Christ The Servant Church
homily month 2013
Homily for november 03, 2013
Good Morning Everyone,
It is my pleasure and my challenge today to preach on prayer. The readings for the last few weeks have been on this important theme. I want to also thank Gary for his homily last week which really inspired me to ponder the truth about prayer and miracles and God’s will for all humans. When people ask me about our little church community I tell them it is an authentic and real Christian group. I greatly appreciate how Gary shares his knowledge, wisdom, faith, humour and even his doubts and questions with us straight up. Alison and I went home discussing how difficult it is to unravel the many twists and turns of life and how God and prayer fit in with everything.
I remember at the old age of 16 years deciding to quit going to church because God didn’t answer my prayers for a fast car, money and a hot girlfriend. Fr. Frank’s in his very next homily was about the Our Father. He said “we pray for things we don’t need and when we don’t get them we say God doesn’t listen or exist. Please my dear friends pray for good things and be patient and persistent. God hears you and will provide.” It reminds me of the reading about the widow last week. Don’t give up. For that 16 year old boy though it was as if GOD herself had spoken. I thought, “Wow, God heard me say I was quitting and God provided an answer from a man I rarely understood. In fact, I share that story with my students every year and now with you 40 years later and yes I married the hot girlfriend.
When we see the sun, the moon and stars, a new born baby and the love we have for one another in our families we feel the grandeur of God and of creation beyond the shadow of a doubt. However, then life can take a turn and things start to seemingly go wrong. Someone gets sick, you lose your job or a marriage breaks up and then someone dies in a car accident or from cancer and we feel very down and alone maybe even punished.
So where does prayer and God fit into all of this. In Jesus’s parable we see a supposed holy church person who has had good things in life choose to pray in a very proud and judgemental way. It is obvious he is not to be imitated. While the poor tax collector is asking God for mercy and feeling very unworthy of God’s love or help. Why did Jesus share this parable? What am I to learn here? Let’s start with the image of God that Jesus is trying to dispel. People in Jesus’ time and still today want us to believe that God rewards the good people and favours them completely with answers to prayer and every good thing under the sun. Nothing bad will ever happen to them. The wicked people will be punished and their prayers never heard they are second class citizens whom need to get their act together and then maybe if they change their ways and repent enough God will share some good things with them. For example, Gary and John preach homilies so God will bless them more and nothing bad will ever happen to them. Wrong. My serious sickness was very difficult on me, my family and my friends. I was off work we didn’t know the cause and whether the symptoms would continue forever. Then people started to rally around and everyone prayed hard, others brought food and called Ali who needed and received much support. I want to thank all of you for your prayers for me, my family and even people you do not know. Through this we were very blessed as the recipients of your prayers. I hope you can see that when you pray for others you too receive blessings. Your great compassion and love was rewarded when I got better you celebrated with me. It is in giving that we receive. We were created for-giving. We need to forgive others and ourselves.
Personally I think God loves each and every one of us totally and completely the same. God wants every one of us to have the best life ever and we are all destined for the same place: heaven. I know this is true because I have experienced the love of you and my family. There are many paths to finding God and heaven. Some may seem to be fast tracking while others are going around in circles but does that really matter as long as we all get there. I think we complicate things and doubt our worthiness and fail at times to see hope or to feel God is with us. Jesus made it VERY clear when he healed and helped all of the “outcasts” of His society that everyone belonged to God’s family and
everyone could be granted life and miracles and the kingdom/queendom of God even on Earth but especially in Heaven.
The Truth we know is that good and bad things happen to everyone on earth. However, as in the second reading about the parable of the horse we need to wait and see whether something we deem bad or good for matter really is. God’s plan is much broader than ours. Take a moment and think of a time when you felt something was bad and you were very upset but later you saw it as good.
We can look at CtS for a real life example of this. When the Bishop ex-communicated Ed Cachia this seemed bad. It became good when hundreds of people rose up and started a new church. It was bad when Ed left the little church, because it wouldn’t survive. However, it was good when the parishioners took up leading themselves and refused to give up on their belief that CtS needed to remain. Then Rev. Kevin came to lead us and all seemed good again. He couldn’t stay. Bad again, or was it? Then Gary stepped up was ordained and we see the good has returned. Can we look back now and see that ALL of these seemingly bad and good things are all good because each one forged our community into the group of people we are today. We needed each event to help each of us to grow and become stronger in our community. God knew that we needed these twists and turns even when we didn’t. When we prayed God answered us but at times in ways we didn’t understand. It wasn’t that God wasn’t listening or responding, it was more that we weren’t ready yet to see the rest of the plan.
My sickness was very difficult. Then people start to rally around and some pray hard, others bring food and visit the sick person or the widow. Both the people who are in need and the people who are giving prayers and actions feel the community of prayer together. Both are changed somewhat. Sometimes we may think that God has failed us and our prayers were not answered but maybe we haven’t looked closely enough. Even when someone we love passes from this world to the next our prayers are answered to help them on their journey home to be with past loved ones.
God always answers prayers. I want to end with another parable story that most of us have heard before. There was a good person who prayed every day. One day a huge rain storm started and the land became flooded. As the flood continued this person prayed mightily and asked God for help. A rescue truck came by to evacuate the person but he said no thanks and kept praying for God’s help. The flood continued. A rescue boat appeared and again the person was asked to evacuate. No thanks. I will keep praying thought the person. Finally, a rescue helicopter came to the house and even then the person said no thanks and waited for God to come down and save them. The person drowned. When he got to heaven he asked God why there was no help provided when the big flood destroyed the land. Momma God gently held the man, stroked his hair and said my help my dear son was provided three times and you chose not to take it. But it’s ok because now you are here with me so let me show around my home, there are a few people here who want to see you. I think you will truly enjoy what I have planned for you here.
This parable like the one about the horse teaches me that I have a very strong role in hearing God’s answer to my prayers. I have to work with God and LISTEN to the answers which may come from anywhere and anyone when I pray. I wrote the ending to depict the image of God I believe Jesus showed us. NOT a judgemental stern judge who would admonish us for being so blind. But, a gentle loving motherly fatherly type who realizes that what is needed here is a ton of TLC.
When floods occur in your life and you pray I hope you will be open to answers God sends you. Remember, God’s plan and ways may not seem good to us at first. Pray some more and remember how every life story will end sitting with a loving creator who will gently welcome us home.
The parable of the lost horse
Once there was a farmer whose horse runs away. The farmer’s neighbors come to sympathize with him over his loss and bad luck. “This is a great misfortune!” they exclaim. The farmer calmly responds, “We will see.”
The next day the farmer’s horse comes back and brings with it six wild horses. The neighbors come to visit again and gleefully observe, “What good fortune has befallen you”. The farmer calmly responds, “We will see.”
The following day the farmer’s son starts to train the horses for riding, but is thrown and breaks his leg. Once again the neighbors come over, this time to offer their sympathy for the farmer’s bad luck. And once again his reply is “We will see.”
The next day army officers come and take all the young men as recruits to the war, but because the farmer’s son has a broken leg, they don’t take him. So the neighbors come over to rejoice how well everything has turned out.
The farmer smiles, considers his fortunes, and once again replies, “As always – we can only wait and see.”
Homily for november 10, 2013
War is NOT the answer. What is the question? How should humans live together? What is the way to peace? How will the global village survive? I don’t know the exact question; but I do know: war is NOT the answer. Peace and Love are the answer. Amen.
One of the 10 commandments is quite direct: Thou Shall NOT kill. No exceptions. Why? Because our loving Creator knows that killing is a two edged sword and it brings consequences to the sender and the receiver. If we have the person who creates a computer write the manual of do’s and don’ts we should listen to them. It is not that the creator will punish us if we spill coke on the computer; it is our actions that will cause a negative and direct consequence to the computer. God knows this as our loving Creator she gives us directions like the 10 commandments to help us in our lives to avoid the negative consequences. Her love goes beyond punishment but our actions can bring consequences. It is impossible to kill someone even in self defense without hurting yourself as well and severely. Even if the death you caused was in an ice storm you would have consequences. Thus the nightmares as we heard in our reading today may still follow. All veterans have to carry these ghosts of the past. That is why we have such respect for all those who fought for us. Today we call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and we know it is hell for them. This is why we remember and pray for those who have fallen as well as those who return from war. That is why we need to find the way to peace and why we must try to avoid war at all costs. Though we seem to fail at this it must be the goal so more men, women and children do not have to be lost.
God has given us a very important and powerful gift which we must remember to use very carefully: Free Will. We can use it to make choices and we must choose at times between life and death. We must choose our thoughts, our words and our actions that give life NOT death. This means we must consciously choose to avoid prejudice, hatred, racism and selfishness that cause us to forget that we are a global family and not enemies.
I was amazed when I heard a woman state that she always grabs her purse under her arm when she sees a person from Race XYZ! Why? Because she was taught as a little girl that “those people” can’t be trusted and will steal from you. Imagine said the woman how foolish and racist and narrow this idea is; and yet I still grab my purse that way even though my head knows better, my instinct takes over. Ouch. This is not the answer. This is not the way to peace.
When I planned an exchange with a school in Germany my students didn’t want to go. Why? Nazi’s! They equated the two in their limited and narrow experience they thought Germans today would be the same as Hitler’s army. Ouch. This is not the answer. This is not the way to peace. So I knew I needed to make this exchange happen; so I included Italy as half the trip and eventually the German exchange became a reality. Guess what? The Canadian students who had been strangers from those in Germany became friends and more in less than a week. All through Italy I got comments like, “can we go back to Germany. I miss my German family, my twin. We are tourists in Italy, we were family in Germany.” Interestingly, the German students mentioned in one conversation how wounded they are about Hitler as a nation. They carry a cloud of pain even now and find it is difficult to be proud of their heritage completely. However, despite this; one German family came to Canada years later for the wedding of their Canadian twin. Many still email and face book each other even now years later. This is the answer. This is the way to peace. This is choosing life over death. This is God’s healing our hurts and wounds.
Every major Religion has a golden rule. Love God and love others as you would yourself. When our Global Village figures out exactly who that other, (that neighbour) really is, then we will have true hope for peace. We all need to know that God wants us to love EVERY other person on the planet not just some. When we choose to do this, we will find that the consequence of our free will and acceptance and giving is: peace on earth. This could even lead to heaven on earth and maybe then the lion and the lamb will learn to lie down together. War is NOT the answer. What is the question? What is the way to peace? Peace is the way. Let us pray with our whole heart and mind and soul for this peace for all humans and especially for all those who have served and suffered and still suffer. May God send them healing and peace! May we learn to be the way of peace: for our family, for our church, for our country, and for our entire world. Amen.