Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Are Like You

Christmas 1/2013 * John 1:1-18 – Part II
It’s OK, I Am With You
Was there “sound” before the Big Bang? Before God spoke creation into being by uttering, “Light!” And there was light. Which is pretty much what the Big Bang is, was and continues to be – Light radiating out, ever expanding its reach beyond the 12 or so billion years Hubble can view through its remarkable lens and transmit back to earth.

I imagine it was quiet. In the beginning, that is. These eighteen verses of John push Jesus’ origins, the Incarnation, back even further than the first person. Note the opening words: “In the beginning….” The first to hear or read John’s Gospel have heard these words before. The entire Bible begins with these words, “In the beginning….” Jesus’ origins are cosmic – at the very root of the universe, all that is, seen and unseen.

John puts Jesus present before anything was made - before God speaks creation into being. God speaks and things come into being. Before God speaks, however there was The “Word.” In Greek that is logos – word. God is the logos. In the silence, in the beginning.

But for Jews and Gentiles alike in the first century, this word logos meant more than what we think when we say “word.” For at least six centuries before Christ came into the world, logos had currency among philosophers like the Stoics. Logos was what they called the principle of reason that ruled the universe. In Hebrew the word dabar carries a similar meaning – dabar describes God’s activity in the world. Logos could also describe the Hebrew idea of wisdom – hokma in Hebrew, sophia in Greek . According to the rabbis, wisdom was responsible for creation.

All in all, the power of the poetry of these opening verses of John’s Gospel resides in his choice of this one word, logos, for it has universal, multi-layered meanings hidden within itself. To identify Jesus, as eventually John does, as the logos is to say that God in Jesus comes to Jew and Gentile alike. Gentile, of course simply means anyone who is not Jewish.

So universal is this Word, this logos, that it is in everything that has been created. There is nothing “made that was made” that is not made through this Word, this logos, this wisdom. We are called to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” Christ as logos is in all persons, and in all things. Seek and serve The Word in all persons and all things.

In the Word, we are told,  is life, and this life is light, and this light is a beacon of light that shines and cuts through all darkness – and darkness has not overcome this light. That is there is evil, not just in people, but in all the created order. But this evil has not overcome or absorbed the light. Our redemption in and by the Word – the logos- is a vital part of a larger project – the redemption of the entire universe of God’s creation.

Yet, we who come from this Word, this logos, this sophia, this wisdom, do not readily recognize him. He comes to those of us who claim his name as our own – Christian- and yet we know him not. This continues to be a problem. Just look around us. Two Thousand Years of claiming his name as our own, and just how brilliantly does the world around us reflect this life giving light? In a world of ongoing brutalities – torture, killings, hangings, capital murder as retribution, bombings, not to mention hunger, loneliness, hatred, bigotry, poverty – can we really believe it pleases God to let a man hang from a rope? For a woman to receive a lethal injection? Do we truly believe we can bring about a greater good that reflects the life-light of God in the dark places in the world and in our own hearts through such ongoing brutalities? We are promised that all who do receive him, accept him, follow him, are given power to become “children of God.” We say we receive, accept and follow Jesus, the Word, but is this at all reflected in all that we do or say? Or, in all that is done or said on our behalf by others who claim to know, receive, accept and follow this Word?

It makes it all the more remarkable that this Word becomes flesh and blood and moves into the neighborhood. The text literally says he “tabernacled among us.” That is, he pitched his tent, this Word, this logos, this divine wisdom, set up shop right in our midst despite our not knowing him. We are meant, of course, to recall that other time in our tradition’s past when God tabernacled among us in the tent of meeting in the wilderness – that place where “the glory of the Lord filled the tent.” Again we are invited to behold his glory!

For John, this is Christmas. No shepherds, no angels, no kings, no manger – but rather the Word of God comes and pitches his tent to sojourn with us, giving us another chance to know, accept and follow him. We behold his glory. He adopts us as his own. If we pack up and move on, the Word can pack up and move on with us.

A story is told about some Navy Seals sent to free a group of hostages in one of the dark corners of the world. As they storm into the hiding place, they find the hostages huddled on the floor in a corner of the room. The Seals tell them they are there to take them home, get up and follow us. No one moves. The hostages are so damaged by the experience of their captivity that they do not believe these are really people sent to set them free. So one of these Seals does something: he takes off his helmet, puts down his gun, gets down on the floor, softens his face and huddles up next to the captives, putting his arms around a few of them. No guards would do this. He whispers, “We are like you. We are here to be with you and to rescue you. Let us take you home. Will you follow us?” One by one the prisoners get up and are eventually taken to safety on an aircraft carrier and brought home.

Lots of rhetoric and ink has been spilled to explain the miracle of the Incarnation – how it is God becomes one of us to take us home – to redeem us as a step in redeeming a broken world and broken universe. God sees us captive to many things, unwilling to simply step away from those things that keep us in prison – often prisons of our own making. In Jesus, God takes off all his glory, gets down on the floor with us, huddles up with us – tabernacles among us, pitches his tent among us – and whispers, “It is OK – I am with you – I am one of you now – come with me, follow me, and I will take you home.”

John tells us that the essence of Christmas does not need a creche, does not need a pageant, does not need a tree, or greens, or red bows, or piles of gifts, or carols, or turkeys and roast beefs with all the trimmings. All Christmas needs is for us to know the Word, to accept the Word, to get up and follow the Word. There is no way we can ever know all there is to know about God – but in Christ, the logos, the Word, we can see the light and the logos. He will lead us home. This is Incarnation. This is Christmas. Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And So It Is Christmas

Christmas / John 1: 1-18

The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Timothy’s School for Girls, Stevenson, MD

I love Christmas. And I love this Gospel. This is John’s Christmas Story. Or, perhaps it makes more sense to say that this is John’s version of the Incarnation. No shepherds, no star, no kings, no Bethlehem, no manger, no Joseph and no Mary. Had John been Rogers and Hammerstein he would have started his version of the good news of Jesus with the words, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

And so we are transported way back to the beginning of time: to before the beginning of time. Before anything at all was created, before the world began, the Word, the logos, the Christ, was with God and was God.

Was God. In the beginning, the Word was God. Astonishing! We are meant to be astonished. We are meant to be hushed. All our fumbling theologizing about Christmas and the Incarnation is silenced by this pushing back of the story to the very beginning of all things.

For the very next thing we are told is that “all things were made through him….” That would be as in all things, every thing and every one. Simply breathtaking.

Which would explain everything about who we are. We are those people who have promised, and continually promise over and over again to seek and serve Christ in all persons. Not some people, not most people, but all persons.

Most unfortunate, this good news John is proclaiming at the outset of the fourth gospel. Unfortunate because very often I do not want to recognize the Word, the logos, the Christ, in all persons. There are some persons I want not to be of Christ so as not to have to serve them!

So I wish John had not started at the very beginning. The beginning is not a very good place to start at all. It is hugely inconvenient to start there because it leads to all this seeking and serving of persons, quite frankly, we just would rather not seek and serve.

Christmas is so much easier if you just stick to the nativity scene and think about cuddly sheep, and a cow in the background, and hay in the manger, and shepherds falling all over themselves with excitement like so many children under the Christmas tree, which, just as inconveniently, does not seem to be a part of the story.

Until you get to the part about light. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Martin Luther is said to have lit the first Christmas tree with candles so as to make it look like the stars in the sky!

Now when you light a candle you tap into an ancient and nearly never ending cycle of life giving energy. The chemical energy of photosynthesis in plants is passed up the food chain, for instance, to grazing cattle and then on to tallow in a candle. When the candle is lit in the gloomiest of nights, it releases “cryptic sunlight” and returns the complex fat or wax molecules to the form in which the plants found it in the first place – water and carbon dioxide that can be incorporated into living things all over again. (Roger Highfield, The Physics of Christmas [Back Bay Books, Boston: 1998] p.29)

And here’s the kicker: the Word, the logos, the Christ is in all of that. The logos is in the photosynthesis and the cryptic sunlight.  “Without him was not anything made that was made.”
Oh, my. That no doubt includes fruitcakes, that awful necktie from Uncle Joseph and every one of the Pittsburgh Steelers in town for one day only to make or break the Ravens season.

This is more complicated than Christmas ought to be. But here it is, in black and white, Christmas as seen through the eyes of the fourth Gospel, John. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…and from his fullness have we all received grace upon grace.”

“Dwelt” means something like “pitched his tent” among us. This means that when we pick up our tent stakes and move on, the Word can pull up and travel with us. And the fullness of this Word from which all life, all things, all light doth proceed, is shared with us all. As in “all.” Not some, not a lot, but like creation itself, all persons and all things receive this grace. Have received this grace. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound….”

So here in this corner is the Word, and all that he has done since before time, in time and beyond time. And in the other corner is John, the man who was a lampstand. “He was not the light but came to bear witness to the light.”

So now, maybe we could do that too. We could bear witness to the light that comes from the Word who was with God and was God in the beginning. Maybe we could be like John and be a lampstand from which this light that comes from the Word who was with God and was God in the beginning can shine forth. Think here The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: think Bilbo Baggins, Frodo and Sam, think Gandalf and Aragorn, think Pippin and Merry, think, yes, even Boromir and Gollum.

We might ask, which character in The Lord of the Rings is most Christlike? But then, that would be the wrong question. Each character of Middle Earth fighting the forces of darkness carries something of the light, the logos and the Christ within them. All together they are the body of Christ. Alone none of them can get the job done, move history and the world forward. Together the world is saved. Changed, but saved.

This is what we are called to be and do: bear witness to the light and do all in our power to help others do so as well. This is best done by seeking and serving Christ, the Word, the logos,  in all persons, everywhere at all times.

None of us can be Christ-like unto ourselves. Yet, we each carry some particular Christ-like characteristic. We each carry a piece of the light. All together we can make up a Christ-like community. That is why when we baptize new members of the Body of Christ the whole body is changed and made new. That is why it is so important to take the promises we make seriously. Especially the promise to do all in our power to support one another in our lives in Christ. Because the piece of Christ that I need is the piece you have and the piece you need is the piece I have. Together we can strive for justice and peace for all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. We are the body of Christ.

Together we make up the mosaic that is the Word, the logos, the Christ, for the world. Merry Christmas!  God bless us every one. Amen.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Time For An Extreme Makeover

Advent 2013 – Baruch 5:1-9/Philippians 1:3-11/Luke 3:1-6
Total Makeover
In the reign of Caesar, Richard Daley the First, I grew up just a few blocks from the Chicago City line. In those days we called it, “The City That Works.” It was not uncommon, especially come election time, for Caesar Daley to order the filling of pot-holes, paving or re-paving of streets, and the demolition and leveling of  derelict buildings just before making a campaign visit to a particular neighborhood. It’s one of the things Mayor Dixon has been particularly good at making happen in Baltimore when not distracted by shopping.

As Luke reminds us, this is a time-honored tradition among those in Power – whole roadways and construction projects would precede the visitation of a visiting Caesar, King, or Emperor to the various outposts of his kingdom.

Over five hundred years before the time of John and Jesus, Isaiah used the image of such Imperial Public Works total makeovers to describe the Hopeful coming day that God would lead the exiled people of God back to Jerusalem from Babylon – Babylon itself a metaphor that from the time of the Babylonian Captivity through the Revelation to John to modern day prophets and poets demanding deliverance from captivity to such things as colonialism, consumer-driven capitalism, red-lining debt and mortgage practices and the like. A quick listen to the likes of Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur and Common, to name just a few, reveals the continued potency the image of Babylon still conjures in the popular imagination. There are those prophet/poets among us who see us still being in captivity.

So the idea in Luke is much the same as Isaiah tells it: a total makeover, a full scale public works project, is needed if it can be hoped that God will again deliver us from our captivity to Sin. That is Sin, not sins. The latter are particular deeds such as appear on Santa’s list of those who have been naughty. Yet, these are merely symptoms of a deeper, underlying spiritual disease that is Sin, capital “S” and singular – Sin is the state of chosen alienation from God, when we turn to ourselves and away from God, insisting on having our own way with no restraint from outside and beyond ourselves. This understanding of Sin, capital “S,” might also be spelled, “Ayn Rand,” or, “Objectivism,” or, any number of other “isms” that we use to disguise this alienation from ourselves.

We may as well admit it though, some see this as “freedom” and “the American Way.” But this is to deny the fact that true human freedom comes from accepting our status as creatures who look to their creator as the source of the fullness of life – the God in whose image we are created. As the Book of Common Prayer puts it, “In whose service is perfect freedom,” which words are engraved on the outside of The Episcopal Church Headquarters at 815 Second Avenue, NY, NY!

My favorite Advent prayer says, “Stir up thy Power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.” I always envision a pot of soup on the stove, all the good stuff falling to the bottom, and needing to take a long-handled wooden spoon to stir it up and put it back together again. We pray for God to stir us up – even though we rarely want to be stirred up at all.

Enter the makeovers. It seems that Cable Television is one long Advent project what with every kind of “Total Makeover” show imaginable. One of my favorites is What Not To Wear, starring Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. They come into your world by surprise, make you throw out your entire wardrobe, and give you a, get this, $5,000 gift card to purchase all new clothes!

As relates to repentance and preparing for the coming of God’s Salvation, Baruch announces: “Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction…and put on forever the beauty of the glory of God. Put on the robe of righteousness…the diadem of the glory of the everlasting…for God will show your splendor everywhere..[and] give you evermore the name, ‘Righteous, Peace, Godly Glory!’” Now that is a call for a true wardrobe makeover!

Regular prayer, Bible Study and Mindfulness Meditation can play the roles of Stacy and Clint coaching us on a total makeover, which ultimately is never about clothes at all, but rather helping and empowering people to become the best version of themselves – the people God wants them to be!

This leads us to perhaps the contemporary icon of total personal transformation, Ty Pennington. Yes, he of Extreme Makeover – Home Edition. Many of us are familiar with what he does for other people whose lives are in need of extreme assistance. But what we don’t know much about is his personal transformation. In his own words his childhood was unruly to say the least: “I would strip down naked, and hold on the blinds in my classroom as a child and swear along with that if I didn't get my way. I was just a very bad kid overall, I don't know how my mother raised me!” His mother, while studying to become a psychologist, eventually diagnosed him as ADHD, and in a few years found treatment modalities that has transformed him into what he is now: an American television host, model, philanthropist, and, get this, a carpenter. Beyond the TV show, he works with any number of philanthropic endeavors to make life better for others.

Kind of like the carpenter we await in Advent. Make no mistake about it, Advent is a time to take inventory as a nation and as individuals: are we prepared for that day when we are promised Jesus will come again? Have we prepared a landing strip that is level and straight to bring him all the way into our hearts and souls?

No one can deny, a Total Makeover is in order!

It is what Paul is praying for when he writes: “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the Day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

To produce such a harvest, it is time to begin a total makeover today!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ The King?

Christ the King?
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
                -Luke 23:43
Says Jesus to the thief who defends him as they hang on the cross.  I try to imagine such a conversation. It is the scripture for what has become called Christ the King Sunday. In the conversation between Jesus and the thief on the cross I hear echoes of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower.

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the cold distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

I will not presume to know what Dylan has in mind, but the pieces fit in an odd sort of way, and he did study wholly writ. The elements of Luke’s portrayal of the last moments of Jesus on the cross could be like this.

Christ the King? It is a modern feast of the churches. It was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI as a supposed bulwark against a perceived creeping secularism. Another example of what happens when the church employs novelty to impose its world view – a world view which may or may not conform with that of the young man in Israel whose vision she hopes to live and enshrine. I grow increasingly leery of such attempts by the Church. Take Christmas for instance. Not until around the mid-fourth century does it appear on a calendar on its present date, December 25 – the time of pagan celebrations Sol Invictus and Saturnalia. Whether or not the Church intentionally meant to “Christianize” these older holidays, the result has morphed into a post-Dickens orgy of commercialized consumer driven capitalism without which many businesses would not survive today. Despite many attempts to take this pagan-like orgy out of Christmas who among us really thinks Christmas bears any resemblance to what Jesus was thinking that day on the cross he talks to the thief about paradise?

An odd metaphor to be sure, Christ the King. After all it is Pilate who orders these very words to be nailed upon the cross beneath his feet. Or very nearly. “The King of the Jews,” he ordered. We can still see the sneer on his face and hear his laughter at what he no doubt thought was at once a clever joke and menacing warning to all and any who may be tempted to continue what this upstart from Galilee had begun.

We may not know a lot about this Galilean, but what we do know is that unlike other kings, he had no army, no land holdings, no possessions, no money to speak of (relying on the generosity of others to support him and his followers), he wrote no books, issued no proclamations, and, according to tradition, “emptied himself taking the form of a common slave.”

What he did possess was a vision that things could be different – very different – which today’s gospel from Luke describes as “paradise,” an interesting word which appears to be of Persian (Iranian) origin, imported into the Greek pardiso of the New Testament.  Interesting in that it is often used to describe a walled or enclosed garden or park. I cannot help but wonder if Jesus knew of one known simply as The Buddha, the Awakened One, who lived some five or six hundred year earlier in what has become known as the Axial Age. The Buddha, who upon his awakening is said to have been tempted by the demon Mara to turn his back on the world and depart to some eternal nirvana – a total escape from the world of suffering. “No one will possibly understand what you have just understood,” taunted Mara. The Buddha thought about it and then declined. “There are those who will understand,” he is reported to have said. He then committed himself to some 40 or 50 years of living with and teaching those who desired to understand. Like any movement, these followers divided into several groups, some who sought individual deliverance from the world of suffering, and those who like The Buddha himself tip-toed up to the edge of nirvana but elected to stay just this side to nurture others along the way.

The story is told of four fellow travelers crossing a wilderness when they come upon a wall. One climbs to the top, looks in, and scrambles over the wall. So does the second one and the third – all three scramble over to the other side. The fourth climbs the wall, looks and sees – a walled in paradise of trees and flowers, rivers, streams, lakes, abundant fruits – beauty and abundance as far as the eye could see. This one climbed down and returned to this world saying, “There are those who will understand. I will not climb over the wall myself until even the grass is enlightened.”

Major trade routes, from east and west, north and south,  all criss-crossed through the middle east of Jesus. No fantastic tales of a young Jesus traveling to India or China is necessary to imagine that with all the travelers making their way through ancient Israel that tales such as this one were common place.

Perhaps this is what he had in mind as he spoke to the thief – as women and barefoot servants were making their way for one last moment with the one who had shared with them a vision of another kind of world; as princes keep their view from afar and businessmen drink his wine. More than a victorious king on a cross I hear in these ancient words of Luke the commitment to the end to return, to use this last possible moment before his dying breath not to miss the opportunity to offer the experience of Awakening to one last person who reaches out seeking to understand. He empties himself one last time, taking the form of a servant – serving his last earthly companion until three days later he too climbs down from the wall to continue an eternity of selfless service to others, until one day even the grass understands.
Outside in the cold distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Days of the Dead

Days of the Dead
1 Samuel: 28:3-25 – Saul and the Witch of Endor

All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls constitute what appears to have evolved as a three day observance in the fall – specifically Oct 31, Nov 1 & 2. All Saints, or All Hallows day, constitutes a day to stop and remember those who have gone before and have one way or another hallowed life – people we now refer to as saints but who often were anything but. Nonetheless they are people who remind us what things are most important in this life. And All Souls, as it sounds, is a day to remember all those who have gone before us who have contributed one way or another to the lives we live today. All Hallows Eve, now Halloween, began as an evening vigil before the observance of the following two days.

This tri-partite celebration falls at a time of year in the Northern hemisphere when leaves are falling, the sun is doing its disappearing act, days are darker in the morning and the evening, the weather is cooler, frost begins to kill off less hardy plants and flowers – a sort of natural winding down to the “death” of winter. So our minds naturally tend to recall those who have passed before us – which takes one to think of cemeteries and columbariums, spirits, ghosts and pretty soon one also finds oneself thinking about all those creatures that inhabit the shadow worlds of darkness – hobgoblins, devils, and things that go bump in the night!

As I was carving the traditional jack-o-lanterns, first emptying out all the “guts” of the pumpkin, then carving eyes, nose, mouth in either friendly or scary stylings, two verses of the new testament came to mind. First Paul in Philippians, when he says that Christ did not take equality with God something to be grasped, but rather emptied himself, taking the life of a servant; and the first verses of John which equate the Word, the logos, Jesus, with God and with that first Light that burst upon the world in Genesis 1 or The Big Bang (take your pick) – the light which is the light of the world. The pumpkin is emptied and then filled with light to shine in the darkness – a somewhat appropriate reminder of Christ after all is the Jack-O-Lantern, sentinel of the night as little ghosties and beasties roam the streets looking for a treat as we collectively thumb our nose at death and all its acolytes.

Then I recalled the days of my childhood, when on Saturday evening my father would go to the El Station in Oak Park to buy the first edition of the Sunday papers – all four Chicago Daily Papers: The Sun, the Tribune, the Daily News and the American. I would wake up Sunday morning to find the color comics from all four papers at the foot of my bed and would gleefully and diligently read them all before getting up and getting ready to go to church.

On this Halloween weekend the Tribune would always have a special banner cartoon depicting a harvest moon and haystack scene. Just below it would be Peanuts with Linus van Pelt sitting in the pumpkin patch with a sign, “Welcome Great Pumpkin,” as he waited for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival – or at least a sign. And every year he was disappointed.

All of which eventually turns my mind to this story about King Saul and the Witch of Endor. I believe it is the only Bible story to feature both a witch and a ghost – the ghost of the boy prophet Samuel. Saul, like Linus, is looking for a sign – a sign or a word from God – as he faces a hostile Philistine army about to attack. He has been praying to God but gets no answer. He asks his men to find someone who can conjure dead spirits. They remind him that as King he has outlawed any and all such people from practicing their “trade.” He insists he needs to find someone and finally they say, “Well there are reports of a witch at Endor.” Disguised as not-the-king, off they go to Endor.

Saul-disguised asks for a séance. The Witch wisely replies, “Have you not heard? Saul has outlawed such things!” He says, “Don’t worry, he won’t find out – I won’t turn you in.” Still hesitant she asks who in fact he needs to speak to. “Samuel.”  So up rises Samuel from the dead – at which point the Witch realizes this IS Saul in her house. “You tricked me – oh, woe is me!” “Don’t worry,” he says, “all shall be well.”

Not exactly. Samuel is not happy to return only to find it is Saul who has awakened him from his eternal rest. “What do you want from me?”

Saul explains that God is not answering his prayers, the Philistines are on the horizon, can’t you get God to give me some sort of an answer, some sort of sign? Samuel replies in effect, You never listened to God before why should he listen to you now. Things look bad and guess what? They are!

Samuel leaves, and Saul falls over, we are told, like a dead tree. At this point the Witch of Endor springs into action. She kills the fatted-calf, makes some bread and tries to get Saul to eat. He has not eaten all day and is refusing to eat now. He is in total despair. Yet, she convinces him to rest and have a good hot meal before going on. She cares for him and gives him strength to face his fears head-on.

One take away from this odd episode in the longer story of the life of faith is that often, like Linus and Saul we look for a sign – some assurance that there is some power greater than our selves, be it God, be it the Great Pumpkin, be it the Big Bang. But sometimes we are looking for the wrong thing, or asking the wrong questions, or seeking the wrong answer.

Note how Saul gets what he needs, not what he wants. In the peculiar calculus that is the Bible, he meets the face, heart and hands of God in the very person he has banished from his kingdom – a witch. He wants a sign from God and it is given – for what he needs at that moment is someone who cares for him, nurtures him, and strengthens him.  We often find what we need is not what we seek, and just as often what we need comes from places and persons we have written off long ago.

All Hallows Eve. Filled with lessons not too late for the learning, if only we will open ourselves to what the Witch of Endor and all her colleagues really have to offer us – a vision of how what we really need is someone who cares – someone who reflects the light that shines in the darkness – light which the darkness has not overcome. Amen.