In the beginning was the Word.

Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! Have I done anything to you?”

I am so thankful you have chosen to worship with us this Sunday as we celebrate the Word of God, Holy Scripture.

A little bit of catechism is helpful here: In our Holy Church the Word of God is a sacrament. The basic children’s Catechism explains that the Word of God is important because it brings us closer to God, teaches us His Divine Will, makes our faith stronger, and tells us how we can enter the Kingdom of God.

The Catechism then goes on to quote several scriptures on the importance of God’s Word. Indeed, the Word of God is the seed (Luke 8:11); and Blessed are they to hear the word and obey it (Luke 11:28).

The adult Catechism repeats much of this and adds that the Word makes us better qualified to labor for the Kingdom of God.

Today we hear God direct Elijah to anoint Elisha.

This was a bit unusual. Usually, prophets had a direct encounter with God, but not so for Elisha. Elisha received no vision; there was no cherubim and seraphim appearing to him as in Isaiah’s experience; he did not get to stand before a burning bush and hear God’s voice like Moses. In fact, the call to prophetic ministry was brought to him by Elijah alone in Elijah’s casting his cloak on him.

Then something very interesting happens. Elisha runs after Elijah who was already walking away. He asks if he can say goodbye. Elijah’s answer seems odd: Go back! Have I done anything to you?” We might think, well yeah, you did, by casting your cloak on me. But here is the key to it all. Elijah in fact did nothing. Implied here is that God chose Elisha, and he could either follow God’s will or go back. Elijah’s words were humble – I did nothing, God called you. Now is the time of choice. Elisha choses God by destroying every tie to his old life, the oxen and plow. Hear too Jesus about following Him.

After he was anointed, Elisha was marked out for service to the Lord. Elisha did not immediately replace Elijah. Once the ceremony had taken place Elisha “went after Elijah and ministered to him” 

Elisha served Elijah before succeeding him as prophet. In that time Elisha learned the loneliness of the prophetic office. He watched Elijah’s message get rejected over and over. Yet in Elisha’s ministry great miracles happened.

What will the world miss out on if we do not burn the plow and commit to God’s way and give up our own? What do we learn from the call of Elisha and our adherence to God’s word? It is that we cannot sit on the fence. When God calls in the Spirit and the proclamation of the word, we must decide. Go back to the ordinary or follow. All of us have God’s call to answer, we all hear His word, we all have a choice to make, and there is a cost to pay. Elisha never regretted his choice for God’s word and way, and neither will we.

Eat, Drink, Be Mine.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

I am so thankful you have chosen to worship with us this Sunday as we reflect, in this Octave of Corpus Christi, on Jesus’ command to eat His body and drink His blood. We rejoice in the very reality of His self-giving that makes us His.

The Rabbi of Jerusalem once visited the pope in Rome…

My dear brothers and sisters, the funny tale about the Rabbi and the Bishop of Rome is related to place and nearness. 

God had once set His singular dwelling in the midst of Israel. In fact, He was so close to His people that we dwelt in a tent alongside them. It was not until the time of King David that it was determined Israel would build a Temple for God, a more permanent dwelling. It took around 400 years to get to that point. That work was completed by King Solomon.

What did not happen though was the thing God really wanted, which was not a physical building in which to dwell. He did not need that. David’s predecessor Saul learned that lesson by his own disobedience and that of his soldiers. In 1 Samuel 15:22 we hear: Obedience is better than sacrifice, to listen, better than the fat of rams. The prophet is telling Saul that the attitude of the heart (the whole self) in relation to God is more important than external things like sacrifices and buildings.

King David himself writes in Psalm 40 and 51 respectively: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, and You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You take no pleasure in burnt offerings.

Israel knew that God desired to live completely within them, but they kept it external.

Jesus came among them, the God-man, to reveal the presence of God completely, to make His Father known, and to call people into the Kingdom. He repeats His Father’s earlier call to Israel in full reality of presence – I want to be among you, within you, and I want you to be part of me.

As St. Paul tells us, I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over… He repeats the key words of Jesus repeated by the Church all through history – This is My body, This is My blood

Jesus not only left us His words, His gospel way of living, but in His example, instruction, and command His very presence – the totality of His being body, blood, soul, and divinity – so that His singular dwelling would be in the Church – that is – in us.

We fulfill what Israel did not, having Jesus – God Himself – dwelling within us. He is no longer in a tent in the camp, or in one special building. We are His place, we are His. Let us celebrate that now and always rejoicing in Jesus’ precious gift of self, bearing and sharing Him with joy before all.

I say again, Rejoice!

“[The Spirit] will glorify me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is Mine; for this reason I told you that He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.”

I am so thankful you have chosen to worship with us this Sunday as we reflect on the mystery of God.

This is one of those fun days in the life of the Church where the congregation sits back and watches the pastor as he tries to explain the unexplainable, as he invents poor analogies and repeats fanciful stories thinking they might cover his inability to really get at the core of Who God is. It is like watching a slapstick comedy, people tripping over shoelaces and tumbling about in an effort to get from one side of the stage to the other.

Besides the tumbling about, we must wonder why so many try. All of you, the members of Christ’s body, the Church, dwellers in the Kingdom, are not even looking for an explanation. You keep it simple. We adore one God in three Persons. You own this mystery. You view this mystery practically – not in its academic analysis, but in what it really is. I’ll talk about that in a moment.

First, I want us to imagine that moment we get to heaven. We’ll be standing there at the gates. We might come to the gates with an agenda – what is God like, where’s mom and dad, my best friend, those I love? Oh yes, that one thing I could never figure out… Then God will reveal Himself to us in all His majesty, His presence, as He is, and we will finally get it. Our questions and wondering will be gone. It will be so simple that a child could figure it out. It will be so beautiful we will feel its overwhelming power.

So, what is God really, what is this great but quite simple mystery? God is the totality of mutually communal love. God created us in the world to share in that communion of love.

This means that we, created in the image of God, are made to fulfill communal love in relationship one to another and to God and all His creation.

St. John captures Jesus’ intimate communion with His Father and how we would be brought into that communion, how we would share in that same relationship, through the Holy Spirit. “[The Spirit] will glorify me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Since Jesus dwells in the totality of mutually communal love – the Spirt Who Himself dwells there takes from that and gives it to us.

That is why the Holy Spirit dwells with us, to constantly call us into the joy of mutually communal love with God and each other – just what it means to dwell in the kingdom.

So let us not reflect so much on mystery but rather rejoice and rejoice again living filled, fulfilled, and sharing in the love of God. It is that simple.

Sing poetically.

Come, Holy Spirit, come! In our labor, rest most sweet; Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe. Shine within these hearts of yours, And our inmost being fill! Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On the faithful, who adore And confess you, evermore In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtue’s sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

Today we declare: Happy Birthday Church!

Did you notice the Sequence read today, Come, Holy Spirit?

A Sequence is simply a poetic chant recited before the proclamation of the Gospel. You find Sequences on the great feasts of the Church: Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi, as a sign of our joy. There are others as well, found in some churches at Christmas or on other Feasts.

Such poetry helps us understand the beauty and significance of what God has done for us. On this very special day it is appropriate that we pay close attention and sing about the gifts we are receiving out of the sending of the Holy Spirit.

It is key for us as followers of Christ to turn again and again to God’s action about us. We must remember well that we are not alone and just buffeted about by whatever comes along. Rather we are held up high by the Holy Spirit; high enough that we should sing in poetic verse.

When we do feel buffeted, in Him we have rest most sweet. When the heat of negativity, hatred, prejudice, and war attempt to discourage us in our mission for Christ we have coolness and solace.

The Holy Spirit shines within us and that makes us very attractive as we invite people to meet Jesus with us.  Not only that, but we know the Holy Spirit is at work as we work for the kingdom. He moves hearts for us. We can trust in that. As we do the work of the gospel we are filledhealed, and renewed. Our work is not only outwardly productive, but inwardly as well exactly because we have the Holy Spirit in and about us.

Because of the Holy Spirit we all dwell within the Body of Christ which is the Holy Church. We are members and have life in the Church. We have fellowship and common cause in the work of the gospel for we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Our oneness is a testament to the Holy Spirit’s presence and work. Therefore, we should never fail to gather as one in prayer, fellowship, and worship – for that is God’s vision of our being and our kingdom work.

Think of what we have as the one faithful, who adore and confess the Holy Spirit. We have His sevenfold gift, sure reward, salvation, and joys that never end. Take a copy of the Sequence home and pray this poetry every day this week – and thank the Holy Spirit for His presence in us.

Urgent work.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

I am so thankful you have chosen to worship with us this Sunday as we declare: Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!

Over the last two Sundays we discussed the intensity of love Jesus requires from us and the gifts of love and peace Jesus gives us. Jesus’ love and peace gives us the privilege of the Holy Spirit with us and teaching us; eternal life; and peace that removes all fear. Now we get to the urgent work of love, peace, and invitation.

Throughout the Easter Season we have read from the Book of Acts and Revelation. 

Both Acts and Revelation are a bit removed from the first-generation Church. Acts was likely written around 80 to 90AD. Revelation was written even later, around 99AD. Both are directed to Christians as reminders of what it means to be the Body of Christ, and the urgency of the work we must engage in.

Acts gives Christians the blueprint for who we are, how we are to live, love, sacrifice and forgive – as we are reminded today by Stephen’s witness, sacrifice and plea for forgiveness of his persecutors – and how we are to evangelize.

Revelation shows forth two things – letters from the Risen Jesus to His Churches reminding them of who they are to be – i.e., the Acts Church, and a reminder of our urgency of action. We hear about that today.

Jesus says: “Behold, I am coming quickly.” We can never miss the urgency in all Jesus says. His message is to always be ready. Ready does not mean just sitting and waiting. It means hard at work loving, sacrificing, forgiving, and evangelizing. If we are ready, we will have access to the reward Jesus will give according to our work.

To further express urgency, Jesus reminds us that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Those words used earlier in Revelation applied to God and here to Jesus alone, crowning proof of Christ’s deity. If we really know and understand Who Jesus is, we will not have any trouble being urgent in our work and ready for His return.

Jesus reminds us that “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” The Spirit is in us, the Church. We are the bride of Christ. The Spirit prompts us to call for Jesus’ speedy return and to work at evangelizing those who do not know Him so they too come to Jesus in faith. 

People cannot come to Jesus unless they hear. They will only hear by our work at love, sacrifice, forgiveness, and evangelism. So let us be reminded of what urgent work we must do as we await Him. The gift of life-giving water is available. It is an open invitation we are called to urgently offer.

Made whole.

He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.

Isaiah prophesies about a ‘bruised reed.’ and a ‘smoldering wick.’ In fulfillment Jesus came, not to destroy the reed or put out the wick, but to take brokenness and smoldering away. Jesus has healed and re-ignited us, has brought us into the Kingdom, into lives vastly differently.

Through this Lent we reflected and acted on our call to be vastly different. We looked at our inward selves and our outward actions and have worked to reform them through more ardent prayer, sacrifice, study, worship, and giving. We came to realize that those in the Kingdom live like this year-round, not just during Lent.

Today, St. Paul speaks of that change in him. Paul accomplished much in his youth; he was at the top of his profession. He contrasts his life in Christ to that prior life, not in exaggerated detail, but in broad strokes. 

Paul tells us that everything he was before, all that he had, is loss – i.e., nothing, worthless, even a waste. Everything before his encounter with Jesus, and his acceptance of Christ in faith, Paul says with more than a little hyperbole, is rubbish compared to where he is and where he is going. 

That seems extreme until we realize how much more excellent life in Christ is. Paul got that! Paul came to realize, very clearly, what he was before Jesus. Indeed, Paul was, a bruised reed, a smoldering wick giving neither light nor warmth. Now all things are different. Jesus has changed him, and he now presses forward, as in a race, to attain, to possess the fullness of life in Christ we will know in heaven.

Paul challenges us to go forward in faith with eyes on the heavenly prize of eternal companionship with Christ. Faith is not backward-looking, nor does it rest on its laurels. We must constantly continue our pursuit of excellence in the Kingdom life, in walking the gospel path.

We see, brothers and sisters, the realization of God’s promises in Isaiah, the new thing He is doing, that is our Kingdom life today begun in Christ Jesus. That new thing is the removal of the bruise in us. It is the re-ignition of the fire within us. His doing is not at all reliant on our past, for it is out of complete mercy that He gives us that same new life Paul lived.

Illustrating all this in such a poignant way is Jesus in the confrontation over the sinful woman. In this confrontation the scribes and Pharisees remain steadfast in their past, they live so completely in the past that they fail to see the Messiah standing before them, they walk away. On the other hand, the woman recognizes the new thing God present is doing in her life, she goes forward, like Paul, changed – the past bruise is gone, she is reignited.

We are healed and made on fire for the Kingdom of God.  We are made whole. Our Lenten journey has revealed what God has done for us. Then let us let go, forget the past as God has, and press on to fulness of life here and forever with Christ.

Made whole.

He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.

Jesus came to fulfill what Isaiah had written about centuries before. Isaiah writes about a ‘bruised reed.’ and a ‘smoldering wick.’ Jesus came, not to destroy the reed or put out the wick, but to take brokenness and smoldering away. Jesus has healed and re-ignited us, has brought us into the Kingdom, into lives vastly differently.

As we journey through this Lenten season, we reflect and act on our call to be vastly different. We look at our inward selves and our outward actions and reform them through more ardent prayer, sacrifice, study, worship, and giving. We come to really connect with the fact that those in the Kingdom live like this year-round, not just during Lent.

Today, Jesus presents us with a perfect example of someone who is bruised and smoldering, the youngest son of a very generous father. How is he made vastly different?

There are two key elements in Jesus’ parable, the first being the self-imposed bruising of the son. This is the way sin works for us too. 

The son, not content in the father’s house and service wants ‘what is his,’ and takes off with every intent of harming himself. 

The son did not outwardly say: I am going to go hurt myself. Certainly, he thought he was getting his way with what was his – and that very self-centeredness was at the root of his many sins. The rejection of the father’s house, the partying and the prostitutes were the expression of his self-centered life. It was the way he pulled himself out of the kingdom and put himself in the world. He bruised himself and he did it hard, full speed.

The second key is how the son was changed, healed, and reconciled.

Many have stated that the moment of turn around by the son, repentance, a change in direction back to the kingdom and away from himself and the world was his getting up amid the swine – as Jesus says: he came to his senses.  But not so fast – he was still self-centered, thinking about his father’s servants and food.  Something greater had to change within him, his life had to be made vastly different by something more powerful than just return and food.

The great change in the son was the moment of forgiveness, of full welcome back. This really spoke to his selfish heart and taught him – there is another way to live. There is a vastly different way – that of the father who gives his all not for his own pleasure – but for the sake of me. That is the way the kingdom started, by God giving His all for us, and that is the way it works today where we give our all for the purpose of reconciliation as Jesus asked, one for another who are in the kingdom. 

Lent is about return certainly, but more so about true understanding of our life in and encounter with the One whose great love and self-giving greatly changes us. Changed, we then are the vastly different of the Kingdom who self-give as the Father does to draw many to Jesus and into His Kingdom.

Made whole.

He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.

Jesus came to fulfill what Isaiah had written about centuries before. Isaiah writes about a ‘bruised reed.’ and a ‘smoldering wick.’ Jesus came, not to destroy the reed or put out the wick, but to take brokenness and the smoldering away. Jesus has healed and re-ignited us. Jesus has brought us into the Kingdom, into lives vastly differently.

As we journey through this Lenten season, we reflect and act on our call to be true citizens of the Kingdom, to live up to our call. We look at our inward selves and our outward actions and reform them through more ardent prayer, sacrifice, study, worship, and giving. We come to really connect with the fact that those in the Kingdom live like this year-round, not just during Lent.

Over the past two weeks we have been reminded of our healing from our bruises and how we have been re-ignited to passionately partake in God’s work. We live in the reality that we have been made new, whole, and on fire for the gospel, and to do each day all that this status entails. 

We have been called to continue to be different, to fully live the Kingdom life and call others to be saved, to share in this Kingdom life which is vastly different from that of the world.

Today, St. Paul speaks of what happened to many of the people of Israel as they journeyed to the promised land. Most were struck down because of their unfaithfulness, and that fact was written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Now here is the key element for us who were bruised and smoldering before our entry into the Kingdom life – do we wish to continue to live?

Jesus presents us with a stark reminder of our obligation as Kingdom people. We live to bear fruit. We have been healed, we have been re-ignited, we are whole and new, and the gospel path is before us. We must never lose the passion to live differently, to walk the gospel path in the footsteps of Jesus. We must not grow weary and say, no fruit today. Yes, God’s expectations are high because His promise for us is great.

Being committed as Kingdom people to be the difference that draws others into the Holy Church, the Kingdom life, being the change necessary to transform the world is our mission. Jesus has made us whole for a reason, and this is the reason – the bearing of abundant fruit. The consequences of being barren are a warning to us.

Let us then take advantage of Jesus’ mercy – this time of allowance, this Lent, for the change needed to bear fruit. As our Entrance Hymn taken from Isaiah says: Happy the just, for it will be well with them, the fruit of their works they will eat.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being [remodeled] day by day.

Have you ever remodeled your home? Maybe you have rebuilt a car or truck? Maybe you changed the way things are done at work – improved them. In any event, consider what is involved in a remodel or re-do. My wife and I are in the process of updating our home. We watched HGTV and saw lots of nice things we might like to do. Finally we pulled the trigger and embarked on the remodel. Oh my… Well, it is nothing like HGTV. It will not happen in a weekend or in a sixty-minute episode. At each turn there is something unexpected, something one might consider frustrating. That, and the cost, the necessary investment. You like that vanity and sink – it will be eight to twelve weeks. We got the bathroom tile in, but now need to shave down your door. The moulding is disintegrating – you will need new moulding. It goes on.

Here we are in Lent. Here we are in this season of spiritual remodeling. Some parts of us may need a major redo, other parts, just a nice touch of paint. Nonetheless, we all need a remodel, a re-do in some measure. As we enter Lent we might view it like an episode of the other HGTV – Holy Grace TV. We think we can get it done quickly, but then reality sets in. It takes grace and work. Some of what we undertake is going to take time. Some of what we attack is going to require far more. Perhaps we need to bring in a consultant (a spiritual director, Holy Scripture, a good and proper Christian study book…). As with any work we need to do, we must begin by taking account of what we are willing to invest. Our investment: What things we can sacrifice to make more time for our Lenten re-do (prayer, charity, holy reading, sacrifice, diligence). Once we set to work we must fully expect the frustrations that will come along the way. It will not be easy, but wait till you see the result! Let us then enter our Lenten re-do, our internal renewal without delay.


Welcome to our March 2022 Newsletter. It is packed full of info on the season of Lent and all of the great opportunities we have to increase prayer, devotion, almsgiving (charity), and scriptural study. We need folks to go to the National Mission and Evangelism workshop and we should all participate in our Seniorate Lenten Retreat. 

The BASKET SOCIAL is back. Read further on our Discipleship focus on the Holy Eucharist, get your Polish Easter Baskets, and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for The Ukraine. All this and more in our March 2022 Newsletter.

He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.

Matthew 12:20

Jesus came to fulfill what Isaiah had written about centuries before. Isaiah writes about a ‘bruised reed.’ The English word ‘bruised’ doesn’t really convey the meaning. The word ‘bruise’ is a weak word because we experience bruises all the time. Sure, they hurt, but they do heal on their own. 

In Hebrew the word we translate into English as “bruise” is a word that means crushed. It implies a deep contusion. This is an internal break whereby an organ has been injured or destroyed. You may not see it on the surface like our understanding of bruises. Rather, this injury is deep. One is bruised, i.e., injured to the point of death.

So too the smoldering wick. If one blows out or better puts out the candles here on the altar, or the fancy Yankee candles we have at home, there is always that period of smoldering. We see the light as dying, going out and away into nothingness. There is that brief moment where we might think, will the candle reignite or go out, but we do not often wait and see. Most times it goes out if is not fanned back to life. A smoldering wick, like the bruised, is a step away from death.

We are those bruised reeds and smoldering wicks Isaiah prophesied about. We are a people broken inside, subject to death. We can easily go out if not fanned back to life. We cannot produce anything of value because of our brokenness, our lack of fire.

Jesus’ treatment of the bruised reed and smoldering wick, that is us, is not as simple as His being kind and compassionate to us in our weak state, the state of a suffering person desperate for hope. It is deeper than that. It is not just about tenderness or compassion toward a crushed spirit or wounded soul.

Rather, it is about a God Who is our true Father. He would not come to us to destroy us, to enact a final break of the bruise or a quenching of the flame. He will not bring death, but rather brings us life, healing the bruise, reigniting the light – and for more than just being kind – for a purpose.

God saw us as we are, broken and near death by our sins, and sent Jesus Who did something about it.

More than for mere kindness and compassion, Jesus was sent exactly to heal the bruise in us so we might not die but live. Jesus was sent to reignite us into a bright flame. He heals us so that we are no longer bruised and subject to death. He takes away our brokenness and our lack of fire. He did that exact thing on the cross.

Jesus’ purpose – was to bring us into His Kingdom as willing citizens, restored and free. Jesus’ purpose was to ignite us with a passion like unto His – for the saving of souls, so many might enter the kingdom of God because of our presence, words, and work.

As we journey through this Lenten season we will focus on aspects of our brokenness and what is smoldering within us. We will see how Jesus takes the broken and the smoldering away and heals us, ignites us, such that we may bear great witness. So that we might fulfill His purpose. We will look to examples of where Jesus did that in the lives of the great saints and how we too can be like them.

Jesus Christ came to us because His Father resolved to heal and restore the brokenness of the human condition. God loves us beyond our hopelessness and fragility. He loves us beyond our bruises and our smoldering wicks. He resolved to take on our humanity so to heal it. He faced our beatenness, batteredness, and bruises, our dying fire, so that we might enter the Kingdom He established where there are no more bruises or smoldering wicks. Where His people call others to know, love, and serve Him.

So we begin our Lenten journey together. As we do, let us offer up our bruised state, our weak light, and all Jesus to mould us to His purposes. Doing so we may truly rejoice at Easter and forever.