Monday, March 4, 2013

Joy-filled Bridge Building: Sunday Sermon for March 10, 2013

Joshua 5:9-12         Psalm 34              2 Corinthians 5:17-21      Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

Halfway through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a sense of relief emerges within me. I feel happier.

Glimmers of joy, you may say!

A little light cracks through the murky end of this enclosed and dark tube.

Almost there.

So with Lent. 

Today's rejoicing recalls the midway point through this penitential season.

A Latin word, "Laetare," means "rejoice." 

And, that, we will do this day as we "taste and see the goodness of the Lord," as the Psalm writer sings in Chapter 34.

Like that tunnel, or, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, Paul the Apostle invites us to be bridgebuilders and reconcilers, like that unfolding in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, often referred to as the pardoned Prodigal Son.

The Israelites complete their trek through the wilderness finally touching the land promised centuries ago to Abraham's descendents.  Their own rejoicing at Passover remembers the enduring and steadfast love of God amid their own unfaithfulness.

A lot of bridges are built here today, it seems from Sacred Scripture up into our own stories.

Bridges are like that.

Almost a mad kind of joy dashes out to meet the wayward son by his father.

What prodigal and generous love lavished upon this wayward son, like me.
Dad showers his nameless son with a huge hug, a ring - a mark of a lasting and forgiving relationship like that of our own covenant faithfulness with God.

Father and son link up.  Life is restored.  Atonement evolves. 

Life gets better in healing recovery.

Reconciling hearts bow humbly with open doors. Son and father.  Imagine the scene.

Or, think of stretches that tie arm and arm together once more.

Like the Mackinaw Bridge linking the lower and upper penisulas.

Bridge building.

The idea intrigues me.

Is it the clarion call heralded for clergy, for parents, even grandparents in the absence of dads, moms? Perhaps for prophets in our day?

Want to build one? 

Want to connect the parts, pieces and people to do so?

Building bridges is no easy task.

A plan first.  Without it, people perish, so do bridges, links to loves lost and lives limping and longing for forgiveness in families.

Look at the London Bridge.

There's the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge.

There's the controversy over building another bridge next to the Ambassador Bridge.


Would you say there's some bridge building needed among principal players to build that one.

A lot of work to build a bridge.

Requires tireless trying,  repeatedly  forgiving (not forgetting, remembering one's history so as not to enable fractures, perhaps!) and endlessly engaging as the influential Jesus is to have said seventy times seven in the Good News.

A will to build a bridge and a relationship is required also, no?

There's the infamous Hoan Bridge in Milwuakee that got started but was left incompleted.
Hoan Bridge was to connect to the south side of the city of Milwaukee.

But, something went wrong as things will, and stuff happens, and hard feelings frustrate builders.

Your own and mine, included.

Like feeling some foster about the Eight Mile Road divide between 'burbs and the outer rings stretching beyond 37 Mile Road and Romeo, MI., for example.

Further away the safer some feel.

Expansive minds and hearts are part of the recipe and plan, or . . .
Too small a negotiating heart prevails, or, "We don''t negotiate, thank you very much!"

And, things fall down.  On or both, or, all walk away.

Indifference and the frozen heart kills additonal attempts to reconcile and heal hurting hearts.

Broken bridges.

Bridges falling down like in a lack of forgiveness of another for some wrongdoing toward you.

Remember?  Long, long ago. . .

The Kerner Report. named after the former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner,  predicted in 1968: 

"Two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal."

Decided.  No more conversations. 

Some stay out of cities, they say.


Even in homes, among households and families that are fractured, even so fragile at building relations with siblings, sons, daughter, dads and moms, neighbors too!

Esteem is beat down with violent words, bullying, raised voices filling one or the other with fear.

Sadness.  So much.

Even here today.  Look around.  One poet sang that Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week at churches.

Dangerous is that there building bridges, no?

And, bullying doesn't help, does it? Online, in chat rooms, and, in one's heart where all conflict and sin starts, no?

What we need are arms linked in arms.

Bridges to mend relations between husband and wife, rich and poor, and, the 46 million living in poverty that Catholic Charities USA says in unacceptable.

It is.

Wanted:  Brdige builders!  Plenty of work. 

Like Lent. 

Almost there. 

Finish building Lent, will you? 

Almost there into the Triduum, the three highest holy days of holy week beginning with Passion and Palm Sunday.  Feelings flood me.  Strong feelings stir within me as to what people did to Jesus.

They praised him with palm branches one Sunday, so the story says, and a few days later, he is hung on a tree of a cross between two thieves.  One of them, Dismas, wants Heaven, asks Jesus for it, gets it like Dr. Eban Alexander's Proof of Heaven book.  It depicts one unbelieving scientist and surgeon who is guided on a heavenly tour by a beautiful women while he is in a coma seven days.

Jesus was always building bridges with Gentiles, a woman with multiple relationships at the well.  Yet, she stood his ground.  Or, I should say, the Ground.  The truth of God's commandments to love.

Now, there's a bridge Jesus began building, in the Good Books, Joshua, with Saul who morphs into Paul, the preaching of the prophet Isaiah, and Luke these Lenten Sundays, on the "reign of God" and, God's kingdom so unlike our own today, that, well... look at what is still happening to the bridge builders, and, to Jesus, our Lord, life and light, our way, and truth today?

Or, is he, for you, for me, and many?

Restoring that relationship with dad, mom, and more.  Will you?  Digging deep may be required for your own, and my bridge building.

Glimmers of joy peak out in restoring, reconstructing relationships this day, this Laetare, "rejoicing" Sunday of Lent, the midway point of our new Springtime.

Commit.  Hang in there.  You can do this trek this Lent.  You can.

Let the building begin!

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