“Follow me,” isn’t only about going somewhere, it’s also about leaving behind. That’s the hard part for most of us. We’re pretty good at accumulating and clinging but not so good at letting go. More often than not our spiritual growth involves some kind of letting go. We accept Jesus’ invitation to follow, not by packing up, but by letting go.
We can never get to a new place in life unless we are willing to leave where we are. We can never hold anything new or different unless we’re willing to drop what’s already in our hands. That means letting go of our nets, getting out of our boats, and walking away from old man Zebedee. Continue reading What Needs To Be Left Behind? – A Sermon On Mark 1:14-20
Seeing Jesus isn’t a spectator sport. It is a way to be followed, a truth to be embodied, a life to be lived. It’s being a grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies so that it might bear much fruit. That’s where we see him. It’s the letting go, the emptying, the leaving behind, and the dying that makes space for new life to arise. Continue reading The Secret To Life – A Sermon On John 12:20-33
A Word From the Desert “The same Abba Agathon was walking with his disciples. One of them, finding a small green pea on the road, said to the old man, ‘Father, may I take it?’ The old man, looking at him with astonishment, said, ‘Was it you who put it there?’ ‘No,’ replied the brother. ‘How then,’ continued the old man, ‘can you take up … Continue reading Lent with the Desert Fathers: Is it Yours?
A Word From the Desert Abba Zosimos said, “In time, through neglect, we lose even the little fervor that we suppose we have in our ascetic renunciation. We become attached to useless, insignificant, and entirely worthless matters, substituting these for the love of God and neighbor, appropriating material things as if they were our own or as if we had not received them from God. ‘What do … Continue reading Lent with the Desert Fathers: Detachment and Simplicity
“If only he hadn’t died.” “If only she hadn’t left.” If only I had made a different decision.” “If only I hadn’t said that.” “If only I had not done that.” “If only things were like they used to be.”
I suspect all of us have, at some time, lived an “if only” life. It could be about anything: our nation, our church, our society, our schools, our family, our marriage, our children, our selves. Ultimately, though it is about the past. We want to preserve what was and keep things the way they’ve always been. We want to undo what is and go back to what was. Sometimes the words “if only” betray our attachment to the past, our dislike of what is, or our fear of something new. Almost always they come from a place of sorrow and loss, regret, failure, or disappointment.
The illusion of “if only” wraps around our lives like grave clothes. We use it to try to bind up what has fallen apart, preserve what is decaying, and tie us to what has been lost. If you know the illusion of “if only” then you probably know Mary and her sister, Martha. Continue reading “Unbinding and Letting Go of the Past”
Remember packing for the last trip you took? Suitcases, backpacks, bags. Sometimes packing can be the most stressful part of the journey. What did you take? What did you leave behind? Why did you take what you did? Most of us, I suspect, pack for our trips based on our expectations of where we are going, how long we will be gone, what we will … Continue reading Expectations, Baggage, and God
The lectionary offers three options for the Second Sunday After Christmas. My parish will be celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. We used the Matthew option last year. So this year I choose Luke 2:41-52 as our gospel text. Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went … Continue reading Growing Up And Moving Home – A Sermon On Luke 2:41-52
In a previous post I mentioned Father Lazarus, a hermit on the mountain of St. Anthony. His life is one of detachment, silence, and solitude. Those things are not about absence but rather presence. They are practices and ways of life that open us to the very heart of God. They are interior conditions that we can each cultivate regardless of the exterior environment or … Continue reading The Last Anchorite
A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, “Abba, give me a word, that I may be saved.” So the old man said, “Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.” The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, “Didn’t they say … Continue reading Detachment – Opening the Way to Salvation
Technology has to some degree enabled humanity to subdue and manage the natural world, the world of space. This conquest has often come at the expense of time. We expend time in our effort to gain space and the things of space. Our preoccupation with space and things tends to blind us to any reality that is not identified as a thing, as something tangible. … Continue reading Sacred Time