Saturday, December 01, 2012
Here is the cyber version of my homily for this 1st Sunday of Advent
As a deacon it is the responsibility of a servant to herald the King’s coming. And it is the responsibility of all believers, all servants of the King of Kings to herald Christ’s coming.
This first Sunday of Advent we see the familiar focus of our Liturgy sharing that message, Christ the King is Coming! The first weeks of this season especially seek to help us focus on the return of Christ as our readings proclaim.
But this message of the second coming of Jesus is fraught with challenges. Intense and dramatic teachings abound on our Lord’s return, especially amongst our Protestant brothers and sisters. Scoffers delight at the promise of Christ’s return yet often while embracing various popular concepts such as the Mayan calendar conflicting messages.
All these teachings are often set against the intense realities of the actual events of the times in which we live. Violence, disasters, moral turmoil all fit with the warnings shared by Christ Himself and His prophets. All this brings us to wonder what is happening? what is the follower of Christ to do? Is Jesus returning soon? How are we to live? These questions bring us to examine our Expectations, our Boxes our Paths.
Expectations ~ In our Bible readings this day we hear from Jeremiah the prophet, Paul the Apostle and Christ Himself all sharing expectations of the coming of Christ, Son of David, Son of man. The signs of the times, the prophetic beacons that God gives to help us prepare to stand before Him are diverse, many and mysterious. Perhaps it is due to their mystery and diverse expressions that God’s people have often spent lifetimes seeking to sort them all out. The early Christian’s of Paul’s times had absolute faith that Jesus would return in their lifetime. Yet, in the fullest sense, they were mistaken. The same dilemma were experienced by many Jews when Jesus ministered in His earthly ministry. The Messiah had come...yet He did not match THEIR expectations and was missed. These millenia later we would do well to realize they failed to know Him at His coming because their expectations of God were confined in a box too small for God.
Boxes ~ The Jews of Jesus’s time, the early Christians, and Christians hence have all struggled to fit their expectations of Christ’s coming into the boxes of our understanding. It may be our futile efforts to grasp the times of God and squeeze He who is beyond time into our finite schedules of when, how, where..He comes. that distract and confuse us. Or perhaps it may be our boxes of prayer by which we expect God to work. Or maybe it is simply the boxes of day to day cares of work, finances, health or family that prevent us from knowing His grace in ways unexpected. Perhaps it is simply the boxes of understanding that Christ will come again, yes, at the end of time or at the end of our individual time that makes us miss His coming in the stranger, neighbor, or loved one in need. It is as we allow Him, with hands nail-pierced, to free us from those distractions and burdens and to walk the path to fullness of His Presence.
Paths ~ Our Psalm today gives us prayerful insight into the solution to the limitations of our expectations and boxes. It is as we seek the pathS of the King we will come to meet Him at His coming. Our understanding is essential. Our expectations are crucial as we seek the Kingdom of God to come. But it is not solely an understanding of the mind it is a relationship of the soul with God that then enables our minds to understand and see beyond what we may be seen. It is vital to note that the Psalmist prays...”show me your pathS...All the pathS of the LORD are kindness and constancy.” We must allow God to lead us, to lead others, by the paths of His choosing. And St. Paul broadens our vision of the paths of God when those early Christians were admonished to abound in love for each other and FOR ALL by which we grow in the holiness God calls us to share. This brings us to one other point. Christ, the King is coming. Yes He is coming in the fullness of His glory. Yes, should He tarry, we will come stand before Him at the end of our time. But, if we listen and watch He will, as promised, come again in the poor, the neighbor, the co-worker that crosses our path.
Wherever, whenever God chooses, when the Son of Man comes, may we, His servants stand before Him alert and in love.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
"Compromise". It is interesting that for so many people it is a word and concept fraught with fear and negativity. The ancient conflicts in the Mid-east, our own political strife, relationship discord, economic angst all are opportunities for compromise yet most people fear taking those steps toward finding a compromised solution.
Many people perceive it as a weakness to be avoided at all costs. Many people are most secure in their perception that life issues are very precise and clear, black and white. It has been said that with both God and nature there is no compromise.
I for one see both God and creation a bit differently. Yes there is black, white, darkness and light. But....there is also gray. Our Lord who gives us the bright clarity of a sunny day, the inky darkness of a moonless night also gives us the times and places of fog shrouded faith. Indeed there are issues, times, places where clarity is sharp and unarguable..to us. Yet perhaps we need to remember that not everyone is where we are on all issues. What may be pristine in clarity to us may be a cloud-shrouded path for others.
Perhaps the issue of compromise can be looked at in another way. If we were to take the word, literally to the roots, we can share a fresh understanding. Com=With & Promise = Promise. On most issues can we look to find a common value, understanding on which to start a place of "sharing the promise"?
Even God, pristine in the total beauty of full holiness found the way of compromise. In His holy, pure love God came to us, became man and walked the path of compromise, the path of fearless, conquering love. We know it now as the Way of the Cross. It leads to the place of compromise, the Cross.
I, for one, am eternally grateful God "shared the promise" of holiness and love to find me.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
The Stained Glass Cross
Shards of glass,
In rainbows shades,
Shards of glass,
By God made.
Holy hues of faith and hope.
Vibrant hues of life and growth.
Quiet darks of sorrows known.
Crushed and broken by hammers strong.
Shards there be, with cutting edge.
Oft avoided with painful dread.
Other pieces gently worn,
In sands of time, by waters borne.
By angels gathered, shards, aplenty.
Brought together in mercies many,
Placed in His hands holy pierced.
And so melded by Love’s Spirit,
Then carried by the holy Dove,
The shards were made a cross grow.
But others aghast,
sought and fought,
some shards to cast,
out from the cross.
Their hue, their cast,
they held best,
Did not fit the mold,
they felt blessed.
So, nail-pierced hands,
in sadness wrought,
From those other hands,
the tiny molds of fear
and hate they brought.
That others differ in journeys made,
And perhaps their differing loves portray
Realms of my Kingdom to be framed.
To cast them away you may try,
Yet to my Sacred Heart they fly.
So the stained glass cross is being made.
Windows aglow in holy shades.
Windows into His Kingdom's love portrayed.
That together, His Holy love we seek,
Free in Truth, to reach and speak,
His love and light to shine and share,
Within and to all who dare
Peace and love's light to know.
[Picture: East Apse Window St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA}
Friday, August 24, 2012
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Easter Reflections 2012
As I have been making candles this week I have been pondering the message of Christ's cross and resurrection. The beauty of our Sunday liturgy and the Holy Triduum helps us focus on His passion, death and conquest of sin and death. I was especially meditating upon our Lord's words shortly before He left the upper room and went to Gethsemane.
"Love one another as I have loved you"...by this shall all men know you are my followers, by the love you have one for another...this is my commandment, that you love one another, that your joy may be full." [John13-15].
But as I observe how the church, how Christians are known today it seems we are most known for..our politics, or our focus upon issues instead of Christ. While we can blame the media for much of this there are sad reasons why we are known, not for God's love and His joy in our lives but for being judgmental and at times hateful. This brings me to ask, Am I a tomb or a temple?
We are called to bear the Risen Christ in our body, in our life. Our words, our actions should be proclaiming the hope and joy of our risen Lord. Yet so often Jesus can become buried in the tombs of our doubts, distractions and fears. We become so focused on our moral priorities and politics, upon issues, that we lose the light of His love, that indeed leads us ALL from sin to forgiveness. We lose sight of...Christ. We become so hung-up on politics and problems that the promise of God's mercy becomes buried in judgment and fear.
For myself, Lord, please forgive the times I have buried you in doubts and fears, when I have focused on issues, in my life and others and not allowed you to reign as the King of Holy Love. Please, Jesus, help me, not be a tomb, but a temple of your mercy.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Our world is increasingly torn with strife and hatred. Politics, culture wars, even in the church, the right and the left are seemingly intent on the others demise. Perhaps it may help to remember we are designed with two arms...
Two arms there were,
that were sure,
their arm alone,
was strong and pure.
Arm the right,
knew the way.
And strove and carried
right to make.
Arm the left too was strong
and with skill and power
good and truth to grow and own.
Arm the left and arm the right
hated the other
with all their might.
They hit and held the other arm,
and did all they could to rid and harm.
For they knew,
the arm opposed,
must be fought
or at least controlled.
To tolerate the other,
with respect to hold,
To listen or to learn,
Left them truly cold.
Then one day the two arms,
realized in dismay,
that they were lost
and they grew afraid.
Afraid and in their ignorance,
the other they did blame,
for bringing them to a place
of cold and darkening shame,
each would not claim.
While the cold,
the dark greater grew.
the two arms longed
a light, some warmth,
their dying hopes to brew.
Then in the darkness
each arm did find
an unlit candle and
some dry pine.
With arm the right some matches dwelt.
While arm the left some kindling felt.
But alone the arms did long and fight
a fire warm to quell the night.
Finally in weary fear,
for the dark and cold
they could not bear,
Arm the right and arm the left,
together with their different gifts
a fire bold did they make.
And in the shelter of the fire warm
the arms embraced and soon learned,
they were joined, they were one.
And although opposed
they shared the one
heart and hope
and strength to claim.
So arm the right and arm the left
how to reach
and how to rest.
And what the other really did do best.
They helped to let loose
the hate the other held.
And with the other did they find
together the good they could meld.
I am reminded of a place where arms of conflict wrought hate and fear yet were conquered by the arms of love.