Archive for August, 2016


The airport is quiet at night. Parking is easy, the lines are short, the carousels almost empty, the runways lit by the occasional flight coming or going.

We gather at carousel 13, committee members who have worked for months and others who just want to be there because….

One scurries around with his laptop filming background shots; another takes pictures on her phone of the balloons, the baskets of fruit and nuts, the little group talking quietly.

We are waiting for a flight to arrive from Chicago which has also stopped in London and originated in Uganda. It’s 10:30 at night. There are signs which say “welcome” in several languages. One person has brought flowers, another a soccer ball. The group is excited but anxious….

“I hope the flight’s not late.”

“Do you think the balloons might scare them?”

“A refuge camp for fourteen years? How can anyone keep their spirit from breaking?”

“Do we have an interpreter here? Anyone from the Council of Churches. Geez, I hope so…”

“Do they speak any English at all?”

“Can we touch them? Hug them? Is that appropriate?”

“Roseanne, I thought you had your retirement party tonight…”
“I did that. Now I’m doing this.”

And then, coming down the escalator is a dark-skinned family escorted by an airport employee. And the sun breaks through….

They are beautiful. Shining faces, apprehensive but eager. They are wearing parkas and winter jackets (they must have heard it’s cold here!). They look healthy and exude a sense of well-being. They are dignified, smiling.

We keep a respectful distance to let the interpreter do his work. And then we give them the gifts and shake their hands and greet them. Welcome, welcome, we are so happy you are here….

Two beautiful little girls and a boy with open faces, smiling, the girls speaking some cautious English. They all exude a confidence that was perhaps not expected.

“Remember our job is to support them, not adopt them,” reminds one of the committee chairs.

Because we all do …. want to adopt them.

Someone escorts the little girls to the bathroom. They go with Joan with no problem, their little hands reaching up to take hers. She smiles down at them and soon they are all laughing. The trust is palpable.

Roger kneels down and offers the little boy an orange, which he accepts, slice by slice. Later Don kicks the soccer ball back and forth with the little guy.

We worry if they will be okay in their apartment. “Someone’s going with them, right? To show them around?”

What a privilege this is. Maybe this is why Jesus makes such a big deal out of reaching out to the other. It seems to brings each of us in touch with our better nature, our best self, the person we want to be all the time.

It was a holy night indeed as the travelers arrived after their long journey, and there was a place prepared for them. Gifts were given, and there was joy to the world, along with the new beginning that always comes from love….

Barbara Mraz

Read Full Post »










“You can be anything you want to!”

“Never ever quit because you CAN do it!”

“Set your mind to it and it’s done!”

Well, no.

While this may be good Olympic talk, it’s simply not true. There can be only one gold medal winner, one company president, one starting quarter back. Some things are intrinsically competitive and you-can-do-it-if-you-try-hard-enough is dangerous talk and guaranteed to break hearts and spirits, if taken seriously. I’ve seen what this thinking can do to high school students and it’s not pretty. Harvard accepts only five percent of applicants…

Sunday’s Epistle speaks about a race (talk about timing!): “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” At least this acknowledges that each of us has our own challenges and our own “race” to run. However, human life as a linear race may not be the best image for our mental health. Even though the only “competition” may be ourselves, most of us go off-course more than once, stop in frustration many times, and may lack a cheering section.

The esteemed anthropologist Margaret Mead referenced another linear image when she said that you might climb the ladder of success only to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall. Similarly, you might run the race and find out that the original destination is faulty—at least according to what you have learned at that point (“How did I end up here?”).

Mead said that a more helpful and accurate image is a patchwork quilt. Most of us assemble our lives in bits and pieces into a whole that is who we are. Unfortunately, many reject Mead’s image because it is too “feminine.”

I like sermon titles and on Sunday my title is simply “Race.” It will be a little bit about the Olympics, a little bit about race (see what I did there? The race and race?) and a lot about the Epistle—which is as graphic and bloody as any section in Scripture. It is also one of the most beautiful.

See you in church.


Read Full Post »