Tag Archives: Mercy

Gospel Reflection for September 11, 2016, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

7 Sep
Photo via Flickr user Marcia

Photo via Flickr user Marcia

Sunday Readings: Exodus 32.7-11, 13-14; 1 Timothy 1.12-17; Luke 15.1-32

“Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep…..Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”

(Luke 15.6, 9)

Losing, finding, rejoicing — that is the pattern in each of the three parables Jesus tells in chapter 15. Who doesn’t bother to look for the sheep that has wandered apart from the hundred and has not just strayed but is lost? Who forgets a lost coin and doesn’t bother to retrieve 10% of current assets? The lost sheep and lost coin invite us to hear the story of the man with two sons with the questions, “Who is lost?” Is it the party son who wastes his inheritance and comes home to his welcoming father or is it the responsible son who resents his father’s mercy? Which son am I? Let us rejoice in Pope Francis’ reclaiming in this year of mercy the deepest mystery of who God is.

Which son are you? How are you benefiting from this year emphasizing God’s mercy?

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Gospel Reflection for April 3, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Easter

31 Mar

Sunday Readings: Acts 5.12-16; Revelation 1.9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20.19-31

Jesus breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

(John 20.22-23)

Bible scholar Sandra Schneiders observes that the Greek word translated as retained above or sometimes bound more commonly means to hold fast, to embrace. She argues that Jesus is charging the community to hold fast the people they forgive. As a reconciling community, they are to embrace and support those they forgive, not to hold them bound to their sins.

“Jesus is the human face of God’s mercy,” Pope Francis writes in proclaiming the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This is our call in continuing Jesus’ mission — to be the human face of forgiveness and mercy among those in our lives.

Who holds you fast? How do you use your power to make peace?

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Gospel Reflection for February 28, 2016, 3rd Sunday of Lent

23 Feb
Photo via Flickr user Nate Angell

Photo via Flickr user Nate Angell

Sunday Readings: Exodus 3.1-8, 13-15; 1 Corinthians 10.1-6, 10-12; Luke 13.1-9

“For three years now I have come looking for figs on this tree and found none. Cut it down. Why should it take up space?”

(Luke 13.7)

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree reveals God’s hope and compassion for people. The gardener who cares for each tree pleads for more time and more care. A little more hoeing and fertilizing. Maybe it will bear fruit. In announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis begins, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.”

Mercy lives visibly in Jesus. As we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem this Lent, Sunday’s gospel calls us to cultivate our capacity to show mercy, to love and care for one another, to abound in kindness as God does toward us.

What or whom will you give one more chance to bear fruit in your life? What special care will this require?

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Snapshots of Grief

9 Oct
Photo via Flickr user D.Reichardt

Photo via Flickr user D.Reichardt

A week ago, the youth team was informed that a tenth grader in our church community took his own life. We immediately started getting calls and texts from high schoolers and parents alike saying, “We have to do something. What are we going to do?” We decided to gather as a community a few days before the funeral.

We moved quickly and with purpose, each using his or her own skill set, being kind to each other, touching shoulders, offering hugs. Some sobbed and moaned with those who were weeping, walking around for days with puffy, glazed over eyes and their hearts exposed. I wrote prayers and searched for appropriate music and readings. Others went shopping. I walked into my office to find two grocery bags full of Kleenex packets for the pews. The pastor handed me his sermon and I cried as I read the end, the good news, the part about how darkness tells lies about us being alone, but God does love us and we love each other and the light will overcome the darkness and life will win. “This is good,” I sniffed. “Really good.”

A mother and daughter stayed up late baking pans and pans of dessert. “This is just what you do,” the mother told her daughter. “When there is nothing else to do, you feed people.” A coworker came into our work space a few hours before the gathering and asked us, “Can I bring you all some dinner?” It was the first moment I realized how hungry I was, and my yes was heartfelt, from my gut. How do people just know what to do? These people who just do exactly what needs to be done without needing to be asked or thanked, they amaze me. A mental health specialist joined us, reminding, “Young people learn how to grieve by watching their elders.”

And then came the stream of young people, one after another. Those in shock held up those who were crying. They showed each other pictures, told stories. “It is good to see you,” I said over and over and meant it. “Thank you for coming.” We lit candles. We prayed. We talked about grief and letting our bodies feel whatever we are feeling.

As I walked up to read the prayers of the people, I didn’t wipe my tears away. My voice shook, my nose ran, my heart stayed in my throat. Some things will never make sense. Like a litany, I repeated, “Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.” Mercy. Lord. Please. Send us your mercy.

Doers of the Word

7 May

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves[a] in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. –James 1:22-25

Last week I sat with a heavy heart at work. Because of my spouse’s work at Lutheran World Relief, I traveled to Nepal and saw the beautiful land and met the fascinating people. I could picture, then, the devastating earthquake in a slightly more personal way. My spouse, busy raising awareness about and funds for the earthquake, then received news that the headquarters of LWR in Baltimore had sent staff home to avoid the rioting in the downtown area. The staff in the Minneapolis office kept plugging away, with their minds in both Baltimore and Nepal. It was a day when I let my heart feel the weight of the earthquake and the rioting. I grew tired. I played Ben Kyle’s song “Mercy” on repeat. I took deep breaths to counter feeling overwhelmed.

On a trip to the bathroom, I met Mavis. She introduced herself and invited me to come into a nearby room and see what she was doing. Mavis is part of a quilting group at church. Every Tuesday a few women get together and make quilts to donate to Lutheran World Relief. I told Mavis about my spouse and his work, that he was able to see a quilt distribution in India and see how happy it made refugees to receive something personal, colorful and warm after losing so much in their own personal lives. Mavis smiled.

“You know,” she said, “A lot of groups here at church are just fine. They get together and eat and talk, and that’s great. We do that, too. But I love that our group also works really hard and gets something done every week.”

Mavis gave me hope and pulled me out of my fog. There are things to be done. God wants to co-create with us. Mavis isn’t looking for recognition. Her works goes unnoticed, mostly. Yet she keeps on, week in and week out, using her gifts and her time making warm, personal, beautiful things to give to people who need them. On that Tuesday, when the world was hurting, I felt better knowing that Mavis and her crew were busy being doers of the word. They were making the world better, one stitch at a time.

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