Out-of-Control & Unnecessary

Friday, November 28, 2014 – Proper 29, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 140, 142 (morning) // 141, 143:1-11(12) (evening)
Zechariah 14:1-11
Romans 15:7-13
Luke 19:28-40

In this morning's gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus to get his disciples under control. As Jesus rides a colt toward Jerusalem, "the whole multitude of the disciples" starts praising God "with a loud voice." They proclaim Jesus as their king. When the Pharisees say to Jesus, "order your disciples to stop," his answer shows how pointless it would be to give the disciples orders: "I tell you , if these were silent, the stones would shout out."

This exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees tells us a lot about our discipleship. First, the disciples of Jesus are sometimes out of control! Jesus declines to give them orders, in spite of the religious leaders who want him to get the disciples in line, to tone down their volume, to reign in their joy. Where the Pharisees expect a religious hierarchy that can give people orders from the top down, Jesus instead inspires a kingdom with an unstoppable momentum. There are some proclamations of the kingdom that no religious leader can bring under control.

The second implication of Jesus' brief conversation with the Pharisees is that the kingdom doesn't necessarily need us. If we weren't here to lift our voices and celebrate Jesus as our king against the powers of this world, then apparently even a rock could do our job for us. This fact may not make us feel very special, but it should come as a relief to know that the kingdom doesn't rest solely on our shoulders. Jesus includes us in the joyful celebration of the kingdom simply because he wants us to be a part of it, and not to burden us.

How can these implications challenge our discipleship today? How can we follow the Christ who doesn't give us orders, and who doesn't even need us? Perhaps we can start by turning up the volume, doing something a little loud and out-of-control. We can also do something totally unnecessary . . . something pointless, useless, joyful, beautiful. These out-of-control, unnecessary acts can open our hearts to the kingdom Christ invites us into, and to becoming disciples who can respond to Christ's invitation.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

An Only Child

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 – Proper 29, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:145-176 (morning) // 128, 129, 130 (evening)
Zechariah 12:1-10
Ephesians 1:3-14
Luke 19:1-10

At the end of today's first reading from the prophet Zechariah, God does not promise peace and justice. Instead, God says, "I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication." Soaked in this spirit, God's people will "look on the one whom they have pierced," and they will "mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn."

That spirit of compassion and supplication is the sign of God's presence with us. That spirit prompts us to see each of God's children as God sees them: as victims of injustice, and as intensely beloved as any one child could possibly be.

What's more, God's love for his children is not as easy as the instinctual love for a pure-of-heart newborn that some parents experience. As our second reading reminds us, God's love for us is an adoption. God's love searches for us and chooses us. It is not prejudicial or bound by cultural preferences, such as for a firstborn. And it overcomes mistrust, uncertainty, and feelings of unworthiness.

Today, let us pray for a spirit of compassion and supplication, so we can mourn for the victims of injustice, both the named and the unknown, certain that they are claimed and loved by God as if they were his one and only child.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Joy of Waiting

Matthew 13:24-37

Sometimes it seems that contemporary Christians have the attention span of humming birds. We flit from task to task, distraction to distraction. Sure we're working hard. We're meeting our obligations. But our days are ruled by the crisis du jour, interspersed with escapist entertainment. String enough of these busy days together and we risk lifetimes of mindless, soulless busyness. So it’s a blessing that, before we get multi-tasked into a spiritual stupor… Advent is back again.

It seems a stretch to call a season of waiting a blessing. No one is happy when they learn they have to wait. We associate waiting with dentists’ offices and traffic jams. Life has taught us that waiting is the inactive, meaningless period we must pass through before we can get to the active, meaningful stuff. Sure, Advent is a time of waiting. But when it’s done right, it’s far from meaningless and inactive. It’s a time of joyful, creative waiting.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run and not be weary. It’s a sports truism that victory is won on the practice field. Triumph is in the training, conditioning and preparing for the contest. The same is true for life. While we cannot foresee every contingency and crisis, we must be spiritually forearmed. We must prepare for the hard-knocks and gut-shots life always has in store. Anticipation… contemplation… examination… preparation… that’s what Lent and Advent are for. Thank you, Lord. To paraphrase the hit song from “Mame”… We need a little Advent now!

This Sunday's gospel nails the spirit of the season. Jesus tells us to snap out of it. Get our priorities straight. Stay awake. Get ready. The Lord is coming. Being serenely, confidently prepared… being as one with Christ…that's what's important in life.

In our hyper-caffeinated world, while we're coping with high levels of family, job, social and economic stress, there's little chance of literally falling asleep on God. But there is a major risk of falling into routines that leave no room for him...that drag us down in a succession of hectic, Godless days. We certainly don't set out to disrespect God, but indirectly we’re telling him that he's got to wait his turn. We have so many more pressing things to do. Advent is an opportunity to snap that spiral...to put Jesus back in the center of our lives.

Grace is a gift from God. But grace is no guarantee of holiness. We must cooperate with God's grace to nurture holiness. We must protect it, grow it and give it back to God. It's the healthiest habit we can ever have. It builds character, serenity, joy...all the great, good things of a vigorous Christian life. And it all starts with staying spiritually awake, being prepared for Christ's coming, welcoming him into our lives every day… not as a vague abstraction, but as the driving force. It is a very tall order. Merely wishing won't make it so. We have to work at it. And that's where Advent comes in again.

Let's not wait for God to knock. Invite him in every morning in Advent. Start the day with a greeting. Praise the Lord. Thank him. Ask Jesus to stay with you through the day. Then check back as the day goes on: before meals, between tasks, in breaks, on errands. Make Jesus an integral part of your routines. It's the very best thing you can do with your day. Then end the day with Jesus. Tell him your problems. He'll help sort them out. Get up the next day and do it all again. Keep at it. And pretty soon you'll find far greater peace and purpose in all you do. Soon you'll be able to say: "I'm ready Lord"...and really mean it, because you will be.

That’s the joy of Advent. It’s the joy of waiting on the Lord.


The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.

Let It Go

Monday, November 24, 2014 – Proper 29, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)
Zechariah 10:1-12
Galatians 6:1-10
Luke 18:15-30

In today's gospel, Jesus encounters "a certain ruler." The ruler acts like he wants to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, but he seems to need applause more than a genuine answer.

Unfortunately for the ruler, Jesus didn't come to form a mutual admiration society. The ruler starts by calling Jesus, "Good Teacher," but Jesus won't let himself be flattered. He responds, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." Jesus won't take any credit for goodness.

Jesus also won't give an answer to a question that wasn't asked in earnest ("What must I do to inherit eternal life?"). Instead, Jesus just points out that the ruler thinks he already has the answer and doesn't really want one from Jesus. As Jesus tells him, "You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; etc.'" The ruler proudly confirms that he has kept this complete checklist of commandments from a young age. To the ruler's surprise, Jesus tells him, "There is still one thing lacking."

Now that Jesus has broken down some facades, he and the ruler can have a real conversation. There will be no more buttering up with compliments and no more fishing for affirmation. Jesus instead points the ruler straight to the barrier that stands in the way of this man's path to the kingdom, and to a real relationship with Christ.

Jesus says, "Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor . . . then come, follow me." Jesus tries to shake this man loose from his pretenses and from his possessions, those things the ruler clings to as signs of his own goodness. But it is only when we let these things go that we can truly and freely follow Jesus.

If Jesus could cut through the ways we flatter him and the ways we think we please him, what would he say to us? What very, very hard thing would Jesus tell us if we weren't so busy praising him or trying to earn his approval? Surely there's something we can let go of today in order to grow closer to Jesus, who wants to know us without barriers, obstacles, or masks.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Something in the water

Psalm 118 (Morning)
Psalm 145 (Evening)
Zechariah 9:9-16
1 Peter 3:13-22
Matthew 21:1-13

Recently some friends of mine and I were together, and I'm sure you know how this goes--One says something, another makes a clever comeback, and suddenly it's just one hilarious remark after another until everyone's abdomen aches from the belly-laughing. When we all catch our breath, someone says, "There must be something in the water."

FontSalisbury.jpgWell, our Epistle reminds us that there's something in the waters of baptism, too.

Today's reading from 1 Peter brings up that old bugaboo of fear and uncertainty. The reality is that no matter how convinced we are that we are God's beloved sons and daughters, we still encounter uncertainty in life, and there are always times that we never know if we are doing the right thing, or making the right decision. We encounter situations where we know deep in our hearts we did nothing wrong, but things are simply not turning out well.

Our tendency is to second guess (that old "woulda, shoulda, coulda" trip around the barn--maybe even several trips around the barn) and often, the tendency of others is to tell us just how we messed it up. But really, until time passes, we don't know how it's going to turn out. We only know we did the best we could at the time we did it.

When we are maligned or our reputation suffers, it's incredibly painful. Yet it's the exact time we need to remember that there's something in the water--namely that Christ joined us in baptism and mingled in that water is the pain of Christ's own sufferings when he walked this Earth. Whatever we're feeling, we at least can take comfort that Jesus "gets it."

Suffering, however, isn't the only thing in that water. Christ's saving grace and healing power is in there, too. The purpose of baptism isn't to remove our crud or make the crud of life go away--it's to join each of us to Christ and to one another, and there's power in that knowledge, as well as comfort, grace, and blessing.

When is a time in your life that your Baptismal Covenant reminded you that you were not alone in your suffering or uncertainty?


Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.

Giving thanks

Saint_Cecilia_Wymondley.jpgReading from the Commemoration of Cecelia

Then the three with one voice praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace:
‘Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our ancestors, and to be praised and highly exalted for ever;

And blessed is your glorious, holy name,
and to be highly praised and highly exalted for ever.

Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
and to be extolled and highly glorified for ever.

Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne on the cherubim,
and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.

Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
and to be extolled and highly exalted for ever.

Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
and to be sung and glorified for ever.

‘Let the earth bless the Lord;
let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, mountains and hills;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, seas and rivers;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, you springs;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, all wild animals and cattle;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

All who worship the Lord, bless the God of gods,
sing praise to him and give thanks to him,
for his mercy endures for ever.’ - Azariah 1:28-34, 52-59, 68

When I first became an Episcopalian, we were using the 1928 prayer book. It was one of the things that drew me to the church in the first place. Another was the corporate chanting the canticles for Morning Prayer, including one called Benedictus es, Domine which was one our parish used after the reading of the first lesson. Standing in the little church, built in 1697, it was like being surrounded by all those who had stood where I did, chanting the same words. It was a feeling of being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.

We only chanted verses 28-34 of this morning's reading. but then, we didn't hear a lot about the apocryphal writings. It has been a joy to discover the origins of one of my favorite chants and find that there is so much more there.

The Song of the Three Young Men was an addition to the book of Daniel, and was said to be praises to God as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood in the fiery furnace where they had been thrown by Nebuchadrezzar for refusal to worship an idol. Instead of seeing them die horribly, those who witnessed saw not three who had gone in but also a fourth, and none of them had so much as a hair singed. The song reported here was sung by Abednego (Azariah) and was a catalogue of creation, animate and inanimate, and which blessed or conferred on God a part of their own beings and not just mere words. In the concluding verse, Azariah calls for those who worship God to bless, praise and thank God. That part about thanking is particularly important this week when we celebrate the holiday we call Thanksgiving.

Think of Thanksgiving and most folks will visualize a big, golden-brown baked turkey on a platter surrounded by dishes of various sorts from mashed potatoes to green bean casserole to jewel-like cranberry sauce. A few will be industriously making lists and checking newspaper ads for Black Friday sales the next day. The intent of Thanksgiving, however, is focused in the word itself -- giving thanks for all the blessings we enjoy (and maybe some we don't really consider joyous but for which we feel we should give thanks anyway). We are encouraged to stop and give thanks not only to God but for those who surround us daily: our families and friends, a roof over our heads when so many go without, clean air and water (which again, so many do without), the ability to go to church (or not) at the church of one's own choosing, the ability to disagree and debate without fear of imprisonment or death, and so many other things. Once a year we are reminded to be thankful for what we have, and encouraged to not just sit down to a long table surrounded by family and great quantities of food but to also remember the homeless and hungry by volunteering at soup kitchens and food banks.

It is also a time to bless God and be thankful for the gifts we have received over the past year -- or even years. Among the things I am grateful for are health which, even if not perfect, is still far more than so many deal with. I am grateful for friends who love, support and accept me, even when I'm cranky. I am grateful for the four furry kids I call my boys (even though one's a girl) who give me a reason to get up in the morning (a demand, really), and for the roof we have over our heads, the food on our plates and bowls, a furnace that works in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer. I'm grateful for the Episcopal Church of the Nativity which feeds and supports me spiritually.

Included in my thanksgiving this year is gratitude for Episcopal Café, Daily Episcopalian, and especially Speaking to the Soul where I have been able to share my reflections on scripture and other topics. I am grateful to Jim Naughton, who allowed me to share in this unique and respected site, and for Ann Fontaine who encouraged, questioned, edited and illustrated what I wrote. I am thankful for Jon White, our new chief, and for those exceptionally talented people with whom I work and who have offered so many "AHA!" moments. Most of all, I am thankful for the people who read and have read what I've written, whether or not they comment or "like" what I've said. It is a feeling of awe that comes knowing that my words are heard beyond the front door of my house and that perhaps someone might find something of value in them.

May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving next week, and may we all remember to join all of creation in blessing, honoring and thanking God for our many blessings.


Linda Ryan co-mentors 2 EfM Online groups and keeps the blog Jericho's Daughter . She lives in the Diocese of Arizona and is proud to be part of the Church of the Nativity in North Scottsdale.

"Saint Cecilia Wymondley" by Shaggy359 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons

Keep Bothering Me

Friday, November 21, 2014 – Proper 28, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 102 (morning) // 107:1-32 (evening)
Malachi 3:1-12
James 5:7-12
Luke 18:1-8

It's tempting to lower our expectations for justice when various powers seem stacked against us. But today's gospel reminds us that we don't have to wait for justice. We just have to keep bothering people.

Jesus tells a story about a widow pleading her case and "a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people." The judge doesn't appear to have a moral compass, a vision of God's kingdom, or a sense of human worthiness and dignity.

He does, however, have a quality that seekers of justice can use to their advantage: limited patience. The judge eventually decides in the widow's favor, saying, "because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out." Perhaps some of us are called to this ministry of bothering others in pursuit of justice!

The good news is that we don't have to wait for the institutions and systems of this world to be personally converted to love of God and love of neighbor. We just have to pester them incessantly.

The even better news is that God is much more responsive to calls for justice than the unjust judge. As Jesus goes on to say, "will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

What sort of faith will the Son of Man be looking for? From this passage, it seems that faith means seeking and fully expecting justice, even in the face of hostile or indifferent powers. Even they can be worn out by a faith that just won't wait and just won't quit.

And having faith means continuing to bother the Lord himself for the justice he longs to deliver for us. Today can bring us one day closer to God's desires for all people and to the day when the judges of this world wear out.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Finding holy ground

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’ – Luke 17:20-21

In search of holy ground, a friend of mine went on a journey to Jerusalem. She explored lots of very interesting and deeply moving places, but she came back dissatisfied. Months later, she burst into my work room excitedly waving a new find, Barbara Brown Taylor's lovely book, An Altar in the World. “X marks the spot,” she said, quoting from the Introduction. “X marks the spot. The holy ground I've been looking for is right here, right under my feet.”

Here's another story I remember, that of a woman who was very disappointed at not, for health reasons, being able to join with the Doctors without Boarders program. She had so wanted to use her medical training in aid of the poor in Africa. But then, during a visit downtown in the city in which she lived, she discovered an organization that needed her. They were offering free medical exams to mothers and children who could not afford health care.

194px-Burgruine_honberg_fenster_web.jpgI imagine the door to the kingdom of God just suddenly appearing as we go about our daily business. On street corners, in alleyways, along the path we walk through a silent early morning forest, it manifests like the gateway to the magical fairy kingdom, then quickly fades away. It is usually visible only for fleeting moments. In that instant when sunlight ignites the egg yolk colored leaves of the oak tree in the front yard, there it is. Along the misty lake shore when we hear the calling of the loons, there it is again. Or as we're crossing the street to the grocery store and a teenage boy smiles tentatively through his windshield at us after stopping even though the light is already green, I imagine it there. Or, then again, we can see it in that brief window of time when a man whose face is reddened by cold is vulnerable enough to make eye contact and ask for a few dollars to buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee. And it is present as we are visiting a friend at the hospital and talking to her about death, enjoying the particular gait of the dogs and how they embrace the smells along the pathway we walk together, serving soup, praying, or writing a check to Episcopal Relief and Development.

I have to admit that I often miss it. I am too wrapped up in what I am doing – or planning – or feeling righteously indignant about – to see its shy arrival. Later I might turn back with an, “Oh, wait. I should have handled that differently.” But by then it is often far too late. The sunlight has faded, the youth has driven on, the vulnerable man has hardened his heart and hunched his shoulders once again.

All I can hope is that each regret at a missed opportunity will make me more mindful in future. Each time I look back with chagrin and the need to be forgiven makes it possible to choose differently in the future. I hope. And I hope as well that the elusive doorway of the kingdom of God will always make its appearance in unexpected places, and that I will always have the opportunity to open the eyes of my heart and see.


Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.

"Burgruine honberg fenster web" by Sebastian Kirsche - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons

More Doing, Less Judging

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – Proper 28, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 119:121-144 (evening)
Malachi 1:1, 6-14
James 3:13-4:12
Luke 17:11-19

Our second reading this morning from the letter of James presents us with an interesting dilemma. It seems as though we can't be both a law-abiding citizen and a judge simultaneously. According to this passage, if we judge others, then "you are not a doer of the law but a judge." We have to choose whether we will follow the law revealed through Christ, or whether we will assume the role of judge. We can't do both.

But there is no room on the judicial bench for both us and God: "There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?" It seems as though we can play only one part in this universe, either "doer of the law" or "judge," and the part of judge is already taken.

Even when we seek justice or exercise our faculties of wisdom, we are not acting as judges in the sense of this passage. The judge is the one with the capacity "to save and to destroy." When we offer mercy, strive for justice, or love others, we should not take upon ourselves the burden of trying to save or destroy anyone else. The tasks of mercy, justice, and love will keep us plenty busy today, and every day.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Through the Eyes of Love

Matthew 25:31-46

trombone.jpg"Love thy neighbour… even if he plays the trombone." That's a lovely Yiddish proverb that reflects the essence, if not the sober tone, of this Sunday's gospel. Few of us have the makings of a Mother Teresa. We'll probably never be called on to drag the destitute and dying off the streets and into our homes. But chances are God will place lots of suffering people in our paths, either directly or tangentially. They may not prove to be grateful for our help. And more than likely, they'll be inconvenient and even annoying. But we ignore them at our peril.

Not only are the poor always with us, but so are the frail, the challenged, the depressed, the aged, the troubled, the addicted...they're in our towns, our neighbourhoods… even in our families. They come afflicted with every stripe and degree of pathology. They are of every age, race and condition. But they have one single unifying characteristic. They, like each of us, are made in the image and likeness of God. Their immortal souls reflect their maker. They are God's beloved. Jesus died for each and every one. No matter their condition, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must love them.

This gospel commands us to look past their brokenness and blemishes… to see the beatific vision of Jesus beaming back at us. But to see Christ in others we must learn to see through the eyes of love… that is through the eyes of Christ, who is God’s love incarnate. Like all other graces, that perspective is a gift from God, not an aptitude that we can acquire. But once that grace is received, it cannot be ignored. It requires practice and prayerful application. Seeing through the eyes of Christ, living in his love, gives every one of us the opportunity to stand among the saints, to be heroic, to empty ourselves and be filled with God's grace.

In this I have been particularly blessed. I thank God for bringing my brother-in-law John into my life. What a shower of grace he brings. From birth John has been challenged by quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His developmental disabilities have been compounded by a range of autistic behaviours. Yet there is no one I know who loves or is loved more completely than John. Commenting on the impact those with special needs have on our lives, Jean Vanier, the apostle of the developmentally challenged, writes: “I’m not sure that we can really understand the message of Jesus, if we haven’t listened to the weak, to people who have been pushed aside, humiliated, seen of no value. At the same time through them we see that we too are broken. Our handicaps are the handicaps of power… of elitism… of valueless values.”

In Proverbs 29, the Bible teaches us: Where there is no vision, the people perish. Faith is the power behind this saving “vision.” It creates an inspiring system of shared values. And that requires a shared perspective. The operative concept of this gospel is to share the perspective of Jesus, to embrace his vision, to see the world through the eyes of his love. This week’s parable poses the question: Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and... thirsty? God's conclusion and our instructions are contained in the answer: As you did it to...the least of these...you did it to me.

We cannot overstate the significance of this gospel. It is Christ's final public statement before giving himself up to the cross. It is the climax of the ecclesiastical year. Yes, there is poetry here… but the message is straightforward and imperative… no artful solicitation … no cajoling… no lofty appeal. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Welcome the stranger. Nurse the sick. Visit the imprisoned. See Christ and love him in those in need. These are our marching orders in good times and bad.

What better time to put this lesson to work? From Thanksgiving to Christmas is the traditional season of giving. Our love… translated into the currency of time, talent and treasure… is needed now more than ever, both in the parish and in the community. Jesus has told us where to look for him and how to find him. Let's not keep him waiting.


The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.

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