Saturday, March 17, 2018

3/18/18 - 5th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Scripture Readings

Each one of us will fall to the ground and die one day. Last Saturday night, I thought it was my turn. I thought I was dying.

Whatever was happening to me was mimicking a heart attack and respiratory failure. My heart was racing and I couldn’t breath. It really felt like the end.

The gospel speaks about a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying. What do we do with that? Whoever loves his life loses it. I love my life and I wasn’t ready to lose it.

Whoever hates his life preserves it for eternal life. I don’t hate my life. It’s not perfect. Who’s is? I don’t want to lose my life just yet.

We get to where it seems that this gospel just doesn’t make any sense. So what do we do? Let’s read on. Jesus is using imagery to try to make a point. If we read on we increase the likelihood of finding the point.

Jesus goes on to say, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” That’s it, right there! Follow Jesus.

If last Saturday night was a near death experience, my doctor is not sure that it was, but I certainly felt like it was the end. I mean, I called 911. But I’m gonna tell you there wasn’t some great white light.

And I spoke to another priest who recently had a heart attack and he reported the same thing.

There seemed to be some battle between choosing good and choosing evil. And while the good was obviously the right choice, I must admit that the evil presented itself in a way that was very tempting.

Now, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know from your own experiences.

Whoever serves me must follow me, Where I am, there also will my servant be. To choose the good, we have to be willing to follow. And in following, the key word is serves. Whoever serves me is following me. How do we serve Jesus? How do you serve Jesus? How do I serve Jesus?

What disinterested service do we do for Jesus, in his name or on his behalf? It must be disinterested service because we are doing it for Jesus. We are not interested in getting anything in return, except grace.

What do we do to show that we are followers of the Lord? What? It has to be something. I have to be able to say this is what I am doing to better serve Jesus, this is what I am doing to better follow Jesus.

Otherwise, when the time comes there might not be some great white light.

I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? God save me. Then a voice from heaven came. I have saved you and I will save you again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Message from Father Rusty P. Richard

First, let me thank all of you for so many heartfelt prayers,kind thoughts and expressions of support and affection during my recent health concern.   I appreciate that more than I can ever express.

Fortunately, my concerns over this past weekend proved to be the result of some medication interactions rather than any issues relating to my heart.  But, as we all have experienced in our lives, it’s best to err on the side of caution. My weekend hospital visit and subsequent tests were all shown to be negative in terms of any physical condition related to my heart and all pointed to a medication interaction.   

I am now back home resting after being discharged and will return to my full duties very shortly. 

Life is often full of surprises and challenges, and while this one certainly got my attention, it is comforting to know that it wasn’t a matter of the heart. It is also comforting to have had the support of so many.  To me that made such a great difference.

God bless you all and again, thank you.

Rusty P. Richard, Pastor

Saturday, March 10, 2018

3/11/18 - 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Scripture Readings

Most of us get lost in the darkness at some point in our lives. Yes? Some of us for longer periods than others.

The priest who really doesn’t want to be a priest anymore because the church has changed and doesn’t seem as welcoming or relevant or spirit-filled as it used to. He’s unhappy but still effective in ministry and really too old to leave and do something else. 

The woman whose husband wakes up one morning and says, “I’m not the man you married. I’m not the man you think I am.” She feels for her husband but just can’t bring herself to accept what is happening and doesn’t want to start over.

The young man whose wife says after five years of marriage, “I don’t love you. I’m over you. I don’t care about you anymore.” He’s trying to make it work but she’s not giving anything at all.

The person who gets the medical diagnosis and knows that the future hold surgery after surgery after surgery with no hope of improvement.

You can add your own story of darkness. Anger. Illness. Mental illness. Despair. Grief. Addiction.

Without light, we stumble around in the dark. Without light, the darkness overcomes, overwhelms, frightens.

The light overcomes the darkness. The light helps us find our way. We have reached the midpoint of lent and maybe we are still wandering about in the darkness.

Being at the midpoint means we still have a chance to turn things around. Are we going to allow ourselves to be filled with fear and dread or are we going to be hopeful?

Jesus always gives us another chance to turn things around.

Jesus is the light that helps us find our way. We should not prefer the darkness. But sometimes we do. Rather, we should seek the light and the truth.

Saint Paul tells us God is rich in mercy. God doesn’t want us stumbling around in the dark. God wants to rescue us. That’s why God sent his son Jesus: to be a light in the darkness, to rescue us from our sins, to bring us to the truth.

Are we open to God rescuing us? Are we open to Jesus, the light, showing us the truth? Are we open to Jesus, the light, showing us the way?

We all get lost in the darkness from time to time. But because of the great love God has for us, we are brought to new life in Jesus Christ. We are saved. We are rescued from the darkness. We are brought into the light. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

3/4/18 - 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

Scripture Readings

Because we had such a harsh winter, I’ve heard folks saying, “I need to get out into my yard and see what survived.” Some things will have to be uprooted and thrown out. New flowers, trees and shrubs will have to be planted. 

Flower beds need to be cleaned out. What survived needs to be pruned and fertilized. That way, everything will bloom with new life in the coming months.

Many of our homes could probably use a good spring cleaning as well. We can, without even realizing it, accumulate lots of clutter over the years. 

For example, I have an old collection of VHS tapes. I don’t know why I keep them. The tapes are probably dry rotted and the player is getting old too. The movie library could easily be replaced with DVDs.

We have a tendency to hoard things because we think there is a chance we might use them again. Believe it or not, we do that with stuff here at the church too. 

I can’t tell you how many dumpsters I’ve filled in my seven years here with stuff that’s outdated, stuff that’s gone bad, stuff that we will never use again.

If we haven’t used something since I’ve been here, it’s unlikely that we will ever use it again.

And while our yards and our homes could use some sprucing up, it would be sad if we stopped there.

Jesus cleanses the temple because, over the years, it had become more of a marketplace and less a place of prayer. This cleansing of the temple is an opportunity to look at our lives during this lent and do some good Spring cleaning.

There are some cobwebs in our hearts and some accumulated clutter that doesn’t belong, some bad habits, some sins, some hurts, some grudges, some prejudices, some selfishness.

If we do a good Spring cleaning, our bad habits can give way to new habits, habits that will help us grow closer to God and one another.

If we do a good Spring cleaning, our sins give way to virtues. We could pick one sin and identify the accompanying virtue. Then we could work on that one virtue this lent. Progress not perfection.

Selfishness gives way to generosity. Pride gives way to humility. Anger gives way to peace. Grudges give way to kindness. Prejudices give way to understanding and acceptance. Hurts give way to healing.

You get the idea? One sin giving way to one virtue.

Let us pledge here and now to undertake a good Spring cleaning of the temples of our hearts. Why? So that Jesus doesn’t have to do this for us. Look at what happened in the temple.