7/25/2010 ~ Today I visited St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Gainesville, FL
We were on our way down from Jay, Santa Rosa County in the Florida Panhandle, headed to Orlando, when we just had to call it quits for the night and pull-off in Gainesville.
Early next morning, Sunday, I headed out to find a worship place. I had asked the motel night clerk if he knew of any Christian Services in the area but he -- possibly a Buddhist by appearance and accent (I respect their peaceful philosophies, by the way) -- demurred.
The 'Yellow Pages' just gave us a general notion that there were some services at about 8:30 AM, so I turned left out of the motel onto University at about eight O'clock and came upon Baptist and Assembly churches side by side, "just down the road". Alas the services were advertized for 10:30 & 11 AM and we needed to be well on our way to Orlando by then.
So I went East, across the turnpike and into the University "village". At first, I thought I had it made when I turned into a parking lot on the North side of the road, absolutely FILLED with cars at just after eight Sunday morning. This has got to be it! I thought.
The gentleman rushing into the building, whom I stopped as he drew abreast of the car seemed awfully casually dressed. He soon dispelled my puzzlement: "No, this is a work-out gymnasium; and all those people are here for exercise," he said. "St. Augustine's is another 4 miles down on the left."
I chewed the Sunday morning gymnasium thing over in my mind (I don't think that happens much in the Panhandle, I thought) as I made one more wrong turn, was guided by a lady out for a walk, and finally made it into the church in time!
The service was the usual R.C. format, except given by a Latino priest who thanked me for my card but said he could not vote since he was not a citizen. I am beginning to sense and experience "Two Floridas" ~ a "Southern Alabama" Panhandle (How come they didn't get that stretch of land, between them and the gulf?) and then Mid-to-South Florida. I remember when I lived in the Miami area in the eighties that the federal attorney for that district was reputed to have said that the USA ended at the Dade/Broward county line. Later, I lived in Orlando for a number of months in the early nineties and it was generally accepted that the "Latin Quarter" was to the South. But today that culture has definitely spread up toward Ocala. Times they are a-changing.
THE MESSAGE: " Bargaining with God." (A summary, adapted & edited from the sermon given 7/25/2010 by Father Josť L. Mesa at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Gainesville, FL; referencing Gn 18:20-32 & Lk 11:1-13.)
Father Mesa reminisced about "Bargaining in Chad." The local person from Chad says the itemís worth Ď5xí; the tourist counters with Ď2xí. The local says: "At that price my children will die." The Tourist replies: "If I pay what you ask, my wife will kill me."
Abraham finds himself in the same sort of situation, bargaining with God in Genesis. Now Abraham has a very special relationship with God. And he exploits Godís weakness for justice. Ultimately God agrees that if there is only one honest man in Sodom, He will spare the city!
In today's Gospel reading we are introduced to Lukeís version of ĎThe Lordís Prayer.í Here Jesus teaches us to pray: "Hallowed be thy name ... ." Luke records Jesusí words as: "Give us each day our daily bread." On the other hand, Matthew registers the same supplication as: "Give us this day our daily bread."
For one thing, Luke is the better businessman! He is bargaining for a life-time supply of bread! But the point is that all who ask receive; and persistence is the key.
Now be patient here, because the petitions donít always work. How many of you have prayed to win the Lotto? And how many actually did?
The end of this Bible verse in Luke is somewhat of a puzzle: The son asks for a fish and we are in agreement that no father would give him a snake.
But itís also true that we sometimes donít know what we are really asking for. We often donít know whatís good for us. So trust Godís Judgment over our own judgment. (You may actually have asked for the snake; thank God He gave you the fish instead!)
Today we are concerned with the concept of "Relationship" (with God).
Look at the relationship between God & Abraham in Genesis as they bargain over the fate of Sodom & Gomorrah. This is an exchange between friends with even a dash of humor included!
In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes a relationship with God; outlined in The Lord's Prayer. We are not just bargaining for a deal like the folks in Chad. Our prayer is the result of our relationship. At the outset we start by praising God ("Hallowed be Thy name"). Then we ask God to do what HE wants ("Thy Kingdom come"). Only then do we move on to present our requests for God's consideration ("Give us each day our daily bread").
Next we ask for God's help ("Forgive us our sins"). Then finally we 'bargain' ... "as we forgive those who trespass against us." Do we really want God to treat us the way we treat others? That is our challenge as we continue to pray The Lord's Prayer day after day. And itís OK to disagree with God; we have the right to complain. But in the end we say: "Thy will be done."
So examine your relationship with God. Then approach Him as a Friend: Pray The Lord's Prayer! We can trust Him as someone who loves us.
WILLIAM ESCOFFERY III, U.S. SENATE, FL 2010
(NOTE: I want to emphasize that, pursuant to the relevant campaign prohibitions, none of the churches, Pastors nor parishioners in their official church capacities ~ referenced or pictured herein ~ officially support my political candidacy).
Pd. Pol. Adv., paid for and approved by Dr. Bill Escoffery,
Candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida.
Copyright © 2010 by William Escoffery III. All