Sunday, May 29, 2022

May 29, 2022, "Follow Every Rainbow" - Westminster Presbyterian Church Pasadena

 Psalm 97; John 17.20-26

Three powerful words ...

Three powerful words to guide our lives and give us hope.

Three powerful words:

Climb ... 

Ford ...

Follow ...

Climb every mountain.

Ford ever stream.

Follow every rainbow.

And where are the rainbows?

After a rainstorm, of course … the sun at the right angle, some rain still in the atmosphere, we see the refraction of light, a crayon-box of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Who hasn’t enjoyed the stories of the pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow … who wouldn’t want to find that pot o’gold? … but the rainbow’s end is never found … if it’s over there, and we move toward it, it moves ahead of us … we never reach it, but we can follow it … 

Much of life involves following … the framers of our Declaration of Independence so noted: as in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” - it’s the pursuit that makes for life … going after something, with heart and soul, all the gusto we can manage … follow the rainbow!

I love to watch children at play - how earnest they are … screaming and hollering, of course, running full tilt -  children at play are children at work … they learning … they’re learning the elements of life - 

Goal-setting, working it out with others … 

Who owns what? whose is that? 

How to share … how to get somewhere …

Simon Says  and Follow the Leader…

Children follow the rainbow, the rainbow of life - keepin’ on keepin’ on … their own little world … learning to do things they’ll do for for the rest of their life.

All of us follow a rainbow … whatever the rainbow may be - 

We all have a good many rainbows … get through school, find a job, fall in love, maybe we get married, maybe we have children … we make new friends, build a home, head for retirement, maintain our health, make it through an illness … and in the end, we touch the eternal light of God … 

We flow like water back to the sea - back to the heart of God, from whence we all came.

Follow … it’s a good word …

We follow our heroes, our teachers, mentors, parents, grandparents … 

We follow our dreams … 

The poet, Langston Hughes, wrote:

Hold fast to dreams 

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

Follow is a very good word …

On this Memorial Day Sunday, no better words than those of Lincoln at Gettysburg: 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Follow is a very good word … and a dangerous word, too.

Not every dream is worthy of our effort … not every rainbow is real … all that glitters isn’t gold, we rightly say … 

My son and I attended the Star Wars Convention in Anaheim the last few days.

A summary of Star Wars? … it’s all about following a dream, a rainbow … with a serious reminder: not every dream is a good dream, not every rainbow is true! 

The Force of life - a dark side, a light side … 

Power that seeks domination and control… power that liberates and creates.

Power that thrives on hate … power that lives on love.

The power of death … the power of life. 

Darth Vader … Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Follow can be a dangerous word  … 

“Follow me” said Hitler to his Brown Shirts … 

“Follow me” said Jefferson Davis to those who favored slavery … 

“Follow me” said the leaders of the January 6 insurrection …

“Follow me” shout preachers and politicians, only to lead their followers into sadness, shame, misfortune … and too often, violence and death. 

The young man in Texas … the young man in Buffalo - what hideous dreams would possess these young men? 

Some say: “They’re mentally unstable,” and they are -  but they found dreams on the internet, the dark underbelly of our society - dreams of violence and death - the love of guns.

Mentally unstable? of course, but feeding on deadly dreams and violent rhetoric. 

With laws too lax, laws nothing more than loopholes.

And now the recent damning report coming out of the Southern Baptist Church - lies, cover-ups …  to protect the church at the expense of lives, lives crushed, lives ruined.

History is full of deadly dreams and evil rainbows … the sad stories of people, entire nations, caught up in the whirlwinds of falsehood and death.

Follow can be a dangerous word.

“Choose wisely,” says the Grail Knight to Indiana Jones, “for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”

The false Grail … the true Grail …

Nightmares of death  … dreams of life …

Rainbows to heaven … highways to hell …

How do we know?

Can we test the dream?

Can we measure the rainbow?

Indiana Jones chose the simplest cup, because it was the cup of a carpenter. The Grail Knight said: “You have chosen wisely.”

Here in this place, in this time, once again, we choose … tomorrow, we’ll choose again … and the next day … fundamental choices that lead to life … hope … liberty … and freedom.

How do we know?

God has given us good counsel and much wisdom … 

Christ born in Bethlehem.

Christ baptized in the Jordan River.

Christ tempted in the wilderness.

Christ speaking gently to the children.

Tenderly to the woman entrapped by cruel men. 

Respectfully to the woman at the well, 

Kindly to the woman washing his feet with her tears ... 

Christ before Pilate ... Christ on the Cross … Christ in the Tomb, and Christ risen from the dead.

Let this Christ be the test of every rainbow that comes your way … let this Christ be the measure of every dream you have …

Let this Christ be your Christ!


Amen and Amen!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

May 22, 2022, "Ford Every Stream" - Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

 Psalm 67; John 14.25-29

I love to read Zane Gray novels … stories of the "old west" - more fiction than fact, but still fun to read.

Stories of huge cattle drives ... the constant search for water, forage … safety … and those rare and difficult rivers - how to cross a river ... 

If the water's too high, bed down the cattle - wait for the water to drop ... sometimes, last year's crossing changed during the winter, so another place has to be found ... 

None of it easy; all of it demanding ... and every bit of it, dangerous.

But the work pays off … there's always a place to cross the river.

Sure, it's just a novel of the Old West: Riders of the Purple Sage, The Spirit of the Border, The Rainbow Trail.

Beautiful young ladies with flowing hair and glowing eyes, handsome cowboys with rugged features and tender hearts ... hard days and lonely nights … raging storms and crooked cowboys.

The point of the story remains: there's always a place to cross the river … the cattle drive goes on ... the bad guys get their comeuppance, the hero gets the girl, the girl gets her man! Love wins the day!

I think of all the challenges Westminster Presbyterian Church has faced over the years ... how many rivers have been crossed ... issues resolved, sadness overcome, glory achieved, greatness enjoyed … the good work of being the church of Jesus Christ goes on - lives transformed, witness given, ministry sustained, mission accomplished, the bills paid …the Tower still stands, the organ plays on … year, after year, after year!

The Psalmist says it well:

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Like the cattle drive of old, there’s no going back … the only way, is the way ahead … if the water’s too high, we’ll wait … if last year’s crossing has changed, we’ll find another place to cross … we’ll experiment, innovate, invent … 

I can’t think of words more important for the people of God in such times as our’s: experiment, innovate, invent.

1930, 1940, 2001, and 2022 … every age poses its own set of challenges and questions … some periods are a little more settled than others … sometimes, everything is upside down.

Right now, we’re in a strange time, an in-between time … no one seems to know quite what we should do, or where we’re going.

Such times afford us a rare opportunity, an opportunity to step back a bit, take a deep breath, look long and hard at who we are, what we value, what we want, how to love the world, how to love one another. 

Amanda Gorman said: “To love one another just may be the fight of our lives.”

Jesus tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit … the Spirit, to teach us everything … everything pertaining to the life and work of Christ. 

We are not alone; we have the sacred text, we have the living Spirit of God - the deep traditions of our faith … we have one another - we have what’s needed to know who we are, how to live, what the love of God requires.

Jesus says to the disciples: Peace I leave you … my peace I give to you .. do not let your hearts be troubled, do not let your hearts be afraid … rise, let us be on our way.

In that moment, the disciples didn’t have a clue.

They had no idea what was to come.

Jesus says, I’m leaving you.

But I will not abandon you.

The Spirit will be here.

In Christ, our courage … 

In Christ, our hope.

Especially so these days … when hatred plays its ugly hand at every turn of the clock … politicians and preachers proclaim “replacement” propaganda - “the replacement of the white race” - and hatred of immigrants, people from the Middle East, people from south of the border, people of color, people from Asia … and always the Jews, of course. 

Irresponsible politicians, careless preachers, shout their malicious ideas of race and color, as if such could ever be God’s truth … but it’s not God’s truth… it’s the Devil’s lies … a script from hell - hell thrives on fear, hell loves hatred; hell despises the truth … hell lives on death.

I ask you: Was Jesus oblivious to the times in which he lived?

Was Jesus a recluse in the wilderness, a hermit on the mountain?

Jesus knew full-well the oppressive powers of Rome … the countryside punctuated with crosses … everywhere, betrayal, suspicion, high prices, food shortages, and too much religion, religion run amok … a land seething with unrest and fear.

Jesus lived in the midst of it all - when the time came, he journeyed to Jerusalem, the eye of the storm - where Pilate presided, and religion ruled. The Sermon on the Mt. is deeply spiritual, and powerfully political - the Sermon on the Mt. addresses the lies and deceptions of the day, the temptations to hatred and power.

Jesus offers peace, the antidote to fear … because bad decisions are made when we’re afraid … fear destroys our ability to think … fear twists love into useless shreds … 

Nowhere does Jesus suggest any of this to be easy; it’s hard to live the Christ-Way - then or now, for Jesus, or for us. 

But it’s the only way to survive, the only way to make some sense of our times, the only way to cross the river. 

Here, this morning, we do what God’s People have always done in difficult times: we turn to God … seek God’s counsel … pray for the Holy Spirit … seek the gift of courage: the courage to keep on keepin’ on … inventing, innovating, dreaming and daring.

Emily Bronté wrote:

No coward soul is mine,

No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:

I see Heaven's glories shine,

And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

A little child on the beach watched the sun sink into the sea … she asked her mother and father, with a tremor in her voice, “Will the sun come back?

Her mother said to her, “Early tomorrow morning, we’re going to the mountains, and we’ll watch the sun come back.”

Leo Buscaglia tells the story of his mother’s “misery dinner” …

It was the night after his father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy, because his business partner had left town with all the money. 

His mother went out and sold some jewelry to buy food for a feast. Some of the family scolded her for it. But she told them: ”the time for joy is now, when we need it most, not next week." Her courage rallied the family. 

Cowboys on a cattle drive … 

The disciples in the land of doubt … 

A child on the beach … 

And Mama with her misery dinner.

Climb every mountain, dear friends.

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

'Til you find your dream 

In the name of the threefold God. Hallelujah and Amen!

Sunday, May 15, 2022

May 15, 2022 "Climb Every Mountain" Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

 Psalm 148; John 13.31-35

I’m not a mountain climber … at least of the physical kind ... like Mt. Everest or K2 ... or Mt. Kilimanjaro ... 

Though I’ve been know to make a mountain out of a molehill now and again … and maybe you’ve done that, too. 

But, seriously, I've climbed many a mountain in my lifetime, and so have you ...  

Only one way ahead … climb the mountain.

Some mountains are climbed with ease …

Some require every ounce of strength we have, and then some.  

Some mountains can never be climbed - 

At least, all the way … they’re too high - we make peace with the mountain … it’s now a part of our life … we find how to live there, because God lives there, too, God with us, on the mountain!

Mountains play a central role in the Bible … Noah on Mt. Ararat … Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah … Moses on the mountain for the 10 Commandments … God takes Moses to a mountain to show him the Promised Land … Elijah defeats the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel … Jesus meets Moses and Elijah on the Mt. of Transfiguration … the  Sermon on the Mt … from the Mt. of Olives, Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Thomas Merton entitled his spiritual autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain.

Dr. Paul Farmer’s biography, Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Climb every mountain,

Search high and low,

Follow every byway,

Every path you know.

Over the years of ministry, I've witnessed some of the bravest people ever ... taking on the mountains ... a terrible medical challenge … an ailing spouse ... a special needs child ... the burden of personal issues - addiction, childhood trauma; personality quirks, quirks that bedevil us and frustrate our family and friends … mountains … life as it is, as it comes to us … climb every mountain.

A friend of mine parked his car, walked around behind it, another car drove into him, crushed his legs, cut them off ... he had to learn how to walk on prosthetics, pain and difficulty ... he's a brave man, climbs his mountain every day, a mountain I can't begin to imagine ... 

From a young lady in Michigan, the church I served … she writes:

And just like that… I’ve been paralyzed 19 years.

Sometimes it’s even hard for me to believe.  Today is bittersweet, but over the years I’ve learned that although many things may be out of my control these situations have taught me that I can still choose to have peace and joy. That life’s beauty isn’t limited to our circumstances. You just have to see it! 

This life isn’t always easy, no one’s is, but I wouldn’t choose to have it any other way! With every struggle and obstacle I have learned so much and it has led me to the person I am today! And I’m so proud of who I am and how far I’ve come! But I am also looking forward to what the future holds! A BIG thank you to my incredible family and friends that continue to love and support me! I am so blessed! I wouldn’t be here without you all! ….

Today I celebrate life and all of its beauty! I feel so grateful to be here, still rocking and rolling … 

A another friend recently wrote:

I've been teaching for 34 years. No kidding, she says.  That kind of surprises me when I think about it.  But the truth is, if you are doing it really well, it doesn't get easier.  I am whipped today because I have two separate classes on really different subjects going at the moment.  One of them will wrap up next week.  The other one carries through till nearly the end of June.  Teaching.  It's a challenge/opportunity/blessing/chore/delight.

I like what she said, “If you’re doing it really well, it doesn’t get easier.” 

All around us mountain climbers … they sing out to us the songs of hope: you can climb your mountain, too … God is love, life is good, and there is always a way ahead.

I celebrate with each of you - your success … the mountains you’ve climbed … which is a good thing to remember when the mountain looks too high … when our spirits fail, when discouragement sets in … to remember the mountains already climbed … the faithfulness of God … the love of family and friends … a million things to keep us going, a million reasons to keep on climbing.

I look out at you - I see women and men in climbing gear …wrapped in courage and faith … common sense and wisdom … inventiveness and patience … 

Yes, I see fear and uncertainty, too ... tears and regret; weariness and defeat ... things no one can describe ... it’s all part of the deal … it’s life … the mountains we have to climb.

Jesus said: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

That’s a mighty big mountain, isn’t it?

A good mountain to climb, every day.

And it doesn’t get any easier.

To love, dearly and deeply, with patience and mercy; to forgive quickly and put hard memories behind us … to set aside the old and familiar and reach for the new horizon … to pay attention to those around us … to offer the helping hand … seek constructive solutions as the times require … listen well, learn and grow; make it work, find a way … keep on climbing.

You can do it … you’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. 

Climb every mountain,

Search high and low,

Follow every byway,

Every path you know.

Christ is with you … Christ is ahead of you … Christ is behind you … Christ is above you … Christ is beneath you … Christ is within you … Christ - is all around you.

In the name of the Threefold God:  Amen and Amen!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

May 8, 2022, "Listen" Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

 Psalm 23; John 10.22-30

It’s Mother’s Day, a day of celebration, a day of thanksgiving for millions of Americans … we give thanks for love given, love received. That favorite dish of lasagne, or fried chicken done just right.

Yet the joy of many is measured by sadness, too.

Mothers who couldn’t give much love, struggled with life, did their best and sometimes did their worst. 

Not everyone can celebrate Mother’s Day.

On this day, 1884, Harry S. Truman was born … the 31st President of the United States … he took up the helm of the Nation when FDR died, and helped us finish the terrible days of WW2 …  

On the economic front, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon; what Bill Gates doesn’t own, Elon Musk owns; what those two don’t own, Jeff Bezos does. Too much, I’d say, for the few, and too little, for the many. The wealth of the Nation is measured not by Wall Street, but on the street where too many have to live.

On the legal front, it seems the Supreme Court is prepared to strike down a woman’s right to choose … I’m not happy about this … human rights, civil rights, voting rights, marriage rights, a woman’s right to choose - these are precious realities, sacred, because freedom is sacred, freedom is the heart of God … the right to choose, the right to choose one’s religion, and one’s life, is the heart and soul of a good and godly nation.

What a world - here we are … as Donna might say to me on the phone, “Where are you? When are you coming home?” … or on a trip, “Do you know where you’re going?” 

I don’t know where I’m going … who does? 

Life is pretty much a mystery … a whodunit, for sure … things go right, and then not so right … the world swirls around us, we try to keep our balance … our head on straight; the lawn mowed … tell a joke or two, and put on a happy face.

Here we are … we’ve been here before; we’ll be here again … the Tower still stands …  

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

The LORD maketh me to lie down …

The LORD leadeth me …

The LORD restoreth my soul …

The healing words of an ancient text … a poet, long ago … the mercy of God … God’s kindness, God’s provisioning love … 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Stop, Look, Listen … LISTEN!

Do you hear what I hear?

Said the night wind to the little lamb

Do you see what I see?


Way up in the sky, little lamb

Do you see what I see?


A star, a star, dancing in the night

With a tail as big as a kite ….

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy

Do you hear what I hear?

Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy

Do you hear what I hear?

A song, a song high above the trees

With a voice as big as the sea….

Stop … Look … Listen …

Two weeks ago, we stopped in the name of love, we stopped to think it over … last week, to look with our eyes, to see with our soul.

Today, we listen … we listen to the great truths of our faith …

You belong to God, your life is important;

You count for something, and the world counts on you …

You have things to do, and miles to go … 

A life to live, love to give … 

You belong to God, now and forever … your life is eternally important.

Today we listen … today we hear.

Today, we pay attention.

Attention: to the central message, the vital word, the foundation of all that we are, and all that we hope to be: 

We belong to God … God is with us, the eternal Shepherd of the world.

The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears

The sound of music … the voice of God … the wind above, the roar of the sea, the laugher of a child.

The tears of the distressed … and the cries for justice

All these voices, all these sounds, the sounds of God, calling us, beckoning us, inviting us, to pay attention.

To pay attention to the stories of our faith … to keep our eyes on the Tower, look upward, look heavenward, for inspiration and guidance … 

And then look outward, look outward with godly eyes, to see the distress of our world, the crushing weight of war, the terrors of poverty … the cruelty of massive political systems that crush the life of a child, and destroy the hope of an adult.

It’s vital that the church of Jesus Christ pay attention to the cries of those on the margins of society … that’s an interesting expression, isn’t it? The Margins of Society …

Those who are shoved aside … and often condemned, condemned for their plight in life.

When Jesus heals a blind man, everyone asks, “Why was he blind in the first place? Did he sin? Did his folks sin?” 

They were in a hurry to condemn - to blame the blind man for his problem, or to blame his family … and why?

It’s a human device, a defensive move - we all do it.

Blame the victim …

The world sticks out its foot to trip someone, and then it says, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”

Blame the victim …

The rape victim is held in suspicion - “What was she wearing? Where was she going? Did she fight back? Did she really say No?” -  - as if rape could ever be a woman’s fault.

A friend grew up in an evangelical church, where the poor were blamed for their poverty - “they’re lazy, immoral, godless; they make bad decisions, spend their money on needless things” … 

Remember Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen”?

Condemn the poor, shame the poor, make the poor responsible, so we don’t have to do anything about it.

The American Farmer, during the Great Depression - thousands lost their farms to the banks, when the rain stopped and the winds blew hot … important people said, “The famers were irresponsible in the first place. They should’ve have managed their money better.”

Lies abound in every age … the snake in the grass said, “Ya’ want it, go ahead, take it” … the Roman Empire said, “Caesar is god!” … the enslavers said to people of color: “You’re not fully human; your lot in life is to be a slave, and, by the way, we’ll tell you about Jesus” … the Oath Keepers say, “the election was stolen” … Putin says, “Ukraine belongs to Russia.”

Truth begins and ends with this: love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; love your neighbor as yourself - we are called by Christ to name the truth … to stand firm against the false.

We are called by Christ to separate the gold from the dross, the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lie … 

We have to stop now and again … we have to look, and look hard, in order to see … we have to listen, and listen hard, in order to hear.

My sheep hear my voice, said Jesus, I know them, and they follow me.

The hills are alive with the sound of music.

The Bible speaks volumes, and calls us to follow.

The sky above testifies to the glories of God.

The sea speaks to our soul.

Do you hear what I hear said the night wind to the little lamb?

God help us all.

To listen well.

To hear, the voice of Christ.

Amen and Amen!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

May 1, 2022, "Look!" - Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pasadena

 Psalm 30; John 21.1-19

Stop … Look … Listen …

Three pieces of good advice … in their proper place, for the right time.

There are times to stop, like a red light.

And times to Go, when it’s green.

Apparently some folks have difficulty figuring that one out.

There are times to look, to look carefully at something … a piece of art at the Norton Simon … an attractive add for a new car.

And maybe there are times when we shouldn’t look, when we should look away, or close our eyes … like an attractive add for a new car.

And of course, the landmine of all marriage landmines: If Donna asks me, “How does this dress look on me?” 

Diplomacy is crucial.

I say to myself, “Careful Tommy Boy, be careful!”

And then:


Donna will sometimes say to me, “Listen” - to get my attention, because I have selective hearing … most husbands have the affliction, and most wives know all about it.

Yes, there are times to listen,.

Sometimes we need to not listen … we need to turn down the volume … shut off the news, take a break … go on a walk, read some poetry, clear the mind, refresh the spirit … escape the noise of daily life, choose the quiet of a safe place, put the building blocks back together again.

Stop … Look … Listen …

Last week, we took a stop … “stop in the name of love” - to regain our balance, reset our priorities … we stopped over a piece of Scripture about “the Jews” … how the church really messed up on that one … messed up for a few thousand years, and what with anti-Semitism on the rise these days, we all need to stop, stop in the name of love, and do what we can to stop the harm, stop the violence, stop the language of fear and slander … learn anew how to read the Bible, how to interpret the Christian tradition, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how to live the love of Christ.

There are times when we have to stop, and “think it over.”

This week, to Look!

My granddaughter isn’t afraid of bugs … she’ll have a bug in hand, and carefully watch it … turning her hand over as the little bug crawls along … who knows what the little bug is thinking, but I know what my granddaughter is thinking - amazement, full of wonder, delight, interest, joy, curiosity.

I remember a young boy, by the name of Garth … I had an 18 foot canoe, and another fellow and I took Garth with us for a day of fishing on Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania … I was minister at Third Presbyterian Church, Altoona … in a tough neighborhood … plenty of poverty in this once booming railroad town … kids missing out on the good things of life.

So, we took Garth along … he had never been in a canoe … I don’t recall if he had ever been fishing, but this much I remember, he was absolutely wide-eyed with everything, from getting the canoe on top my van, to taking it off when we arrived … and shoving off, paddling to a few choice spots for fishing.

I remember, showing him how to bait the hook with a worm, set the bobber, and cast out the line … we had given him his own rod and reel … he had a wonderful time … and I’ll never forget, no, I’ll never forget, how wide were his eyes … taking it all in … sheer delight, the joy of a child.

To this very day, I remind myself to have eyes wide open … to look, to really look, at the world around me, the people I love, and those who love me … the glory of the morning sun, the bright blue of noontime … the grey clouds of June Gloom … a flight of raucous Pasadena Parrots … roses in full bloom … the yellow Ferrari next to me.

To pay attention to the things of this world - what God has created … what we’ve created!

It’s pays to look.

But I want to push the word “look” … push it for greater meaning.

Sherlock Holmes, the famed fictional detective, said, “I see where others only look.”

A friend born blind ... a musician ... a husband, a father, a servant of the Lord ... often says, "I can see things no one else can see!"

Which is to say, "seeing" is more than looking ... looking needs an eye, but seeing requires a soul.

We look at our church ... we admire the tower, the beauty of

our windows, a breathtaking design, a thousand things to

catch our attention and invite our admiration …

This building is a glorious creation - we give thanks to God Almighty for those who came this way, to build on Lake Avenue an inspiring example of French Gothic architecture, to the glory of God … a reminder of how creative and ingenious we are … because we are creators, just like the Creator God, who made us, endowed us with the ability to dream, gave us the power to build.

This building is a monument, a monument with a message. We look at the monument with our eyes, and we see the message with our soul.

The message of hope and peace … reconciliation and mercy.

God is God, and in God, and by God, and with God, our humanity is completed … 

None of this easy … all of it’s complicated, complicated by the realities of the day - personal issues, needs, hurts, sorrows, fears, regrets … and the world out there: global warming, draught across the West, war in Ukraine, “stop the steal,” outlandish behavior in the halls of government - this is our world, this is our moment … and none of it’s easy.

More than ever, what the world needs now are people well-focused, people well-ordered … people centered in the deepest values of humanity, reaching for the highest dreams of heaven …

Look heavenward dear people of Pasadena, Altadena, Flintridge and Glendale, and the good folks on YouTube - wherever you are … look heavenward … look beyond the material … to see the love of God … 

The Psalmist says: O LORD … you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy …

On that ancient beach in faraway Galilee, a stranger grilled fish on a charcoal fire … when the disciples looked, they could see - the stranger on the beach was none other than Christ himself.

To look is one thing … to see is another.

I think of Pete Seeger’s song:

I can see a new day

A new day soon to be

When the storm clouds are all passed

And the sun shines on a world that is free.

Dear Friends, on this fine day in Pasadena, right here, right now, we can look with our eyes … we can see with our soul:

A new day soon to be. Amen and Amen!

[Pete Seeger melody …]