Immigration

February 3, 2017

“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt…”  — Matthew 2:13

We are a nation of immigrants.  Hailing from Italy and Ireland, my great-grandparents persevered through a rather stringent vetting process on Ellis Island.  In time, my dad would be born in Cuba and I would arrive in Venezuela, where I still hold citizenship.

As it happens, Jesus Christ was also an immigrant.  Considering the classic doctrine, coming from Heaven, He was truly an alien as no other has been, and indeed His parents were caused to flee the little town of Bethlehem to find refuge elsewhere.

Once again, the immigration debate is raging in our country, though, in reality, deportation raids were taking place well before our most recent Presidential election.  It is noteworthy that the last administration made it easier to import Cuban cigars, while turning Cuban refugees away, even if they’ve risked their lives to reach landfall in the United States.

My eldest daughter is intimately familiar with the young lives of those whose parents hail from Mexico, and the fact that many come here to escape a horribly inhumane existence.  Her students believe in us, even when it may not seem we believe in them.  Just last Memorial Day weekend, a gentleman in San Antonio told me if he was to visit his original hometown of Mexico City by car, he’d likely be kidnapped along the way and held for ransom.

So, I am left to consider these questions…

What if we were to treat Mexican immigrants as refugees, with all the reasonable vetting attached to that designation?

Does it make sense to have any immigration law, reformed or not, if we do not have secure borders?

How much has each one of us economically benefited from those who have stepped outside the law to enter our country?

What about the many upstanding foreign nationals legally here in the United States for years, who own homes, pay taxes, have American children, yet they cannot get Green Cards to afford them a permanent stay?

Today, the UN claims there are 60 million refugees world-wide, and, while each one is a beloved child of God, no one nation can harbor and give safe-haven for all.  How do we decide who we are capable of welcoming, and who we must turn away?

The dynamic of migration is as old as the Scriptures and as new as the latest headlines on FOX or CNN.  There are many sides to this ethical polygon, and it does us no good in this country to call names or denigrate the character of those with whom we may disagree.  This national tendency will hopefully not become a permanent habit.

In a sense, as complicated as it is, the immigration challenge is a good one for us to face.  It means people deeply want to come to the United States, and the Unites States continues to represent a heartfelt and abiding respect for all good people.  In these areas, I don’t believe anything has fundamentally changed at all.

In the Church, with Christ as our guide, we can neither be personally callous or politically naive.  No one can lay claim to an easy answer, and a great nation need not take comfort in the absence of facing real challenge.  In our community, with diversity as a gift, I believe each of us needs to continue modeling, wherever we can, what it means to be a faithful person, and thereby, a good American.


Fake news?

February 1, 2017

Whatever happened to the expectation that journalists and news outlets would report what actually happened, as opposed to the speculation of what might transpire?

Back in college, I recall a national magazine cover posing the question:  “The Depression, What will it be Like?”  At the time, the economy was really foundering, but I wondered if this was news worth reporting, or simply “news” profitable in predicting.  Given how fragile consumer confidence can be, perhaps what had been published would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For quite some time now we’ve been engulfed in a 24 hour, non-stop news-media machine that must be filled so as to avoid blowing hot and dead air.  There are some good things about being able to tune-in to a given outlet for an immediate update on what the current headlines might be.  Still, this is a far cry from consulting various news media that are feeling the pressure to jam each second, or page, with “information” that may not turn out to be factually informative at all.

 

 

 

Taking in certain outlets before the recent Presidential election, it was clear that our current President had no Electoral path to victory at all.  Then the votes were tallied and the facts became blatantly obvious.

Classic journalism might be boring for those who have grown accustomed to daily events being presented as provocative entertainment.

Yet, if simple facts, relative to what has actually taken place in our world, are not readily and reliably available from sources demonstrating some integrity, one wonders who will report that the Fourth Estate has, in fact, become extinct.

 


Darkness Lite (Christmas Eve 2016)

December 28, 2016

Some folks asked, so here’s the manuscript from Christmas Eve, 2016.  Based on MATTHEW 2:1-16, 19, please excuse the ALL CAPS (they make the manuscript easier to deliver in person)…

THE THEMES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS ARE BAKED INTO THE INFANCY NARRATIVES, ALONG WITH JOHN’S GOSPEL THAT BEGINS BY SAYING THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS AND THE DARKNESS CANNOT OVERCOME IT.

SHEPHERDS KEEP THEIR WATCH BY NIGHT, AND WISE MEN FROM THE EAST FIND THE CHRIST BY SEEKING AFTER A HEAVENLY OBJECT THAT WOULD ONLY BE VISIBLE AT NIGHT.

PEOPLE THINK WE SEE FURTHER IN THE DAYTIME, BUT WE CAN ACTUALLY SEE MUCH FURTHER AT NIGHT.

THE APPARENT MYSTERY OF WHAT THE WISE MEN SAW IS THAT THE SAME SKY WAS AVAILABLE TO OTHERS WHO SAW NOTHING.  THE ANSWER LIES IN CARING WHO THE PERSIAN WISE MEN WERE, AND KNOWING THAT THEY DIDN’T JUST LOOK AT THE SKY, THEY READ IT.  THEY WERE ALSO VERY ATTRACTED TO THE CONCEPT OF A SAVIOR, PROMISED IN THE JEWISH FAITH.

IN THEIR STELLAR LANGUAGE, JUPITER AND SATURN REPRESENTED THE JEWISH GOD AND THE MESSIAH, WITH THE CONSTELLATION PISCES REPRESENTING ISRAEL.  7 INTO 6BC A RARE TRIPLE CONVERGENCE OF JUPITER AND SATURN, IN THE CONSTELLATION OF PISCES COULD WELL SAY THAT A MESSIAH HAD BEEN BORN TO ISRAEL.

THE WISE MEN ANSWERED A CALL THAT WAS OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE, BUT ONLY A FEW COULD READ THE LANGUAGE.

THAT’S HOW HEROD WAS LEFT IN THE DARK.

IN SO MANY WAYS, THE WORLD JESUS CAME TO WAS SO MUCH WORSE THAN THE ONE WE LIVE IN TODAY.  CASE IN POINT, KING HEROD, WHO WE KNOW ELIMINATED MEMBERS OF HIS OWN FAMILY, AND TRIED THE SAME THING WITH CHRIST.

HEROD DIED IN 4BC, AND WHAT HE DEVISED FOR THE TODDLER BOYS UP TO 2 YEARS OLD IN BETHLEHEM WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL WITHIN HIS M.O.  IT ALSO INDICATES THAT JESUS WAS LIKELY TWO YEARS OLD WHEN THE WISE MEN CAME TO HIS HOUSE, INDICATING A BIRTH AROUND 6BC.

6BC…  JUST AS JUPITER AND SATURN FINISHED DOING THEIR THING FOR THE WISE MEN TO SEE.

THIS ISN’T BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, THIS IS BEYOND ANY DOUBT, BECAUSE WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THE SKY LOOKED LIKE IN ANY POINT OF TIME FROM ANYWHERE ON THE EARTH.  IT’S ALSO COOL TOO THAT A 7BC PERSIAN CLAY TABLET, WHERE THE WISE MEN WERE FROM, TALKS ABOUT WHAT SATURN AND JUPITER WERE DOING AND WERE GOING TO DO AT THAT POINT IN TIME.

THAT’S NOT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, THAT’S BEYOND ALL DOUBT.  (BABYLONIAN STAR ALMANAC OF SIPPAR)

LET’S GO DEEPER.

THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS SAYS THAT GOD CHOSE US IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.  WE KNOW THE STARS AND PLANETS OF THE UNIVERSE WERE EXPLODED INTO BEING 14 BILLION YEARS AGO.  (13.82 BILLION)  THIS MEANS WHAT THE WISE MEN SAW IN THEIR SKY WAS WRAPPED UP WITH A BOW BY GOD 14 BILLION YEARS BEFORE THEY COULD SEE IT.

AND WE THINK OUR CHRISTMAS PLANS ARE COMPLICATED?

IN HIS OP-ED “SCIENCE INCREASINGLY MAKES THE CASE FOR GOD”  ERIC METAXAS WROTE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL “Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart

FOR ALL PEOPLE TODAY, EVEN WHEN OUR LIVES FEEL LIKE A MESS, AND MAY ACTUALLY BE A MESS, WE’RE ALL ALIVE WITHIN A FUNDAMENTAL MIRACLE.  WE COMPLAIN AND WE TAKE SO MUCH FOR GRANTED.

THE LIGHT IS RIGHT THERE, BUT WE DON’T SEE IT.  MAYBE THERE’S TOO MUCH FOG, OR WE HAVEN’T BEEN TAUGHT THE LANGUAGE.  THERE’S SO MUCH NOISE IN OUR SOCIETY, MAYBE WE CAN’T HEAR THE WORD.

I THINK WE ALL KNOW THE EXPERIENCE OF RECEIVING A GIFT ON CHRISTMAS THAT WE THINK WE CAN’T USE, OR DON’T WANT.  THAT’S WHERE THE CONCEPT OF RE-GIFTING CAME ABOUT, AND SOME PEOPLE IN A LOT OF UNHEALTHY WAYS, TRY TO RE-GIFT THE LIVES THEY’RE BLESSED TO HAVE, AND DON’T APPRECIATE.

BUT THEN THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE TEAR OPEN THE PAPER AND FIND SOMETHING WE DON’T HAVE, AND SAY, “WOW, THIS IS WHAT I REALLY NEED!”  “I COULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN THIS FOR MYSELF!”

THAT’S THE REAL CHRISTMAS.  IT’S CALLED… JESUS.

THE WORLD DIDN’T WANT HIM, AND ON GOOD FRIDAY PRINTED OUT THE ULTIMATE RETURN RECEIPT.  BUT WOW, HE’S JUST WHAT WE NEED, AND HE’S BIGGER THAN WHAT EVIL PEOPLE CAN DO — EVEN ON A CROSS.

IF YOU KNOW JESUS TODAY AS THE SAVIOR FROM SIN AND DEATH, THEN YOU HAVE LIGHT THAT MANY PEOPLE STILL CAN’T SEE, BUT THEY DESPERATELY NEED.

THEY NEED YOU TO SHARE IT, IN THEIR LANGUAGE.

THE DARKNESS CAN DO WHAT IT WANTS, BUT IN THE TINY BABE IN A MANGER, PEOPLE LIKE HEROD WILL LOSE, AND WE, IN CHRIST, WILL WIN.

GOOD NEWS HAS COME FOR ALL THE PEOPLE, GOD IS WITH US, AND ESPECIALLY IN BROKEN HOMES OR LIVES, NOTHING CAN CHANGE THE FACT THAT WE WILL BE FOREVER WITH GOD.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 


“Bless me Father, for I have sinned…”

November 24, 2016

Over a banquet of delicious food, that would be consumed in a fraction of the time it took to prepare, I remember the time my mother began to say Grace for our Thanksgiving feast.  Making the traditional Roman Catholic sign of the cross, starting with the right hand at the forehead, instead of saying, “Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts…” she began with, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

This was different.

Instead of the predictable rote pronouncement over the meal, which, in truth, may not have garnered full and rapt attention, we got the opening for a confessional encounter with a Priest!  This was going to be great!  Within nano-seconds, the delirium of an emotional cranberry sauce was being set before us, and all we had to do was wait for a further serving!

Sensing the Eldorado of admissions might be forthcoming, everyone furtively leaned slightly forward in a most careful silence so as not to disturb the current stream of consciousness and therefore miss what might be coming next.  Forget the turkey, this was an appetizer no one wanted to pass by.  The mind still boggles at the potential possibilities.

Unfortunately however, mom caught herself mid-sentence.  Thus, we were left hanging as the more predictable blessing was spoken over the turnip and sweet potatoes.  Darn.

Even so, the lesson lingers.  Gathered amidst hotly contested election results, football games on TV, and rich gravy set upon the table, reality reminds us that we have all sinned and have something to confess.  Interesting as they might be, these confessions need not be broadcast to family or guests invited to partake in our feast.

But we do carry them in our hearts.

Therefore, knowing we have a Savior, well before the Christmas rush to commemorate His arrival, we eminently frail humans have enormous reason to give heartfelt appreciation.  This gratitude runs far deeper than what we happen to have.  It’s totally based in knowing who, and Whose, we are.

Imperfect as we must be, the Scriptures declare that, “Here and now, we are God’s Children.”

Yes.  Even with skinned knees, dirty clothes, bad habits and spotty records, that Divine designation can be stained and soiled, but it can never be taken away.  Ever.

For that eternal fact, infused within and yet superseding all proximate circumstances, we can truly give thanks.


An Open Letter to our President-elect

November 19, 2016

Dear Mr. President-elect,

May you have great success!

In full disclosure, I did not vote for you.

I wrote in for Bernie Sanders.  I thought he and his supporters had long been poorly treated by the DNC.

My sympathies are not in favor of the “Not My President” style of protesting.  You won an electoral landslide, and you are my soon to be inaugurated President.

My family and I, along with all Americans are depending on you.

Personally, I think you can do a great job, and we all need you to.  I have faith that you will.

However, in truth, let me express a lingering bias.

Your remarks about Senator John McCain and President George W. Bush were not your finest hour, or our nation’s.

I’ve seen President Bush working under duress, from a very close vantage point, and his level of strength and integrity are well worth affirming across any party lines or partisan view.

Your past remarks about a lot of people weren’t the best either.

Truthfully, I believe one of your strong points, among many, is the fact that you say what you actually think, and you also listen, so that your thinking may constantly evolve.

This is a tremendous attribute.

That said, may I humbly make a suggestion?

At some point, before your Inauguration, I think it would be a great thing to acknowledge the gift of your being able to speak freely.  That’s a good thing, for sure.

It might also go a long way to say that in the heat of campaigning, and for other reasons, some of what you have said could rightly be received as being quite hurtful.

Recommit yourself to the wonderful approach and pledge to seek the best for America, while being gracious enough to revisit some comments for retraction or clarification.

Not only will that make you an even better President-elect, it will help make America as great as we all want her to be.

Respectfully,

Rev. Bill Keane

 

 

 

 

 


When the towers fell, we all stood up… together.

November 13, 2016

Here is the final excerpt from today’s sermon made as a commentary on the current Doomsday scenarios being bandied about by some who seem to have forgotten that elections mean having those who prevail and those who don’t, holding respect, in freedom, that wins the day for all of us.  I wrote the poem about 15 years ago, as we were nearing Thanksgiving and the Christmas Season.

FOR THOSE IN THEIR LATE TEENS AND EARLY 20’S WHO THINK THE SKY FALLING, KEEP IN MIND, NOT SO LONG AGO, MUCH MORE CAME DOWN, AND WE ALL STOOD UP, TOGETHER.

THIS PAST WEEK IN PREPARING MY SERMON, I CAME ACROSS SOMETHING, BY ACCIDENT, THAT I WROTE AND RENDERED HERE IN THIS PULPIT 15 YEARS AGO.  WE WERE NEAR THANKSGIVING, ABOUT TO ENTER THE CHRISTMAS SEASON.  THE CONTEXT IS FROM 9/11, BUT IF YOU DON’T MIND, I’D LIKE TO SHARE IT TODAY, BECAUSE I THINK WE HAVE WONDERFUL CHARACTER IN AMERICA, BUT VERY SHORT MEMORIES.

RECALLING THE STORY ABOUT WHO-VILLE AND THE GRINCH, I WANT TO RESTATE SOMETHING CALLED  “OSAMA THE BINCH”.

Every U down in Uville liked U.S. a lot,
But the Binch, who lived Far East of Uville, did not.
The Binch hated U.S! the whole U.S. way!
Now don’t ask me why, for nobody can say,

It could be his theology was somehow not right.
Or the sun from the desert had beaten too bright
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or bad sermon,
He stood facing Uville, the part that was urban.
“They’re doing their business,” he snarled from his perch.
“They’re raising their families! They’re going to church!

They’re leading the world, and their freedom is thriving, I must keep the S’s and U’s from surviving!”
Tomorrow, he knew, all the U’s and the S’s,
Would put on their pants and their shirts and their dresses,

They’d go to their offices, playgrounds and schools,
And abide by their U and S values and rules,
And then they’d do something he liked least of all,
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,

Would stand all united, each U and each S,
And they’d sing Uville’s anthem, “God bless us! God bless!”
All around their Twin Towers of Uville, they’d stand,
and their voices would drown every sound in the land.

“I must stop that singing,” Binch said with a smirk,
And he had an idea–an idea that might work!
The Binch stole U airplanes in U morning hours,
And crashed them right into the Uville Twin Towers.

“They’ll wake to disaster!” he snickered, so sour,
“And how can they sing when they can’t find a tower?”
The Binch cocked his ear as they woke from their sleeping, All set to enjoy their U-wailing and weeping,

Instead he heard something that started quite low,
And it built up quite slow, AND it started to grow–
the Binch heard the most unpredictable thing…
And he couldn’t believe it–they started to sing!

He stared down at U-ville, not trusting his eyes,
What he saw was a shocking, disgusting surprise!
Every U down in U-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any towers at all!

He hadn’t stopped U-Ville from singing! It sung!
For down deep in the hearts of the old and the young,
Those Twin Towers were standing, called Hope and called Pride,
And you can’t smash the towers we hold deep inside.

So we circle the sites where our heroes did fall,
With a hand in each hand of the tall and the small,
And we mourn for our losses while knowing we’ll cope,
For we still have inside that U-Pride and U-Hope.

For America means a bit more than tall towers,
It means more than wealth or political powers,
It’s more than our enemies ever could guess,
So may God bless America! GOD Bless us! God bless!


All Trumped Up

November 11, 2016

People voted, populism was tempered by regionalism, and Donald Trump won the electoral votes necessary to be called the President-elect.

I know many who voted for him.

They are not bigots, racists, misogynists, or ignorami.  They are decent people who exercised their right to mark ballots and pull levers.

In a free country, these things happen.

I have no respect for those, in the face of defeat, who are now spitting in the well of our country’s future.

Donald Trump is my President.

I will give him the chance to reach out and be everyone’s Commander-in-Chief.

Personally, I believe Mr. Trump has the potential to be a great President.  He likes to win, and I believe he really wants to be seen as successful, and not by a few.

At this writing, barely two days after the election, Mexico and Canada have already indicated their willingness to take a new look at NAFTA.

Gee, I wonder how that happened…