Sermon – Third Sunday in Lent 2021 – Mother Robyn

[Jesus] also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” John 2:16

If you know anything at all about Church history you are aware that in the earliest days of the Church being a Christian was not easy or comfortable.  In the beginning it was one of a number of sects within the Jewish tradition, but not a particularly popular one.  Many of the tenets of the faith were incompatible with the common practice of both Jews and Romans.  While the first Christians valued humility and nonviolence, in speaking out against the prevailing political power and the foundational principles of the economic and social structure as well they found themselves in a very dangerous situation.  It is said that the Church was built on the blood of the martyrs and it is true that many people of faith suffered and lost their lives in the various persecutions.  To be a follower of Christ at that time required the courage of conviction and a willingness to give up everything…wealth, position, social acceptance, family and even one’s very life.  I wonder how many of us would be able or even desire to accept that cost?

The truth is we’ve all gotten too comfortable with our cheap grace and our easy religion.  We throw out cheerful, pious comments like “have a blessed day” and offer our “thoughts and prayers” but what have we really given.  We see a world of pain and suffering around us but it makes barely a ripple in our self-absorbed lives.  We spend our days working for money to acquire things we don’t need and our evenings entertaining ourselves to distract from the chaos we feel powerless to address.  We have an intellectual concern about various causes but if it doesn’t affect us directly we give lip service, maybe share a Facebook post and then put it in the back of our minds.  

What if we actually stopped for a moment in our incessant busyness and asked about a stranger’s life and then looking him or her in the eye gave them time and opportunity to tell us?  What would happen if instead of throwing out “thoughts and prayers” we really did pray for that person in distress or trouble and then got up off of our knees and gave our prayers substance by actually doing something to help?  What if a whole bunch of us people of faith just stopped…stopped buying into the comfortable lie that things will always be the way they are because they have always been that way?  What if we started living our lives like people fired up by the Holy Spirit unashamed to love openly…to welcome radically…and to stand publicly against injustice and to speak truth to the powers that be.

In our Gospel today Jesus, filled with a righteous anger goes about cleansing the Temple of those who have turned a house of worship into a market.  What this account of the story doesn’t tell us is that this temple market was common practice at the time.  Because people of faith traveled great distances to come to the Temple at Jerusalem they could not always carry their animals or grain for sacrifices with them.  Having them available to buy at the worship site was a convenience that many people would have utilized.   The Scripture doesn’t say that the sellers were extorting unreasonable amounts or that the worshippers were complaining.  Jesus went in and disrupted business-as-usual.  He obviously found the mixing of religion and commerce to be unacceptable.  

I wonder what Jesus would think about our modern religious economy….large megachurches with commercial coffee vendors outside of the sanctuary,  Bible-based theme parks, countless purveyors of religious merchandise all making a nice profit from the personal piety of the public.  Faith has become big business.  But what does any of it mean for the one who seeks to know God and to follow Jesus with an authentic faith.  I could string any number of ornate crosses around my neck, tattoo the 10 commandments on my back and fill my Virgin Mary tote bag with a huge Bible in a cover printed with John 3:16  and drive to Church every day in my car with a Jesus fish on the back and a rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror but if I have no love in my heart and no compassion for the poor, the lost and vulnerable then I am an empty vessel at best…a whited sepulcher….a liar.  

Christianity was always intended to stand in opposition to the status quo for the simple reason that the things that society seems to value are not the things of God.  Jesus tells his disciples that to follow him they (we) must be willing to give up everything.  That is not an easy thing to conceive of or to do, yet it is what is asked of us.  There are no half-measures with God…he wants all that we have and all that we are….not because God needs anything but rather it is for our benefit.  If we can lose our attachment to stuff…our fear of being without then we are free to live fully into the Gospel of love.  If we do not fear scarcity then we will be able to share what we have with those who do not have…not out of duty but joyfully out of love.  If we look forward to eternity and no longer fear death then no one has power over us and we can live our lives in the way we feel God would have us to live.  We are free to speak truth to those who may not wish to hear it.  We don’t have to worry about losing social status or reputation or influence because those things have no value for the Christian.  

To follow Jesus in the way of peace is the path to liberation….to love without condition…to compassion without limitation….to deep abiding relationships based on mutual respect and  a common goal to nurture goodness in the world and in each other.  This is the reality of life in the Kingdom.  The sad truth is that many have traded that vision for a cheap imitation…for a comfortable religion that does not challenge individuals to love boldly but rather gathers people of like mind to be entertained and props up the status quo with the lie that God’s favor leads to prosperity and power.  Whether we want to admit it or not…the United States is not God’s chosen country and its citizens are not God’s chosen people.  Our government is not ordained by God and capitalism is not holy.  Many of us have made an idol of our current way of life.  If you take the long view of history you will see that governments rise and fall…civilizations come and go…nothing lasts forever and nothing is certain but change.  

The best that any of us can do is to seek to be the best people we can be given the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Being faithful to Christ is really not that complicated…it means loving others in the way Christ has loved us….fully, joyfully, without reservation and without condition.  If this sacrificial love is your driving force it will lead you to share what you have with those who do not have…to defend the vulnerable….to comfort the suffering….to stand against injustice and to welcome the stranger…to forgive those who offend you…those who hurt you and those who persecute you….to pray without ceasing.  Following Christ doesn’t require you to sit in judgment of anyone.  That does not mean that we do not call out evil when we see it but that must be done carefully with love and with a willingness to forgive.  We teach holiness by example so do not be afraid to live your faith openly. Showing your love does not make you weak….being open to forgiveness does not make you a victim.  We are God’s gentle people and the Gospel of Christ is best shared through acts of kindness.

Brothers and sisters we live in troubling times and I know many of you are anxious about the future and suffering some measure of spiritual exhaustion from dealing with our chaotic political and economic situation.  I know that much of your distress is rooted in your concern for the vulnerable…for those who will feel most strongly the effects of policy changes made by those who have no idea what life is like for the poor and the disenfranchised.  Whatever happens in this country and in the global community to which we are all connected by virtue of our humanity and in some cases economics, the truth is our call as Christians remains unchanged.  We are to love God with all our heart, our mind and our strength and to love others as Christ loved us.  What that looks like may change in response to the events around us but the heart of our Gospel is eternal.  No matter what happens in the world we will always have opportunity to act in love…to comfort…to heal…to make peace…to forgive.

In like manner the love of God for us is eternal and unshakeable.  While we may get things wrong more often than not the Holy Spirit is constantly leading us on…nurturing the Christ within us, strengthening our faith and prompting us to greater acts of self-sacrifice.  We are God’s beloved children and we have power to change this world for the better…more power than we can imagine if we can put our fears aside and commit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We must not lose hope but keep putting one foot in front of the other…even when we cannot see the path because of the chaos around us.  God is ever with us and we are not on our own.  All of this creation is precious to the one who created it but it is through us that God’s purpose will be fulfilled.  It is through us…one good deed at a time….one act of compassion after another that the world will be changed and the Kingdom of God will be made present.

Sermon – First Sunday in Lent 2021

First Sunday in Lent 2021                                                             Kay Williams

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. The Gospel of Mark 1:9-13

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may we have eyes to see our blessings, ears to hear God’s words and the humbleness to praise and honor Christ our Lord, AMEN

It is great to be back at Grace. With the completion of AIMS, I now wait for meetings on March 18th with the Commission of Ministry and Bishop G for their decision on my next steps towards ordination.  

 Lent like Advent is liturgically set with scriptures marked with spiritually important events to ponder as we move forward towards the death and then resurrection of our Savior. Just has the scriptures guide us through Advent and the expectation of Christmas and Christ’s return, Lent reminds us, in fact calls us to be still, quiet and reflective on our lives in relationship to our risen Lord. Just as Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirt into the wilderness into soul searching isolation and spiritual battles; we to are called by the Holy Spirit to look inward at our own heart, to search our soul and reexamine our relationship with God.  

Our first reading today picks up with Noah and his family stepping out of the ark after surviving a worldwide flood. Not only does God bring them and all living creatures on the ark through a yearlong devastating flood, he also takes the time to reassure them that no matter how long and hard it rains or how fierce the winds blow there will never be another planet cleansing flood. After being locked up in the ark listening to the storm and being tossed about not knowing what would happen next, where they would land or when they  could leave the ark Noah and his family needed more than just a  few words of reassurance. They needed something concrete. Something they could point to, physically see and be reassured when the storms raged around them they did not have to fear for their lives and run back into the ark.  God gave them that reassurance, he marked his promise with a rainbow for all to see who look up. 

Did you notice God’s compassion to Noah and his family? The creator of the universe did not give Noah a list to correct in his life or his family’s, instead he provided mental and emotional comfort to their weary minds and souls. When the storms came they could look up and be reminded God was in control. The rainbow was a physical reminder of God’s covenant to never flood the earth again. As Children of God although many generations down from Noah and his sons, we in today’s downpours, howling winds and chaotic storms can look up and see a rainbow. We to have a physical reminder God remains faithful to his promises. We like Noah can look up at a rainbow and know God is still in the promise keeping, hope providing business.  

The writer of today’s Palms has been through some life storms and appears battered and weary but is able to look up. The palmist reminds us although we fail often and we don’t always trust or follow God’s ways close enough, we are still loved, guided and nurtured by God in all his marvelous, and sometimes subtle ways. Like a rainbow that quietly appears and gives those who look upon it a moment of surprise, awe and hope. 

In first Corinthians’ Paul reminds the new church that just as God waited patiently during the days of Noah, both during the building of the ark, and the year and seventeen days during the flood, God kept all those in the ark safe. God’s grace saved Noah and his family and brought them through the flood of water. Paul compares it to a baptism, in that when Noah and his family came out of the ark they began living in a new world washed clean just as our baptism washes our souls clean before God and the church. Just as the old world was washed way and Noah began building a new life, we as baptized believers turn from our old  ways and we build our new lives on the hope and promises of Christ our Savior.

The Gospel today in just six sentences takes us back to the baptism of Jesus along with God and the Holy Spirit’s reactions to Jesus’ baptism.  As Jesus rose from the water, God spoke of his love for him. God claimed him, and reassured him just before the Holy Spirt whisked Jesus off into the wilderness. When I looked up wilderness, I found words such as, uninhabited, neglected area, the wastelands, a desert. Within a breath’s moment, Jesus went from hearing God’s words of assurance to total loneliness. Just as many prophets endured hardships and times of isolation before they received and delivered God’s messages, Jesus also struggled alone in the wilderness against Satan’s attacks. Although Jesus was being obedient he had to face his personal spiritual battles and temptations with Satan. After his lonely but intense victories over Satan, Jesus began to find his way in God’s plan like the prophets before him did and we as believers are called to do during Lent. As Mother Robyn stated in her Ash Wednesday homely, “During Lent we strive to speak and act with intention, to be present. I would add to be present with God.

The pandemic has left many of us in much lonelier places with many questions, few social events and many hours at home.  Although we are around less people we are never out of God’s sight. The Good News John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed is still alive, active and with us. Let us during the forty days of Lent use the alone time the pandemic has given us to refocus our minds and hearts on the Good News that the kingdom of God is here. Let us open our hearts to God, repent, believe, and look up. We can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us through personal days of soul searching and the world’s uncertainties even if at times they appear dark and feel fearful.  

So how do we let God open our eyes and hearts once again to the refreshing soul cleansing light of Jesus and the Good News of Christ’s resurrection? First we stop and take a deep breath. Exhale slowly and look up. Take a few moments even minutes to look up and view the vastness of the blue sky or maybe the twinkling stars on a dark night. Begin to listen to the sounds of nature. If you are inside gaze out a window or upon a favorite item close by. Where ever you are, let yourself relax, smile, breathe deeply and let the truth of God’s promise that he loves you and is with you no matter what wash over your mind and heart. Next spend a few minutes reading today’s scriptures or pondering a Bible verse that floats through your mind. We could turn off the radio, TV, and phone for a minute and quietly sit breathing deeply while we remember our baptism or the baptism of a loved one. We can sit quietly and read the Bible not as chore or like it is a newspaper but prayerfully with an open mind to whatever the Holy Spirit may show us. This Lentin season we can try to daily be purposely quiet focused on God and open to whatever the Holy Spirit reveals to us. For some it will be a new discipline, for others an old practice but to all it can be a Lentin observance we can try for forty days as time carries us through this Lentin season during the pandemic. 

Brothers and sisters just as God was with Noah and Jesus as they came up out of the water, he is surely with us. Each rainbow we see in the sky proclaims God has kept his physical and spiritual promises. Jesus has won the battles, God’s kingdom is near and Jesus is the Good News. Lent is our time to refocus on our baptism, clear our hearts of the world’s clutter and be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus prepared his heart, the church has set time aside for us to prepare our hearts and lives for our risen Savior Easter morning. Let us begin Lent with open hearts towards God. 

Dec 16 2020: Suspension of In-Person Worship & Changes to Zoom

Dear Friends of Grace:
I pray this finds you all well and hopeful as the season of Advent moves us toward Christmas and the celebration of our Savior’s birth.  If you joined us for the Mass on ZOOM this past Sunday you heard the announcement that we will be suspending in person services until sometime after Epiphany. 

This is not a decision we make easily.  While the in-person attendance at Sunday Mass has remained low we had hopes of being able to return to some version of normal by Christmas.  Unfortunately, the Covid-19 numbers in the state, and particularly in Jefferson County, have risen dramatically and it has been reported that there are very few ICU beds available in our local hospitals.  Both the vestry and I have decided that in keeping with our responsibility to care for the vulnerable among us it would be unwise to continue to meet in person. 

So, going forward we will make a few changes in our Sunday worship.  We will have Church over Zoom as usual up to the Peace.  In other words, the Liturgy of the Word will look very much as it usually does but with just enough people to make the service happen….priest, deacon, lector, 2 cantors and the organist (and the camera technician).  Following the Peace we will have a short time of ZOOM fellowship to greet and check in with one another.  After that anyone who chooses to can remain on Zoom for Holy Communion…this will be a shortened version of the Liturgy of the Table without music. It was brought to my attention that many of you are missing the fellowship at the end of the service.  We decided to bring it forward to the peace so that those who do not find “ocular Communion” spiritually satisfying can still connect with the community even if they choose not to stay with us for the Lord’s Supper.

I realize that any of these “new” methods are problematic and not always spiritually fulfilling but in these difficult days we do the best we can.  The point is that we continue to meet together…even if remotely…to worship and share fellowship.  While we will not be having our usual Christmas observances please watch for announcements of opportunities for meditation and devotion.  We are working on some creative alternatives.

Thank you all for your patience and our faithfulness in this time of tribulation.  We will get through this together and I believe we will be made stronger by the challenges we have overcome.  Be safe, be well….be blessed.  Remember, dear brothers and sisters, you are called by His name and in his love you will find peace and the deep joy of knowing yourself beloved.

In Christ,
Mother Robyn

The Rev. Robyn E. Arnold, Rector

Sermon — Third Sunday of Easter. April 26, 2020

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23

In the Easter lectionary cycle this week we find ourselves on the road to Emmaus with two of Jesus’ disciples. It is several days after the death and resurrection of Jesus and there is still confusion and uncertainty about what has happened and what it all means. The tomb where Jesus’ body was buried has been found empty and apparently, some folks have seen visions of heavenly messengers claiming that Jesus, who had been dead, was now alive.

The two disciples are recounting what seems to be gossip and hearsay to a stranger who has joined them on their journey. The men give no indication that they have seen any of this for themselves but they express some surprise that their traveling companion seems to have heard nothing about the events surrounding Jesus’ trial and death. “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” After the disciples tell the man what they know and what they have heard he says something rather odd, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”

He proceeds to explain the Holy Scriptures in the context of himself. The disciples still do not recognize him but seem to accept that that he has the authority to teach them about the sacred texts. They are so engaged in the discussion that when they finally arrive at their destination they invite the teacher to dinner. When Jesus’ blesses and breaks bread with them the cloud of their confusion is lifted and they finally recognize Jesus… and then he is gone.

There are a number of inexplicable bits of this story that the author feels no need to clarify. The reader is asked to accept that Jesus was at first unrecognizable to his own followers but later his identity is unmistakable. He seems to appear and disappear miraculously and the disciples have no hesitancy in believing that Jesus had indeed been resurrected from the dead.

Reading this two thousand years after the facts we have no way to either prove or disprove the validity of the disciples’ account of these events. It is not really useful to argue over the particulars….at least not on a Sunday morning. We come to the Gospel looking for insight into our own relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We seek spiritual comfort in the deeper meaning of the story…that Christ, who is always walking with us is not always visible to us and yet, if we open our minds to the possibility he will reveal himself to us….in the breaking of bread and in the companionship of fellow seekers.

When I was in seminary I spent some of my time taking classes at the Center Theology and Natural Science which was part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. It was one of the most exhilarating and frustrating times of my academic life. I was in class with a number of other students…most of whom were also studying physics and philosophy. As a biologist, I was in the minority. If you want to be humbled sit in a room with a bunch of physicists discussing metaphysics.

Every day I would leave class feeling like I was hovering on the edge of some deeper understanding…that a profound truth was just out of reach waiting for me to recognize it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grasp it and it would slip away. I am embarrassed to admit that for a year or so I carried around a little notebook so that when I finally did have my one really good idea I would be able to write it down for posterity. I never did think that one great thought and what I did write in my little book would probably be incomprehensible to me now.

While some more practical people might consider my studies at the Center a waste of time I disagree. The bright people I met there were seeking a deeper knowledge of God through their study of the natural world. They helped me realize that there is not some great divide between the spiritual and the physical and certainly not a conflict between science and theology. It is part of our human experience to ask questions… about the world…about ourselves…about God. Asking the big questions in no way indicates a lack of faith. I think we all realize that there are many questions for which we will never have provable, definitive answers but in asking the question we open ourselves up to communication with the Holy Spirit.

If we learn anything from our Gospel lesson of the disciples’ experience on the road to Emmaus it is that sometimes we do not recognize the Lord when we encounter him. Our vision can be clouded by any number of confounding factors…fear…anxiety…guilt. Sometimes we do not see because we have not been taught how to do so…or we have acquired a world view that is too narrow to allow us to see what we cannot accept. But we do not always need to understand to experience the truth of something. The incomprehensible mystery of God cannot be reduced to a collection of facts.

We read in the 1st letter of John chapter 4 that God is love. If this is true then we will know God like we know love….in the very deepest part of ourselves…beyond thought…beyond understanding. There comes a point where we must admit that we cannot explain but we can experience it. We cannot describe or quantify love but we know it when we feel it….we see it when someone reveals it to us…in an action or a word….or even in a moment of silent togetherness… a hand held in the darkness.

Even though the disciples did not recognize Jesus until right before he left them they had a sense that something important was happening. They wanted to prolong the encounter so they asked him to stay with them. It was in the simple act of breaking bread, something Jesus had done with them countless times that they saw him as he truly was and knew themselves to be in the presence of the risen Lord. They only understood what had happened in retrospect. The same is true for many of our most profound experiences. It is only in looking back…in reflecting on them …that we see the lesson we learned….the truth that was revealed…that moment of growing insight.

I have no doubt that when the time has passed and we look back on our experience in quarantine we will realize that we have learned some very important truths…about ourselves…about our worshipping community…about the power of faith and endurance of love. Never doubt that our Lord is walking with us on this strange journey and if we allow our eyes to be opened he will reveal himself to us….in our new way of communing with each other and in our solitary communion with God.

Brothers and sisters…hold tightly to your faith…it will sustain you in these trying times. Be patient with others and with yourself…be kind to others and to yourself…and do not fear. Christ is risen from the dead and even now we too are being resurrected….reborn in his likeness, new creatures filled with light and born of love.

Sermon for Fifth Sunday in Lent. March 28, 2020

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” John 11:25-27

These words from the Gospel of John will be familiar to many of you as they are often read at the burial of our dead. I often wonder how or even if Martha understood what Jesus was saying to her in her grief over the death of her brother Lazarus. We hear this declaration of Jesus’ promise as filled with eternal hope but we listen secure in the knowledge of our Lord’s resurrection. Martha did not have this perspective. She stood desolate in the road looking to her friend for solace and for some words to help her understand the tragedy that had befallen her family. She believed that if Jesus had arrived before Lazarus’ death he would have been able to heal him. But to ask her to accept that her friend had the power of life and death…that he could resurrect someone from the grave was perhaps an unreasonable expectation.

In all probability, neither she nor Mary knew what Jesus intended to do or that he even could do such a thing. But at this moment all that mattered was that they trusted Jesus…trusted that he loved them…trusted that he loved Lazarus and trusted that he was a man of his word and would not offer them false promises. In Martha’s confession, we hear the declaration of one who believed in the fulfillment of God’s promise in the person of Jesus. He was the Messiah …the One sent by God to save his people. No one could really know how that deliverance would happen until it was accomplished.

The raising of Lazarus is perhaps Jesus’ greatest miracle…the definitive example of God’s power working through him in real-time. Although Jesus knew and accepted that God would grant him this extraordinary thing he still wept at the suffering of his friends. He could not undo the pain that they had already experienced in Lazarus’ sickness and death. Lazarus’ death was not just a means to an end. God does not intentionally inflict suffering upon his children…not to teach us a lesson or to show his omnipotent displeasure. Yes, I believe that God as the power to control every aspect of life on this planet but I do not believe that God does.

As for we the created, we live in a world limited by time and space and by our own biological processes. Everything that lives must eventually die and the bits and pieces of elemental matter that make us up, go back into the universe to become part of the whole. But the essence of us…whatever that is…goes back to the Creator. In the resurrection, we will be embodied in a new way…in a way that allows us to be one with God and yet remain ourselves. This is our hope of eternity…the nearer presence of God and for time without end.

But in this life, it is our lot to walk by faith and not by sight. We cannot know how or when God will bring his promises for us to fulfillment… we can only trust in the love of God and seek to follow the path of righteousness while we have the will and ability to do so. There is no guarantee that life will be easy but our Lord has promised to be with us no matter what we face. Whether in joy or travail we are not alone…our God is with us, loving us, strengthening us when we falter and helping us back up when we fall.

Sometimes the presence of God with us comes in the form of another person…who says the right thing at the right time….who steps in to help us carry a burden that has become too oppressive…who offers comfort and friendship without condition. Sometimes the voice of God is that still small voice within oneself telling us to get up from the dust where we have fallen…to try again. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit that strengthens our weak limbs and sustains our trembling hearts giving us courage in the moment we need it. We sense her in those moments when we have that feeling of expansive potential…when we feel the possibilities of life stretching out before us….or when we find ourselves able to do that very thing we never thought we could do.

In my own life, I have discovered that if I expect and look for the Presence of the Holy Spirit she will always show up. In fact, I have come to believe that She is always there…what changes is my willingness and ability to accept the gift of her abiding companionship.

Our Lord has given us the gift of free will and that means that we are free to turn away from the loving presence …. We are free to reject our Lord’s guidance and go our own way. But no matter how often we refuse God does not abandon us. Yes, we will be left to our own devices and the consequences of our own behavior but our Lord waits patiently to forgive and to welcome us back if and when we realize our need for God’s love.

In these strange days when we are learning new ways of living out our faith do not forget the lessons of the ancient Church fathers and mothers who sought the Lord in solitude and contemplation. In the stillness of the silence, we can often hear the voice of the Lord more clearly than in the midst of the noise of our usually busy lives. I think the issue that most of us have with contemplative prayer is our aversion to being alone with ourselves.

Perhaps the first conversation we need to have in those moments alone is the conversation with our own soul. In this intimate moment, we can bring out all of those hidden things we have pushed to the back of our mental closet…the anxiety….the fear…the anger…our internal struggle with pride and arrogance…with greed and the insatiable hunger for more….

Brothers and sisters, our Lord already sees into the depths of our hearts and knows those things that cast shadows on our lives….knows…accepts…and loves us anyway. If we can bring ourselves to lay these broken parts of ourselves before the Lord we will find comfort…and often healing. Perhaps we can take this time of imposed solitude as an opportunity to grow in self-awareness and in our awareness of the presence of the Sacred Other….the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord has not caused this crisis in which we find ourselves but God will be present in our response to it. We can take this as a spiritual challenge…a chance to practice our faith in ways we would never have imagined before. Our minds and our souls are not bound by the same restrictions of our bodies. In those moments with God, we are free and love is infinite. Do not despair. This will all pass in time and perhaps we will find ourselves stronger….more faithful…more loving and more confident in our own faith.

Paul told us in his letter to the Romans that we are not in the flesh; we are in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in us. We do not have to seek the Spirit of God she is already there within us waiting for us to recognize and welcome her indwelling Presence. This was the gift of the Incarnation. God would no longer dwell in temples made with hands but in the human heart. We do not have to gather in our Church buildings to worship our God who lives within us. We are the temple of the living God and the abiding Spirit will enliven us with her joyful energy.

Let us continue to check on one another…to pray for one another….to help the vulnerable…to reach out to the isolated using the means at our disposal and to respect and care for the temples of our own bodies. Trust in the Lord and he will see us through this life and into the next.

Be blessed….be safe….be of good courage.