Tuesday, June 20, 2017


 Hi There !

So, as kids we were told,

"Don't talk to strangers."

Many of us still don't !

We're scared to death of them:

the homeless, immigrants, gays, the poor, those of "other,"

other political persuasions, religions, no religion at all,

those of different colorations of skin, life style, ideology - strangers all.

In our fear of these strangers, we get ourselves  locked away in some sort of

psychological, ideological, social "gated community."

We hope it will keep them out and us in and safe.

It is well buttressed emotionally, socially, even forcefully.

For us,  stranger means anyone different than I am,

and difference scares the bejeebers out of us.

Of course, that says more about us than it does about strangers, doesn't it?

Enter Jesus, if we'll let him meet us at the gates of our enclosedment.

Jesus has a beautifully different and freeing take on all this.

He transforms the "don't" of talk to strangers

to the "do" of welcoming strangers.

He invites us big kids to come on out and play with him,

and "him" is the stranger.

He puts it like this:

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me." ( Matthew 25:35 )

How's that?

Well, it means this.

As we are just now isn't the epicenter of all reality.

Not only is life larger than logic, especially our variant of it,

life is larger than we and our turf are so far,

even if we see that as strange.

Jesus invites us to mix it up with strangers,

and in the process be blended into him and his fullness.

Welcome widens to oneness.

Jesus is offering liberation and expansion.

He is showing us what is hidden in plain sight.

It's this:

Deep down at the heart of it all,

                                                       ALL IS ONE


                                                    ALL IS UNIQUE

                                                        IN THAT


World religion, ancient philosophies, mythologies,  and contemporary science  say

the same thing in their own various articulations.

It's the paradox of unity in diversity.

                                                   BEING IS ONE

                                     IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS,

people, mountains, puppy dogs, gases, galaxies beyond count, pizza pies,

symphonies, minerals, robots, to name but nine of the countless.

So, it's not just strange people we welcome.

It's foods and dances and concepts and customs and art and religions and geological formations -

any and everything we find different or strange at first.

Welcome widens to oneness.

When we walk through a beautiful garden, it is us and we are it.

When we see a child blown to bits in Syria, she is us and we are her.

In Reality no one, indeed, no thing is estranged because all is One in different ways.

Francis let Jesus unlock him from his gated confinement in uptown Assisi.

The folks there called themselves "maiores," major leaguers.

Francis sprung free and moved in with the folks at the low end of town,

with the "minores,". minor leaguers.

Francis welcomed all.

No one, no thing was a stranger anymore, nor was he estranged anymore.

Welcome widens to oneness.

Francis met God, Reality, himself, in one and all -

lepers, birds, wild animals, the poor and marginalized, in community,

even in the Muslim Sultan he visited.

Right now a lot of lights have gone off in the darkness

of our current cultural contraction and confinement.

We find ourselves frightened.

In this fearful darkness we fall into frightening deeds of darkness that exclude "strangers," -

people, ideas, customs - anyone or thing  we see as dangerously different

in our fearful contraction and confinement.

Right now there is this cacophony in Washington about immigrants and terrorism.

Yes, a terrorist may blend in and get in.

That would be horrible.

In actuality, though, it isn't strangers from other cultures who are terrorizing America.

Americans are terrorizing Americans.

11,564 Americans were shot to death in 2016 ( The Brady Campaign ).

Attacks by Muslim terrorist accounted for one third of one percent of all murders in America in 2016

(David Schazar, director of Triangle Center, Duke University, quoted in Vox, 01-27-17 ).

Why don't too many not want to know this and address this?

Why not welcome Jesus coming from elsewhere?

In our spiritual lives out here on the street of everyday living, we can't let ourselves be estranged

by deceptive cacophony from Washington, or anywhere else.

We can do a lot better. For example, we can take a light from

the wonderful new cardinal archbishop of Newark. Joseph Tobin.

He's a for real peoples' priest.

Recently he hosted a pilgrimage of  LBGTQ folks and their families

at Newark's Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He then had them all stay for dinner.

That was a refreshing first in Roman Catholic circles.

Jesus sure got a great welcome in Newark!

Welcome widens to oneness.

In our "Newark," let's get a few folks together for dinner ( being sure to have a worthy wine ),

and surface some of the  not too welcome "strangers" in our midst.

Then let's come up with do-able, practical ways to welcome  "Jesus Them,"

and be sure to honestly deal any fears this may cause us or those we want to welcome.

Here are some prompts that might  help;

                                       - struggling single parents

                                       - senior adults, alone and fragile

                                       - children needing after school care and support

                                       - drop outs seared or soured by religion

                                       - marginalized and minority folks

                                       - singles or divorced and alone

                                       - people with a life style markedly different than the majority

                                          ( "maiores ) of us

                                        - people thinking, voting, living a value system

                                          not respected in our "Newark"

                                         - people with diasabilites

                                        - what stresses might be involved for those welcomed

                                          and us s we try to welcome?

Welcome widens to oneness.

Our world wouldn't be so scary if there weren't unwelcomed  "strangers" in it,

and boy oh boy, it sure would be neat to have Jesus in the neighborhood!!

Thanks for your company.

You're always welcome here.

Looking forward to seeing you next week.

In the meantime and always,

Holding You In God's Dear Love.

              John Frank

PS: This week's posting is a bit on the early side.

       Most often postings go up toward the end of the week,

       usually on Saturday.

       Hope you get a chance to check out the previous posting, " Candy Store."

       Just scroll down from here.