the visit of the Magi. I wonder if the desert sands were more daunting than Garrett snow. I took this picture this morning about 10:30 to try to capture what the road looked like before the plow came and to record my shoveling efforts. We probably had about five inches then and it has snowed all day and is still snowing. I guess the Magi show us that anything worthwhile required some effort.
Last night was Twelfth Night (of the Twelve Days of Christmas) after which Shakespeare named his play.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Epiphany 2010


The "phan" in Epiphany is from the Greek verb meaning "to show." "Epi" means "forth." A showing forth. To the Magi God shows forth Godself in the Christ child. The star shows them where the child is.
We can read about that epiphany and see pictures of the Magi adoring the Baby; but, being made the way we are, we need more. God is always present in us and in the events and things of our world, but we don't always notice. We need star signs to call our attention to God showing Godself in our world. Sunshine often does it for me, transforming this road I walk every morning into a revelation of the Divine. An extraordinary act of kindness shows God to us. Even the simple babbling of a baby. How clever of God to come as a baby!
Our part is simply to keep a sharp eye out for the many stars and epiphanies God sends us in 2010.
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