Profound simplicity
Profound simplicity

Most of this week’s readings in the Liturgy is about “doing something” -whatever, just do something! The Baptist tells us to go the extra mile, reformation of lives, become caring for one another. This anti-Tea Party approach resonates with me personally after a long week end of mourning, with a little laughter and the profound realities of the season. John reminds us that that in our society there are very poor people and very rich people. John is not trying to upset the social apple cart, but rather to remind us(me) that there is work to be done for our nameless neighbors, those without means and those that are hurting deeply. It is a social compact we have with our fellow citizens, fellow human beings. On a warm September afternoon of my first year of teaching, while preparing what I thought was a dynamite class for the next day, a freshman border at the school was struck and killed just outside my classroom. I remember his name, Dwight, and what he looked like, braces with a goofy grin that only 14 year-olds have. The day is indelibly etched in my mind. I ran out side after hearing sirens only to see one of his tennis shoes lying in the middle of the road. He had been thrown at least a hundred feet from impact. At the time, I didn’t know his condition but I  do remember praying that day that God would allow me to change places with him, to not let him die. In my heart, I felt my prayers would be answered the way I prayed them. They weren’t. 40+ years later I am still here and still trying to do the right thing. Maybe that was the better result of my prayer, that God wasn’t quite finished with me yet. The young first-year teacher who was in his 20’s so long ago still had stuff to do, to help make this life better. Maybe that’s why I stuck with teaching for so long, I don’t know. Maybe Dwight would have done a better job. So many maybes. What I do know is that my task of getting ready is still on-going. My job ain’t finished yet. There is still stuff to be done. The recent gun tragedy is a reminder to me of that warm September’s message years ago. The angels encourage me to give…

Fun fact for today – Have you ever heard of the Layaway Angels in your travels? Me neither, but this is a great story. I am sure some of you when crossing a toll bridge or driving through a toll gate on a highway may have paid twice, once for your car and once for the car behind you. I love doing that and wish I could see the faces of the people being waved through. In the same way, the Layaway Angels perform random acts of kindness by going to stores like K-Mart and over to the “Lay-a-way” counter and pay off a stranger’s balance. These acts of kindness were first reported in Michigan but quickly spread across the nation. Like a Secret Santa, the donations are made anonymously and are especially appreciated by the recipients during these tough economic times. K-Mart alone says that last year the angels have paid more than $400,000 in layaway charges for people. How freakin’ cool is that??

The scripture passage today comes from the book of Psalms (Ps 72)

The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.

I guess it was to be expected that Westboro Baptist “Church” from Topeka will picket the funerals of those who died at Sandy Hook on Friday. I do us an injustice by just mentioning them because they love publicity. Gospel in English means “good news.” Theirs is ana-gospel, not good news (if there is such a word). Enough said about them, the better. They seem to thrive off of publicity unfortunately their source of energy comes from negative publicity. I’m sure in the DSM manuals there is a disorder to describe this (probably called “Westboro Syndrome”). But by directing my anger or revulsion at their antics I am turning away from the real object of my concern, the families in Newtown. Another good way to start caring is to turn off Fox News.

and so it goes…