One Thing at a Time

Michaeo Schaff & Crisely Melecio

March 29, 2020

Introduction to Scripture readings:

Michael Schaff: Welcome. Thank you for joining us this morning.

Crisely Melecio-Zambrano: While I was very doubtful we could make this work, Michael assured me we could do it! Michael and I were hoping that all of you could interact with these readings in new ways. When we first read through the readings for this weekend together, Michael noted that he noticed things he hadn’t heard before, so I invite you to listen to and/or watch these readings with openness to receive something new. Each of these readings has rich imagery, so even those of you who are joining us via phone can sit back and imagine each reading unfold with your different senses.


  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
    • Dry Bones” song by Crisely. Written in response to David Hilfiker’s Urban Injustice class at Joseph’s House a little over 6 years ago

Verse 1:
The hand of the Lord came upon me
And led me into pain
Pain filled with bones

Made me walk among them so I would see
The masses of those dry, dry, dry bones

You ask can these bones come back to life
You alone know my God

Prophesy over the bones
Tell them to come back to life

Dry bones are crying out
Dry bones are crying out

Verse 2:
They have been saying
Our bones are dried up
Our hope is lost
And we are cut off
But bones they rattle
And sinews cover them
As flesh and skin appear

Dry bones are crying out
Dry bones are crying out

Breathe into our bones
Bring them back to life

  • Psalm 130
    • Alfonso’s poem written this week

I wait for you,
more than watchmen wait for the dawn
more than watchmen wait for the dawn.


Psalm 130:6

There is a wachiman in Lima, Peru,
sitting in the quiet hours of the dark
outside my grandmother’s house.
His name is Félix.
Through tinted windows,
he waits for shadows
which could spell
the end of his life.

Even now,

while Mamama ages
and finally begins to rest,
he does not rest.

He is, all at once,
each form of Peruvian vigilance.

He is mosca, rana, and serpiente.
So, to deepen watchfulness,
and to sharpen the eye,
he repeats the poet’s mantra:

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

Perhaps he whispers it
to himself, over and over,
or, more likely, he
passes the time with nightdreams
about his daughter’s smile.
Either way, when the light comes,
he rushes home to hug God
in the shape of that smiling girl.
Is it really possible
to wait for God
more than the wachiman
waits for the dawn?
Such a presence,
such a patient love
would be the
consummation of any life.
Gospel: John 11: 1-45

  • Different parts read by Melecio-Zambrano family
    • Mary: Marcos
    • Martha: Samuel
    • Jesus: Papi
    • Disciples/Crowd: Luisely
    • Narrator: Crisely
  • family members introduced by Michael

Teaching continued:

CMZ – Crisely Melcio-Zambrano
MS – Michael Schaff

  • CMZ: How do you think they did Michael?
  • MS: Good
  • CMZ: Did anything stand out to you?
  • MS: No
  • CMZ: Do you remember what you told me when we first read through the readings together?
  • MS: They are honest.
  • CMZ: Yes, you said “it says the truth.” So this morning Michael and I are hoping to share the truth that we find in these readings with all of you from the perspective of an important lesson Michael has taught me and many others. What is that lesson Michael?
  • MS: Be yourself.
  • CMZ: Wow! That’s beautiful! We also talked about one thing at a time, right? Why is it important to do one thing at a time for you?
  • MS: Just one thing at a time.
  • CMZ: Michael this is one of your mantras! One thing at a time. Michael teaches this lesson to every single assistant who comes through Ontario House. Usually in the very practical ways of: “I can’t get dressed and eat my breakfast at the same time!”, but this morning we are going to talk about “One thing at a time” from the three perspectives of: Discernment, Friendship and Resurrection
  • CMZ: Discernment. During this tumultuous time in our world, I’ve heard so many people say that one of the hardest pieces of this time is the quick discernment needed to make decisions. (Maybe this says something about the people I hang around). “Should we have this meeting? Do we cancel church? Is it more important for us to find Jeff to give him some food and pray with him, or to take the necessary precautions at home? Will I cancel that trip? Should we go to Florida immediately to be with my family?” All of these decisions with such quick turnarounds.

Now each of us have heard about this gospel reading about the raising of Lazarus countless times, and I don’t know about you but usually I only think about the ending. Goodness, even when we were talking within my family about who would speak the different parts, they asked, Wait, who is going to be Lazarus? but the reality is that he doesn’t even speak (but we did consider someone going “uuuurrrggg” when he was raised). Really this story is about every single piece that got us to the point of the resurrection of Lazarus. Hence, one thing at a time. Jesus needs to make a hugely important decision and quickly discern because lives are at stake. And this happens decision-by-decision. He needs to consider the safety of himself, his friends, his disciples. Could there be retribution to Martha and Mary at his coming?, imagine the conversations he had with his Abba, “God, is it really your will to raise him from the dead? Is it just my ego? Is it my sadness at losing my beloved friend? Is it coming from guilt for not being there for Martha and Mary when they needed me most? Or is it a free gift from you?” And so Jesus walks step by step. Steps that started long ago in building a strong foundation in his relationship with his Abba so be able to recognize God’s voice. Just like for each of us those steps are formed in taking our time in silence, or yoga, or a long walk, or in art. Taking steps to get to know God’s voice within us in the stillness. And so Jesus keeps walking, one thing at a time. Deciding to wait two days. Deciding to walk to Judea and then to Bethany. His conversation with Martha, and then Mary. And the decision to allow God to use him to raise Lazarus from the dead. One step at a time. I’ve been learning recently how while we can do our best to discern well and with intention, it’s impossible to know if we made the “right” decision. There are endless possibilities and our task is to stay in the present, with God, taking one thing at a time.

  • CMZ: Did I miss anything, Michael?
  • MS: No
  • CMZ: So taking one thing at a time with discernment. What’s the second point Michael?
  • MS: Friendship.
  • CMZ: Friendship! Who are friends in the gospel reading?
  • MS: Jesus, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha
  • CMZ: How can you tell?
  • MS: The way they talk to each other.
  • CMZ: Now, Mike, when we were preparing you said you wanted to take some time to talk about our relationship, right? What do you like about our relationship?
  • MS: We know how to talk.
  • CMZ: Is it ok if I talk about what it was like at the beginning?
  • MS: [Nods].
  • CMZ: When I first moved into Ontario June 2013, do you remember that?
  • MS: [Nods].
  • CMZ: Well, I remember I introduced myself to you, and you said, “Yeah, I know who you are. We’ve been waiting for you.” When you said that to me, Michael, it was like something settled within and knew I was home where I needed to be. Now, after that things weren’t necessarily so nice. I remember thinking “Well, I guess I’ll be friends with the other people in L’Arche, but Mike and I will probably never be friends.” You seemed very uninterested in me. And here’s another way you taught me one thing at a time, Michael. You showed me how relationships are built not all at once, but reading a chapter of an Ida McKinley book at time, one trip to McDonalds with you at a time, one haircut at a time. Showing up for each other again and again and again. Day after Day. Just like those dry bones in Ezekial, our friendship came to life like sinews and skin, and finally life breath coming in. I remember when we were driving back from a friend of the community, Jim Cummings, oblate ordination in the middle of nowhere Virginia. Do you remember this Mike?
  • MS: Yes.
  • CMZ: Well, I remember you were sitting in the passenger’s seat. I was driving, and everyone else had fallen asleep in the backseats of the van, and you were telling me stories about your beloved mother, and some of the pain from your childhood, and I remember we were crossing over a bridge and I thought “We are on sacred ground.” You shared so vulnerably and honestly and I wanted to respond to you with that honestly too. So I told you about my mom’s cancer, which I hadn’t shared with anyone yet. And you said, “ok.” and I asked you not to share with anyone please, and you said, “ok. Want to watch the Lincoln movie when we get home?” and I said, “yes.” And so our friendship was built one step at a time.
  • CMZ: Ok, Mike. What’s the last way we’re going to talk about one thing at a time?
  • MS: Resurrection.
  • CMZ: Resurrection. You said this was your favorite part about the readings, right? The rising from the dead. What do you like about the rising from the dead?
  • MS: He was talking about himself.
  • CMZ: You mean Jesus?
  • MS: Yeah, Jesus was talking about rising from the dead.
  • CMZ: Yes, like Easter. You mentioned when we were preparing that you saw rising from the dead around you when people are doing everything they can. Going back to one thing at a time, do you think Jesus was doing one thing at a time in preparation for bringing Lazarus back from the dead?
  • MS: Yes
  • CMZ: What about in Ezekial?
  • MS: Yes
  • CMZ: Again, we have the lesson that we must first die to rise again. One thing at a time. Of course, we hear this in the biggest way liturgically during Holy Week. We walk through Lent one day at a time. One discernment at a time. One step in each of our friendships and relationships at a time, in order to resurrect anew at Easter. And so we wait for the resurrection like the psalmist. We wait for the Lord and take it one thing at a time in order to turn our heads to the direction in which the light will come
  • Amen.