Good morning and Happy St. Patrick's day. Half of me says "Top o' the morning" and the other half says "guten morgen!" I am thrilled to be here to pray and worship among you once again. I want to thank Revs. Tim Ahrens and Jeannine Wilson and all of you for this focus on the beatitudes. There is a great need for us to revisit them in the world that is happening around us today. A good friend of mine from First Community Church sent me a quote by a Jesuit, Greg Boyle of Creighton University which says, "Scripture scholars say that the more exact translation (of the word beatitude) if you were to be really precise (if a little awkward) - wouldn't be 'blessed' or 'happy,' it would be, 'You're in the right place.' You are in the right place if you are merciful. You are in the right place if you struggle for justice.
Have you ever tried to explain Rally Day to a non-Dominican student? How many times have you tried to explain to your parents why you have to show them your cheer? Only to explain after that you are not just spastically sticking your hands up and pleading with them to believe that it looks so much cooler as a grade? Or sometimes, our friends try to classify Rally. "So it's like a Field Day?" "A Pep Rally?" And it's none of the above. Rally Day is Rally Day. And what about our friends at other schools with their own versions of Rally? They always think they understand; but, unless you are right here, in this very gym, you'll never understand it. Rally Day cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.
I invite you just for a minute to imagine the event we just heard described in the Gospel. Peter, James, and John were overcome with sleep, when all of a sudden they awoke and saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes. They saw the glory of God, shining on the face of Jesus. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzlingly white. The disciples were able to glimpse the divinity of Jesus. Imagine how you would have felt if you were Peter, James, or John.
We have listened to Wisdom described - an affluence of adjectives! And we are here to honor a brother who also listened to Wisdom. And we celebrate in a family that has been taught by Thomas and Dominic (and …) that Wisdom is to be sought, looked for, listened for, prayed for - and shown that she - always and everywhere - is not to be caught, captured or caged.
"Thanks in Unlikely Places." That was the subtitle that caught my eye as I was reading an article in a spiritual magazine a few weeks ago. "Thanks in Unlikely Places." As Christians, as people of faith, as people of good will, our daily lives reflect many times of thanksgiving. We hear the phrase "Thank God" used frequently. Usually we hear it in the context of something good that happens or when the outcome of some project is to our liking. We can name many likely events and people for which we are thankful. So when I came across this phrase "Thanks in Unlikely Places," it seemed that would be a good topic to reflect on?
I am by birth and disposition a creature of the North Woods, having been born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and having found significant at-homeness in places like New England, Upstate New York and central Minnesota. But for most of my life I have dwelt around the 38th-40th latitude as I am now; precisely 38.356125 in the northern hemisphere. I am living at the juncture of the Arkansas River lowlands to the south and the arid Smoky Hills sandstone plains to the north. This is Kansas.
We are called to be prophets. We are called to go from this meal we have shared to go out into the world and be who we have received - Christ the Lord. Think about how great a task this is - to be Christ to those around us, to shout with joy or to give gentle reminders of God's great mercy, his perfect justice, his unconditional love, his message of salvation. Do we really know, I mean with conviction so deep we cannot be shaken, do we know this good news we are called to preach?
"There is a deep and pristinely clear 'something' in each one of us," writes Episcopal priest and teacher Cynthia Bourgeault, "regardless of the outer circumstances of our lives, that has the capacity to recognize Wisdom when we meet it, and it is the nature of Wisdom teaching to call this 'something' forth. But until the spark of recognition actually goes off in us, Wisdom remains invisible." (The Wisdom Way of Knowing)
I think I can safely say that, in this room, sparks of recognition have been flying all weekend and Wisdom has become very, very visible.
We see a woman hanging from a cliff on a tether. She rappels with her companions and they begin to flip and spin and create a dance that is incredibly graceful and breathtaking. We hear her voice say "When I am anchored to the rock, I am free." We have met Wisdom.