Phone: 417-881-3073

2645 E. Southern Hills Blvd | Springfield | MO 65804 

How to Solve The mystery of Trinity!

We are now in the season of Lent. It is a time for a deeper look into our lives, and make necessary changes from within. Sometimes the changes we make are small and simple, but the impact they may have in our lives is greater and powerful. For example, taking a cup of coffee or tea or a glass of water on a regular basis may not sound like a big thing. But doing it at the same time on a regular basis will form a ritual, which will span into the rest of our lives.

We all need rituals of some sort to help us calm us in a chaotic world. Rituals have the power to settle us into some routines that sometimes we take comfort in when everything else goes haywire. So, finding that ritual is a big deal and makes that happen on a regular basis makes it even more transformative.

We are blessed with a community with rituals and practices of faith. Every time I think of church I think of the Holy Trinity. When I have trouble understanding what Trinity is, I now look into what church is. That’s because I think of Trinity as a community just the same way I look at the church.

Do I understand what church is? Nope. Not all the time. It is hard to understand all that happens in a community, but at the same time once we become part of the community on a regular basis we find the community of believers formative, transformational and at the same time challenging. Church will call us to look into ourselves deeper and harder if we are honest with ourselves.

So my call to you today is, *be part of your worshipping community.* The church is a place where we truly find ourselves. It is only then we will find God. Until we see who we are, we may not find who God is. God is always and will always be present in the community. The mystery of Trinity can be solved. It’s not that hard. *It’s a matter of letting God find us in the community. *

Spiritual Progressive Relaxation

Snow days are behind us. Or at least that’s my hope. I do miss seeing you all in church, and that has nothing to do with you, but with God’s act. I promise you; we cannot take insurance against God’s actions although there are companies that offer them when you buy electronics. God’s work is always beautiful, and it stretches our minds to see life differently. No insurance can “protect” us from being in God’s grace.
So today I want to invite you to allow the stretching of your minds to see how God is changing us as a community and as individuals. No spiritual change is possible without a personal transformation. No one becomes a better person remaining in the same place as before. The stagnant waters are always unhealthy, while the water that moves brings in new life and clean environment, and that is applied to Spiritual Life as well.
I want to invite you to allow the stretching process that is taking place at our church. New energy and new programs with new faces will only make us better people in the long run. This whole process of entering into seeing church life with new wonder is called “Spiritual Progressive Relaxation”. Remember this word when you participate in worship, liturgy, study and community life at St. James. Practice Spiritual Progressive Relaxation!

Are you favored?

Are you a favored one of God? Mary did not expect to be favored one of God. Angel appeared to her and told her without a choice that she is the favorite of God. She only had a choice to say Yes.

To know if we are the favored one we need to look at the blessings we have received and that is the easy part. Many times it recognizes what a blessing is the hard part. Usually, blessings are pretty easy to recognize because we have an idea of what blessings are.

Here is what happened to Mary after she was called the blessed one. She was told that God had found favor with her and she needs to brace up and be ready for the incredible gift she is being given. Then she is told what that gift is. A child. She is not married yet. She is a teenager. And she has a child. There is no man involved. And we know how we will look at such a girl when she says she doesn’t know the man. She hadn’t been with a man.

The so-called blessing here is not a great social standing. Not a proper marriage. Not a good health and no morning sickness. It is that she is going to give birth to a child whose father is an innocent man and then he is going to be the son of God.

In our world today we will call such people delusional. Because we have an idea what blessings look like. The point is, blessed ones are those who can take the day as it comes. It is the serenity with which we can face the day as is planned by God. Blessedness is simply letting God do what God can do, and when God does it, we accept it.

There are several people in the Bible we read about those who were blessed and favored by God. Starting with Abel. He found favor with God. Well. Didn’t end well. Did it? He was killed by Cain.

Noah: Found favor in God’s sight. Well. That didn’t go too good because he had to figure out how to survive.
Abraham: I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. He was invited to sacrifice his own child. That’s a bummer.
Joseph: God favored him and shown special love. Didn’t end well, ended up in the well.
Israel: God finds favor with the people of Israel, and therefore he brought them out of the land of Egypt. And then what happened? They wandered through the wilderness for the next forty years. Wow. That’s favor in God’s sight.
Job: Hmm… He was the favored one.

We have to redefine what it means to be in favor of God. And we probably need to open our eyes, shed our shells in the eyes and see where God is leading us.

St. Theresa of Avila would say “no wonder you don’t have too many friends. Those whom you love you break their every bone”.

However, once we see the favorability of God, we might choose nothing else. Paul the Apostle did. All the apostles took the favor of God and got killed for it except John.

God favors his chosen and gives them the wisdom to redefine their life. God makes it easy for people to see in death is life, in forgiveness is happiness and in letting go is the freedom.

So today I want to invite you to rejoice in this day and your call. Because is the best make up you can ever have. “Be like a tiny bird with a big song.” (Jerry Van Amerongen.) “One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.” (Helen Keller).

Manger Around The Corner

We are right around the corner from the manger of Christ. We are eager to know what this new season brings to us and what can we be excited about. The birth of Christ and all the celebration that goes with it, in reality, is all about new life. We all love new life, and we all can put away those moments of darkness and depression behind and rejoice. Human beings love stress free, happy and joyful moments.

I want to wish you a merry, blessed Christmas. I want to tell you; we are in a new and exciting time in the life of St. James. We are growing and changing. We are becoming new every day. Christ is among us, and I want to encourage you to experience the Lord in the community. Belong and Believe!

We will launch a new website on Christmas morning. I had been working on this site for two months. We will announce the easy to remember address on Christmas Morning! I also want to share with you of the several new programs coming in 2018: Four new worship services each month, contemplative retreats through the year, musical offerings at various times in the year, Christian formation activities and more. There is now, even more, a reason for people to come to St. James and belong. We will provide more opportunities for those who are seeking a non-invasive, spiritually abundant community to belong. I need your help to spread the word. Share our new website with your friends, on Facebook and with those who are seeking a new community.

Once again a blessed and joyful Christmas. May the choicest blessings of the Little Child of the manger be upon you and your family.

Feeling Unworthy!

Today I want to talk to you about feeling unworthy before God. Or should we feel unworthy of God?

You know it is a complicated question for me. Here is the reason. I am a free thinker, in the sense that I believe that God should love me, and God should care for me, and God should do everything right for me because in the end I am of God and God has created me. God has a responsibility to take care of me. God must make sure I am successful and blessed in life. So, God can not just sit idle and make me fail. I am worthy to stand before God because God is my father. The list goes on and on.

Is there anyone among you who feel that? Or don’t you think I am telling the truth here? Is there a parent out there who do not want their children to be successful, happy and blessed? If you are, I don’t know what kind of a parent you are. I wish success and greatness for my children. I want them to be the best and most successful.

When my child comes to me saying he is unworthy of my love, I want to shower him with my love and my care. What reminds me here is the story of the prodigal son, and I would call it the prodigal father. The father who lost control and made the return of his lost son into a huge feast. He made him feel worthy again. Father made him a prince in the household while the son thought of himself as unworthy to walk into the house of his father. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the son knew, his father could not spare him his love. All it required is for him to recognize how unworthy he is before the abundance of love.

I have several more examples that come to my mind in the scriptures.

There was a centurion who came to Jesus one day and said, ““Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.”. Matthew 8:8.

He knew what power meant. He was a powerful man, and he did not have to stoop down before this layman, who does not apparently have any power in the world and seek his guidance. But the centurion says, “I am unworthy of your attention,” could you please.

Don’t we ask our children to say please if they want us to do something for them? Why? We all want the other to have some humility, some grace and some understanding of one another. We want people to recognize our limitation without the help of the other.

To feel unworthy is not a bad thing. It is the right thing to do when we know we don’t deserve all that we say we deserve, if not for the grace and kindness of the other. We get what we get many times because someone else is kind to us and caring for us.

I have a house to live in because you are kind to let me have it. I have a place to work today because you are kind to call me. I can go a long way if I have some humility to work with.

You know where the river flows? Rivers are always in the valley. Am I right? Where the nomads settle? Near the rivers. Why? Because water brings life. Low lying areas have water in them, and they produce fruits and flowers. They make trees grow.

It is humility that makes the Spiritual life meaningful. It is knowing that we are unworthy that makes us beautiful people.

I hate proud people, people who think they know everything and they are everything, and without them, the world will end. Nobody is indispensable. We all can be dispensed with. Let nobody believe we are so important in this world that this world won’t’ be a good place without us. God has a place, and that takes into consideration the totality of the wellbeing of the world. We have a choice to become one part of the story and not the whole story. We only have one role to play, and if we play it right, we will have a place in the puzzle.

The beautiful world we live in a world that looks like a puzzle. If I do not place myself in the right place of the puzzle, then I won’t complete the whole picture. If I think my place in the puzzle is not most important I am wrong. I am important, and I need to fit into the puzzle to complete the picture.

So knowing our place, and our potential is a wonderful thing. But having some humility to know that God can still complete the puzzle without us, is wisdom. You don’t need to come under my room to make a difference in my life, just your thought, your kindness, your love and your look, your smile would all do.

Make someone feel worthy. It can be done with a simple smile, a genuine text, a sympathy card and the list goes on. The spiritual life of worthiness and unworthiness needs to be addressed in the context of who we are in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less as St. Francis would say.

Righteous people are those who will ask when did we see you hungry and thirsty. We are unworthy, but you gave us a blessing.

Peter said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Did Jesus go away? Would you leave your children when they admit they made a mistake? Will you not walk with someone who is aware of his failure and mistake? We will do, and we should all do.

Feeling unworthy is a blessing. Being unworthy is not. We are worthy of God’s love; our being is in need of God to function well. But knowing we don’t work well without God is this feeling of unworthiness, and that is what we call humility. Like Peter who asked Jesus to depart him. Like the centurion who said, do not come under my roof, like John the Baptist who said, I am unworthy to untie the string of his shoes, like Paul who said,” I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle.”

Feeling unworthy is a blessing.
Being unworthy is not.
Feeling unworthy is a start to grace.
Being unworthy is a lie.

Our being deserves God.
Our feeling of unworthiness helps us experience God better.

Remove Obstacles

I want to talk about how to remove our obstacles in spiritual life.

E.F. Schumacher is German statistician and economist who is best known for his proposals for human-scale, decentralized and appropriate technologies.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius ó and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

Moving in the opposite direction is the direction of God. The simplicity of God is stunningly beautiful. The poverty of God is powerful because when you look at it what helped God to flatten the mountains and straighten the crooked pathways is his ability to let go of power.

The genius of Apple founder Steve Jobs is his ability to vision beautiful designs, simple concepts, gadgets, computers, and software to work easily even for a child. Simplification is not easy, and it requires us to be renewed and revived.

According to Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Monk, “We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life which is ‘hidden in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Yes, a transformation is often more about unlearning than learning, which is why the religious traditions call it ‘conversion’ or ‘repentance.”

There is an unlearning that we all need to be engaged in so that what is ahead of us can be seen with our naked eyes. God is transparent and here with us. But our complicated process of interpreting God among us makes it harder for us to see God among us.

When God removes the obstacles to see Jesus, the signs and wonders will tell us God is among us. The beauty of the passage is it is pointing us to God right ahead of us rather than a mythical understanding of Him. It is a mystical comprehension.

What happened in Israel at the time when John preached was a revival. People from all Judean countryside came out of their homes. They heard a voice that is simple, easy to understand and the message is lived out. Healing is straightforward and real.

What stops us from seeing Christ who is among us? In one story is that we look back too much on what happened in life to the extent we have no time to look forward as God may have in store for us. That was the mistake of Lot, whose wife turned into a pillar of salt in the middle of a desert because she was engrossed with her own need to look back into what was left behind. We all do it, and we all pay for it too. Genesis 19:26

Sometimes we carry too much junk around us from history, past, memories, concepts and more that straps us from anchoring ourselves in Christ. David did the same. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. David had to remove those swords and strappings to go forward and see where God is leading him. Even though those protections seemed the right thing to do, in wisdom those things that stop from seeing God ahead of us and getting to that God is a deterrent. 1 Samuel 17:39

There is too much rubbish we are carrying like the burden bearers of Israel. Judah says, there is too much rubbish so that we are unable to work on the building. We all carry much rubbish in life as well as in our hearts. The rubbish we carry are those material things as well as spiritual things. The burden of failure, the pride of success, the fear of loss, the anger of unforgiveness. The rubbish with us is too much for us to go forward. Nehemiah 4:10

There was a man who was wealthy. He came to the Lord asked what should he do to inherit the kingdom of God and the Lord answered. He had too many possessions, and therefore he didn’t want to leave them.

Jesus wanted to heal a lot of people, and so he went through Jerusalem. But he couldn’t do much because they had little faith.

Jesus was baffled by the fear of those around Lazarus, the man who was dead. They were wondering and arguing about who is going to roll away the stone. Who will roll away the fear? Who will step on the spot?

Misplaced priorities when the Lord calls. I have to bury my father and finish up some business, and the list goes on.

So in short Jesus is calling his followers to simplify their total life. Make it uncomplicated. Do some unlearning. We have learned too much to complicate ourselves.

We love children because they are not complicated.

We have revivals started by Bishop Curry. It is about uncomplicating the message of the Gospel. It is making straight the path and flattening the mountains. It is about making our faith simple, easy to understand and bring into the midst of people.

Spiritual revival is merely making faith uncomplicated. Easy to understand and practice. Spiritual revival why the people came out of their homes to see Jesus and John was because they made their spirituality easy to practice, simple to believe.

We have a job to do.
We have a decision to make.
Can we make our church uncomplicated?
Can we make our faith meaningful and practical?
Can we make our life simple?

Simplicity is addictive and life-giving. Poverty is freeing.

The Unconventional Goats!

One day a little boy came home from the playground with a bloody nose, a black eye, and torn clothes. It was obvious he’d been in a fight and lost. While his father was patching him up, he asked his son what happened.

“Well, Dad,” he said, “I challenged Larry to a duel, and I gave him his choice of weapons.”
“Uh-huh,” said the father, “that seems fair.”
“I know,” said the boy, “but I never thought he’d choose his big brother!”

We all need a friend in high places. We all need someone to stand for us and fight for us, and we have it. We have a mighty warrior on our side every day if only we can see and recognize the God of all things as the lord of all people. How did he become the king and a big brother?

Jesus became the Christ, a God worth following because He found the reason to become part of human condition. The reason God became powerful is that God became one among those who are powerless. God found meaning in letting go of the grandeur He had for the sake of lifting up those who are downtrodden.
Teilhard de Chardin is a well known Theologian and teacher. He says “I think that the world will not be converted to the heavenly hope of Christianity if first Christianity does not convert itself to the hope of the world.”

We have to become the hope for the world; then God becomes Hope. We have to become the security of the world; then the world will become Christian again. We have to become the justice, peace, compassion, and kindness of the world then Christ will become the King among us and not above us.

I was a member of the CLC, Christian Life Community, tracing its origin to 1563. We were asked to read a poem every Sunday as part of our prayer in our little group, written by St. Theresa of Avila.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
with Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands; yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes; you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,

Christ has become the king when Christ reaches to all those who need the protection, care, and love of humanity. That is possible only when we recognize this principle of St. Theresa in our personal lives. It becomes a responsibility and a calling.

Mother Theresa became a saint or a queen because she became part of the human condition that was considered impossible and a curse. Are we to become those who are cursed in this world? Are we to become those who are less fortunate than us?

Christian life demands empathy in its best possible form. The Christian life is not about rubrics and canons. It is not about rules that govern the day. Our inheritance, which is of the line of King David, Christ the King, we are called to get to the ground in the streets with those who are naked, in prison with those who are lost. It does not call us to embody them but invites us to empower them.

According to Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic “While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

When a nation is torn apart by political strife, and when a nationalist movement destroys the fundamental fabric of our community, when one gender takes precedence over the other, and one sexual orientation is cheaper than the other, we are called to action and called to Matthew 25. When I was hungry, thirsty, naked, lost, enslaved, disrespected and challenged….
I do not need to seek another occasion to find God the King. I do not need to look for situations to change the lives of people. I do not need to seek wisdom elsewhere. It is here and right in front of us.

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

Christ is King when Children of the king genuinely accept their royal heritage. When we become prince and princesses of this world and make the rest to be the members of the royal family, then a new age is ushering, and we are instrumental in it.

Remember always one thing.
Christ has no body but yours.

I went to my eyes doctor a couple of days ago. As I was sitting there waiting for the doctor to come, I was thinking, “we are unconventional sinners. We are good people without a peripheral vision of our neighbors.” Jesus is struggling to call us goats because at heart we are sheep. Just afraid. That comes from not knowing we are the children of the king.