A reflection from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Direct

The word, direct, is borrowed from a Latin word meaning to set straight or guide. We use directions/guides in all facets of our being. Cooks follow directions in recipes, teachers guide their students in learning, Conductors direct orchestras, Doctors direct patients to take medicine, and on and on. Without some direction, we are lost.

When I was young, we had to stop by a gas station for directions or purchase road maps to get directions to new places. Today, I don’t think gas stations even carry road maps any more. In today’s world, people rely on new technology called a GPS, or Global Positioning System. Miraculously, a GPS can tell an individual how to navigate to and from just about any place in the world, simply by asking and following the directions.

I’m going to take a leap of faith here and suggest that GPS might also be an acronym for another meaning. What if it also stood for God’s Positioning System? Not new technology, God’s direction/guidance was given to us from the beginning of creation by a God who not only loves us but is here to show us The Way. The past two Sundays we’ve heard Gospel readings from Luke and Jesus’ Sermon on the level place, or plain, sometimes referred to as The Beatitudes. (Lk. 6:17-38) The Beatitudes are our road map for both how God acts and how we are to act/live. Not gas station gas nor road maps, but the God given power that moves and directs us is love! 

At last July’s 79th Convention of The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry put forth The Way of Love as the Rule of Christ’s Life.  Bishop Curry had seven components in his directive: Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest, and Turn. More important than getting from point A to B, making the perfect cake, or playing in perfect harmony, is learning the way to follow Jesus, in being guided ever closer to God, in being directed/guided to new life. The most important direction is this: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Jn. 14:6)

As we approach the beginning of Lent on the 6th of March, might we use these guide lines for a holier Lent? Each day of the weeks of Lent, might I suggest that we focus on one of these seven words and use it to guide you ever closer to, and become more one with, Jesus. Not lost, you are found.

To God be the glory! Amen

A reflection from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Division or Syncretism

It wasn’t just last week’s State of the Union address that made me think about division. Rather, division seems to be a consistent theme in the world. Remember the old Gershwin song about people’s differences that went something like this: “You say potato and I say potata, you say tomato and I say tomata; tomato, tomata, potato, potata, let’s call the whole thing off!”? I think that the song speaks to the omnipresent differences in the world and our frequent approach to solving/ending them. We talk about building walls, refusing to budge, or listen to another.

 On the other hand, instead of trying to separate ourselves from what is different, might we consider embracing differences and become richer for them? I consider myself a syncretistic individual, a person who attempts to reconcile different beliefs and grow from them, to look for what we share. Our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, emphasized love over division at the Feb.7 National Prayer Breakfast. As this column’s core is religion, let me focus there.

 Parishioner Victor Chudoba, whose wife is Buddhist, has been kind enough to loan me readings from the Buddhist faith. I have grown from their words of wisdom, like; “We all have roots of goodness.” “Without dissemination, there is no religion.” “There is power of habitual practice.” Those words from the Buddhist publication, Living the Lotus, have truths and could have been written for Episcopalians. They add another insight and view of faith.

 Also, I have responded to the invitation (that we all have) to attend some of the services of the Jewish congregation, Tikkun Olam, who shares our worship space here at St. Ann’s. They’re most gracious and gave me copies of their service books. Let me share a few quotes from Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays. “Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if everything depended on you.” “Who rise from prayer better persons, their prayer is answered.” And, I found this prayer;

“These quiet moments of Shabbat [i.e., Sabbath] open my soul. Blessed with another week of life, I give thanks to the One who creates and sustains me. For all the good I have known during the days that have passed, I am very grateful. I know that I have not always responded with my best effort, but often I did try. I have tried to give my family and friends love and devotion, and I pray that I may grow more loving as the years pass. Even as I regret my weaknesses, I rejoice in my accomplishments. Let these achievements, O God, lead to many others. May I be blessed on each Shabbat with the sense of having grown in goodness and compassion.”

 Rather than calling anything off, may we embrace our differences, see the blessings in them, and grow from them. May we love one another.

 To God be the glory.

Amen.

A reflection from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Wonder

Look among the nations and see! Wonder and be astounded! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe if you were told. (Hab.1:5)

How about you? How is your “wonder” vision and what is your vision quotient? Most of us are more inclined to see snow that needs to be plowed than wonder/marvel at the reality of each unique snowflake. We shudder at the cold and snow storm and forget to give thanks that it reveals the footprints of deer at the bird feeder in the night. We dig in deep to the humdrum and often miss the miraculous. 

I suggest that wonder is as common to our lives as breathing in and breathing out. However, like our breathing, we’re often unaware of wonder’s presence. I’ll give you some examples. I’m presently reading a book, Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. I’m immersed in wonder as I’m discovering facts I didn’t know. I’ve learned that the leg muscles of a locust are a thousand times more powerful than the same weight of human muscle. I’ve learned that underneath the white fur of a polar bear their skin is black. I learned that a giraffe, whose spots are as individual as our fingerprints and snowflakes, has four stomachs.

On Monday, January 21st, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day and the wonder as well as the tragic quality of his life. It was a day to recall King’s life and words. King said wonderous and inspiring words like, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” And, “Love is the most durable power in the world.” King’s words cause us to catch our breath with wonder at their eloquence, insightfulness and truth, but years later, we’ve returned to simply breathing in and out, having lost some of the power and strength in them.

Nevertheless, the wonders continue. God continues God’s astounding work, hoping to stop us in our tracks, change our direction, and feed us in a new way. Just a week ago we were treated to a blood red moon. As I thought about the different words we use to describe the wonder of the God head, I thought about our Father, the Creator, who is always creating something new which to marvel and enjoy. I thought about Jesus, the Deliverer, whose mission is to deliver abundant forms of new life, and I thought about The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, who makes things holy. Might we become more aware of each breath, each moment, each feeling, each gift of love, and be astounded at all we have been given. You won’t believe all there is which you are offered that is wonderful and present for you to behold.

To God be the glory.

Amen