The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
Sunday, February 28, 2021 @ 11:00 a.m.
[life is something that happens to you while you’re making other plans]
The Scriptural Lessons for the Second Sunday in Lent[There are five Sundays remaining to bring us to Good Friday and Easter Sunday ]
“…I will make you very fruitful…I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and yourdescendants after you for the generations to come , to be your God, and the God of thedescendants after you…” (Genesis 17:6,7)
“…my strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth…you lay me in the dust of death…Dogs have surrounded me…a band of bad men haveencircled me…they have pierced my hands and my feet…I can count all my bones…people stare and gloat over me…But…you, O Lord, are not far off…O, my Strength…come quickly…to help me…” (Psalm 22:15,16,19)
“…it wasn’t through the law that Abraham and His offspring received the promise that he’d be heir of the world…but through the righteousness that comes by faith…” (Romans 4:13)
“…Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and berejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law and that He must be killedand after three days rise again…He spoke plainly about this…and Peter took Him asideand began to rebuke Him…” (Mark 8:31-38)
Would you pray with me this morning…
We feel so grateful for the sure knowledge that, in trying times, when we do what we can do,
you will do the rest. You give us courage to take-on the new day and the assurance that restful sleep will be ours in the night. Your strong and loving hand is upon us. We can take courage in knowing that your perfect love will cast out all fear, as well as, keep us safe from harm. Therefore we praise you with all our being. Grant us wisdom in these days and allowus to be the love of Christ with all compassion. Be with our American troops overseas andwith our police and fire department on duty, and as well, the leaders and Jesus people of our congregations. We commend ourselves into your hands. We’re blessed. We’re made whole.
In Jesus’ name,Amen!
Some years back, at a Pastor’s Convocation in Seaside, California, at the last moment, I was asked by the bishop to render the opening prayer, before Holy Communion on the beach, at 5:30 a.m. It was really a bit too early for me to be eloquent, but I did the best I could, while missing my two four-legged companions at home, Moby and Sadie. Here’s what I said:
“Lord, help me to be the person my dogs think I am. Amen!”
The following is a meditation jotted down by one of our SpiritCare coordinators, the former Activity Director at the Coastside Adult Day Health Center in Half Moon Bay. Her name is Chase Montara. Among other excellent qualities, one could sense immediately, in Chase, a powerful, compassionate spiritual presence. That quality became even more apparent to me as month upon month in 2019 passed. It was a pleasure to serve loving seniorparticipants she led and guided. Recently, Chase became the Church Coordinator for the Congregational Church of San Mateo, here in the Bay Area. I was touched by her rathermoving “written sketch” she gave me. One could easily understand by the subject matter why Priscilla and I found it especially compelling to share with you.
It goes like this…
Anyone who has loved a dog will not find fault with the analogy made between dogs and God. We need only be greeted upon our return by the full body wag of our beloved companion to experience unconditional love. Hold your dog’s gaze for a few minutes, if you can. Stare deeply into those eyes and you will find out how comfortable you truly are with being fully loved.
I believe that is how God loves us. And that kind of love—fierce, unrelenting love—exposes our own inadequacies. We can only hope to love like that. That depth of love changes us if we allow it. Love works on us as the ocean erodes the cliffs, polishing us over time, smoothing off our rough edges. And so, our job is to submit, to become willing to let go of our protections, to let our hardened hearts soften.
As a child, I did not understand what love was. I was told often. I spoke love often in return. But, there was a hollowness to the words, an un-returned canyon echo. I’m not sure why. But the longing to understand love was first fulfilled by my dog. When she returned my handshake for the first time.I was undone by the connection.
Allow yourself to be undone. If you can, let yourself be loved a little.
Chase Montara, 2019
Thank you, Chase, for a simple, but great lesson for all of us to take to heart. As Jesus took His very human, but sacred heart, to the cross, He had His divine heart broken, that folks like you and I may know the power of God’s unconditional love to make us whole. You know, often I sense the unconditional love of Jesus, in the evening when I settle down on the couch, as Cooper hops up on my lap, and gently licks the finger on my left hand.
Many blessings to you and yours as you continue our heart journey with Jesus in Lent.