October 19th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
There's a fun movie about it, The Way, with Martin Sheen. As the story goes, his son is killed at the outset of the Camino. Martin decides to make the hike himself, dispersing his son's ashes along the way.
October 12th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
(Referencing Mark 10:17-31**)
September 14th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
What if that is not bad news, but in fact really good news? What if our soul's destiny depends on it?
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Joel Marcus in his commentary on the gospel passage for Sunday provocatively asks,
"But why should one accept the dreadful burden of the cross? Why should one want to follow Jesus, (cf.8:34b) if discipleship means entry into a living death?"
August 31st, 2018 by Carl Buffington
Scripture closes with the same invitation (Rev 22.17) "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
But the invitation doesn't stop there.
How do we respond to this his invitation?
I want to share a story. It's one I have told before, but one worthy of a second telling and hearing.
It's told by a friend who has now checked into the heavenly Jerusalem as he would say (Brennan Manning, author, preacher and teacher.)
As he shares - He was giving last rites to a woman named Yolanda in LA. She had been abandoned by her family and was dying alone, severely disfigured from the ravages of leprosy. As Brennan turned from her bedside to put away the communion kit, a bright light came into the room. He said it was like light just falling in through the window.
As he turned, she said, "Oh Father, my Abba just spoke to me." And he said, "Oh? What did he say to you Yolanda?"
He said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me."
As he was leaving, the nurse asked how she was doing. And he said, "Well, she was quoting scripture, Songs 2.10-13, so I'm not sure." The nurse said, "She's illiterate! She's never read a word of the Bible!"
When they returned to Yolanda's room, her Abba had indeed come in and scooped her up. Come my beloved!
Can you imagine just how beautiful Yolanda became in that instant? I'm sure you could have compared her to the most breathtaking sunset you ever saw your Abba paint.
Responding to his invitation is virtually transformative, life and soul changing! We need to respond, any and every way possible.
And we respond in many ways, e.g. our obedience to his word (listen to the epistle from James), our reaching out to others in serving (listen and look to those being honored today), and as the gospel makes clear, with our hearts!
"These people honor me with their lips,But their hearts are far from me."
Where is your heart in terms of this invitation? How will you draw near? Come my beloved!
Sunday, I plan to share how I responded a couple weeks ago.
August 10th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
June 8th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
We also can bless the spirit of those present. We can awaken a thirst. A parishioner sent me the following, borrowing from Max Lucado.
May 25th, 2018 by Carl Buffington
The priest replied, "Can you describe the feeling?"
"It happens every night," the young man said. "I lie down and begin thinking over my day when a terrible feeling comes over me; a burning in my heart, like the burning the disciples felt when meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus. But when I feel it, it feels like something is wrong. It's more like a pain. It's as if God is trying to tell me something. Please, help me. What does it mean?"
And I think all of these things are spiritual matters.
In the past I might have suggested that therapy, exercise and medicine were un-spiritual things, as opposed to prayer, fasting and meditation. Nowadays, I wonder if it is un-spiritual to consider one aspect of my life "Spiritual" leaving all other aspects of myself partitioned off. I wonder if thinking spiritually means seeing my whole life (emotional, psychological, physiological, religious, economic, social, familial...) as singular - as if my Creator is concerned with every inch and aspect of my whole self.
I don't believe it is at all unspiritual, much less un-Christian, to see a therapist or take an antacid. I do think, on the other hand, that it is distinctly unchristian to separate physical or financial parts of my life from my "spiritual life." God, whose greatest revelation of Himself was to become fully human, has great concern with all of me.
I find that one of the most powerful aspects of the Incarnation story is the 30 years of silence before the recorded part of Jesus' life. That silence says to me that, until he was baptized by John, Jesus lived a life that was, in large part, unremarkable, since nobody found much of it worth marking down. Many days, I find my life to be somewhat unremarkable; I work, I eat, I rest, I have time with family and friends. Nothing out of the ordinary - not even a flash of celestial glory. I am encouraged that Jesus lived such a life as well, at least for a time.
All of which says to me that these things are not insignificant in their normality, but that God finds worth in spending most of a human lifetime attending to simple things like work and neighbors and friendships and family.
It seems that God not only abides in mundane things, but dwells in them and does so gladly. And if that's true, which I believe it is, it means he dwells in me and my work and my community. A community of beautifully normal people with jobs and kids and mortgages and leaky faucets and disagreements and heartburn and issues to work through externally and interpersonally. A community who gathers on Sundays to celebrate and remember the One who is glorious and majestic and who was carried in the womb of a teenage girl to be born into the world just like any of us normal folks were.
Not just a world I cannot see, but the world right in front of me.
My job matters.
My bank account matters.
My education matters.
May 11th, 2018 by Carl Buffington