Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were each seven months pregnant, picking out the color of their babys’ nurseries when their husbands were each killed on the 11th of September, 2001. Suddenly Susan and Patti found themselves widows, plunged into loneliness and tragedy, trying to answer the unanswerable questions of their other grieving children.
On the morning new shows, these two widows watched the unfolding fight in Afghanistan, and learned about the plight of women there.
In Luke we get the sermon on the plane. In Matthew it’s the sermon on the mount because Matthew wants Jesus to look like a new Moses as he was writing to Jews living up North and so Jesus almost had to appear as a new Moses, bringing the law from on high down to earth.
But in Luke, Jesus is on a plane as he gathers people around him and says if you love people who love you big deal, if you do good to those who do good to you tit for tat anyone can do that.
I remember as a kid playing with friends. In the summer months I remember dividing up into good guys and bad guys. The problem always happened. When you shot someone with your cap gun, a dispute usually followed, as to whether you friend was dead, or wounded, or Paul, my next door neighbor, would say, you missed me.
Do you know of folks, for whom getting a gift is a problem? My brother prides himself on still having unopened Christmas presents from 20 years ago. That picture of leaving the gift in the box. Does it hold the same kind of sadness for you as it does for me?
Maybe you’ve got a similar resistance to being given gifts. Perhaps you recognize in someone you care about a gift that remains profoundly unopened, a skill that’s remained a hidden hobby, a talent that never blossomed into a professional calling, but could have been a blessing to the whole world.
This is Pentecost, the birthday of the church. Before being a Christian celebration, Pentecost was a Jewish holiday celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments, knowing Gods’ character through knowing the law.
Walking among tombs is probably not at the top of your list for an Easter day moment with your family, but this metaphor of darkness, when Mary went to see the grave, is something that catches us all from time to time.
A curious fan asked the seasoned veteran piano player why he chose to make his career playing jazz. The old pro looked up with busy eyebrows. “I don’t like crowds.” he said.
1) Be present, be aware
The performance of Jazz improvisation requires that the artist be fully present in his or her consciousness. Wayne Shorter expressed it well, saying that the music requires “total involvement . . . When you’re playing, the music is not just you and the horn – the music is the microphone, the chair, the door opening, the spotlight, something rattling. From soul to universe.”
What makes a good story is often conflict, how it happens, how long it lasts and how it gets settled. The younger son begins to create some conflict in this story when he asked his dad for his share of the family’s money. Normally a son might be given property before dad dies, however the dad would still administer the property.
When you first hear this parable, no doubt many think that this is a crazy, mixed up way of running a company. Five times during the day he goes out to hire workers for his vineyard and then at the end of the day pays them all the same wage. No wonder the ones hired in the morning were burned; working under the heat of the sun, while those who came last remained in the late day shade. What happens to our tidy world of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage? So what’s the point? Some parables are helped by looking at the context they appear in.
I once taught a class on the Ten Commandments. I asked people to imagine what the 11 Commandment might be. One person wrote, “Don’t get caught,” another wrote, “respect”. But another person wrote something completely different, she wrote,” Live the dream.” I remember asking, somewhat as a joke, “and which dream might that be.” I’m not sure what she said, but I think we should all live the dream.