May the peace of Christ be with you now and always.
This week in prayer:
As prophets we sometimes have to challenge people to change direction. That challenge can take many forms – ranging from coercion (forcing people to do something against their will) to conversations (in which you explain your beliefs and hope the other will adopt them). The form of the challenge frequently determines the outcome. Coercion has a way of leading to conformity that lacks true conversion. Conversation that appeals to others’ freedom has a way of leading to true conversion.
In this Sunday’s first reading (Acts 13), we find Paul appealing to peoples’ freedom. He makes his plea and when they reject him, he moves on. This approach is very unlike the coercive one described in Chapter 8 of Acts, when he goes from house to house, dragging people to jail for not obeying his wishes. In the gospel, Jesus describes himself as the non-coercive shepherd who simply calls to His sheep and trusts them to make the right choice, though they sometimes don’t. He makes no reference to leashes or herding or crating. Just calling. And hoping they will follow.
Clearly, we can’t imitate Jesus’ appeal to freedom in every situation. People about whom we care sometimes need strong input. We do not let children play with matches. We do not let drunk people drive. However, many other situations in which we play the prophet do allow us to rely on conversation rather than coercion.
- One of the prayers used at Saturday’s magnificent celebration of Confirmation speaks eloquently of the sacrament’s beauty: “Through baptism, these young people have become our brothers and sisters in Christ. Through Confirmation, they will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to give witness to their faith as disciples of Christ.” May our confirmandi truly be given even more of the courage that enables them to be marvelous witnesses. And may they waste no time in joining the youth group!
This week in service:
Remember to bring your winter clothes to church this weekend and/or next. Jeremy and Elisa Goldstone are organizing a clothing drive that promises to provide much needed winter clothing to the needy in our area when winter blows back into town after our lazy, hazy days of summer.
This week in community:
Great big thanks to the members of the Walters, Kujawski and Katz families who supplied and planted the new forsythia hedge along the east side of the solar panels. It was a labor of love and has beautified our church.
Remember – Godspell will be performed here the weekend of May 13, 14, 15. Save the date. This oldie but goodie is being performed here at St. Joe’s by some magnificent singers. You will be very glad you were there.
Save the date for the Hoedown – Friday, May 20. Should be huge fun.
Final thought – with whom can you have easy conversation about your experiences of prayer, spiritual reading, community service, parish ministry, helping out around the church, and having fun with other parishioners (i.o.w., P, R, S, J, L, Y?)