Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, December 30, 2012


St. John the Evangelist – our parish name day is celebrated today. The Gospel, epistles and Revelation are ascribed to St. John. But frankly there is scant evidence that the Apostle John was such a skillful and imaginative writer.  Besides, he probably died before the books were written. It was often the case in the centuries after Jesus birth to ascribe the name of an Apostle to writings about Jesus.

Church leaders down through the centuries have named parish churches after the names of the apostles – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Some have been named after doctrine – Incarnation, Trinity, Redeemer, Holy Communion or saints long dead like St. Francis, Claire, Ann, Elizabeth.

Our church was given the name St. John the Evangelist for some reason, we know not. In any case the great theme of John’s Gospel is “the word made flesh and dwelt among us.”

Jesus was born. That very simply is what we celebrate at Christmas. The gifts we give and receive are in commemoration of God’s great gift to us, Jesus the Baby.  Each gift we give and receive is Jesus. Yes, it is that simple.

What that gift means to me is that we human beings are incredibly important go God. We are so important that God came and joined us for a while in the man Jesus. That is the church’s story, doctrine and belief.

The wonderful part of the story is that you don’t have to believe it. But you at least ought to know what it means.

What it means to me is that our humanity is an incredibly important gift to each of us.  We all are human beings so lo beloved of God that he dwelt among us And STILL DOES.

When we say, “Well I’m only human,” it usually means we are at fault for something.

At your work your boss may give you ten things to do. When she complains that you have only completed eight of them you are likely to say, “Well I’m only human.” Yes, most of us can’t finish all we are supposed to do.

But that is only half of what it means to be human. To be human is to make mistakes but it also means that we are glorious too.

We humans create gorgeous music and art. Bach, Handel and Beethoven come to mind.

Women create babies from their bodies.

Men and women invent machines, medicines and teach our children.

But we all have our dark and sinful side.

Not long ago was born, a baby, adored by his parents. Was quiet, reserved and seemed trouble then that baby became a man. His name was Adam Lanza and he killed 28 children and teacher in his hometown of Newtown, Ct.

Thoughtful even religious wealthy Christian and Jewish men and women manipulate other people’s money and mortgages destroying the fortunes and wrecking the lives of middle class and poor people.

We generous and thoughtful Christian members of this parish walk by beggars on the street without giving them even a hello.

The story of Jesus is God made a human being helps us acknowledge our weakness and sinfulness and also fully enjoy the great and good in all human beings.

Richard Smith, our new Vicar, as well as old friend, is a leader in the movement to help people with the illegal mortgage practices, which force millions from their homes. In his spare time he is a leader in stopping the expulsion of immigrants from our country.

Mary Charlotte is my college age granddaughter who has many times gone to Biloxi, Mississippi to help build hurricane-ruined homes there. She has stood for full rights for LGBT students at her College, which has a Roman Catholic heritage.      

Dolores Mayes is the quiet usher, kitchen helper and aids in putting flowers on the altar in her quiet sweetly smiling way.

Beth has a Ph.D in English and Forrest has a doctorate in science. They both teach our children in Godly play.

Each of us helps our neighbors and friends simply by thanking them regularly and often for doing the simplest of action.  Sometimes we are thanked for even being silent in a sick room or with a mourner.

Jesus, the word made flesh means that we the flesh, the humanity of all people are loved by God and each other.

So this Church of St. John the Evangelist stands for Love, forgiveness and the glory of our God loved humanity.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Vocations and Work

I wonder how young people decide what work they want to do? My grandson said he wanted to make money and that is all he really cared about. Business schools flourish throughout the country. Of course there are mixed motives. Many lawyers and doctors know they can make good money but also can be helpful to people and the society. Fred became a lawyer and moved to Saigon twenty years ago to help the people of Vietnam compete in the world markets by helping with their laws. Many doctors settle for small practices in rural areas. Some people get Masters in Business Administration and then open retail stores.

I wish more people wanted to go into professions as people helpers. My father used to say, “If you want to enjoy your life, do something to help others.” Nurses, teachers, State Department employees, clergy, social workers, parole officers and union organizers come to mind. They help others, the pay is low and for many the personal benefits are the most important values.

In my experience, Christian churches do not encourage young people to seek professions and work that reflect the teachings of Jesus. The New Testament and the Old Testament prophets teach that caring for the poor, the hungry, the homeless and peace-seekers are religions highest priorities. In my college years there were many calls for men to become ordained.  Women were not yet eligible to be deacons, priests or deacons.

Writing about greed always sounds so preachy and judgmental. Yet greed is part of our sinful human condition. Everyone wants more of something if not everything. A baby wants more milk, food and changing. Children want more toys and attention, Teen want more stuff, gadgets, sneakers, clothes or friends. Most adults want more money and more freedom. Shopping is a world-class sport and recreation. Ads for vacation spots mention, golf, tennis and shopping are available activities. Greed is just one of the human impulses that need thought, discipline and control.  The recent crash of the financial and real estate bubble demonstrates how uncontrolled greed has destroyed homes, families and businesses.

People most often choose their work, jobs and even vocations on what rewards they will bring. Money rewards are sought most. 
Serving others, making a decent living and enjoying work and loved ones can be the starting point for choosing a vocation.