Sunday, January 31, 2016

Maturing in Faith

Readings for Jan 31, 2016

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  - 1 Corinthians 13

Click the picture to listen to the sermon

There was a video going around Facebook earlier this week – apropos of that massive storm.  It showed a boy about 5 years old – bundled from head to toe in his snow gear – outside trying to assist in the never-ending shoveling that many of us experienced.  He makes a couple of valiant attempts with his little blue shovel – but then stops – looks around – sighs.  So much snow….You know that feeling?  And finally in pure desperation looks heavenward and shouts – Jesus, make it warm!

Yes – that’s exactly what I shouted looking at all that snow.  And generally speaking know full well that kind of prayer.  Jesus fix this situation!  God make this better!  You, up there in your comfy cozy heaven – get down here and help me – help us – figure “this” out.  (“This” covers a whole lot of territory)

As children that’s natural.  A child is dependent.  Parents – or the adults that take care of us – create the world we know.  Gaining our autonomy, as psychologists tell us, is actually a slow and challenging process.  Because we want it – we want to be in control, doing everything on our own – but it’s also great to be cared for – especially when things go wrong - and it’s great to look to someone else we believe more capable to solve our problems.

We had a funeral here yesterday and the son remarked – you know, it’s hard when you lose a parent, because no matter what age you are – you are always the child.

Freud – who believed that the Judeo-Christian God was simply humanity’s wish for the ideal parent – said that one sign of a mature person is someone who can see their parents objectively.  Knowing that they too are fallible– not perfect– people - who are struggling just like everyone else.

In his book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life – Richard Rohr makes the parallel that we are also called to maturation process in our faith.  He makes the case that if we want a fuller, a deeper engagement with our religious life – then we must grow our understanding of God. The childlike notions of God we hold on to (which culture encourages) – the seated on the throne up there, man with a beard who doles out rewards and punishments – just aren’t connected with the good news of redemption and freedom that Jesus reveals.. He opens the book with this quote:

The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable.  They can never be solved, but only outgrown. – Carl Jung

This idea resonates with a theme I hear this morning.  God through the voice of the prophet Jeremiah – God through the disciple Paul – God in the person of Jesus Christ – God encouraging us to push beyond our early conceptions – conceptions that cause us to look up and say “fix it!” – and instead turn our gaze - here – inward – towards our God-given capacities to practice and imitate God’s way of relating to us.

Before you I formed you in the womb I knew you – God says to Jeremiah.  Before we were even a sparkle in our parent’s eye - That’s incredible, isn’t it?   The knowledge that every part of you was formed by God.  And not just formed – but known, inside and out.  That’s what Paul reiterates when he say – now I know only in part.  But then – when I meet God face to face – I will know just as I have been fully known.

What would it mean to live each day always aware that you were that intimately connected with God all the time?  Jeremiah says – I can’t do it.  We can relate to that, can’t we?  But God says – yes you can, because you’re mine.  You can go where I send you – you can speak words I give you – have no fear!

Fear – like pain or suffering – is one of those great problems that cannot be solved – only outgrown.

 You know the scripture verse - There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

In short Jesus is asking the people in his synagogue – or church – to choose love over fear.  At first they are all filled with amazement when one of their very own stands up to proclaim – that God is here to proclaim – release, redemption and freedom.  But then, Jesus keeps talking – going on to say – oh, but not just for you – release, redemption, freedom for everyone! Including the people you don’t like!  The ones you try and keep out!  And he reminds them of all the times in the past where God’s released and restored the enemies of God’s chosen.  Jesus says the love I’m talking about is for everyone – even the people you’re afraid of.

In our world we struggle with the same.  There are many voices telling us to choose fear over love when it comes to whether or not we are to welcome the stranger.

In Falling Upward – Rohr says – in the first half of our lives – we must create the boundaries – we must build the fences there is a time when – as Frost wrote – Good fences make good neighbors – but you don’t stop there, you don’t just build fences.  You eventually need to cross beyond them to actually meet your neighbors.  (Love your neighbor – as you love yourself.)

If Jesus’ words – so linked to a time and place – are hard to follow (I think they are).  Paul says it in a way that is timeless.

The perfect love of God, the love that casts out our fear – isn’t about doing things perfectly (in fact quite the opposite).  It’s about wholeness of being.  Living our lives paying attention - aware of how we are – within ourselves and with our neighbors.  This passage so often heard at weddings gets linked to the romantic idea of love – and it has nothing to do with that.  It’s describing God’s love for us which those of us in Christian community are called to imitate.  You could read the whole thing and replace Love with God.

God is patient – God is kind.  God is never boastful or arrogant or rude.  God doesn’t insist on God’s own way.  God is not envious or irritable or resentful.  God does not rejoice in wrongdoing – but rejoices in truth – which always sets us free.

And God who has known us since before we are born has given each of us this ability.  That is how God formed us – created us – to be – all the time.  Knowing we won’t always get it right – but just as God always gives us a second and third and fiftieth chance to try again – we have the same capacity.  For ourselves – and for all those we are in relationship with.

Paul’s words could be a daily meditation that every day, all day long we have the opportunity to live what we believe.

Because - the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable.  They can never be solved, but only outgrown.

So often we want things to be different – we want snow to melt – we want people to change – we want the circumstances of our lives not to be what they are.  There is always – something.  But as we grow in the knowledge that we are the ones God has equipped to practice the love of God – we open our hearts to the blessings available now – just as the heart of God is open to who we are right now –  in the midst of the problems we face – the ones we overcome – and the ones we don’t.  

How we spend our lives is how we spend our days. (Annie Dillard)  Moment by moment – day by day – the release and redemption and freedom of God’s love is always around us – if and when we choose to see it – if and when we choose to be it.  Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Big Picture Thinking

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed....
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 1 Corinthians 12:1-6

To listen to an audio version click the picture below.  

One day a traveler, walking along a lane, came across 3 stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am making a living!” Still no wiser the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that its square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it is the best stone in the wall”  Still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: “I am building a cathedral.”*

Three people all engaged in the same task, all using similar gifts.  But only one – the one who works in joy – sees his work as part of a bigger picture.

In his letter to the church in Corinth – Paul is addressing – the proverbial stonecutters of his church.  It sounds as though he is answering their question, or maybe settling an argument.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.”  Which certainly implies they are.   It sounds like the people of his church are in competition, arguing over whose gifts and tasks are more important.  Instead of focusing on their cathedral – they are comparing all their stones and trying to rank order their importance.

Comparison.  Here’s a good saying to keep handy for the New Year – Comparison is the thief of happiness.++

It’s such a gremlin isn’t it – comparison.  We do it all the time.  We compare ourselves with people we know.  We compare ourselves with people we don’t – famous people, models and movie stars.  We compare our bodies – our hair – our clothes.  We compare our career to others – our education – our families.  We compare houses, inside and out.  We compare churches and styles of worship. We compare our situations – our accomplishments.

And this saying – that engaging in comparison is a thief of our happiness – rings true, because rarely do compare ourselves in a positive way.  Usually we’re comparing believing others have it better than we do. That’s certainly what it sounds like the people in Corinth are doing.  Or maybe they are doing the – if only – comparison.   If only I had wisdom, or knowledge.  If only I could do that, achieved that, looked like that – then – it would all be good.  If only I could cut my stone like she does – then it would be better - I would be better – than who I am right now.

And that’s the thief.  Believing we aren’t worthy as we are.  That thief robs us of gratitude of what we’ve been given.  The gratitude which propels us to joyfully live into our gifts, our talents, our abilities – sharing them because we know, we trust they are part of a big picture.  There’s only one reason the third guy is happy - If we don’t think our stones matter to the cathedral – then where’s the joy in making them at all?

What are the gifts God has given you to share with the world?  Do you share them?  Do you compare and rank them – or do you share them joyfully, in gratitude?

I mean remember when you were pagan?  That’s Paul’s question.  How about you?  (I’m not a pagan!)  Let’s define pagan like this – a time when we look to the prevailing culture to set our values/priorities for us.  For me the last time I was pagan – and yes it happens daily – let’s say 8 o’clock last night – when I saw an ad on TV that made me feel less than for one reason or another, or made me covet, want something I didn’t need, or made me think I was better than someone else.

That’s what Paul points to.  Remember when you were a pagan and you worshipped idols – the god of wealth, or beauty, or status?  Gods that aren’t in relationship with you – because they don’t really care about you – they care about satisfying their needs – and reminding you that your needs will never be satisfied.

But you, brothers and sisters, have been formed of the Spirit – have been blessed by the Spirit – are intricately and indelibly sealed by the Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever!  Wow – that is such an amazing and glorious big picture!  Of love – of belonging – of meaning and purpose.  That’s what the gifts and the talents are for!  When was the last time you lost yourself in the midst of doing something – lost track of time because you were so engaged in your work, or conversation, or learning, or sharing something of yourself?  That is transcendence.  That is big picture connection!

We who are many are one body – Paul writes elsewhere.  The Body of Christ – is created when we share who we are with one another as a part of this big picture. Empowering – not ranking - others to share their gifts, joyfully for the mutual benefit of bringing in the kingdom.

That is the activation of the Spirit as Paul says.

Perhaps some of you heard about our church – the larger church we call the Anglican Communion – in the news this week.    Right now, across the pond, there is a Primates meeting.  There are 38 churches – such as the Episcopal Church of the United States – and each one has a presiding bishop or archbishop.  Ours is Michael Curry.  Periodically – the Archbishop of Canterbury – who is the head of the Church of England calls all 38 leaders to a meeting.  This is a gathering of our Communion.  The gathering itself is what we call “an instrument of unity.”  A sign of the big picture – leaders in common prayer – sharing their varied experiences of living the gospel of Jesus Christ in their context with their gifts.

The Episcopal Church’s context and gift is being a church of inclusivity.  Inclusivity not based on social theory or political leanings – but based on theology.  Theology expressed most succinctly in one of our prayers - Lord Jesus Christ you stretched his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross so that EVERYONE might come within the reach of your saving embrace.  We are a church that lives into that sacramentally.  We believe same gender couples are worthy to be married.  We believe straight, gay and lesbian people are worthy to be ordained.  Not all of the other 38 churches agree.

So believing relationship always is the priority, at this meeting, the Episcopal Church agreed to abstain from voting on ecumenical and interfaith bodies appointed to represent the Communion.   For all intents and purposes a completely symbolic action – with actually no real consequence in the day to day operations of any of the churches of the Communion – including ours.

So when you read the completely incorrect headlines of news media – such as the Washington Post which read, Anglican Communion Suspends the Episcopal Church after Years of Gay Rights Debates (1/14/16) – know that it is wrong.  It’s wrong because it’s comparing.  It’s comparing the Anglican Communion – to the Roman Catholic Church.  A church that has a pope – and a hierarchical, doctrinal structure.  

In the words of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry - The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships that have been built on mission partnerships; relationships grounded in a common faith; relationships in companion diocese relationships; relationships with parish to parish across the world; relationships that are profoundly committed to serving and following the way of Jesus of Nazareth by helping the poorest of the poor…. That’s what the Anglican Communion is, and that Communion continues and moves forward.” (

That is the sort of big picture – relational – not hierarchical – thinking that Paul encourages his people – and us – to embrace.  In our small and big picture way – we too are a beloved community built on relationship.  Brought together by the activation of the Holy Spirit – so that each of us can discern and share our spiritual gifts – for the common good.  The common good of this body – and – the common good that is the kingdom of God – in the world.

In this New Year – may we commit ourselves to sharing – and revealing bit by bit – the kingdom made real when we find our communion in God.  Joyfully sharing the gifts God has given every single one of us.   Amen.

* Source is anonymous, but I found it here -

++ Attributed to a variety of people, I got it from Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Into the Regions Beyond

The Feast of the Epiphany
The Rev. Joshua Rodriguez-Hobbs

Into the regions beyond. That is my seminary motto, and during my time at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, I saw it prominently displayed on every official publication. Into the regions beyond. It comes from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, in which Paul expresses his desire to preach the gospel in the regions beyond Corinth. It was chosen because Berkeley was founded to train missionaries.

Into the regions beyond. I think it’s also a good phrase to describe our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this morning. For the magi, the wise men, coming from the East as they do, Jerusalem was the regions beyond. Matthew isn’t very specific, just naming a direction on the compass, and throughout the years, people have suggested origins as fantastic as China for the magi, but they probably came from Persia, in the regions beyond the borders of the Roman Empire. These strangers in a strange land journey beyond their own region, into another, and when they get there, they have to journey beyond their expectations. They come seeking a king, so they head to the palace in Jerusalem. That seems like a logical choice, doesn’t it? But the king is not there. He is in the little town of Bethlehem, far from the centers of power. The magi don’t find what they expected: two young peasants and their baby. That doesn’t seem very grand, at all. But Mary and Joseph probably weren’t expecting the magi, either. These strange foreigners, more magicians than wise men, bring precious gifts to a baby who they believe is the new king of a foreign country, fulfilling the prophecy given to a people not their own about a messiah they probably didn’t believe in. None of those gathered in that house in that little town could have expected this. And then, gifts given, the magi set out into the regions beyond again, returning to their country by another way.

Mary and Joseph and Jesus head into the regions beyond, too. Our reading this morning ends before Matthew’s story does.            Matthew goes on to tell of how Herod, when the magi failed to returned, ordered his soldiers to slaughter the male children in Bethlehem so that this newborn king  could not challenge him. An angel comes to Joseph in the nick of time, warning him in a dream to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt. The Holy Family live as refugees there until Herod dies. This is a story about going beyond: beyond expectations, beyond religious boundaries, beyond the safe confines of home. And, like all good stories, it is about us too.

Like the magi, like the Holy Family, we too are called to venture out into the regions beyond. It can be scary,  I know. It can be bittersweet and exciting and wonderful too, can’t it? I’m feeling all of those emotions today, as I stand among you for the last time as your Associate Rector. We’re all, in our own ways, going into the regions beyond today, like the magi. This can be an uncomfortable place to be, poised between one thing another, ready for the journey to begin and dreading to leave what we know and love behind. But the call of God to God’s people throughout the story of scripture is: “Go.” Go and make disciples of all people. We cannot do that until we venture into those unknown, uncertain regions beyond the safety and surety of our church buildings, going where people are.

That is, in part, why I am beginning a new ministry as a hospice chaplain. This is my region beyond, the new place to which God is calling me in my life. I would be lying if I told you that it was easy to say yes to that call, because it means leaving all of you, leaving this community where I have learned what it means to be a priest, to be your priest. Following this call to journey into the regions beyond means giving our present relationship up, because I will no longer be your priest. This is bittersweet. We cannot go home by the same way. Our relationships must change.

You are all called to go into the regions beyond too, of course. That call looks different for each of us. It is difficult for all of us, because it often requires us to leave something behind. But we believe that God goes ahead of us, guiding us, just as the star guided the magi to Bethlehem. This community is already going into the regions beyond. This is the reason we send our teenagers on a pilgrimage, on a journey to find God in an unfamiliar place, so that they can better recognize the signs of God’s presence when they return home. You are all already living into that call with courage and faithfulness. Over the past three and a half years, I have watched with wonder and delight as the Outreach Committee has prayerfully discerned what God is calling this community to do for our city, reworking our ministries to bring us more closely into relationship with others. This has not been easy. It has been hard and frightening. But look at where we are today: Good Shepherd is pioneering using our endowment funds for ministry by making microloans lift the people of Baltimore out of poverty; our Habitat for Humanity ministry has expanded to include both Govans and  Sandtown; we are forming relationships with St. Luke’s Church on Carey Street, relationships which are changing us for the better as much as they improve  the lives of the people in Baltimore’s Franklin Square neighborhood. Friends, you are already going into the regions beyond.

Going into the regions beyond is still difficult and frightening, just as Matthew’s story of the magi is difficult and frightening. But God goes with us, just as God went with the magi and the Holy Family, just as God is with us today. The journey may be hard, but God always gives enough grace to get us home by another way, even if it is not the way we expected or wanted.

My prayer for you, as we say goodbye, each of us going our own way into the regions beyond, is that you will make this journey with courage and with faith. I know that you will, because I know that the words St. Paul wrote to the Philippians are true for you, also: I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:3-6) Amen.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oh the Humanity

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Christmas
Year C

After three days they found Jesus in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. (Luke 47-52)

To listen to the sermon, click the image below:

About two years ago I wrote an essay which tried to answer this question – highlight the relationship between a core Christian assertion and the goals of ministry.  There are several core Christian assertions one could choose from, obviously – God as eternal – Jesus as fully divine – the church as the household of God on earth – but for me – there is primarily one Christian truth that fascinates me more than any other.  It’s one we kind of take for granted – yet I think find hard to explain or articulate if we are pressed.

We say it in a variety of ways every time we gather for worship – we said it this morning in our opening collect.  But the explanation within Eucharistic Prayer A – is the one I chose – and choose when I want to remind myself of God’s presence in my life…I’m sure it will sound familiar to you –

God, in your infinite love, you made us for yourself.  And when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal son – to share our human nature, to live – and die – as one of us – to reconcile us to you – the God and Father of all.

Share our human nature – that’s the phrase that is so rich, so intriguing for me.  It summarizes all we give thanks for during this season of Christmas, the miracle of the Incarnation.  The reality that God – try as God might through all the prophets of ages past – just had to enter into – had to share in the human experience in the only way God could – by being born.  Not wearing humanity like a costume or mask – that God could take on and off like a superhero – but literally share life – a finite life – to show that God refuses to live apart from us.

When we’re in a year of Luke’s gospel – as we are now – all of Christmas is contained in this chapter, chapter two – this morning’s section being the third and final part.  The first is the birth – Joseph and Mary being sent out because of the census – finding no room at the inn – the shepherds and the angels – thanks to Charles Schulze (and I really do mean thanks) if there is any scripture story we’ve committed to memory, it most likely is the birth of Jesus as recited by Linus.

Section two is Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to be presented in the temple as a baby, which would be the faith custom of their time – not a baptism, more like a dedication – dedicating the child to God while offering sacrifice, as would happen with any child of a faithful household back then.

And the third section is this – the last we hear of the child Jesus.  Again we are reminded of Mary and Joseph’s faithfulness.  This is an annual trip to Jerusalem – a pilgrimage for the Passover.  They probably would have gone with a large group of family and friends to safely make the journey.  So, while we may wonder how it is that Jesus (you know, being Jesus) could have so easily slipped away, unnoticed by his parents – it’s all too human. Think of being with a crowd of cousins.  My daughter enjoyed her cousins (up in Lawng Island) this Christmas and there were many times one or another would come in the room and say – have you seen so and so – and we would say – check outside, check the basement.  They’re around here somewhere!

And I’m sure it was the same in Jesus’ family.  Kids everywhere – parents sharing in the watching – and all assuming a 12 year old was well aware of when he was supposed to be where he was supposed to be.  And I’m sure all of us can feel tremendous empathy with Mary and Joseph when Jesus isn’t where he’s supposed to be.  And they have to spend a day back-tracking – and then three days – in what I can only imagine would have been building, torturous panic – searching for their son.  Only to find him – quite at ease, not at all concerned about the trouble he’s caused – and surprised by their anxiety and astonishment.

Can you picture this twelve year old boy?  What is his tone of voice?  Sarcastic? Self-assured? Mildly apologetic?

How about Mary and Joseph?  Are they angry?  On the verge of tears?  Do they have that feeling that some of us know when you are telling your child – it’s not so much that I’m angry I was just so worried about you?

All of that – anxiety, amazement, fear, anger, sarcasm, terror, surprise, concern, panic, sighs of relief – all of that – is human nature.  If you were God – if you were omniscient, all powerful and all loving – why in the world would you want to enter into that?  What does that say to you about God and God’s love for all people?

In Luke’s telling of Jesus’ childhood – the only telling of Jesus’ childhood – he seems to imply that Mary is the first to get what God is up to.  When the shepherds run to find the holy family – and tell Mary what they saw – the angels in heaven announcing Christ’s birth – it reads that Mary treasured their words and pondered them in her heart.  When Jesus is presented in the temple, the priest Simon blesses both parents but turns to Mary to say, this child is destined for greatness – but a sword will pierce your own soul too.

And after this incident, when Jesus leaves the temple obediently returning to his parents – it reads – His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

For Mary, each experience is meant for reflection.  And she grows in awareness of who her son is and grows in awareness of who God is.

And growing is a big part of human nature.  We are not finished at any one particular point in our lives – well – yes, our lives are finite – but our faith is not.

We us this gospel story as the scriptural basis for confirmation – just as Jesus claims his identity in God at the age of 12, somehow around this age we too should be able to claim that identity.

Well, on the one hand I agree in the necessity of ritual.  We need rituals to mark passages in our life of faith – just as in other areas of our lives.  You feel like you’ve graduated, not so much because of the piece of paper – but because you attended the graduation.

But – confirmation is not graduation – although – as I discussed with family and friends over the past week – that’s often how we treat it, in a variety of Christian denominations.  We prepare for confirmation by learning the answers – and then we get confirmed – and then – well, often times, we stop coming to church…at least for awhile.  And who knows – maybe that’s what Jesus did too.  Maybe that’s why we don’t know anything about him between 12 and 30 – because he got tired of being dragged on pilgrimages with his parents – and wanted to break out there and explore his faith on his own….And even though we don’t have the stories, I can’t imagine Jesus ever stopped exploring.

And the same is true for us – to keep exploring.  We don’t graduate in Christianity – we just get born again and again.  We keep seeking, questioning, discovering and wondering so that we too can treasure and ponder our experiences in our hearts.  Asking God to help us sort through the experiences and the questions – asking God to lead us to that place where we will find reconciliation – wholeness.

This morning’s story – so rich in human experience – so filled with relationships and situation that even two thousand years later we can still relate too – reminds us that it’s within the human experience where we find God – because that’s where God sought to be found.

What aspects of your human nature do you connect with God?  Mary says to Jesus – why have you treated us like this?  When in your life have you asked God that question?  Jesus responds not with an answer – but with another question – Why are you looking for me – you know where to find me? Do we know where to look?  Are we looking – as Jesus encourages – in the most obvious places?

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who shared our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ.  May our New Year bring renewed awareness of our life with God and in God – through the richness of life that God has given to all of us.  Amen.