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If only I could tell you with confidence that following God in the way of Jesus would prevent sadness and tears in your life.  But I can’t.  The human condition in the world shows us again and again that we are going to have to endure trials of all sorts.  The promise of a life lived in relationship to God is the ultimate ordering of all things in God’s purposes.  If any portion of Scripture is a mantra to that promise it might be these:

Psalm 126:6-7

6
Those who sowed with tears *
will reap with songs of joy.
7
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, *
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

These are the last two verses of the psalm appointed for today in the Lection of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, remembering the Martyrs of New Guinea.  Your trials may not include the physical martyrdom endured by these Missionaries remembered this day, but the fact of the matter is that every life lived in faith and discipleship is going to require a death of one sort or another.

In Sunday’s gospel from Matthew (16:21-28) Jesus makes clear that dying to self is a requirement of discipleship.  Jesus makes clear that surrender and emptying of self, abandonment of personal agendas and a radical trust on God in times of severe trial and bad news is the narrow way to living the life of Holy Union with God in Christ that we are all invited to tread.

For today (and face it that’s all we can face right now), I choose to believe that every road of sorrows I’ve traveled with weeping in my heart and tears on my cheeks, will be overshadowed by the marvelous homecoming bathed in unbridled joy which the Psalmist speaks of here.

May all our tears be followed by the songs of joy that come only from God, the creator of all.  The one which is in all and is the hope of our salvation.

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Dear St. Luke’s Community,

As some of you might know, I have succumbed to one of the latest trends in our increasingly digital and pluralistic world.

I am on FACEBOOK.

For those of you who don’t know of it, Facebook (www.facebook.com) is a social networking website in which folks can make connections with people of similar interests and communicate in real time in a virtual community. As with most of the internet, you have to take the good with the bad, but Facebook lets you choose your content and who has access to that content. But that’s not what I’m really writing about.

Earlier this week, I received a ‘bumper sticker’ on my account from on of my Facebook ‘Friends’. He is a freshman in college at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota and the oldest son of one of my seminary classmates. He still finds it amusing that relics like his mother and me are on Facebook. The sticker he posted on my site quotes noted 20th Century Anglican C.S. Lewis, saying, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” The implication, at least in part, is “there’s more to us than what you see….WAY more!”

Again last night while I was reading Ronald Rolheiser’s book The Holy Longing a similar claim barreled into my space. It said, to paraphrase, that the soul is what brings the chemicals of the body, the stuff of which we’re made, into animation. In that sense, according to Rolheiser, to lose one’s soul is to cease to live. It gave me pause to reflect. In fact, it’s still giving me that pause.

This morning I asked a gentleman who came to a meeting in my office, “How are things with your soul?” He pondered a moment and thend said, “I don’t know, I don’t think about it that much.” I was taken aback with his honesty and had to admit that though I ask the question of others fairly often, I don’t often take stock of how things are with my soul as often as I might. If my soul is that part of me that makes life fully possible, then you’d think I’d pay more attention to its health. After that meeting ended, (a couple of hours ago) I spent some time dealing with the question of how it is with my soul. It seems to me that is entirely consistent with what Lent call us to do. So, having said as much, here’s how things are with my soul just ahead of Holy Week…


Thus far this year my Lenten Journey has been, as it often is, about focusing my energies on the things that God is calling me to do and not being concerned so much with those things that I’m told I ‘ought’ to do (either by myself or others). I don’t know about you, but it makes it much easier for me to step out in faith when I sense that God’s desire is my invitation and not that the expectations of another are my compulsion. Make no mistake, some of what we ‘ought’ to do is God’s will, but I invite you to at least acknowledge the possibility that what we ‘ought’ to be spending our time doing might be taking time away from getting into the heart of God in which our souls find their true rest and most powerful inspiration.

Well, enough of the reflection, I ought to get back to work. (he said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

May the Love of Christ and the song of God in your soul inspire you to hopeful living this Holy Week!!!!

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