God of the Living

Luke 20:27-38 – The 25th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, November 6, 2016

“Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked . . .” (Luke 20:27)

debateSome Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked . . .

For a moment, forget those ancient religious leaders and their long-ago queries. I’m still upset from watching the presidential debates.

Neither candidate answered much of anything, and ignored most questions to instead spout prepared bullet points about their wonderful policies or to sling well-practiced jabs at their opponent’s nation-ruining agenda.


catBoth candidates rehearsed quips, rejoinders, put-downs, one-liners, trash-talk, and gotcha comments long before a moderator posed a first question. Like a cartoon cat at the proverbial mouse hole in the wall, the candidates were eager to pounce.

In a national debate for the highest office in the land, both candidates dread a public meltdown while hoping their opponent does or says something stupid, crass, or embarrassing that will become a viral video and the worst kind of social media bon mot.

Substance is abandoned.

Information obscured.

Facts are negotiable.

My head hurts. Continue reading →

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Crowded Room

Luke 20:27-38  – The 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time – November 10, 2013

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question…” (Luke 20:27)

I first wrote these sentences in 2010, when I volunteered at the hospice I now work for . . .

sunset_through_kitchen_windowA crucifix adorns the wall.

A large dog shambles into the room. He limps by and takes a token sniff of me, then settles near the window. He’s found a slice of sunshine. In the next hour, the German shepherd mix will shift positions, but it’s difficult. A car accident ruined his hind legs years ago. Smaller dogs—I never know what kind or how many—stay quiet. A barrier set across the door keeps them in the back of the house.

The phone rings once or twice. I don’t answer it.

I sit on a couch. I read a novel. There are “get well” and “thinking of you” cards on a side table. The room smells vaguely sour, slightly stale. It can be like that when someone’s dying.

Across from me, in a rented hospital bed, the woman who owns this house, and who loves the dogs I don’t see and loves the dog I can see, dozes. Medication keeps her pain in check; it also means she spends much of the day asleep. She has cancer. Her sister, her caregiver, had a to-do list of errands and called the hospice for a volunteer to be present in case anything happened while she was gone.

I am the hospice volunteer.

Nothing happens. And yet, in the somber, sour room, there’s an undercurrent of peace, of the simplicity of compassion. I look again at the crucifix. A picture of the Pope is thumbtacked beside it. I can’t be sure from my position on the couch, but it might be the current pontiff. However, I’ve visited homes in the 21st century where a crucifix joins the very 20th century Pope John XXIII on the wall, remembered for all the changes he encouraged during his 1958-1963 papacy. I’ve seen President Kennedy beside a Pope’s photo . . . and Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. Once, I recall Joe DiMaggio.crucifix-2-flash

I’ve been told the dying woman is a devoted Roman Catholic. But while I sit in her home, I ponder the small “c” of the word catholic, which means universal. Catholic as in the whole world around us, where we humans do such wondrous and wicked things. Continue reading →

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