We need to show up, and be ready!

Feast of the Holy Family

Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3

Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19

Luke 2:22-40

 

When I would sit where you are, I would come to this feast day of the Holy family hoping for words of great encouragement. As I stand here now, I hope I can give you words of great encouragement. To be honest with you, I always feel a bit uneasy speaking about family life, because after a failed marriage, I wonder if it would not be better for one of you to speak on this feast day.

 

As I was preparing for today something happened in Denver where I spent the last few days with my son-in-law, my daughter and my granddaughter Eleanor to help me prepare to share words of encouragement. One of the best parts of the day with Eleanor is when she wakes up in the morning, and all she wants to do is snuggly for a few minutes before she gets down to play. One morning as I was holding her to my chest, I could feel her heart beating against my chest. All of a sudden, Eleanor lifted her head from my chest, looked right into my eyes as if to say, “Grandpa, I can feel your heart beating against my chest.” What a God moment that was! I couldn’t help but think of everything that has happened in my life up to this moment. I would not change a thing about my life, because it brought me to that moment. I hope to hand onto you today words of encouragement and that would be we need to show up and wait for God to act.

 

In our reading from Genesis, God tells Abram to leave his native land and go a land that he will show him. Abram responds, “Lord, God, I am showing up, but what good is all your promises if Sarai and I do not have a child!” God acts and gives them a child and his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Abram begs for a family because he knows to grow in holiness takes a community to draw us out of our self-centeredness.

 

In our Gospel, Mary, and Joseph, bring the baby Jesus to the temple as prescribed. In the temple, that day is Simeon and an old man who was told he would not die until he sees the Lord. Also in the temple, is Anna, a prophetess who is advanced in years and she lived in the temple waiting for the Lord to come and the redemption of Israel. Simeon and Anna are waiting, anticipating something to happen in their lives. All of us know what that feels like to wait days, months, and years to be free of guilt, grief, as we wait for a change. The miracle of Simeon and Anna is not that they experienced the Christ child, but that they both showed up day in and day out with great hope and they never gave up. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to show up! Will we continue to show up even when things look the darkest?

 

My friends in Christ, is family life hard? Yes! Is marriage difficult at times? Absolutely! The Feast of the Holy family teaches us that we need to show up and be present to God because he is already present to us. We need to live in great hope that whatever we are praying for God is taking care of right now. May our heart and God’s heartbeat as one as we wait on the Lord.

 

 

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God’s Word become Flesh in us!

 

Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2017

Isaiah 9:1-6

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-14

 

What an amazing story we just heard proclaimed in our Gospel. I would think that everyone here could get up and retell that story for me. The main message is that a child has been born unto us, who is the savior of the world. It is a story that we need to hear again and again not because of the story changes but because we have changed. We all know the story, but because we have changed because we do not know what will happen to us in the coming year, we need to hear the story and believe in its message.

 

Who would have guessed that God would choose to be one with us and become flesh and dwell among us? I heard a story recently that took place during the Middle Ages when most people could not read. There was a monastery where early in the morning the monks would gather around a lit candle, and the one monk who could read would open up the bible and begin to read a passage very slowly when he was finished with the passage he would step back and wait. After a period of quiet, he would approach the book and again read the same passage slowly so all could hear. He would do this again and again until all had heard the word spoken to their hearts and one by one they would leave and no one was there left because all had made the Word of God flesh within them.

 

We need to hear the Christmas story told unto us time and time again, so it sinks deep within us, and it becomes flesh. Because when God becomes one of us God gives us the opportunity to become divine. We need to hear this story return to our homes as holy people and make the invisible God seen in our human faces. We make the Eternal Word spoken by our voices, and we make a Sacred touch of God possible by our human hands. We need to proclaim that there is nothing that God cannot be born into. I all doubt, fear, brokenness, and darkness, the Son of Man is born into to bring life.

 

We gather to know that this story when taken into our hearts never disappoints us. Celebrate the Christ Child, the savior of the world being born to us!

What are God’s plan and purpose for us?

Fourth Sunday of Advent

II Samuel 7:1-5

Romans 16: 25-27

Luke 1:26-38

 

I am going to stand here underneath the Advent Wreath even though I may not be able to see everyone because I do not want you looking at the Christmas trees, or the manger scene or the swag of beautiful greens hanging from the balcony. Do not look at these things, because it is not the time to go to Bethlehem with the shepherds and angels we need to stay in the city of Nazareth. We need to stay in the city of Nazareth to prepare ourselves for the plan of the last Sunday of Advent which is for every ending there is a new beginning.

 

In our first reading, King David and the prophet Nathan have to end their plans to build a beautiful temple for God. God comes to them and says, “This is not part of my plan. I have a much bigger plan for my people.” This news surprises them, but they place their trust in God, even though they do not know what God’s plan is at this time.

 

In our Gospel, we hear of the story of Mary, as a young woman, she would have lots of plans to grow up, get married have children and raise a family. Many young girls of her time would have the same plans. When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she has been chosen by God to bear His Son by the gift of the Holy Spirit she does not understand this plan. Mary is surprised, but she places her trust in God that he has a bigger plan and that all will be well.

 

What happened to Mary and King David is the very same thing that happens to us. How often do we have a plan for our lives and we are given news and we do not understand? A plan to stay married for the rest of your life and it breaks apart. The plan to stay healthy and now I am sick with cancer. The plan to not struggle with addiction and now I need help. These ploans and many more like them can all be changed in a heartbeat. So what do we do?

 

My friends in Christ as we gather on this weekend of Advent we have many plans for things to come in our lives. However, when those plans are changed will we be able to say like Mary, “Let it be as you have said.” Let us place our trust and hope in a God knowing his plan is better than our plan. God’s plan only wants the best for us and is guiding us to hope, peace, and joy.

We hope with the Christ Child!

 

Thursday December 22  

Of Advent

I Samuel 1:24-28

Luke 1:46-56

 

I have spoken with someone every day this week who has shared with me some horrible news. There has been a marriage that is breaking up, a person struggling with an addiction, a woman was given the news she has cancer and an infant in the hospital with a serious illness. I have been praying for these people and these situations. Each time the question comes to me, “Do I have faith that the Christ Child will be born into each of these situations and new life will come?” Today again, we hear of people in difficult situations, and God is born in them to begin something new. Are we ready for the Christ Child to burst into our lives?

 

In our first reading, Hanna was barren, and she prayed for a son. In her prayer, she prayed if she were to conceive and give birth to a baby boy she would dedicate him to the Lord. The prophet Eli heard her prayer and promised her a child. Our reading today is Hannah singing her song of praise to God that God heard her plea, and she gives thanks to God for how her son will serve God and his people. Hannah proclaims, “My heart exults in the Lord, and I rejoice.”

 

In our Gospel, Mary is also in a strange predicament having a child at a young age through the gift of the Holy Spirit. She too sings songs of praise to God for all he has done in her life and all that he will do in her life. 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.

 

What is in our hearts that hangs so heavy and we do not know where to turn? God loves a challenge of bursting into a scene and making things right. May this Eucharist be the tipping point to know the Christ Child is coming to save us?

 

We gather in great anticipation!

 

Thursday, December 21  

Of Advent

Song of Songs 2:8-14

Luke 1:39-45

 

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the longest day of darkness. I think about this day a lot especially in the summer when it is 10:00 at night I am walking around the campus, and it is still light. After today the light will slowly begin winning over the darkness. We begin to look forward and to anticipate that more light will be filling our day. How are we anticipating the Christ child being born unto us?

 

Our first reading of the Song of Songs is one of the options to be read at a wedding, and how easy we can understand this as a love poem between two lovers who are looking and anticipating seeing each other. We could read this as us searching for God in our lives, or more powerfully, this could be understood as God doing all that it takes to search for us and to rejoice when he finds us.  

 

In our Gospel, Mary goes in great haste, anticipating her visit with her cousin Elizabeth who is six months pregnant. The two of them are pregnant for the first time, and they both are in a strange predicament, and they need each other. As they meet, there are now four prophets standing outside Zechariah’s silent house.

 

There is a larger story here than two pregnant women. The story is how God with great anticipation awaits the fulfillment of his plan to give the world the gift of his son.

 

How do we anticipate the coming of Christ? There is no need to be afraid, in five days our Lord will burst onto the scene to be with us!  

What will be the sign God gives us today?

 

Friday December 20  

Of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14

Luke 1:26-38

 

Last night I had a meeting at a home I have never been to before. I put the address into my GPS, but the address could not be found. I called, and the woman said, “Look for the sign with the big smile and turn at that driveway.” Sure enough, as my headlights went over this sign, the smile on the sign lit up. What kind of sign are we asking of the Lord today? We have only five days before we celebrate the biggest sign that we need as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

 

In our first reading, Isaiah is sent to King Ahaz to ask God for a sign that God would protect his kingdom. King Ahaz can’t imagine how God could make a difference in this crisis as he says, “I will not ask.  I will not tempt the Lord.”  Isaiah, in disgust, responds, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”

 

In the Gospel, we hear the story of Mary’s encounter with the Angel of God. The angel tells her that God has a plan for her and she will bear a son “who will be called holy, the Son of God. Who will rule over the house of Jacob forever?”  Though she is unsure how these things could happen, she places her complete trust in God and the Holy Spirit will be her sign that she needs.

 

In our readings today a sign is given to King Ahaz and Mary. In the case of King Ahaz, he rejected the sign, and his world would be changed for the worst. In the case of Mary, she accepted the sign and the world would be changed forever. May we accepted the sign that is given to us in this simple bread and wine being transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ?

 

 

 

Nothing is impossible with God!

 

Tuesday, December 19th  

Of Advent

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25

Luke 1:5-25

 

 

We have beautiful readings for most of us today. I wonder how a woman who wants to have a family and cannot hears these readings. Our readings are filled with hope and knowing that nothing is impossible with God. 

 

In our first reading from the book of Judges, we hear the story of the announcement of the birth of Samson. We are only told the name of Samson’s father, Manoah, but not Samson’s mother. What I like about this is we can insert any woman’s name. Samson’s mother was barren and bore no children. Her neighbors would have assumed that she or her family had done something wrong and God was punishing her. There is no asking permission or invitation, just a command to obey the Lord God and they would give birth to a son. The news of her having a child would change her whole life, and restore her to the good graces of God by her neighbors.

 

In our Gospel, we have the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Their situation is worse than Samson’s parents as Elizabeth is sterile and both are in their old age. As the angel comes to Zechariah in the inner court of the temple, he was deeply troubled by the news and because he doubted he became mute. The Good News is even disbelief does not stop the Word of the Lord. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s spent their whole lives obeying the commands of the Lord, but Zechariah saw God small.

 

Advent is a time of prayer and hope. Advent is an invitation to look deeper into our barrenness and see new life. May we know that nothing is impossible with God?