Monday, May 16, 2011

More on Abundance

We all desire (perhaps are in want of) being "understood." Yesterday, I preached from John 10: 1-10 about the profundity and depth of knowing and believing in Jesus' love. What was most amazing about that sermon and Eucharist that I spent with the amazing people of St. George's was that it was just a slice of holiness that was placed in between a number of other sacramentally sacred moments over the course of 50 hours or thereabouts.

The sacred space and time began with the arrival of my companion - a man that has loved me and been a blessing to me for more than six years now. His wisdom and encouragement were instrumental in making the remainder of the weekend so special for me and for others. We dined at Trinity and The Pope, and celebrated the end of the academic year for him. We got massages later on in the weekend as a means for reducing some stress from the tensions that ministry and teaching often bring. Here's a "shout out" for Maria Friedman. It's amazing what a skilled massage therapist can do when she or he knows who you are and how your body works.

I then had the great joy of presiding @ John and Cate's wedding. They are a terrific couple. I have a special place in my heart for them and Cate's parents. Her dad is my friend and has been a helpful adviser as well. John and Cate's vows have a great chance of bearing delicious fruit because of their obvious love and care for one another, Christ's love for them, and the support of their families and friends.

Familial and friendly compassion: such love was extremely manifest and present at yesterday's confirmation service at St. James Episcopal Church in Long Branch. I was pleased to present 14 of our parish's young people and 1 mature adult for confirmation and reception as Episcopalians. I was blessed to places hands on each of their shoulders as +George confirmed them. He asked them if they were "signing up for Jesus." The music was beautiful; the setting, sacred. "What a perfect day!!" as once parent said.

What followed though was expecially tender and touching as +George and I went to the home of another confirmand. We went to the home because this young man's father is dying. We were greated by the young man and his mother. We confirmed him in the presence of his uncle who is his mentor, his father and mother, and more than 25 other family members and friends. We broke bread and drank wine. We laid hands on, and prayed for a loving parent who is leaving this life too soon. There was laughter, there were tears. There were words, there was silence. There was space and grace to be understood. John writes: "From the fullness of Christ's grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16) Such grace was constantly present all weekend long. My MasterCard was helpful for some of it. Jesus the Christ's love embraced every single moment of the weekend. I'm thankful and humbled to be held and cared for by such a God as well as by Christ's people who surround me and love God and me.

Thich Nhat Hahn writes: "People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes. All is a miracle." He is correct but there's more to it than that when Christ enters into the suffering, celebration, and sharing of understanding of our lives to one another and to God. There's a deeper and more intense sense of mortal life's limitations but everlasting hope in Christ's presence as the Good Shepherd and the door that Christians come and go through in this life and the lives to come. It's a blessing to believe that Jesus the Christ knows each of us and gives us the freedom to be more vulnerable and thoughtful towards one another. It's a unbelievable gift to be a priest and to participate in and observe God's love in times such as these I lived into over the past few days. Such abundance is undeserved but awesome to behold.

Blessings Along The Way,

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