Thursday, October 27, 2022

Can you see me now?


Why did Zacchaeus wish to see Jesus? Possibly one of the most hated men in Jericho, chief tax collector for the Romans, his spoils taken from the labor of his own people, a tool of the oppressor Empire – he wants to see this man Jesus, so much so that he climbs into a tree to get a good look.

Jesus sees him, calls him down, and says, Hurry for I must stay at your house today!

Zacchaeus hurries down and immediately welcomes Jesus. Soon after he declares that he will give half of his possessions to those who are poor and repay four-fold all acts of fraud.

Augustine of Hippo in his Sermon 63 writes about this encounter. Jesus saw Zacchaeus and after telling him to come down, he says, “You are hanging there, but I will not keep you in suspense. I will not, that is, put you off. You wished to see Me as I passed by, today shall you find Me dwelling at your house.”

Zacchaeus in Hebrew means Pure or Innocent. Jesus said Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. Jesus saw into Zacchaeus’ heart and called to him. And Zacchaeus was ready, and he followed.

Evelyn Underhill in her book Mysticism writes: To be a spectator of Reality is not enough. The awakened subject is not merely to perceive transcendent life, but to participate therein; and for this, a drastic and costly life-changing is required.

Zacchaeus had an awakening, a conversion from his reality into a new life. Prior to this moment, we do not know his emotional or mental state; however, we know that this was a transcendent moment. From it came Jesus’ pronouncement of not only the sins of Zacchaeus but for his entire household. And Zacchaeus became a disciple of Jesus.

Zacchaeus acted impulsively, following blindly a yearning to see. Instead, not only did he see but he was seen. The material cost may have seemed great to some. To Zacchaeus the loss of his material wealth was the profit of his life.


I wrote this reflection for a Deacon gathering this past Monday. Instead of sharing this, I asked to talk about the shooting on that same day, October 24, 2022, at Central Visual and Performing Arts high school in Saint Louis, MO and the resulting deaths. My son graduated from there and my youngest grandson attended there for 1 ½ years as a freshman and sophomore. I found out later that my grandson knew the young man who killed and was killed. They were friends at that time. Both my boys knew and loved the teacher. My neighbor across the street works with the mom of the young woman who was killed.

As my heart ached with the sorrow of the whole of these lives lost, it further broke when I read Orlando’s note, what the police called his “manifesto”. I attempted to unveil the sorrow in my heart for this lonely, lost boy on social media. Some rallied with me; some railed against me. 

I felt shaken to see how many did not see the connection between Hunger (lack of food, love, mental health care, etc) and violence; how so few comprehended that while all could feel the overall horror of the event some could also see clearly the mental anguish that caused it or at least contributed to the event; and to see how others simply could not connect the idea of love or lack of love to the cause of the event. And very few indeed seem to see that there was most likely a long simmering anger and the part that plays in violence.

I wonder if Orlando simply wanted to be seen. I wonder how long he had wanted to be seen and understood. A friend of mine suggested that in his anguished state, he returned to the only place he had felt seen and safe. Strange thinking yet so is killing with purpose.

Some say that he should have sought help yet how easy it is for those of us on this side of that loneliness to make that statement. It is too simplistic to state that others have felt the same way and didn’t kill anyone (boots and bootstraps ideology). There is such an absence of unconditional love for this young man, this 19-year-old boy.

I do not understand the lack of love, the lack of mercy, the lack of forgiveness. Maybe it will come. The pain is so fresh, the disbelief that it could happen here too new.

As for me, I cannot help but wallow in my own pity, my own knowing that it could have been one of my boys that did the shooting. Not that I think they would or could but does anyone every think that??? Both of them lived with trauma and it formed their young years. For even in the knowing that one is loved, one can still feel unseen and misunderstood. That, in addition to post or ongoing trauma plus the ability to obtain a weapon of mass destruction are equations for terror and horror. If mental health concerns are also there (and aren’t these often where there is trauma?) that only adds more to the total. It is not simply a young man went crazy, grabbed a gun and killed a bunch of people.

Are we so disconnected from the Gospel of Jesus that we cannot see how important it is for us to see those who feel themselves to be invisible? To listen to the person? That a person is often unable to seek the help they need, that we are to be there regardless of how difficult it may be or how many times that person may have said no thanks?

Had there been one person in his past who was able to say that they had tried to help him, and he turned them away, then that person may feel justified. As for the rest, someone should have seen him. Someone should have heard him. Someone should have cared. 

The NRA and the politicians owned by the gun lobby are a big problem but not the only problem. They may not even be the biggest problem.

Augustine & Underhill quotes from

Friday, April 15, 2022

Reflection of Jesus Dying and Mary Magdalene Watching


They wouldn’t let us be close to you. They kept us at a distance. All we could do was wail and lament. Still, even in the distance, even though it was difficult to see, the other Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and I all knew the exact moment it happened. As soon as the earth began to rumble and the rocks split apart, we knew. You had breathed your last breath. It was done. We heard later that the veil covering the holy of holies had ripped in two. That is the way I also felt. Ripped in two.

I remember just a few days ago, looking into your eyes after I anointed your feet with the nard and wiped it with my hair. I could see that you knew that I understood … that you knew I knew you were going to die.

I also remember that you said that you would return in three days.

But right now? It doesn’t matter. Just as we watched from afar as you breathed your last breath, now we watch just as helplessly as Joseph of Arimathea carries your body wrapped in clean linens, lays you in his tomb and rolls the rock into place.

All I can do now is to watch with you … watch for you.


Offered by The Rev. Deacon Barbi Click at St Paul’s StL Wednesday in Holy Week,
April 13, 2022

MAUNDY THURSDAY John 13:1-17, 31b-35 Take off your shoes


My daddy’s mother was one of the most giving people I have ever known. She was the epitome of the woman standing at the back door holding a plate out to the Big Depression “hobo” who knocked and asked for a few scraps of food. Not a scrap giver, she offered full plates. I remember the meals she cooked for all who came to help with whatever yearly event was happening on the ranch. I recall the Sunday-Go-to-Meeting and church picnic dishes she prepared. I remember fried chicken, fresh biscuits, and every family member scrambling to get the biggest piece of her “butter roll” dessert. To the age of 90, she cooked meals for her rural Meals on Wheels AND delivered the meals. She was wonderfully gifted at giving.

Receiving, not so much. When we tried to give her a present she would say, “Pshaw” in a self-deprecating way followed by “you should not have done this!” and she meant it. It was not a sentiment of humility. It was an admonishment. One time, I gave her something that was a very special gift from me to her. I wanted her to really like it. Immediately, out came that offhand response. It hurt my feelings. As a know-it-all young adult who believed I could speak up to authority, I boldly told her, “Grandma. You are always giving other people things, but you never let us give to you. Sometimes the biggest gift you can give is to take their gift for you.”

You want to hear that it made a difference, don’t you? Well, maybe. But I know Pshaw was a part of the response. Regardless, she did accept the gift and told me she loved it.

I used to look at Maundy Thursday with a feeling of Pshaw! And a sigh at the thought of having to take off my shoes and have my feet washed. Or to wash the feet of others. I would guess that there are many people here who agree. I do not know what causes foot shame but so many of us have it. Other than the sweet little feet of a baby, I’ve heard few people express delight with feet. I was no different.

And then.

One Maundy Thursday I was kneeling at the bare feet of a St. Paul’s parishioner and as I held her foot and began to run the water over it, I was overwhelmed with love. Tears welled up and began to fall and one dropped onto her foot. I felt the urge to kiss the foot in my hand. Now, that might seem a bit creepy. Even now, I can imagine what her face might have expressed had I followed my urge. Still, it was a mighty moment where I realized that it was not me giving; rather, I was receiving a gift of love. She allowed me to wash her feet, to love her. It remains one of the most precious gifts I ever received.

Peter is where we might have been. He is shocked to think Jesus would stoop to wash his dirty feet. Oh, No you won’t, he exclaims! Jesus is adamant, Oh yes, I will and if you don’t let me, you will have nothing to do with me.

I can imagine Peter’s tears welling up as he concedes.

To wash someone’s feet, a person must kneel low in front of that individual. To kneel before someone is a vulnerable action. And then, imagine the feet. The roads are dirt. The shoes are sandals. The feet are coated in layers of dust. To kneel before a person and wash their feet is a humbling thing, servant’s work.

Jesus asks, “Do you know what I have done to you? … I have set for you an example.” If he, as their Lord and Teacher, can do this thing, then so shall they do it for others. He loves them so much … so much that he kneels before them to wash their dirty feet. It is a gift, and he gives and he receives.

This is a gift that is ours to receive. This act of foot washing is a humbling experience, not just for the one who bares their feet but for the one washing. The foot is an offering in trust that you will take it and feel the love of that person as you cradle this gift in your hand and let the water wash over it.

We are told to love one another yet it is not simply the idea that we give love. Love is a two-way street, meant to be shared. It is humbling, it is surrender, it causes us to be vulnerable. It requires us to receive the love offered to us.

It is the way that God loves us.

Take off your shoes. Let down the walls that protect you. Can you receive the love?

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

The Prophet Anna Luke 2:22-38

Sometimes I get so tired and hungry, fasting and praying night and day. It has been decades since I first came into this temple seeking your will for me. But what choice did I have? You were my only hope. My husband was gone. I had no sons to care for me. This temple was my only solace, being in this sacred space set aside for the Holy of Holies.

Every day, all through the night, my life is a prayer, seeking that which is unknown, understanding only that it is yet to be. So many years I have been doing this, calling out to you, my Lord God, to hear my prayer. In a moment of weakness. I fell to my knees thinking that it was my end time, asking one more time for you to bring me into the understanding of what it is that I seek, what it is that I know you wish me to see. Open my ears, that I might hear. Open my eyes and help me to see. One last prayer …

And then … suddenly, I hear Simeon’s voice exclaiming wonder and glory. I see a light shining around him as he cradles something in his arms. He joyfully exclaims, “My eyes have seen your salvation, Lord God! Right here in my arms I hold the light of revelation for all the people of the earth, all to your glory, Lord God.”

What was I to do but turn aside to see this strange thing, this light shining for all with eyes to see? And see I did! And I knew! In his arms he held the wonder of the world! That for which I had been longing was revealed to me in the flesh of this tiny babe, in the light that shone around him, in the glory of all that he was and is and is to be. Before me, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings and the Glory of all Creation!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise God that I have seen this pure and precious sight! Praise God that I may now rest in that peace which passes all understanding, knowing that our Savior has come into the world! Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

The Rev. Deacon Barbi Click

October 22, 2019

Normal does not mean OK

  I often wonder how I live such a normal life. I know they say that “normal” is only a setting on the dryer, but you know what I mean. I ha...