Our Savior os born!

Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2016

Isaiah 9:1-6

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-20

 

This past week was a big week for school Christmas Pageants and Choirs singing. My brother had his granddaughter singing in a Christmas pageant this week. One of the songs that were signing was “While the Shepherds Watched Their Flock at Night.” The place was packed and because she is a good little singer they had her right in the front, in the front row. To everyone’s delight what she sang was “While the Shepherds washed their socks at night.” Let’s talk about those shepherds and the manger, because we tend to romanticize those shepherds and the manger a lot. 

Shepherds were mostly the lowest people on the social latter. They would be mostly un-education people and there only job qualification would be to stay awake a lot, be good with a slingshot. They would not be people who would keep holy the Sabbath and they would not be those who would be following the letter of the law in the Torah. They would smell just bad and should have washed their socks at night. 

Of all places to be born, why was the manger the place the Christ child was born? A manger at the time of Christ would be an underground cave. It would be cold and damp and the only heat would be what the animals would give by body heat or their breath. It would be dark, even in the light of day, it would be dark as the animals and shepherds would push to be as far back in the cave as possible. Lastly, it would be dirty with mud, manure, dust, and mold. 

We romanticize all of this, but the truth of it all only helps us to come to a spiritual truth.  The shepherds would have been the most unlikely group to be waiting for a Savior because they lacked the theological reflection that some would expect to have. What makes the shepherds so great they had no agenda when the angels came in all their glory they just believed and they went and told others. How do we hear this Good News tonight? 

What makes the manger so significant is that it would be cold, dark and dirty just like our human hearts can be. Our hearts can be cold because we do not know the love of God. Our hearts can be dark, because we do not know the light of Christ, and our hearts can be dirty because we give way to temptation and sin. 

Jesus is born in Bethlehem, its name means, House of Bread. If tradition is true and Jesus was born in a manger, then he probably would have been born in a feeding trough. He now wants to feed all of us in this Eucharist. May we come to see and believe just as the shepherds did this night? 

 

 

What would Jesus say about us?

 

Friday, December 23  

Of Advent

Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24

Luke1: 57-66 

We all believe in God or we would not be here. However, what if after Christmas night the baby Jesus got to go home and live with us, and we cared for him? As he learned to talk, what would be his first words to us individually and as a family? 

He could say, “I sent you all the great prophets and messengers, I sent you Elijah, he was like a fire purifying silver. He came to turn fathers hearts back to their children, and children’s hearts back to their fathers.” Did we listen? 

God could say, “I sent you John the Baptist who even as a baby was instrumental in turning hearts back to me. John gave his life to prepare the way, as my hand was with him.” 

What will God say to us, when we finally meet him? Hopefully, he will say, “Thank you for listening! Thank you for being! Thank you for doing!” 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

We are filled with great joy and anticipation!

 

Thursday, December 22  

Of Advent

I Samuel 1:24-28

Luke 1:46-56 

Our scriptures bring us to experience Advent’s joy as we draw closer to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We hear from two women who are filled with great joy, as God’s promises are fulfilled in them. 

In our first reading, Hanna was barren, and she prayed for a son. The prophet Eli heard her prayer and promised her a child. Hannah promised that if she was to bear a son, she would give the son back to God as a gift. As hard as it is to imagine Hannah keeps her promise and brings her son to the prophet as a gift. In the verses that follow Hannah, her heart bursts forth with words of great joy as she proclaims, “My heart exults in the Lord and I rejoice.” The Lord God would favor Hannah with three more sons because of her faithfulness. 

In our Gospel, Mary sings, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary contemplates the magnitude of what has happened to her and she joyfully surrenders her life back to God. She is filled with great joy and Mary is inviting everyone to join with her in knowing all that God has done in her life. 

We should gather with great joy today, in great anticipation that God’s plan of salvation is unfolding beautifully in our midst. The best is yet to come because nothing is impossible with God. This is God’s promise to us today! 

Joy in the light of Christ

 

Wednesday, December 21  

Of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18

Luke 1:39-45

What are those gifts that you want for Christmas? The older I get the greatest gifts I want is to be with family and friends. Our readings today speak about the importance of relationships. 

In our first reading, the prophet Zephaniah tells the people, the greatest gift is that the Lord God is in their midst, and he is filled with great joy. We should always remember that God does desire to be with us! This should be our great joy! 

In our Gospel, Mary is a pure gift to her older cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant. Mary goes in great haste, meaning she goes quickly, across the hill country to be with her cousin. Mary would have traveled about 90 miles, traveling by donkey, and making 9 to 10 miles a day. The terrain would have been very rocky and hilly. Mary does what many have done and that is to seek out someone older and wiser to talk with about being pregnant. However, before they can talk about being pregnant the John the Baptist leaps in the womb of Elizabeth with great joy, as he meets his cousin Jesus. Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” 

We should be excited that this is the last day of school and we should be excited that Christmas is just a few days away. However, let us never forget the power of being with people, and the gift that people are in our lives. Joy comes in discovering and enjoying the light of Christ in ourselves and in each other. The quickest way to joy is by doing a charitable act for someone. 

Let us always come to the Eucharist with great joy knowing that God is in our midst and that he is happy being in our midst.  

Here is your sign?

 

Tuesday, December 20  

Of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14

Luke 1:26-38 

What would we do without all the signs in our lives? There are signs that tell us to stop, there are signs that tell us to only go one way, and there are signs that tell us what street we are on. We need all these signs because they are very helpful. In our spiritual lives, we also need signs to tell us where to go. It is ok, to ask God for a sign. Our readings today speak to us about the signs of Jesus Christ all around us, but are we watching and listening for the signs? 

In our first reading, Isaiah tells King Ahaz to ask God for a sign so he will know what to do as the Assyrian army is marching right for him. King Ahaz does not ask for a sign, but God says, “I will give you a sign anyway. The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall be named Emmanuel.” I like what happens here, even when we do not ask for a sign, God is still going to give us a sign. 

In our Gospel, we hear of the fulfillment of that prophesy as the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she is going to be the mother of the savior of the world. Thankfully, Mary who was filled with grace realizes this sign and answers the angel in faith by saying yes to being the mother of the Son of God. It says, that Mary was frightened, and rightly so. It is easier to believe in an angel than to not be frightened. Sometimes the signs God gives us is frightening, but we must press on. Jesus says, in our Gospel, “Nothing is impossible with God!” Great words for us to live by! 

In five days we will celebrate the greatest sign ever to be given to us, the Savior of the world has been born onto us. As we come to the Eucharist today may we see more readily the signs of God in front of us?

 

 

God is with us!

 

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14

Romans 1: 1-7

Matthew 1:18-24  

Advent is all about knowing that “God is with us” and a good spiritual practice to help us know that “God is with us” is to ‘search for the activity’ of God in our daily lives. However, this is not all that we need to do. We must come to know and to believe that God is with us right now. Our Catechism teaches us that God is with us most powerfully in the manifestation of Jesus Christ. We come to know “God is with us” as we encounter Christ in word and in sacrament when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. However, what happens when we leave here is God still with us? If we come to believe that “God is with us” that statement has the power to change our very lives.  

So, many times, in spiritual direction or confession, people will say, “I want to go back to the person I use to be.” The reality is, there is no going back, there is only a moving forward. We move forward, knowing that God is with us, and He is shaping us, and revealing himself to us, and we are becoming something new in him.  

To help us today reflect on that “God is truly with us” I want to present three Advent figures who have brought new meaning to the belief that “God is with us.” All of them knew there was no going back, to what they once were, and they all used their doubt and fear to propel them to greatness.  

John the Baptist is a great Advent figure, he knew that God was with him. Jesus called John a lamp, where the light of Christ shown through him. Last week we heard, John had a moment when he needed reassurance that God was with him. When John knew that God was with him he danced for sure joy.  

Mary is another great Advent figure. She is the most powerful woman in the world and yet we have no known preaching or teaching, and no known miracles. What makes her so powerful is she was always attentive to God with us and was ready to respond when the angel came to her. This should be our goal.   

Today we have the last of the great Advent figures in Joseph. Joseph was a man of great faith and belief that God was with him. We can only imagine the pain he went through knowing that his to be wife, was with child not by him. How he must have pondered what he was going to do. Deciding that he would divorce Mary quietly he thinks he is doing the best of things for her. When the angel comes to him and tells him to take Mary into his home, he demonstrates a rare combination of humility and strength.  

We learn much from our three Advent figures. We learn that doubt and fear is part of the process. The thing each of these three did when doubt and fear came is they did not allow them to be frozen in place, they kept moving ahead. The other thing we can learn from each of these Advent figures is they could only see what was in front of them, just like us. When doubt and fear were gone and they knew that God was with them they all moved out in faith to what they could not see, and trusted in God providence. We too, must do the same and come to know that “God is with us” and the best is yet to come!     

 

 

 

   

How can we be a lamp!

 

Friday of the Third Week

Of Advent

Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8

John 5:33-36 

Did any of you see the big shining moon in the sky the past couple nights? I hope so it has been magnificent! 

Does the moon give light? Yes! 

Does the moon have its own light? No! It gets its light from the sun. 

In our Gospel, Jesus calls John the Baptist a lamp, but Christ is the light, shining through John, just like the sun shining on the moon. John gave his whole life to being the lamp, to pointing the way to Christ. 

We are called to be like John the Baptist, how can we in the Advent Season bring the light of Christ, the Good News of Jesus Christ to others? 

In our reading from Isaiah, we hear the prophet telling the people, “Observe what is right, do what is just.” 

As we draw ever closer to the celebration of Christmas let us take what we learn here and go and share that with others.