Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Bruised and Beaten Church?

In his document "The Joy of the Gospel", Pope Francis has this to say in one section "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security." (49)
Wow, that is quite a statement! Sometimes, in our desire to "go to Church" and pray and worship with others, we forget our duty to be out on the streets with the Joy of the Gospel. We were talking about this very statement at our staff meeting this morning when our Youth Minister said it reminded her of our ministry to kids at the Detention Center. She and I go there and encounter many bruised, beaten and hurting teenagers. They are in the grips of addiction, abandonment and despair and we do our best to bring the Joy of the Gospel to them. But, quite frankly, we often leave feeling bruised and beaten and hurting ourselves.
In your life as a Christian, when do you take on the pain of the needy to the point of feeling bruised and beaten. You don't have to look far in any direction to see people who are in great need. They need a friend, they need a meal, they need a place to stay, they need the Joy of the Gospel - in other words, they need YOU.
It's still Lent. I hope you are still living out the call to increase prayer, to fast from attachments, and to give alms generously. This is the discipline that will open your eyes to those in need. Between now and Easter I exhort you to take a chance. Find just one person who is bruised and beaten in their own life and step into that pain with them. You can be the agent of joy, hope and love they need. You can  be the answer to their prayers - if you choose to be.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Why is it so hard (sometimes) to quench a thirst? In my life I have been very thirsty many times and I imagine you have, too. When I was a young and playing baseball, football and running around the neighborhood constantly, taking care of the thirst was easy - get a drink of water. As I grew older I developed a bad habit of drinking Pepsi, Coke and then later on the diet versions of both. The problem was this - they did not quench my thirst. I would drink several cans per day and always had the feeling that I needed more. The problem - Pepsi and Coke were not designed to quench a thirst, they were meant to taste good. In fact, the more you drink the thirstier you will get because your body uses it's reserve "water" to process the elements in the soda pop.
This is true of the desires (or thirsts) of the human heart, too. Oftentimes in my own life I have felt a strong desire for love - God's love - but I tried to quench that thirst with more TV, more money, more stuff, more, more, more. Of course, none of it ever worked. I work with teens at the local detention center and find that is true in many of their lives. They strongly desired to be loved by a parent and when they don't get it they do all sorts of crazy things to fill that urge. Sex, drugs, video games, violence, bullying, and self harm are just a few of the substitutes these young adults use to fill the void they feel in their heart.
In John's Gospel, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well and tells her that if she "drinks the water that He gives" she will NEVER be thirsty again. WOW! What a declaration. In essence, Jesus is saying "Come to me and receive EXACTLY what your heart is looking for. Stop trying to fill the voids in your life with the 'stuff of earth'".
So, what it is it that you are thirsty for? What do you most desire in life. For many it is love, peace, justice, joy, freedom and the like. Do you think you can find them from your own efforts, from others, or from the government? True love comes from only ONE person and that person is Jesus Christ. In John's First Letter he tells his followers that "God is love". It only follows that if you want love in your life you must unite yourself to the source of that love and watch peace, freedom, joy and justice follow right along.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Can you have "it" both ways???

I just read an article on NBC News online regarding an interesting situation in New Mexico. It seems that Governor Susana Martinez has been opposed to legislation or policies that would allow for same-sex marriage in New Mexico. Recently, her aide called hair-stylist Antonio Darden to schedule an appointment for the Governor. Darden refused stating that he disagreed with her stance on the issue of same-sex marriage. The staffer called again the next day to see if Darden had changed his mind and was told "no".
I find this interesting because the Governor did not take out a lawsuit against Darden for refusing her service based on her views - she simply went to a different hairdresser. There have been many articles lately about lawsuits filed against photographers, bakers and caterers who have refused business to same-sex couples. Does this seem hypocritical to you? Should the proponents of same-sex marriage be able have "it" both ways by refusing service to those who disagree with them but insisting on service from those whose stances differ from theirs?
You can read the entire NBC article by clicking here.
Please comment and let me know what you think.