Aloha Friday Message – March 18, 2011 – 2nd Friday of Lent


Read it online here.
Aloha nui loa, Beloved. I have some news about how Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i fared in the recent tsunami at the end of this message. The scripture today comes from the traditional readings for the Second Sunday of Lent. I wanted to choose just one, but that doesn’t seem to be an option, so what I have to say must, as consequence, be brief.

Genesis 12: 4 Abram went as the LORD directed him. Notice first that this is Abram. God has not yet appeared to Abram and changed his name to Abraham. (See Genesis 15 ff) Abram set out on a very long, very ambiguous journey which was more than a “leap of faith.” It was a journey of hundreds and hundreds of miles . God spoke. Abram acted. God Loved. Abram reverenced that love. By the time Abraham was leaving Haran, Abram was committed to obedience whenever God spoke. He was absolutely convinced of the omnipotence of The LORD God.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. Beloved you know how hard it is to wait – for anything! In this era of instant gratification, instant communication, instant everything – from coffee to potatoes to addiction to death – there are so many things for which we refuse to wait because these are things we want. In this verse, however, the Psalmist is saying “wait” as in “longing for,” lingering during our journey for a while so that we can be in God’s presence. We tarry awhile, deescalating our lives so busied by wanting, and look to him for succor – support, relief, rescue, comfort – and we trust he will provide this because he is known to be our protector. One of God’s “titles” is Shield of Israel, and the Hebrew word “magen” is identified with “Magen David” the familiar six-point star that serves as a traditional symbol of Judaism. We know if we just “be still and wait upon the LORD,” his tender love will save us from the coveting of things so that our heart’s desire is only HIM.

2 Timothy 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel. Once we are convinced of God’s utter omnipotence (I know, that’s redundant), “lingering in his presence” is a like a basket woven out of blessings that is filled to overflowing with more blessings. In the presence of God, we want to sing with the angels and worship him, knowing he will hear our call and most assuredly answer. As powerful and great as he is, great enough to preserve us in the worst battles of our lives against all foes seen and unseen, he still is with us (Ps 138) – even when we are imprisoned by our foes as was Paul. Paul tells Timothy there is no shame in testifying about our Lord, Jesus Christ, because God is faithful in his promises and his love for us is reliable and true. In verses 11-13 of this same chapter, Paul says, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” It is the unifying POWER of God’s Love that Jesus is faithful in his promises even when we are faithless. Love holds it all together.

Matthew 17:5 “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” And this is how that love was finally manifested in the World. When you read these words, hear them as spoken by a proud Papa who is pointing out the excellent young man standing before you. I can recall what that feels like when I think of my son, Timothy. Most of you know that Tim is an exceptional violinist. Sometimes, depending on the venue, people don’t really listen as well as I wish they would. I want them to hear how clean the music is, the virtuosity in those incredible runs, the technique and musicality of intonation and form; I want them to hear his music! “That’s my son. Listen to my son. He’s terrific! You’ve never heard anything like this before! Isn’t it wonderful?!” In the past, I read this verse in the narrative about the transfiguration as a thundering command “Wake up fools! I’m giving it my best shot by sending you my only beloved son! This is your last chance! LISTEN UP!!!” Now I feel differently about it because I perceive and comprehend the Love in this wonderful Father who shares with us his son, a son who will suffer much because it pleases his Father to crush him. I couldn’t do that to my son, but God’s infinite love gave his son my suffering, my punishment, my death – because God loved even me. Even me. That makes absolutely no sense at all in The World. I don’t plan to spend Eternity in The World, so it doesn’t really matter if God’s plan makes sense here.

I understand love well enough to know how important it is in my life, in your life, in our lives, and even in The World. God’s love is what stirs us to compassion, lifts our spirits, and multiplies our strength every time we give away the love we have received. I do not understand Love, agape love, God-Power Love, well enough to comprehend Golgotha. I can only shudder in awe and dread as I contemplate crucifixus etiam pro nobis.

Beloved, that is the LOVE to which we are called, that is the cross we are asked to carry. But first, we get to stand on the mountaintop with Jesus, Peter, James and John, Moses and Elijah and listen to God’s voice telling us in tones only a loving father can make, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.”

After the tsunami

It turned out fairly well for Kaua‘i. We had some damage in harbors and a few shoreline objects damaged– small docks and such. The Big Island (Hawaii Island) and Maui County (Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i) got hit pretty hard, though. Houses and businesses were damaged or destroyed, docks destroyed, maybe more than 200 boats destroyed – could be higher once they check the bottoms of the harbors – and even some roads washed away. The lingering damage will be the sharp and lasting decline in Japanese tourism. After previous national tragedies, tourism from Japan dropped to virtually zero for six months or more and Japanese visitors are about 25% of our Visitor industry. To quote our Governor, “It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be very, very tough.” While there was no immediate loss of life or cataclysmic damage as in the tsunamis in Indonesia, Samoa, and now Japan, all of those have had, continue to have, and will have long into the future, serious economic effects for Hawaii. Still, we thank God for his protection and help, and ask him to shower the entire nation of Japan with loving kindness and peace. Please pray for the millions of people in Japan who are suffering incredible losses. Please also but some “meat” on those prayers by donating money or goods to help. It will take decades to recover, and some places and people will never recover. Passages like Matthew 24:6-7 and Mark 13:7-10 come to mind.

In closing
At least until Easter (but hopefully well beyond) instead of “Eat…Pray…Love,” please make it “Love…Pray…Give.” ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved
😀 ♥

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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