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St Francis has some wisdom for us.

The Wolf of Gubbio is a story from a collection of St. Francis Stories called “The Little Flowers.” Excuse my paraphrase.

Once in a village called Gubbio, a ravenous wolf caused much terror and fear. It was eating livestock to great excess and would attack and eat travelers coming to and from the village. St. Francis having heard of this enter into the woods to preach and urge the wolf to repent of its evil deeds. The wolf came close and started to attack but St. Francis making the sign of the cross said “Brother Wolf, in the name of Christ stop this madness” The wolf stopped. St Francis was gentle and humble as he continued to preach to the wolf about all the havoc he caused. He petted this wolf and somehow convinced it to stop. He acknowledge that the wolf was indeed very hungry but was going about feeding his hunger in the wrong way. He made a promise the village would provide for the wolf’s hunger if the wolf repented at behaved himself. The wolf agreed by giving St. Francis his paw. The wolf lived for several more years and bothered the village no more. It is considered a great miracle.

Let us look to St. Francis and preach to “the wolves” among us. Be humble and gentle. Help them to understand the pain they have caused. Listen and try to understand their pain. Feed them with the love of Christ and love them as Christ commands us. Let them hear the Gospel of Christ and be transformed.

Confession

In Seminary, I did some personal study on Jewish Liturgy. I also participated in Jewish Worship and attended a Yom Kippur service. Out of this came an effort to re-examine the Confession Liturgy and make it more robust and connect with the Old Testament message. I found many of the passages that speak of God’s grace in the Psalms and the Prophets. I used the 10 Commandments as a frame to make 10 confessional petitions. I also tried link this liturgy with the tone and symbolism Yom Kippur is meant to have. Yom Kippur has this wonderful tone in which you confess all your sins of the year in an effort to be free and start the new year clean.

Please feel free download and use it. I ask that you make some effort to attribute this work when you can. Enjoy.

Download Here ⇓

Christian Atonement Liturgy PDF

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

Luke 14:25-33

As we look at this passage, First Jesus is heading to Jerusalem. He knows what he is heading there to do. He know what the Cross is and what it means. DEATH. We are know that he is traveling with a large crowd. So his Questions here are specific. He wants to know who is a FAN or who is a Disciple. I often wonder this on occasion for myself. Am I a fan or a Disciple. Most people would probably say they are a fan of Jesus. That he said some inspiration stuff and did some good deeds. But would you follow him. Would you trust him and go where he was going?

Jesus mentions we must hate our family and friends. In some translation it is “Love me more than”. The Point is we have to give up or let of something to follow him.

I think the parables he gives are important because it realize who we follow and what we do matters. Notice how in both parables Jesus says “sit down and consider.” In the busy world we live in today. How often do we sit down and consider what we do, who we follow, where our money is going? etc. If you want specific answers from me, go else where. You need to answer these questions for yourself.

So back to the question at hand. What is the Cost of following Jesus?

I found this wonderful piece that I graciously borrowed from some Franciscan Sisters in North Dakota. It certainly gives me a starting place to begin sitting down and counting.

“GIVE UP ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS,TAKE THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME”
† Give up judging others; take up the Christ dwelling in them
† Give up emphasis on our differences; take up our oneness
† Give up the darkness around us; take up the light of Christ
† Give up ill thoughts; take up the healing power of God
† Give up words that pollute; take up words that purify
† Give up discontent; take up gratitude
† Give up withholding anger; take up sharing our feelings
† Give up pessimism; take up optimism
† Give up worry; take up trust
† Give up guilt; take up freedom
† Give up complaining; take up appreciation
† Give up stress; take up self-care
† Give up hostility; take up letting go
† Give up bitterness; take up forgiveness
† Give up selfishness; take up compassion for others
† Give up discouragement; take up seeing the good
† Give up apathy; take up enthusiasm
† Give up suspicion; take up seeing the good
† Give up idle gossip; take up spreading good news
† Give up being so busy; take up quiet silence
† Give up problems; take up prayerful trust
† Give up talking; take up listening
† Give up trying to be in control; take up letting go.

 

Grace and Peace to you on your journey toward Discipleship.

Happy Easter!

Luke 24:1-12

The Resurrection of Jesus

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.”

Jesus is Risen. He has Risen Indeed Alleuia!

In case you weren’t aware. Jesus was dead. So when we talked about the Resurrection it should shock us. It should be so astounding we scratch are heads a little. Today and Every Sunday we celebrate this great mystery of faith: that Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.

The mystery of the Resurrection is so profound that we spend a whole season of the church year talking about it.. Even then I don’t think we quite understand what the impact of Jesus Christ Rising from the dead means to us. I can tell you the one thing I do know. Jesus was not a Zombie or Vampire, because a Zombies and Vampires are the walking dead. Jesus is very much Alive. And When the risen Jesus meets the disciples he bears the marks of his death on the cross. He is not a new being but the same Jesus who was died and is now Alive. When talking about Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we must proclaim and be clear. Death and Resurrection are not just mere metaphors or similes. What happened and what we celebrate is a reality that changed human history.

Christ’s Death and Resurrection break through this reality and boldly declare that Death and Sin do not have the last word. That God did not abandon us but came to love us and prove the creator of the universe can create something new in us. Before, “Death” was it, final, finite, done, no start over. And because of Sin, death was our inevitable end. However through Christ we find life. In Jesus who conquered death and the grave we receive promised life. This new life starts now because through the cross in which Christ endured, Sin and death no longer have a hold on us.

Just look at the past week’s headlines and you will find death and sin all around. It can be easy to turn cynical and lose faith in humanity and even God. But, God has called you to this place today to hear the Good News of the Risen Jesus. To hear of Christ’s victory of death and sin. To hear and know that not even death can separate you from God’s Love.  If you have doubts about who Jesus is or whether this whole resurrection thing is real. You are in good company. Those first disciples were not expecting a miracle. Their Hopes and dreams died with Jesus on the cross.

We are reminded in the scripture lesson today that the Women were not expecting the risen Jesus. As the Angels ask the women. “Why do you search for the living among the dead? He is not here, He is Risen.” These women weren’t searching for anyone living. They were looking for a very much dead and stiff Jesus, one to whom they were bringing spices and oils to cover up the smell of death. We give the Disciples a hard time about not believing Jesus was alive but they weren’t idiots, people being raised from the dead didn’t just happen. They had just seen Jesus die on the cross, in agony and pain. They were sad, heart broken, scared and still had not wrapped their heads around Jesus being dead.

Here is the hope we find in this among these people. That Jesus shows up, even to doubters. That he continues to show up again and again as we continue reading Encounters of the Risen Jesus throughout the Easter season. This is beginning of the disciple knowing that Jesus is Alive. We don’t have to get this great mystery right away. Jesus continues to reveal himself in the midst of doubts and fears. The hope is that the Risen Jesus brings new hope and dreams that are greater and bigger than the ones left on the cross. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Amen!!

Dante's Inferno
We have been discussing the 7 deadly sin for Lent. It has been very powerful for me to reflect on each of the sins along with their virtues. Pride, Envy, Anger/Rage, Sloth, Greed/Avarice, Gluttony, Lust. Each sins draws us away from God and towards Darkness. I fear as I look around I see all these Sins. Most particularly I see Anger. I see the way we are blinded by rage caused from our Pride (thinking we know better than God) and our Envy (our constantly comparing ourselves to others in a harmful way). We are lacking the virtues God gives us to set ourselves toward the God who loved into existence. The virtues of Humility, of Admiration and of Forgiveness. I pray, we come to know that we cannot fix the world by our own power but trust and rely on the wisdom and strength that only comes from God. I pray, we stop tearing each other down and indeed build each other up. Look for the good in each and every person that God created. I pray, we realize that God created each of us for a specific purpose and that we are not consumed by trying to out do each other for our own selfish gain. We are in this together. I pray, we most of all to forgive. Not Forgive and Forget but, do the hard work of forgiveness in which we share ourselves and hold eachother accountable so we can move forward into new relationship and newness of life. The God who loved us into existence doesn’t need anything from us but just desires us to turn towards him(or her) to live the life that really is life.