Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: June 3, 2019

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew’s gospel brings us a new lesson. Well, at least he did for me – even after all these years as a priest.

I had a wedding the other day that once again I was honored to officiate, and it included a reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have heard it many times, but the reader chose a different version, The New International Version, and my ears heard it anew. I share with its title, Love in Action!

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Wow. After all that we have endured in the transitioning of the school; from false rumors of closure to insults from former staff to parents more petty than one could ever have imagined after all we have given to them, I needed hear those words, especially ‘do not repay evil for evil.’

After reflecting on Paul’s words, I challenged myself to remain calm in our focus and the exciting things to come. I reminisced on how sacred we were to even begin a parish and look at us today! Then, out of the blue, my cousin shared words with me that inspired me to reflect even more deeply on those from Romans, but more practically! Just what I needed.

St. Francis once said, “because I am small in stature and dark, and because I am to be simple like a dove and fly heavenward on wings of virtue. The Lord, in his mercy, has given and will give me more children, which I could never care for by myself. I need, therefore, to surrender them to Mother Church, who will protect them and gather them under the shade of her wings.” And so He has, to all of us.

I leave you with those more practical words from an old farmer, shared by my cousin and stolen from Stacy Parrish Whiteside. I pray they will inspire all of us to move ahead in love and peace of mission.

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

 

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.

Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.

Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You cannot unsay a cruel word.

Every path has a few puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.

Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.

Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Most times, it just gets down to common sense.  
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: April 29, 2019

This coming Sunday, May 5th at the 9:00am Family Mass, Saint Miriam will honor our Blessed Mother with our annual May Crowning and Procession! We will have our Marian procession with the faithful of all ages carrying flowers and singing, “Mary, We Crown You with Blossoms Today”!

Did you know that St. Francis had a love for our Mother? According to a pious legend, one day St. Francis had a vision in which he saw his friars trying to reach Christ by a ladder that was red and very steep. After climbing a few rungs, they would suddenly fall back. Our Lord then showed St. Francis another ladder, white and much less steep, at whose summit appeared the Blessed Virgin, and He said to Francis: “Advise your sons to go by the ladder of My Mother.”

And so, we, too, cling to the ladder of our Blessed Mother! Among those devotions rich in Franciscan tradition is devotion to the Virgin Mother of God. St. Francis was among the greatest Marian devotees in the history of the Church and, according to the Second Vita of Thomas of Celano, he had a love for her that was beyond words. “Inexpresseble,” Celano writes of Francis’ love for the Blessed Virgin, “for it was she who made the Lord of majesty our brother.”  St. Francis chose her as the patroness and Queen of the Friars Minor and exhorted his friars to always possess a true and living devotion to the Mother of God. We would do well to honor her!

A few months ago, we developed a wonderfully unique way for families to gather in their homes, pray to the Blessed Mother, and increase their family and prayer time together. It is called, ‘Mary on the Go’ and is a very special Rosary! You see, every family now has the opportunity to “Host” our Blessed Mother in their own home and pray to her as a family every week! Just sign out the “Mary on the Go” carrying case every Sunday! The kit comes with a beautiful Blessed Mother Statue, Rosary beads for a family of up to 7, a glow-in-the-dark Rosary to pray at night, 7 booklets on how to pray the Rosary, as well as coloring images to teach your children! After you pray the Rosary, simply return the entire kit the following Sunday and another family will have the very same adoration opportunity! What a beautiful way to get your family together and pray the Rosary in her honor!

I will end with this loving devotion imbued in St. Francis’ famous ‘Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary’:

Hail, O Lady,
Mary, holy Mother of God:
you are the Virgin made Church
and the one chosen by the
most holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated
with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
the fullness of grace and every good

Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Home!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!

And (hail) all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

AMEN!
 
How will you honor our life of prayer? Will you make your special intention to our Holy Mother this week?  How will your family be in the constant care of our Blessed Virgin who loves us so deeply?  

 



Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: April 15, 2019

It is almost here! Passion Week, Holy Week! This past Sunday we gathered for Palm Sunday and now we will launch into a week of remembering and growth as Christians! To do so, we must make it our every intention to attend services, reflect, and honor the fact that those very same people who passionately welcomed Christ with waving palm branches, were many of the very same people who demanded His execution just days later…

This past Sunday we had a visit from our only Native American Franciscan Priest. Father Robert was a joy to visit with and fell in love immediately with the parish and all that we are and all that we do. His heart was open to hearing God through us in a new way and he was respectful and gentle. Contrast that with a few weeks ago when we had another clergy visitor who was so full of himself that he missed all we are, and the ways in which we listen intently to God to grow and attract others to our faith. Rather than ‘seeing’ who we are, his blindness made him full of contempt toward us and all he could do was pick us apart. It reminded me of how blessed we are with clergy who give generously, love everyone, celebrate others triumphs and share in one another’s sorrows and stumbling. We lift one another up, like Simon did for Jesus, because that is all we really are and leave this life with: ourselves, our character, tied to the manner in which we are cross-bearers for others.

This week’s three-day celebration (known as The Triduum) begins with the Holy Thursday Mass and continues on Good Friday with the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. At the end of this liturgy, we leave the church in silence, waiting to celebrate the glory of our Lord’s Resurrection. Then, on Saturday at sundown, it is finally here! The Church re-gathers to celebrate the final, and most grand moment: The Resurrection of our Lord!

Our Jewish brothers and sisters have been celebrating Passover remembering the events leading to their release from slavery in Egypt and we, too, will gather these three days from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday to celebrate ‘our Passover’ from death to life in Christ and from things that have little meaning to those things that are eternal! It is a time of remembering the triumph of God’s love over darkness and death. It can change our hearts deeply, but only if we allow it.

In the coming week, we gather to celebrate that God is present and always working in our lives. May we each experience the joy of new life in our own way this Easter Season, and may we begin with an intentional dedication to observing the Passion of the One Who loves us still…

Reflection questions for Holy Week:

What does the death of Jesus mean to me?
 How has God interceded in my life?Have I honored God in my life? Will I take a few hours out of my week and honor Christ? After hearing the Resurrection story, what events do I see in my own life that are in need of resurrection?
 How can I carry on the story of the resurrection to others this coming year? How might I fail if all I ever do is focus on me?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: April 2, 2019

This weekend we will honor Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, fittingly appropriate for us as he is the Patron Saint of the Homeless. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1881and his actual Liturgical Feast Day is April 16th, but we will honor him Sunday, April 7th 2019.
 
I first heard about St. Benedict Joseph Labre when I was in seminary in Washington DC, but it was Lew and Ramona Salotti who brought back to me his story and reminded me of his strength and witness. Benedict died in 1783 in Rome during Holy Week at the young age of only thirty-five. Homeless and malnourished, he had been living on the streets Europe for about thirteen years. Most of what we know about him only comes from the biography his confessor wrote after his death.
 
Benedict was born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at age 16, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood. Instead, he became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. Like St Francis, he wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the other poor he met. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called ‘the poor man of the Forty Hours devotion’ and ‘the beggar of Rome.’  The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that “our comfort is not in this world.”
 
On April 16, 1783, the last day of his life, Benedict dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death, the people proclaimed him a saint. It is said that when he died the children sang out: “The saint is dead! The saint is dead!”  From the mouths of these babes, the Holy Spirit glorified him and revealed the holiness of his obscure and hidden life.
 
Now, I know that very few of us would be moved to emulate his life. After all, he slept in a hole in a ruined wall, and he survived on garbage and the kindness of strangers. He wore rags, and when he died, he owned only a broken bowl, a breviary, a few devotional books, and a rosary. He stank terribly, was afflicted with bug bites, and his feet were covered with sores. He must have been repulsive, but isn’t this the life of so many other we look away from? Is this not the life of those eyes we cannot find the strength to gaze into, and so we turn to sink more deeply into our own existence of prosperity and look with disdain on those experiencing homelessness among us?
 
In a modern inner city, one local smelly, soiled character kneels for hours on the sidewalk and prays, swathed in his entire wardrobe winter and summer, he pleasantly greets passersby with a blessing, only to have them look upon him with horror. These days we ascribe such behavior to mental illness; or laziness. ‘Why don’t they just get a job?!’ We easily exclaim! Benedict’s contemporaries called him holy, but his holiness is always a bit mad by earthly standards, but isn’t that true of all those who are truly holy?
 
Jesus said, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”  Benedict loved everyone. Spent his days in prayer and adoration. Shared what little he had with everyone freely.
 
How have you lived the life of a saint lately?
 
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: March 26, 2019

Is it really as bad as it looks? Yes, it is. That is my worldview of our nation today. It’s bad and it is getting worse. We have somehow allowed our politics to be sacrosanct and our religion to become expendable. Our hatred over things of humanity, and of human differences, has allowed us to become a people divided and groups of hate to thrive. We are witnessing democrats digging in to the left, republicans leaning farther to their right, and people dying in the middle.

And, I can say with all certainty that it’s far worse down here where ministry is really done, where people are hurting and where lives are torn apart.  The ugliness you can see from shores some thousands of miles away in countries far from us, or on a few Washington politician’s faces is nothing compared to those we have made into largely undefinable, faceless, wave of malice, hatred, rejection, isolation, and bigotry.

From where I sit as a priest in a parish that wonderfully and willingly holds close the rejected of the world and those deprived on human touch, decency, food, and security; those without home, family, or support, this malignant sickness has a face, one that is far too familiar to me of late. We see it in the family member who reveals racism at our dinner table as we break bread. We find it in neighbors and former parishioners, who have completely abandoned the Jesus they claim faith in and chosen the vilest of idols.We find it in once pleasant neighbors who casually spew racist ideology as we meet on the sidewalk. It’s found in once childhood friends now uttering and spreading anti-immigrant filth on their social media profiles. It’s found in restaurant workers who receive hate in lieu of a tip at the end of meal. And, the antithesis of these is found in those who hold the highest offices of our land as they strive to build walls of hate, divide us on false ideology, and remove health care from the weakest among us.

So yes, it’s a time of staggering cruelty and the world is that bad; our nation is this bad. A land where we have witnessed hate crimes climb a staggering 226% in many places and fail to recognize the truth: Jesus loves everyone, even those you hate so much.

My bishop posted the wisest words this week, “Be teachable, You’re not always right.” But, are we teachable anymore of just hell bent on hate? It is time to reflect, change, pray and be what we want to all see in the world. If not, we will all surely fail.

How have we abandoned our morals so easily for idols that will soon fade? How will we ever make this up to those we harm with our words and kill with our hatred? Are we really a follower of Christ anymore?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: March 12, 2019

I went home. I know that sounds kind of trite, but that is what I did this past weekend. I played ‘hooky’ from church and went home to visit my family. I spent time with my mom and my sister and her family. I ate good homemade Italian food, reminisced about my life and growing up in Erie, and I visited the grave of my father at the cemetery. Katelyn was with me so, of course, we visited some places of great meaning to me and my years there growing up, maturing, and becoming who I am today. Yes, I went home.

For many people home is illusive. For some they could not tell you what it feels like to go home or even be welcomed like I was this past weekend. Home is a box or a tree or a piece of earth under am overpass. These are what we call homeless but that is not their identity. No, they are people, just like you and me, who happen to be experiencing homelessness currently in their journey, but they are far from a being called homeless persons, they are like us. People. Loved. Wanted. Cherished, made in the image and likeness of God, just like me, and you, and that guy down the street you hate so much.

You see, I have come to know Jesus in all the varied forms He comes to me. In the nurse who cared for me after my brain surgery, in my mother who rubbed my back until my asthmatic spasm ceased to rob me of breath, in the priest who gave me wafers to ‘play priest’ as a child and by doing so instilled in me a life of service, in Father Joe and Dorothy who brought me soup to heal when I was ill, in my dad who never taught me to hate, but to love even the most unlovable, in all the grooms I have had the honor of standing with when their brides turned the corner and stood at the end of a long walk as they began to weep in pure joy, in those who challenge me to become better and see God’s goodness in this – me – in all my brokenness, in those who reject me because of my past mistakes, and in those who love me all the more, also because of my past mistakes, and yes, the man at the height of being homeless who asked me my name and by doing so taught me to ask for theirs first.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is God made visible. He is the Divine showing Himself in human terms. God adapted Himself to be one like us, save sin, in all our brokenness so we might still have hope. He was broken, scourged, lost, alone, in pain, smelly, and all without a home…

That is why the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Exhibit at our parish through Lent is a way to change us so that we might become better people.  

The Risen One – The Christ – may no longer be visible, audible, or touchable in human form or in one body; no, He now comes in bodily form of many bodies, many human beings, even the most unlovely of them among us and into that Sacrament we call Divine. It is now God’s holy Church that must bear the light and say, “We see YOU! Among us here, YOU are part of us as we see Jesus, we see YOU!”

How will you see Jesus now? Will you use Lent as a time to change WHO Jesus IS to you? How will you find the Risen One among even the world’s most unlikely? How will you make the unloved feel loved again?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: March 4, 2019

I have a member of my ministry team who is far more into the spiritual realm than I am; admittedly! She reminds me every year that the devil comes at us harder in Lent. I am seeing her point more and more every year at this time.

I don’t know about you, but ever since I have begun to pastor a church, I do tend to feel like Job during the Holy Season of Lent. I feel like God lets the devil a bit off his proverbial leash and things tend to get chaotic in my spiritual life, and ion the life of my parish, too. I guess it is because Jesus was tempted in the desert. And Lent is a time of our desert.

While I am not quite sure the devil is anthropomorphic for me, I do believe the devil – or Devil – comes in varied forms of attack to set us off balance or to even destroy the best of what we have in our lives. In doing so, the end result is that we lose that which is most precious. I have seen this play out in many forms in my years as a priest. Some leave the church or active ministry because they are not getting the attention they think the deserve, or they feel that being a priest is just about them and their needs. Some let their personal lives take precedence and their ministry flounders. Others leave because they are self-righteous, or not able to play well with others. Some are too haughty or prideful, and still others are true consumers and just want a concierge priest and concierge church that fulfills their every need, but often at the expense of the greater whole. Still others feel they are called to a higher level of ministry and would rather be a clergy person ensconced in a box of their own making, or a garage, or their own bedroom, than a fully credentialed and properly formed clergy person that is doing good in the world, rather than playing ‘dress up’. In other words, sitting at the feet and learning is too above them, as is following the true call of God. I am sure the Apostles would disagree.

While I am broken, and I am tempted in many ways, for me, this year, it has been the temptation to judge. St. Augustine once said that “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” I pray I can find my way to be an angel, even a broken one at that!  That is why I added the image here that I did; look at the dichotomy! As we opened the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Exhibit, the photographer caught us not looking up at the signs but eating food! Perhaps an unplanned statement of our often misused best of intentions, or a reminder from God that we can all still do better…

So, if you are like me, and are naturally more strong-willed than those around us, there is a strong temptation to spend Lent patting ourselves on the back and comparing ourselves favorably to others. This is exactly what the devil wants. He wants us to think we are better than other people and to grow in pride, which is precisely what we should repent of during Lent. The best antidote for this will be to choose a penance that is absolutely impossible to achieve perfectly and will thereby challenge our tendency toward pride.

A true Lenten experience is not about giving up chocolates or fats; it is about realizing that even with the natural gifts that God has given us, we are still sinful and very much in need of grace.

St. Francis once said that “If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”  This is so true, but not if your pride is in the way.

How will you allow God to come? How will you resist the temptations of pride and envy? Will you allow yourself to see others as God created and clear the lens of pride in this coming season of Lent?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 25, 2019

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang their hit, “Shallow”, from the movie A Star is Born, at last night’s Oscars. The beautiful song, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song, lyrics go like this:

Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?

I thought about this song, as I reflected on the image I used today. It is a homeless sign from the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS exhibit that our parish is hosting through Lent 2019. I wonder how many in the world try to fill voids with things and power and intimidation and money and threats and ‘stuff’ but somehow always wake up shallow and in need. I wonder how many of the world will miss the intent of Lent again this year? I wonder how many, the very same who walk by the homeless or look at them with disdain, will also wake more impoverished than one of these, as their shallow lives are unable to be filled with anything of true substance?

St. Francis desired to imitate the poverty of our Christ. He wasn’t chasing some abstract ideal for he saw the gospels as the truest example of not having  ‘a place to lay his head.’  As Leonard Foley put it so aptly, “Poverty, in the sense of nonpossession, is neither good nor bad—it is simply a fact. What makes Gospel poverty valuable is its purpose: the imitation of Christ for the purpose of Christ.”  This is why St. Paul’s words to the Philippians speaks of Jesus’  “emptying” himself, foregoing the glory to which he had a right as God, and entering into human nature in all its limitation, weakness, and suffering.  As perhaps now, so shall we…

Will you join us and walk through the moving – literally and figuratively – remnants of the homeless hanging within our parish walls as part of the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS exhibit for the chance to find your true home again? Will you allow Lent to be a time of true change where perhaps the life you live will go from shallow to full of abundance never dreamed?
 


Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 05, 2019

The image I used today was a note sent from a dad to his son, who, if I remember correctly worked very hard to elect Secretary Clinton and obviously, he was feeling very down after the election of 2016.

Now, I really don’t care if you are a President Trump supporter or not, we must all agree that the vitriol and hatred and the animosity in this nation has risen during the last few years and that we can do better. We must do better.

I would hope and pray that if the tables had been turned, and the election results were different, that I would not be gloating or rubbing it in other people’s faces, but rather still remain the same person committed to the love, inclusion, and the safety of others. ALL others even the ones I may not always agree with.

While it is no secret and I am not a supporter of this Administration or its policies, especially around environmental protections, immigration, seekers of asylum, women’s issues and minority rights, I pray that during tonight’s State of the Union speech the President of all the United States – and of all of her citizens – will rise to the occasion and try to heal some of what has been so sorely broken. I pray it is not irreparable. 

However, no matter what occurs, perhaps we will all finally recognize it does not matter, because what does matter is who we are as a people, not who resides in any White House or Congress. It is rather what lies within each of us; the words that come out of our mouths, the way in which we choose to use Social Media platforms, and the actions – or inactions – we knowingly make or neglect.

So, maybe today we can all begin to do what this short and heartfelt note suggests? Do not gloat, be not so proud that you become conceited, recognize that we are all wrong from time to time, and that we are also all human and deserving of dignity, love, welcome, and respect; protect the marginalized and the vulnerable, welcome the hated and the downtrodden, be extra moral, inspire others, be a good person. As someone once said, build a longer table, not a taller wall, around our nation, around our homes, and most importantly, around out hearts.

St. Francis once said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”  The world will get better, or the world will become worse, not by any single Administration, President, or even nation, but rather by the people of the earth and their willingness to be a good people.

 



Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 14, 2019

This coming Thursday I will have the honor and duty as a priest to be present for a couple I married almost ten years ago, but this time it will be to help a young widow bury her husband unexpectedly. I remember with great joy the day of their wedding; this week, I will celebrate his life and those moments over the last ten years that will now be all she, and their young son, will have to hold on to. I will be honored, but I will be mournfully sad, too.

I have sat at many a death bed and seen a living, breathing, hoping, loving person become a lifeless body. The person has gone. And I have often said a simple prayer from the Canon. After all, these are the things most dying people are longing for. One of my favorite parts of the Eucharistic Canon includes these words, when I say the prayer for the Departed and ask God that they be granted a place of “refreshment, light and peace”. It is what I hope for George this week, but also for all of us as we depart from this to whatever is next.

Death is not scary to me, but dying is. So, by refreshment, what we usually mean as a new start or at least a new look is important to me. Refreshment can mean a cool drink on a hot summer’s day, or a quick shower after a hard sweaty job, but my wish – my prayer – for the departed is always for my own longing of the refreshing sight of a new life. One where I – and they – will finally behold the very face of God. 
 
The manger, the ‘Christmas crib’, we have just left behind once again as a church, and a gift of St. Francis to the world’s devotion, is a great symbol of a great mystery! For the crib, and the cross, were the two loves of Jesus’ life founded as the mystery of the Incarnation of the eternal God, and the mystery of His giving up that life for the likes of sinful us.
 

We, as Christians, are often so busy proving that Jesus is God that we sometimes deemphasize the fact that he is also truly human, with all the feelings and experiences, joys and sorrows of our human life. When we say that He had no sin, we somehow feel that He was exempt from emotion, temptation, limitation, problems. The baby in the crib found that day so long ago in Bethlehem’s stable is a statement of the goodness of human life and that we – just like the God we love – are fully human and will weep in times of transition, but that a place of “refreshment, light and peace” is on its way.

So for me, this place of refreshment, light and peace sums up perfectly my belief in God. And that’s just the beginning, until the trumpet sounds and the rest period is over, and the great Resurrection raises us all to a new life of love beyond all telling.

I pray this week that you will remember how fleeting life is and that you will build up for yourselves the things that last and matter. For I know if I were to ask this grieving family what was truly important to them now, it would be the stuff of family, love, and church and nothing of material wealth or possessions.  

In the end, we have no adequate words to describe what is to come, well except perhaps the word, ‘Heaven’…

How will your life end? What will people remember about you? If you were stand at the edge of your own grave and reflect back at your life, did you do anything, support anything, sacrifice anything that truly helped God build the Kingdom you are so hopeful to enter?