Every time my ten year old daughter does a sleepover at her friend’s house, I always feel terrible. That’s what happened last Saturday when she had a sleepover at her friend’s house. On the one hand I am happy that the house becomes quieter and I can do some house chores without having to grumble over the perpetual mess that she creates or write my sermon without too many interruptions. But on the other hand, I feel like the house is too quiet without her presence. She is my wild one among my two kids; This stubborn yet tender-hearted daughter of mine has a nonstop brain that’s always thinking about creating the next great project or the epic mess around the house, one after another. Some of her favorite shows on youtube are Life Hacks, Cooking and make-up-tips. You can imagine the combination of craziness she’s able to produce. The other day, she was experimenting with shaving cream mixed with borax to create a slimy substance. Another time she put a match inside a block of butter, saying she wanted to create a lamp. But it failed (duh???, and then she used the butter and smeared it all over her arms saying that butter makes her skin smooth. Of course! It’s greasy! Goodness….Guess who has to do all the cleaning?

It gets annoying. I have wished many times that she would grow up quickly so that she can be more responsible. But when I realize that she’s no longer a little girl, I freak out! Where did my little girl go?? And that’s the problem whenever she goes for a sleepover; it feels like my time with her is numbered. I know the more she’s growing, the less time I will have with her. It will be more sleepovers, it will be more time she spends with her friends. It’s just gonna get worse when one day she finds a boyfriend. I just know that for a fact. Occasionally I tease her about a boyfriend, wondering if she has one already, because sometimes she makes a remark about a cute boy at her school. I asked jokingly, “if you have a boyfriend, will you still remember, papi?” She always responds with anger saying, “that’s a stupid question, papi! I am still too young for that!” Yes! That’s my baby! I was so happy with her answer. I know there’s no boy good enough for my daughter. Pathetic, right?

When the house turned quieter from her absence, reality hit me hard. I realized that one day she will fully develop her own wings. She will fly away from my presence, journey her own world, and make a life of her own. Inevitable truth. But how can anybody prevent that from happening? I remember a wise man saying that loving someone is like letting water float freely on the opened palm of our hand. When we try to hold the water, we will end up squishing the water out. I can do all kinds of things to make my daughter stay close to me and I can apply all kinds of control over her life, but as a result I may end up hurting her growth and hinder her from her full potential.

I’m also aware that life has its cycle and its season. And if I love someone, I have to be able to honor the time and the season of his or her presence. Time and time again, I am reminded by what the Bible says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to embrace and a time to let go…” (Ecclesiastes 3) Yes, one day she will be a full grown woman with living her fantastic life of her own and I won’t be able to cuddle or treat her like a little girl. But this is a season to enjoy her presence as long as time permits me to do so. I believe this is a time to embrace my daughter as much as I can and be a good father as good as I can. For this season, I thank God with all my heart.

Love and prayers,

Vincent Arishvara 05192016

Low to the Ground

There was a story that my mom told me when I was little. It was the story of a little boy who was taken to Carnegie Hall to watch a concert by a great pianist. The wait before the show was long, and apparently the maestro who was supposed to play came to the concert hall late. Bored, the boy slipped away from his mother, made his way to the platform, sat down at the concert piano and began to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The crowd reacted with anger and shouted to the mother to take the boy away. “How dare you touch that expensive piano!” “What a brat! get out!” The great maestro came in, went to the piano, and began playing along with the boy. Whispering to the boy, “Keep going. Don’t quit, son. Keep playing!”
I took piano lessons for quite sometime. So, that story resonated with me back then. The lesson I learned was that I should never give up on playing piano. But the more I think about it, that story speaks more about the maestro’s attitude toward that little brat. With his great fame and power he had a choice to be mad at that little boy by calling a security guard to take the boy away for he is defaming the ambiance of the concert hall that was designed for him alone and make him look very unprofessional. But the maestro chose to play along with the boy. Had he chosen to treat the boy with a negative attitude, I wouldn’t have heard this great story about a humble great maestro.

Humility in Hebrews and Greek, the language of our Bible, means low, as low to the ground. John Dickson, a historian, writes that Humility is a willingness to hold power in service of others. It is a not mere modesty. Humility is more about how I treat others than how I think about myself. Ancient Israel believes that humility before God was appropriate as was humility before judges, kings, and priests. But lowering ourselves before a person with an equal or lesser status in early biblical times was regarded as something weird. Of course we should bow our head in front of a king. But bowing before our friends or a servant? You better check your head when you start doing that! It was not until a great Jewish teacher from Nazareth came to change that whole paradigm. He said: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28
Jesus turned the whole notion of greatness upside down. Apostle Paul captured Jesus’ act of humility in a beautiful hymn of praise: Jesus who was God, did not take advantage of his equality with God; but he made himself nothing, humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)
Capital punishment was reserved by Romans for political rebels and slaves, the most brutal and the most shameful punishment became the symbol of power and greatness. Crucifixion was not evidence of Jesus’ humiliation but the evidence that greatness can express itself in humility. Jesus took the hard road by lowering himself all the way down to the ground in order to elevate us, sinners. On the cross God through Jesus says I the Maker of the Heaven and Earth will suffer with you — for you– to make things right between us again.
St. Benedict says: We descend by exaltation and ascend by humility. Humility is exaltation. Life is not about me. Life is about God and benefiting others. Humility is an understanding that we are not in control of our lives but God, and everything we have: our talents, our possessions are from God and we should use them to lift each other’s up. We should embody the attitude of John the Baptist when he said: “This joy of mine is now complete, He must increase but I must decrease.”

Friends, with that in mind, I pray that today you find Jesus, the great maestro, who accepts our inadequacies and chooses to play that beautiful melody alongside of you.

Love and prayers,

Vincent Arishvara 05122016

Don’t Hurt Mom!

What is the best and most disturbing advice a mother can and should give to her teenage boy? Let me tell you what my mom said during my grandeur-hormone-driven-teen-age. “If you hurt a woman, you hurt me!” This advice came up because at the time she was concerned about the number of sexual assaults and molestation toward women that were becoming higher and higher at the time. I can understand her sentiment now. Dealing with three teenage boys, I believe, was not easy for her especially when she knew the environment where she lived had changed rapidly with so many things that could trigger evil thoughts. Racy magazines and films were becoming more available, and kids like us were an easy target for those things. I knew that mom had a strong feeling about that. The discussion, warnings, and more advice about these “temptations” came up all the time around dinner time or every time we watched the news about a girl being raped or assaulted. She did not want her sons to be the one of those perpetrators, that’s for sure. In a way my mom was saying, whatever you do to a woman, any woman, you do it to me!

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Last week I was given an opportunity to have a week of downtime at Bass Lake. A family friend of mine was so kind for allowing me to use their place. Bass Lake is about a three hour drive to the East of San Jose. I never really have downtime whenever I would taken vacation,  because it always consists of being busy visiting relatives or friends or going to see this attraction and that amusement park. But this time, the whole week, all I got to do was the bare minimum of what my normal schedule requires of me.  All I did the entire week was eat, read, sleep, and walk to the Lake, eat again, sleep again, and more sleep. I truly used the time to relax, by thinking very little about work and using the opportunity as my personal Sabbath to listen to what God wanted me to hear. Read more…

Jesus Wept

Political parties and interest groups around Jesus’ time were probably frustrated at Jesus. The Pharisees that were adamant about making people obey the strict law of Moses were frustrated when they found Jesus, whom they called Rabbi, healing a man with a shriveled hand on a Sabbath day. The Zealots, who believed that Romans occupation over Israel could only be broken by a violent revolution, scratched their heads when they heard Jesus preached: ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!’ The Sadducees, the elite of the temple, were upset when they found Jesus ruining their business in the temple by overturning the tables of moneychangers and accusing them ‘robbers’ in His Father’s house.  Read more…

My Hot Wife

Last night during our Wednesday night Lent service, before the service started, a friend of mine said to me, “Your wife is so cute!” She was praising Vania’s look that night which was quite different than her usual. “O yeah, that’s because she is going to a business meeting right after our service. That’s why she’s dressed very formal” I responded flatly. My friend looked at me with her weird look, “What do you mean by that? She’s cute no matter what, right, Vania?” She put her arm around Vania who was smiling back at her not knowing what to say. 

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Believe it, our society is having superhero fever. Many awesome superhero movies are coming out this year and years to come like flu during winter time. One movie that I look forward to seeing is Batman Vs. Superman in June. Beyond that, the list is long: Captain America: Civil War, new X-men, Guardian of Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Aquaman movie, the titles go on and on. For a superhero enthusiast like me, this is good news. Hmm.. it’s gonna be an amazing year of Superheroes. I can’t wait 

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I can never understand women. I have lady friends that collect shoes. All kind of designer shoes. Some are cute and some are…I don’t get them. There are shoes with sharp pointed tips, super tall heels, neon colors, with laces, cowgirl boots with snakeskin pattern, and so on. I asked one lady friend, “Do you wear them all?” “Of course!” 
“Are they comfortable?” 
“Not all of them. There are some that I can only wear for an hour at a party and then I have to change them with flip-flop.” 
“If they’re not comfortable, why did you buy them and…wear them?” 
“There is…something that I cannot describe that only girls like us understand.” she replied. Read more…

What a Vocation!

Forbes Magazine October 2013 showed a poll that measured how happy employees in the United States are with their job. It showed that only 30% of Americans are happy in their work, 52% feeling blah, and 18% who hate their job. Those numbers are not what we would like to hear but they are better than most places compared to, for instance, China, where there’s only 6% of employees who feel happy with what they do. Overall, out of 25 million employees from 189 different countries the poll showed that only 13% of workers feel engaged by their jobs. Interesting, huh? Are you one of those miserable workers? 

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One prayer I say, among all other things to pray about, during my morning prayer is clarity. I pray for clarity of what I should do with my daily life so that I can make a wise decision for any complicated matter, so that I can use my energy and time more effectively. I pray that God will give me clarity of the things He wants me to preach to my congregation so that I don’t have to face writer’s block or experience embarrassment for talking about a stupid thing during the Sunday morning service. Clarity, o, clarity, how I need that all the time…