Benediction Online

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What do you want me to do for you?

Greg Rakozy,

Sometimes we get confused between Jesus and Aladdin’s genie. We hear Jesus' words “What do you want me to do for you?” and we think of the genie - we think it's an offer to make us rich and famous. We think that all we have to do is ask for a better job or more money or world peace and it’ll magically appear.

Today’s gospel reading about blind Bartimaeus is a bookend with the story of the blind man whom he healed in Bethsaida. In between those two stories of physical blindness we have the three accounts of Jesus telling the disciples about his death and resurrection with them not being able to see what he’s talking about. Mark emphasizes their spiritual blindness by telling us about people who have physical blindness. By calling him Son of David, Bartimaeus makes it very clear that he knows Jesus is the Messiah. Yes he wants physical sight, but he already has inner sight.

And once he has physical sight, he is able to follow Jesus “on the way.” The early church called Christianity the way, so Bartimaeus is not just among the crowd following Jesus on the road he’s taking to Jerusalem, but becomes one of his disciples. His healing has touched and transformed him at a deep level.

I’ve told you before about my friend who said, “I’ll believe in God when he answers my prayers.” It doesn’t work that way. Often our prayers are answered with something that we need more deeply than the thing we think we want. This is one of the very big differences between God and the Genie of Aladdin’s lamp. The genie can only give three wishes in the way that they are asked which of course can lead to great comic confusion. God responds to our prayers in quite a different way – in a way that will lead us to our greatest fullness of life – in a way that will help to set us “on the way.”  
Jesus says to each one of us today, “What do you want me to do for you?” “What do you want me to do for you?”

What is the longing of your heart? What do you want Jesus to do for you today? This is a very intimate question. It is one that can lead us into deeper and deeper relationship with God. We too can have our eyes opened. We too can follow Jesus on the way to abundant fullness of life. What is the healing that you seek?

The writer of our second reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews is making an extended commentary on Jesus’ work, using the imagery of the temple and the priesthood which was integral to the Judaic religion. He or she tells us that Jesus always lives to make intercession for us. Jesus takes our prayers, our desires, our hopes and our fears to the Godhead.

What do you want Jesus to do for you today?

Whatever healing we receive will always lead us into better relationship with God, with our neighbor and with our environment. It may not always seem that way at the time because healing brings change. And change can be painful. Bartimaeus had probably been begging in the same place for quite a while. He probably had friends, people who called out to him as they passed or shared their food with him. He left them behind. Those relationships were radically changed, even severed, by his following Jesus. It may have seemed to some of them that his getting his sight was a bad and disruptive thing.

We can’t always see what is happening until it’s happened. Then we can look back and see that the hand of God was truly with us. Healing can require the trust and faith that everything is ultimately working together for blessing to those who are enrolled in the reign of God. Even when the bad stuff happens.

Because prayer and healing happen in relationship, it isn’t just a one way street. To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your God can do for you, but what you can do for your God.”

The Collect for Peace describes God as one “whose service is perfect freedom.” It’s difficult for us to get our heads around the idea that to serve someone is the same as being free. But that’s part of the paradox of the spiritual life. Our healing comes in serving God and one another because that is what we were created to do and at the same time it comes in allowing ourselves to be served by God and each other.

So at the same time as we answer Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” with the deepest longing of our heart, we ask the very same question back, “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is an astonishing aspect of the relationship that God calls us to. It is a relationship of mutual reciprocity. It is not just us serving God. It is not just God answering our prayers. It is much deeper and richer. It is like the Trinity’s mutual dance of love and joy and praise. We are offered a relationship of mutuality with the living God. It doesn’t get much better than that.

We are called to be co-creators and co-healers with God. We are called to work for not just our own healing, but the healing of our neighbor and the healing of the planet, indeed of the cosmos. For true healing is reconciliation with God, true healing is finding our right relationship with all beings, taking the place that God has prepared for us from the beginning of time.

If that is indeed our calling, then what we do and how we live really matters. Even the little things matter. Finding ways to live in right relationship is sometimes complex, but often simple. It starts with looking after our bodies and our homes, but it doesn’t end there. It continues through the relationships we have with those whose lives touch ours in small ways – the checker at the market, the mail carrier, the person who walks their dog past our house, and so on. Each of these seemingly little things matter because they are part of the blessing that we have to offer.

As we come to the table together today asking for God’s blessing, we do not come alone. We bring with us every person and being who is in the web of relationship with us. We bring with us the people and birds and critters who live around us and all whom they are in relationship with, and we bring with us those who are geographically far away, those who are fighting in Syria and Iraq, those who have been taken captive, those who are in pain. All of them. Because in the great web of life we are interconnected.

Because of our interconnection and because of God’s interconnection with all beings, as we come to God asking for the deepest longing of our hearts to be met, we are asking on behalf of all beings. We are joining with Jesus in his work of intercession. We come in service to God as we make our gift – our gift of praise and thanksgiving – and as we do so, we offer a blessing to all life.

So as we continue with our work of making liturgy together this morning, let us ask God to meet our needs and the needs of others even as we ask in return, “Holy One, what do you want me to do for you?”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Taking Our Place in the Kindom

If you have a feeling of déjà vu after hearing that gospel reading then I have one thing to say to you. Congratulations! You have been paying attention.

Three times Jesus has told his disciples that he’s about to be killed. Three times they have not understood what he’s saying and three times he has given them a different model of authority and leadership. The kind of authority which Jesus has is given to him by God the Creator, and is not to be used by taking up arms against the Romans or anyone else. The first time Jesus explained, "whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it" and "whoever loses his life . . . shall save it" (8:35); the second time he said "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all" (9:35); and now he continues, "whoever wishes to become great . . . shall be your servant" and "whoever wishes to be first . . . shall be slave of all". 

Why does he repeat himself three times? Because this is important and it’s as hard for us to hear today as it was for the disciples. This is the central plank of Jesus’ teaching as we see it in how he acted as well as what he said.

When I was about 5 or 6, my mother took me to the zoo with Eric, the boy who lived next door. In the café I asked for a bottle of Coke. My mother was dubious because we never drank soda at home, and said that a whole bottle would be too much so Eric and I should share one. I strongly disagreed with her and probably because she didn’t want a scene in public, I got a whole bottle, all to myself. Unfortunately, about half way through I began to feel as though I was totally filled up with bubbles and sticky sweetness. To my chagrin I realized that Mother was right. I couldn’t manage a whole bottle.

James and John were ambitious men. They wanted to be powerful, they wanted to make a difference. So they asked to be seated next to Jesus in his glory. But just as I couldn’t imagine that a bottle of Coke would have so many, many bubbles in it, they couldn’t imagine what they were really asking. They couldn’t imagine that Jesus’ glory might look like an ignominious death.

And the moral of the story might be, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

But we can’t allow ourselves to stop there and treat this so lightly. This discipleship teaching of Jesus is so important that it’s come up for the third time. As his contemporary disciples we too need to treat it very seriously. Today I want to think about it from three different perspectives: the first is ambition and desire, the second is non-violence and the third is service.

Ambition is often what keeps us motivated and moving forward. Ambition is what we want, it is the desire of our hearts. Often we have ambitions which are not in keeping with our abilities or with the realities of our lives. It’s not actually true that anyone can do anything. Watching Billy Jean King win at Wimbledon made me want to follow in her footsteps. I wanted to be a tennis champion. But actually I’m built more for comfort than for speed and my hand eye coordination is disappointingly poor. I am not made to be a tennis champion and no amount of longing, no amount of tennis lessons and practice would have made me one.

James and John thought they knew what they wanted. They wanted to be seated with Jesus on the thrones of heaven. But they didn’t understand that that would mean suffering and pain. Yes, yes they said, we can drink the cup that you drink – we often drink out of the same cup – and yes, yes we can be baptized with the same baptism. But they couldn’t know what God had in mind. They couldn’t imagine that Jesus’ time of glory would paradoxically be his crucifixion and that those on his right and his left would be bandits.

Ambition and desire are gifts of God. They move us forward, helping us to see what can be done and how to do it. But they can also be very destructive. They are destructive when our desire for something or to be something leads us into wrong relationship with our self, our neighbor, God or the environment. They are destructive when we allow them to be so important that we abandon the values of the gospel, the values of God’s reign. This is a huge challenge for many of us. We live in a competitive world. It’s hard to get ahead without pushing other people aside. That’s even true in the market – I connect with my competitive me-first attitude every Monday at Farmers’ Market as I try to get the best lettuce, the organic strawberries, the biodynamic kale. There’s a limited supply and I want to elbow other people out of the way so that I can get it.

Being humble and non-violent is not in our nature because human nature has been marred by sin; it is not as God originally intended. But we are the baptized – we are those who have been brought from the old reign into the new. Our old nature with its me-first ambition and desire has been overcome; we now get to live that out. In the new reign, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all" and "whoever wishes to be first . . . shall be slave of all". 

This doesn’t mean, I think that if we want to be first – if our ambition pushes us to be first - that we should choose to be last because that will somehow make us first which is what we wanted in the first place. I think it means that me-first isn’t part of the reign of God. Because me-first puts us in wrong relationship with our neighbors, the environment and God. As disciples of Christ we may have career ambitions or a desire to excel in an art or a sport; these can be wonderful things so long as we keep them in balance with our desire to serve God and our neighbor. Our desire to be pre-eminent in the reign of God means that we must be willing to serve, and willing to be last – to be overlooked.
This may be one meaning of that rather puzzling part of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The prodigal has returned home, the party is in full swing and his older brother returns from working in the fields and he is resentful and furious. And we sympathize. But that isn’t the way of the kindom. In the reign of God we are able to have the qualities of Christ who although he was God, humbled himself and became man. And the quality of Christ is to dance with those who dance and cry with those who cry (Rom. 12:15). If the elder brother had been able to summon up the qualities of Christ he would have been thrilled to see his brother and able to enjoy the party.

But no, he was caught in resentment because the brother had squandered his share of the inheritance, leaving his brother to look after his parents and the ranch, and now he dared to show his face again. It’s very human but it is not the humble, joyful attitude of the one who is last.

I’m sure you’ve seen the coffee mug, “Do what you love, or love what you do.” Some of us are fortunate enough to have achieved our major ambitions. Others not so much. We may love the way our lives have turned out, or we may be in the situation of older brother. The challenge of living in the reign of God is to let go of the resentment and the anger and be fully present in the place that we are. To love what we do and where we are, even if it’s not at all what we had in mind.

Praying for “The serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference” is at the base of this way of living. When we are living with serenity, humbly and soberly; when we are living the way of gentle simplicity then we do not need to engage in violence. We are living a path of nonviolence, the path that Jesus showed us in his refusal to play the game with the religious and secular authorities of his time. It looked like defeat, but it was victory.

James and John were probably imagining a violent future when they asked to be with Jesus in glory, but not one in which the victory came with Jesus allowing himself to be killed. If they understood the non-violence of the reign of God, they probably imagined that God the Creator would intervene in some supernatural way to make Jesus King. But that didn’t happen, at least not as they imagined it. How could they have imagined the way of God – the resurrection which changes everything.
Non-violence is as difficult for us as allowing ourselves to be last. When someone ahead of me at Farmer’s Market gets the last bunch of biodynamic kale, it is hard for me to be non-violent. I don’t mean that it’s hard not to physically punch her out, but it’s hard for me to restrain from sending her lots of attack thoughts. When the same person does it again and again I build up a head of resentment and my inner attacks on that poor woman get louder and louder. I even give her a name in my mind. And it’s not a pleasant one. I may be physically restrained but I am still busy attacking.

Non-violence is a lot more than just not carrying a gun and not hitting people you don’t like. It’s about finding creative ways to resist oppression but not give in to the dominant system. The dominant system says that resources are scarce and we should get as much as we can for ourselves and do whatever it takes to get maximum power and wealth and security. The kindom of God says all good things come from God who loves us unconditionally and the more we share the more there is to go around. As disciples of Jesus we choose to make do with less, we choose to love rather than to hate; we choose to resist non-violently because to fight is to give in to the violence and hatred which feeds the sin matrix.

Jesus gave his life for us. The verse here says “he gave his life a ransom for many.” He gave his life in order to show once and for all that the sin matrix cannot defeat God and so God raised him from the dead and in our baptism we are joined with him.

We are marked as Christ’s own for ever. We are joined with him in his death and raised with him in his resurrection and we are made with him the servants of all. I don’t think that it’s an accident that in this passage Mark has Jesus connect images of the eucharist and of baptism – our two great sacraments – with his words about service. "whoever wishes to become great . . . shall be your servant" and "whoever wishes to be first . . . shall be slave of all". 

Jesus gave his life in service to us. We are to give our lives in service to others. That is what it means to be in right relationship. Not that we ignore our own needs but that we hold others in equal importance. That we live simply and humbly in a way which enables others to live to their fullest as well. That can be hard. Sometimes allowing someone else to find fullness of life means that we have to let them go in some fundamental way. Those of us who are parents know that dilemma so well. In order for our children to grow up they have to live their own lives with their own mistakes and tragedies and their own joys.

Being a servant to others doesn’t mean always being the one left holding the ball when everyone else goes home. It certainly doesn’t mean making yourself into a martyr. Sometimes serving others is holding them accountable for their responsibilities; sometimes it means going home when you’re tired; sometimes it means letting someone else help you.

Just as ambition is an inner attitude, so too is non-violent resistance and so too is service. We tend to think of service as an active doing, and it often is, but prayer is just as much service as making chicken soup or cleaning the toilet. When we are living in faith community as servants of one another then we will find ways to be of service and to accept another’s service.

And when that happens we will be imitating the life of the Trinity who are bound together in mutual love, joy, service and praise. And we will be joining in the great dance of the cosmos and taking our rightful place in the reign of heaven. Our place is not on thrones either side of the Son of God; our place is either side of him in the soup kitchen, either side of him in the playgroup, either side of him at the hospital bed, either side of him in the workplace.

We are the ones who have heard the call to join in the great work of redemption. And we are the ones who are learning to be Jesus’ disciples and to follow him in service and non-violent resistance. And we are the ones who share in his resurrection life.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Through the Little Door

My mother had a whimsical streak, and I distinctly remember a time in her life when she was fond of exclaiming, “More pepper! Said the Duchess” or “Off with their heads” or solemnly intoning, “You are old, Mr. Williams, the young man said.” The English majors amongst you will instantly recognize this as seminal quotes from the classic book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland written by the Victorian clergyman, Lewis Carroll. The story starts when Alice notices a white rabbit running down a hole, looking at his watch and declaring that he is late. She is so intrigued that she follows him. At the bottom of the rabbit hole she finds a small door, about 15 inches high. Looking through it she saw

“the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall and wander about those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway; ‘and even if my head would go through,’ thought poor Alice, ‘it would be of very little use without my shoulders.’”

 Alice noticed a small bottle labelled “DRINK ME” and since it did not say it was poison, she drank it and soon shrank until “she was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden…” Of course, things are rarely that easy and Alice found she couldn’t reach the key so then she ate a cake which made her enormous and so on… What I think Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel reading is that getting into the lovely garden which is the reign of God just isn’t that easy.

His image is that of a camel going through the eye of a needle which is of course quite ridiculous. We would laugh about it if we hadn’t heard it so often that we’ve forgotten it’s funny. There are some problems with the text, and the image he intended may have been that of an overloaded camel going through one of the city gates, or of a thick nautical rope being threaded through a needle. It doesn’t really matter because all the possible images work. Alice can’t get her head through the door, the camel can’t get through a narrow gate or a needle and neither can a thick rope.

And it isn’t just a question of unloading the camel. If all that Jesus is saying here is sell your possessions and get into heaven, then he wouldn’t add, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible." It’s going to take a miracle. That camel can strain all he wants to get through the gate; his owner can take off all his panniers and push and push him, but he won’t make it through. Even if Alice’s head would go through the door it would be of little use without her shoulders.

It’s going to take some intervention from another plane. It’s going to take a little bottle marked “Drink Me” with magical powers. Or it’s going to take the grace of God.

The society in which Jesus lived was similar to ours. There were the poor and there were the rich. You were one or the other – there wasn’t much in between. And those who were wealthy had almost certainly gotten their wealth on the backs of the poor. Just as we in the industrialized nations have gotten our wealth at the expense of the poor because we have used so many of the world’s resources that there just isn’t enough to go round.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" That’s us. I know most of us don’t feel wealthy. But even those who are living on the edge here, are much, much better off than billions of people around the world.  As the Pope has said, we have a debt to pay.

When Jesus recited the commandments to the wealthy young man, he did not mention covet but he did mention defraud. This is one of the big complaints of the Old Testament prophets like Amos – the way we exploit and defraud the poor of their rights to a peaceful life. I don’t know why Jesus brought it up here – was he implying that the young man’s wealth was inherited so he had not personally exploited anyone to get it? Or was he subtly pointing out that fraud was involved in getting rich?
All we can be sure of is that that unexpected twist in Jesus’ list makes us think a little. It’s going to take a miracle, it’s going to take an extraordinary injection of God’s grace for the industrialized nations to take responsibility for the effects of our lifestyle on the planet and on the poor.
It’s going to take a miracle, an injection of God’s grace, for us personally to be so unencumbered by our worldly lives that we too pass through the eye of the needle, through the 15 inch door into the loveliest of gardens, the reign of God.

We’ve been focusing on discipleship for many weeks now, and it doesn’t get better. Jesus is not encouraging. Being one of his followers is hard. It’s challenging. It will take work from us as well as grace from God.

When we dedicate ourselves to following Jesus and bringing the reign of God on earth, we are opening ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And the Holy Spirit asks us to let go of things that we are holding on to. Things which are not found in the reign of God. Things like worry, meanness, sarcasm, judgment, and things like ambition, pride and aggression. These are things which keep us separate from each other and from God. In the reign of God we will be in right relationship with God, with each other and with the environment, so anything which works against those things has to go.

And then there’s stuff. The wealthy young man had stuff. We are called, like St. Francis, to live simply.  Unlike most of the people in the world, we have the privilege of voluntary simplicity. We can choose to reduce our consumption, and to reduce our carbon footprint. We can choose to recycle and reuse and not to buy things that can’t be recycled or reused. We can get rid of things that need to be cleaned and tidied and taken care of which get in the way of us living the full Christ-centered lives we are called to.

And then there’s the stuff that clutters our minds, that prevents us from being able to be still with God. The thoughts that keep us trapped in the past or focused on the future. When we are full of ourselves, there is little space for God. The Holy Spirit will help us to heal and to let go of those things that preoccupy our minds, if we but let him.

We know that Jesus, although he was God, emptied himself and became human. That is our example, he is the one we follow. We are also called to empty ourselves. I can’t tell you what exactly you need to empty out; only the Holy Spirit can do that. But in order to be filled up with the joy and the life and the beauty of the unconditional love of God we have to let go of everything that preoccupies us. If we are full of worry, we can’t be full of God. If we are full of thing to do, we can’t be full of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have a magic bottle labelled “DRINK ME”, but we do have the cup which we share in the Eucharist. May that be the cup which enables us to enter into the fullness of life which God has for us.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Crazy like Francis

Jeremiah 22:13–16
Galatians 6:14–18
Matthew 11:25–30

St. Francis is known as the saint of animals, and this afternoon at 2pm, weather permitting, we will continue that tradition by having a short Blessing of the Animals service outside the South Bay Community center. You are welcome to come and bring your animals or their photos. Francis is the patron saint of animals because he preached to birds, and saw each creature as beloved of God in their own right, not just because of us. Yet his relationship with animals is only one part of the story of St. Francis.

He was really a little crazy. Born into a wealthy merchant family, as a young man Francis was in a church which was in very poor repair, when he heard God say “mend my church.” He took this quite literally and stole a bolt of expensive silk from his father’s warehouse in order to raise the funds to do so. Not surprisingly his father was outraged. So much so that they had a public confrontation in which he disowned Francis, and Francis in turn took off all his expensive clothes and walked away naked, declaring himself wed to “Lady Poverty.”

After that he survived by dumpster diving and doing odd jobs for which he asked payment in food not money. He lived with the local priest and began to rebuild the church with his own labor and scavenged materials. He took care of homeless people especially those who were considered lepers and had open sores; his friends were people who others wouldn’t go near.

Not an attractive lifestyle. But it did attract others. They were crazy enough to take the words of Jesus very literally, particularly when he sent out the disciples to preach the reign of God taking absolutely nothing with them. Within three years the group had grown so much that Francis started the order of Friars Minor, which we call the Franciscans.

Francis also took Jesus’ call to us to be peacemakers quite literally. In 1219, Jerusalem and much of the Holy Land was under Muslim control. European forces had launched the Fifth Crusade to win Jerusalem back. Francis went to the Middle East and was allowed through enemy lines to meet with the Kurdish Sultan of Egypt. In his crazy way, he thought that he could make him a Christian. Francis failed, but did get him to agree to terms of peace. Unfortunately the European powers didn’t agree and the fighting continued.

So when we strip away the sentimental animal lover picture, we find underneath an eccentric person who took God’s words very seriously.

I wonder how it would be if we were to take this morning’s readings as seriously as St. Francis might. Jeremiah points out that building a big, beautiful house on the backs of the workers is unjust, and in fact big houses are not important. What’s important is providing justice for those who are in need. Justice means finding ways to end poverty and homelessness, not just giving handouts but working to change the structures which keep some people impoverished while others are comfortable and even wealthy.

In Galatians, Paul reminds us that it doesn’t matter whether we are Jew or Gentile; what is important is that we are a new creation. Instead of being proud about our heritage or our education or what we have achieved, the only thing we can really be proud of is that God loved us enough to come and be one of us and die an ignominious human death so that we might be a new creation. The old creation is somehow marred and is caught up in the sin matrix, but we are part of the new creation which can live in right relationship with God. In the old creation we were cast out of paradise because of sin, but now we are building the new paradise, the new creation of oneness and surrender to God right here, right now. The water of baptism symbolizes our movement from the old to the new. The bread and wine that we share is a symbol of the new covenant with God - one in which we are called to become Christ-like beings serving together in the Body of Christ.

That is the most important thing about us now, that we are servants of God, members of Christ. All the human labels that define us are unimportant because we are marked as Christ’s own forever. It is irrelevant what color we are, whether we graduated from college or even from high school; whether we are gay or straight or neither; whether we have a nice home or are living in a car; whether we are able bodied, whether we are working, whether we have savings, whether we get food stamps. All these things are irrelevant. What is important is that we are a new creation in Christ and that is where our self-respect and pride should be based.

Which is not at all how we tend to think. It’s counter-cultural and difficult to wrap our minds around the idea that we are called not to be followers of a great warrior, but disciples of a man who apparently failed. A man who caved into the authorities and allowed himself to be betrayed, allowed himself to be beaten and mocked and allowed himself to be publicly executed. That’s whose we are.

Which is why in order to really understand it we have to let go of all our previously held notions and become as little children. Because, Jesus says God has “hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and has revealed them to infants.” The word used here for infants means those without words – preverbal. That’s how far we have to let go of cultural norms in order to really be able to wrap ourselves around the truths that Jesus teaches. Which is why Francis was seen as crazy by his society.

But Jesus tells us that this is the way to God. This is the way to find rest for our souls. In the creation stories we are told that after God created the world, God rested. God rested, with all of creation in right relationship. Our rest is also in the new creation. Our rest is in God.

We continue to think that everything depends on us; that somehow we have to figure it all out and make sense of the world. We think that we have to know how to live holy lives and that we have to work out how to be in right relationship with God, and with our family and friends. But Jesus tells us to put down the burden of trying to be God. We aren’t God and we were never intended to be. We were made to be dependent on God. Yes we get to be active participants in creating the reign of God, but we are participants, not the main show.

Jesus invites us into a partnership in God’s service; Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” he says. A yoke is placed on the shoulders of two oxen who work together. When we are working together with Christ, we are able to rest secure in the knowledge that ultimately all will be well. It doesn’t mean that things will be easy or that we will be successful.

Everything didn’t go easily for Francis or for Jesus. Neither of them was successful in the ways we usually measure success. In fact, from our human perspective they were both crazy.
That is who we are. We are crazy Christians. We are called not to be nice people but to be crazy people. People who can go fearlessly into life whether that means dumpster diving or talking to international leaders; people who talk to birds and who don’t fight back; people who are surrendered to God.

May God bless each one of us with divine craziness.