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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Year A, Easter 5 – SJE

No Body Knows The trouble I’ve seen.
Nobody knows my sorrow,
Nobody knows the trouble I seen
Glory Hallelu

I want to talk about how to deal with trouble as John’s gospel suggests.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe in me.
I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Jesus probably did not say these words. They were said the by the author of John’s Gospel written in about 90 AD, sixty years after Jesus death.

The rest of the passage wrestles with the idea that Jesus and God are one being. Now that is trouble. The church has asserted that Jesus is truly God and truly man. Jews, Unitarians and Muslims among others do not believe that. Since the church continues to discuss that dogma, I will leave you with the invitation to continue the wrestling and talk with the rector about it some time.

Now we all can make a list of our troubles – money, sex, war, anxiety, relationships, the office, the church, the school, politics, health and on and on – over meadow and farm….

I got a call from the daughter of a woman named Maureen who used to come to my groups in the 70’s. She asked me to visit her mother in St, Mary’s Hospital, which I did. Maureen was unconscious, had no friends except her daughter. She died the next day and her body was donated to UC Medical School as she had a rare disease, which should have killed her long before her death at 77. It was a sad little visit but felt honored that I was there for an old friend and client whom I had not seen or heard from for 25 years. She had a port wine stain on one half of her face and upper body from birth. It is called a hemangioma. She lived with that mark all her life but managed to have three husbands and a couple of kids. She was tough and frightened of rejection all through her life. Her toughness left her sadly alone. She showed few of us her vulnerability.

1. Jesus says, “I am the way,” - talk about trouble. Get on the way, the path of following Jesus. Be prepared for the cross, because that’s the way much of life really is. It is pain and it ends in death. So what else is new? What did you expect?

When visiting sick – Many times I have held the hand of a man who has said, “Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong?”

What you did wrong was to get born. Pain and sorrow are integral to human life. The life and death of Jesus is our story about the reality of life.

Jesus was a healer and so are we. – Visit the sick, pray for them, touch, and lay hands on the sick. Send cards.

I have had several major surgeries – cards, flowers, people praying for my safety and recovery in England. It meant so much to me and I am sure contributed to my healing.

Blessed are the poor. Take the poor seriously. Always acknowledge a panhandler. Say hello, give when you feel like it, be polite. Give that person the dignity one gives too every human being.

2. Jesus says, “I am the truth,” - talk about trouble. – Tell the truth, bigots, war, race sex,

“I am uncomfortable with your talk and jokes about Jews, Arabs

My Jewish friend sent me a racist and sexist cartoon about Arab women being terrorists. I told him it made me uncomfortable. He wrote back and said he was glad I told him and it would not happen again,

Tell the truth about being angry. Allow your anger. Your anger is a natural normal part of you. Allow it. Express it safely if you can. Do no violence. Maybe just acknowledging it to yourself is enough.

3. Jesus says, “I am the life - talk about trouble. – Eucharistic, community. Following Jesus gives us life. We take seriously the troubles and pain of life, we are healers, we care for the sick and downtrodden. Most of all we are Eucharist people we are Thankful people.

Give thanks. It is impossible to thank people for all they do for you.

If you live a life of thanks giving your troubles are not over but the take on a new perspective.

Thankful I got AIDS. Billy said, I found my God, my church, and reconnected to me family.
Thankful that the pain of surgery means I am alive and have new life.

Thankful or the outrage I feel every morning when I read the newspaper and see the stupidity of our ceos, politicians and media moguls. I can channel my outrage into conversation, writing and voting and standing on a street with Sr. Maggie and others in a vigil protesting this dreadful war.

Thankful for my wife, children grandchildren and friends and fellow Episcopalians in this sloppy denomination we call Anglicanism.

The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. That is truly the way out of trouble and into the path of following Jesus. The life of gratitude transcends the trouble We’ve seen.

Christians are a new 'species', homo eucharisticus, a humanity defined in its Eucharistic practice....

We pray for each other and the world
We confess our sins and acknowledge our weakness and errors
We know we are forgiven
We bask in the mystical presence of God in the breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine
We eat and drink together at the altar in a statement of oneness and unity in the name of Jesus Christ the Revolutionary.


Blogger Fred and Billie Fenton said...


I loved your sermon on TROUBLE. Life is a thorny path, especially for those who would follow the teachings of Jesus.

Your illustrations from real life, candor in discussing controversial issues, and helpful words of advice make this sermon a "keeper"--worthy of more than a single reading.

I will comment on just one of the important points you make in this sermon:

"Always acknowledge a panhandler."

I was one who often "walked by on the other side." With growing numbers of homeless people in Santa Monica, we brought a team from the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) in Venice to our downtown church to teach us about the needs of people living on the street and how best to approach them.

The OPCC team said we should not avert our eyes out of embarrassment or fear, or because we were not prepared to give money, but look at them, smile, and say "Sorry, not today."

When I began doing this, I found the reply was often "God bless you" or "Thanks." Acknowledging their humanity clearly meant something to these people.

"Always acknowledge a panhandler."

Orthodox Jews are required to give to anyone who begs. That is far better, I think, than "passing by on the other side." I have noticed that Jews who give to street people usually have a smile on their faces and appear cheerful. Giving blesses the giver, too.


10:11 AM  

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