Showing posts from July, 2017

Sacred Choices

Week after week, month after month, year after year, people come here looking for food. The people who come to our food pantry often come carrying paperwork and forms, prepared to justify why they are coming here seeking assistance. Some places require that justification, limiting who and what and when. Neither E. nor I ever look at that paper work. I never make them sit down and go through their prepared litany to justify their need. I find that process to be humiliating and dehumanizing for the person. Besides their stories rarely change what we offer, or how we share, showing them the pantry and the refrigerator, and giving them bags to help themselves to food. "Take what you need, and leave some for others."  A friendly conversation always surrounds the time people are here, chatting about this, that, or the other thing. 
This week when I introduced myself as the parish priest, one family was at first surprised, then hugged me, then asked, “Can we come to church here?” I …

A crisis, of faith

The other day someone asked me if I was having a “crisis of faith.”

A crisis of faith implies that I am doubting my belief in God or in the way God works in my life or the world. I do, often, doubt.  However my life long relationship with God, grounded in prayer and an existential sense that God is with me (us), assures me that my doubts are actually about me. I doubt because I am struggling. Yet, even as I struggle I know that God will once again show God’s presence and I will see, probably in hindsight, how God is and has been present. 
So I live in a paradoxical reality of doubt and trust. As a result I don’t worry about my doubts and because I don’t worry about them I don’t fall into a “crisis” of faith. I just keep trying, more or less successfully, to  stay in relationship with God, self, and others, until this time passes. Because it always passes. Which is what I said to the person who asked me that question.  
That doesn’t mean I am comfortable in these times. I am not. 
Because …

The Wilderness of Faith

I have made many cross country driving trips in my life. One year alone I drove from Arizona to Chicago seven times. And as you all know I recently made the drive along I90 from Dearborn to Seattle, with side trips to the Badlands, Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore, and Yellowstone. 

Every time I prepare for a cross country driving trip I wonder how it will go. Will we run into bad weather? Will we find or make it to our hotels each night? Will we find food and gas when we need it? Will we have car trouble? Will there be bad traffic? Will we get lost? Will we be safe? Will it be fun? 
Even though I have all these questions in the back of my mind, as I head off for a long drive I am excited and willing to accept that there are inherent risks to any journey.
The story in Genesis today of Rebekah meeting Abraham’s servant at the well and deciding to go with him into the wilderness to marry Isaac - a man she has never seen let alone met - leaves me awestruck with her courage, strength, vision,…

A liberating test

Few scripture readings are as disturbing as our reading today from Genesis. You are in good company if you are wondering why would God test Abraham in this way. What does it say about God, to require this kind of a test?
 The most traditional understanding of this scripture story is that it marks the end of child sacrifice in the Hebrew tradition, even though it remained common in the pagan cultures of the region.
Or maybe its just a story about sacrifice, about one’s willingness to give for God? And that sometimes what one gives or gives up for God feels difficult and leaves one conflicted?
Or maybe the ram was present all along and Abraham was so anxious and singularly focused that he missed God’s grace until God made it blatantly clear that the ram was there?
Rabbis in the Jewish tradition have an ancient process by which they explore the meaning of scripture which is called “Midrash.”
Midrash considers to the “rough” spots, the places in the text that seem incongruous, or somehow jump …