The friend was grabbing a lunch in a mall food court. He said he got something that reminded him of lunch, found a table, sat down and suddenly heard singing. It was Lara’s Song from Dr. Zhivago. Boy could that guy sing. The noisy food court went silent. Everyone hung on each phrase as this wonderful guy sang. When it was over everyone clapped and he started to sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
When the desert locust is around, there’s always the chance that something dangerous is going to happen. Locusts like being together and a desert swarm can pack 60 million locusts into less than half a square mile and then stretch to 460 square miles in size.
It’s every famer’s worst nightmare. Each locust can eat its weight in plant very quickly. So a full size locust swarm could devour 423 million pounds of grain each day. A whole year’s crop, a whole community’s livelihood, a nation’s survival gobbled up in minutes.
Epiphany, the church season we are walking into this morning, means revelation. So this is the Sunday in the church’s year when we reflect on this particular gift.
Revelation comes from outside you, it’s something you don’t seek, but it becomes the template for all future experience.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving, a holiday for most unless of course you’re a turkey. Thanksgiving comes down to two words. Thank you. Saying Thank You and You’re Welcome recognizes the spider web of inter-connectedness that characterizes the truth of our lives. What happens over there affects the prices of this or that on the grocery shelf over here. So a thank you recognizes truth that you and I are all connected.
We live our lives by two stories. There’s the one we present at an interview, when we want to impress people; and there’s the other one we tell only to a counselor, a confessor or the most trusted friend. The church also lives its life by two stories. There’s the story of faith, and courage, and martyrdom, and sacrifice, and perfect love. That’s the story we call All Saints. And then there’s the story of fragility, and fear, and failure, and foolishness, and forgiveness. That’s the story we call All Souls.
In today’s gospel lesson Jesus speaks to his disciples about their relationship with material possessions. As he does at many points throughout Luke’s gospel, he explains that their stance toward possessions is a very important indicator of their relationship to God, if not the most important.
Those of you who have had to make a move recently know about how quickly stuff can accumulate. So much so that two people can sit in the living room scratching their heads wondering how they are ever going to get rid of it.
Around 220 million people, more than 3% of the world’s population, are currently migrants. About one-fifth of that number travel beyond their region of origin. These folks are driven by political or economic aspiration – or more often desperation. Such desperation is increasing for a number of reasons. The political reasons mostly concern war and persecution: unrest or oppression in Zimbabwe, Colombia, Afghanistan, DR Congo and Somalia, and Syria.
Some find their way to here because they want a better life. A very similar reason as to why your ancestors made their journeys.
It was a conversation I had with myself before my son went to college. I had not saved quite enough for room and board and tuition. So I sat in a hot bath reflecting on all the stupid ways I had wasted money. Then I made a huge resolve to do things differently. That’s when I started shaving my head, so as to save 25 bucks every two weeks.
I wonder if you feel like an exception, where the inside, part of you says, “I’m different.”
I had an 85 year-old look into my eyes after hearing he had lung cancer, and that those 60 plus years of smoking Pall Mall unfiltered had caught up with him. I remember his words: “Jim,” he said, “I think that we all feel a little special that bad things may happen to others but somehow we are special and they won’t get us.” He looked at me and said “not true.”