Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gone Fishing!

Third Sunday After the Epiphany
January 22, 2016

In the Name of God the Holy Trinity.

This is the very name in which you have dedicated yourselves and this church. You have dedicated and consecrated this place to the strong name of the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit.
God as our Creator.
Jesus as our Savior.
The Holy Spirit, the Hagia Sophia, she who is our Holy Wisdom from on High. You do know that the word Spirit is “Sophia” in the Greek language and means “Wisdom”. She is a beautiful name and reflects the feminine side of God. Yes, of course you do.
And so you have dedicated yourselves and your church to all that is creative within and among you, all that saves yourselves and others, all that grants us wisdom, the holy wisdom from on high.
It is within the context of this very Holy Name that we begin our ministry together; 
In the Name of God; The Most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity.

Cindy and I thank you for your welcome and are grateful to be in your midst here at Trinity Church. We are grateful for all those who have come before us, whose generosity and dedication have built this place. We thank God for all of them, for all of the Clergy who have dedicated themselves here including Fr. Phil, for all the laity who have given so selflessly to build this holy place. And I thank God for each and every one of you. It now falls to us to continue building up the body of Christ.

So lets get right down to it. 
Lets go fishing!

That’s how Jesus puts in today's Gospel to Simon Peter and Andrew; to James and John the fishermen. They cast their nets in Galilee as the old hymn sings it. Now, we are to go fishing for people. 

Let’s go see if we can “catch” some people for God. Each and every one of you, Jesus says; “You, I want you to go fishing for people!” Obviously Jesus wants us to bring the Gospel to the people. So, what do you suppose that means?

Let me put this very simply. The prophet Isaiah says: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”.
What is this deep darkness?
What is this great light?
It is very simple. You know the darkness of sin. Crime, violence, drugs, hatred, prejudice, oppression, inequality. In short; the darkness of our time is that so many of us live without purpose or hope.

This present darkness in which we live and the great light that has dawned upon us are reflected in the events of the past week. We celebrated Martin Luther King Day, then there was the Inauguration of the President of the Untied States of America, and following that yesterday there were marches in Washington, DC; Boston and all throughout this great land of ours. It is in the interplay of darkness and light that a divided nation now takes a sober look at the realities in front of us. I will leave it to you to figure out which of these events has to do with the Light and which with the Darkness. God help us! 

Similarly, as I look around this church and take a sober look at the work that lies ahead of us, I must confess all I can say is the same thing; God help us!

It is in the context of these realities; the reality of my country, and the one of my church that I look to God for help. That's when Jesus speaks to us through the Scriptures and the Sacraments. Jesus invites us to ministry.

Jesus wants us to bring purpose and hope to the people who are walking through the darkness.

The Gospel proclamation is simple.
“Christ has died 
Christ is risen
Christ will come again.”
In the very heart of today’s Eucharistic prayer we will say the same thing  with a slightly different turn of phrase;
“We remember his death,
We proclaim his resurrection,
We await his coming in glory”

That’s it in a nutshell
In our Baptism, we believe that not only has Jesus died, but we have died with him in a death like his, in order that we might rise with him in a resurrection like his.
Throughout our lives we are broken by sin, defeat and by many moments of death like disappointment. But with Jesus at our side and with God in our hearts, and with friends and family around us, we rise again.
It is our experience that no matter how many dreadful moments there are in our lives, we rise again, again and again.
In the darkest days of the Blitz in London, when the Nazis bombed the people, innocent people, unarmed people, Winston Churchill the old English Bulldog stood by their side to say. “When you are going through hell, remember, keep going!”
“Christ has died,
Christ is risen
Christ will come again, and again, and again”.
We never loose hope.

If this is the Gospel what then shall we do about it? This too is pure simplicity;
Love God
Love one another
Love yourself.

Yes I want you to go fishing. Jesus wants you to go fishing. 
Do you have any idea of how dark this world is? 
Of course you do. 
You know how desperate life is for so many. 
How dangerous life is when it is not filled with the fullness of God.
This is why you are here.
You are to show the world how much you love God, love one another and above all, love yourself.

Do not forget to love yourself.
Jesus did not say; “Love your neighbor instead of yourself”.
He said “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

If you have ever gone flying you know that the crew teaches us that if there is a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from above. So whose face do you put that mask on first? You or your baby? If you said; “your baby” you are tragically mistaken. 
You have precious little time in an emergency to save your life first and then your baby’s life. For if you minister to your baby first you may loose both the baby’s life as well as your own.
First save your own life and then you will have the wherewithal to save the lives of those around you.

This is how the Gospel works. First, be forgiven. That’s why Jesus died for you. This is the great news of the Gospel. You are forgiven. Now, live as though you are forgiven. This may take a while. It may take a lifetime but as you grow into your forgiveness, at the same time, forgive so that all may know of the power of God and the Gospel of Christ for yourselves well as for others.

Daily we die to sin, daily we rise to new life in Christ. This is how we are to live Baptized lives. You see, in the Gospel context we are the forgiven forgivers. This is the first sign we have hold of eternal life.

By the way, when you go fishing you may sit there hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and you won’t get so much as a nibble. When the warmer weather comes back and I take my evening walk, all the fisherfolk are down by Red Rock Park in Lynn where I live, and there they are hour after hour, day after day. To me, this is utterly boring, but not to the fisherfolk. One day I found out why. Suddenly there it was; “Fish on!”. It took three big men to haul this huge codfish in, and what excitement it caused. It was all worthwhile!

“Everybody’s coming over to my place for dinner tonight", said the fisherman.  "Everybody’s coming over to my place for the next week. There is enough fish here to feed everybody as much as they want for days on end!”

This is how it is with the Gospel. It may take days, weeks, months, years before you get a nibble, but when you finally hook one for Jesus, and by that, I mean when you save somebody from the brink of disaster, what joy there is in heaven and on earth. Then we summon everybody to Gods table. There is plenty for us all to eat and we feast on the power of Jesus’s resurrection. This is what makes it all worthwhile!

Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again

Love God
Love one another
Love yourself.

And finally, what does God give you in the Gospel life?
Eternal life
And joy without measure.

Depression, the pandemic disease of our time is gone. All the darkness is gone now when we take the Gospel into our own lives and when we bring others into the knowledge and love of God and one another. 

So now, I want you to go fishing.
Jesus wants you to go fishing. 
All the fish in the sea, by the way! The Baptismal Covenant requires of us that we respect the dignity of every human being. All the folk on the planet without regard to race,, class, gender, orientation, or national origin.
This above all rejoices the heart of God. This is eternal life as God would have us live it.
This above all brings joy to all our hearts that you bring yourself and someone else to the knowledge and love of God.
Lets go fishing!

In the Name of God the Most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity. Amen.

Fr Paul.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Donald Putin Epiphany

A Donald Putin Epiphany

As the story goes, the Holy Family went up to Bethlehem to be taxed by the rich folks. I wonder if those rich folks paid their taxes then any more than rich folks pay their taxes now? Then an unwed mother gave birth to a poor homeless Child at a very dark and cold time of year. Twelve days later, Wise Men from the East came to the Child and gave him gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. 

Cradle to grave gifts those were! A generosity to last a lifetime!

As I thought about these gifts I wondered about the Donald Putin Oligarchy and what kinds of gifts they were bringing to the poor, homeless, refugee children of today? When the Holy Child grew up he healed the sick we're told. I wonder about the kind of health care poor children will receive now at the hands of the Donald Putin Oligarchy. For the poor and the elderly I wondered; what of Medicare and Medicaid? Or even Social Security? 

I had an Epiphany! The Donal Putin Oligarchs will not be bringing their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the Holy Child or any other poor Children this year. Rather, they will be taking away what little the Holy Children young and old have managed to eek out. 

Truth be told, the Donald Putin Oligarchs are waging war against the poor and creating armies of unwanted refugees. 

The Holy Mother of all these Holy Children has been revered down through the ages by people of faith. In a perversion of that reverence, the Donald Putin Oligarchy regards women with repugnant obscenity.

Let the Bright Light of the Star The Wise Men followed shine on the Donald Putin Oligarchs. People of faith are called to resist the Donald Putin Oligarchs.

People of Faith in Judaism, Christianity and Islam are under a moral mandate to Tithe to the poor. 
In a perversion of that generosity The Donal Putin Oligarchs will steal from the poor rather than give any gifts at all.

The Psalmist sings this song on the Feast Day of the Epiphany when God's love shines forth to all the nations of the earth; 

"All kings shall bow down before him, *
and all the nations do him service.
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *
and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.""
~Psalm 72

This is not the song I hear from the Donald Putin Oligarchy. 

Fr Paul, just a simple parish priest. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Holy Name

The Holy Name

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Name, what we used to call the Feast Day of the Circumcision. It is the day when Mary and Joseph brought their new born baby to the Temple and there he was marked in his flesh as God's own child forever in the tradition of Judaism then and now. He was given the holy name "Jesus" as instructed by the angel. For us and for all down through the ages, his Name is holy.

Years ago while working in community organizing circles in Hyde Park and Roslindale, I happened to meet a Greek fellow who had come from the old country. We introduced ourselves to one another, and I discovered that he had once served as a shepherd when he was younger and lived in Greece. A shepherd in the city of Boston! It was the first and last time I have met a real life shepherd in any city I've worked. It occurred to me that this would be a wonderful opportunity to do some good theological research. 

So I asked him; “What does it take to be a good shepherd?”.
He replied almost instantly in a thick Greek accent; “Three things; First you gotta know each da sheeps’ names. Den you gotta have dogs. You can’t do de job witout you got dogs. Den, sometimes when dey steps outa line you gotta whacken de sheeps upside de head, wit de shepherd’s crook.”

What I had hoped for by way of good theology was in fact good practical advice for a parish priest. You have to know each of your parishioners by name. But to know a name will not be enough, you will have to come to know the person behind the name, the essence of who they are, and you must care deeply for them. Secondly, you cannot do the job alone, and so while dogs won’t help you much, you will need to recruit, vestry, altar guild, ushers, musicians, youth, men and women’s groups and all leaders for all sorts of ministries to make a congregation vital and viable. And thirdly, there will come times when folks will step out of line, their behaviors will become irrational and you will simply have to whack some sense into them with a well placed word or two. I have found the good Greek shepherd’s advice helpful over the years.

This is how it all begins. First and foremost with a name. When you were born you were given a name. In fact, we often pick out the names of our children even before they are born. We bring them to the church for the formal “Christening” a nice old English word that means to be “Christ named”. We are, in fact, Baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In our Baptism, we are buried with Jesus in a death like his so that we may rise again with Jesus in a resurrection like his. That means to us that as Jesus’ Name is Holy so is yours. Not only is your name holy but so are you. All that you are, all that you have been and all that you ever will be; you are Holy.

The Lord instructed Moses in today’s first lesson to have Aaron bless the Israelites in God's Name. The Biblical scholars call this the “Aaronic Blessing” because it is the one Aaron and all the priests shall pronounce to God’s people down through the ages:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

It is in God's holy name that you are blessed therefore you become holy and you are to treat one another as holy. You are not to ridicule others, or bully them around nor are you to oppress them. The people of God are holy. You are to be a light to the Nations so that they may see the good you do and become holy along with you. 

The holiness code is built into the Law of Moses, because the Law of Moses is the Law of God. “Be holy as God is Holy, says the Lord God” ~Leviticus 20:26. This is why God has chosen us to be his people. So that all nations shall be blessed by the Holy Name.

In the beginning we were created out of the dust of the earth to be holy for God. When God formed us out of the dust he breathed into us the very breath of life. We became living beings. We became something holy and beautiful for God~Genesis 2:7.

And when Moses came to the Burning Bush, God spoke to him and said; “Moses take the shoes from off you feet for the ground on which you are standing is holy ground”. Then in this sacred and holy encounter God spoke and said that he had seen the misery of his people. And then Moses trembled before God as he said “God down and tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.” This is the essence of who God is; God has seen the misery of his people. ~Exodus 3.

When I read this passage I think of the misery of our poor, our young, our sick, and those cast out and rejected by the many. Whether in our inner cities or rural areas it is the same problem. For our youth if they are without work many will turn to violence, gangs and drugs and the vicious cycle continues. Yes, God says not just to Moses thousands of years ago but to us now; “I have seen the misery of my people”. God spoke to Lincoln and said "Let my people go." God spoke to Gandhi and said, "Set my people free." God spoke to Martin Luther King and said, "Bring my people Civil Rights". 
“Go down Moses and tell old Pharaoh, let my people go.” What now? Perhaps give my children jobs. The essence of the Holy Name of God; “I have seen the misery of my people” 

Did Mary not sing as much in her sacred song of the Holy Name?
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name
   he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly; 
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty. 
   ~Luke 1:46-55

The Wise Men gave Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the Christ Child, because God had seen the misery of that poor Child and all poor children. If the rich and powerful do not do so willingly, God will require their wealth and take it from them in another way.

Moses asks God; “What is your Name so that I can tell the people who it is that is saying all this?. How can I persuade them that it is You who speaks to me?
God then spoke to Moses and said tell them that “I AM WHO I AM” has spoken to you. If you study the Hebrew and try to understand what happened in that encounter with God, you will discover that God is something more than a copula verb “To Be”. God is Being itself. God is who God is, who God was, and God is whoever God will be forever. God is our Creator and so much more. God brings to pass what God requires of all humankind. And when God spoke to Moses and said that he had seen the misery of his people, God meant business. God was going to plunge himself into human history in such a way as to bring us up out of Egypt as slaves and into the Promised Land of God’s freedom. 
This is God’s Name; “I have seen the misery of my people and I want you to go down to Pharaoh and say; ‘Let my people go!”

God’s Holy Name is much more dynamic than anything we can imagine. God’s holiness will find itself in the midst of human history to bring us Peace with Justice. If the rich and powerful believe that they have amassed their wealth and power because of what they themselves have done, I have news for them. God will speak and God’s will be done. They are in for a rude awakening.

You and I must not bow down and worship Golden Idols that King Nebuchadnezzar has erected for us to worship. You will not fall down and worship any king no matter how rich and powerful, no matter how much he or she may bully you around. You know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow down and worship the golden idol. And they were thrown into the fiery furnace. But God delivered them and they sang the song of God unharmed in the fiery furnace. 

Folks we are in for it. King Nebuchadnezzar or whatever his name is now, will test us in the fiery ordeal which we must now endure. We shall not cower in fear to Pharoah, the Emperor, the King, the Dictator or any other human being. No indeed. We shall sing the songs of God and we shall not only endure, we shall prevail.

This is because the Name of God is “I have seen the misery of my people”. And God will send Moses, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King or all the above. And we shall say to old what’s his name; “Let my people go!”

Sometimes we may wonder, who are we that God should take a moment’s thought for us? The Psalmist asked that question more than 2500 years ago. Look up to heaven and take a good look at the stars at night and listen to these magnificent words from today’s Psalm. 
1 O Lord our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!
4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?
6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;
10 O Lord our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Our worship and our service to the Holy Name of Jesus is far more than reading old stories from a Bible in church and making our communion Sunday by Sunday. 

If God told Moses to go head to head with Pharaoh who do you think we should be going head to head with to stop the misery of God’s people? 

The poverty, the sickness, the homelessness, the war, the refugee crisis, the persecution of the outcast and the marginalized, the lepers, the prostitutes and the rejects. God has seen the misery of his people. And Jesus loves them all.
Jesus loves us all.

Who do you think God requires us to go to? 
Moses went to Pharaoh.
Jesus went up to Jerusalem and he turned over the tables of the money changers.
Now who do you think God wants us to go face to face with?
Do you think God is pleased that the rich just get richer and the poor get poorer?
Do you think it pleases God that you and I pay our taxes, but that the rich, the super rich and the multi national corporations pay nothing at all. Where is the justice in that? 

The Holy Name of Jesus means more than two syllables. As your name means so much more than a few letters in the alphabet so too Jesus is so much more to us. Jesus comes alive to us in the Sacred and Holy Name of who he is for us all. You know who he is; and you know what he said:
 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Holy Name means “I have seen the misery of my people”. Therefore organize yourselves church. Then we shall go down together and tell old pharaoh; “Let my people go”. 

In the Name of God the most Holy, Undivided and Everlasting Trinity. Amen.
Fr Paul

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Thine is the Parlor!

Thine is the Parlor!

We began our journey together two weeks ago during this Advent season thinking about God's Winnowing Fork. Last week, you may remember, I shared some thoughts with you about being "Grounded in God". This week let us remember what we can of those first moments we had with God back whe we were much younger. My thoughts go to the front parlor in our modest working class home in Somerville.

The front room was saved for special. My grandmother called it the parlor. The “divan" and the overstuffed chair in the corner were covered except for company. They needed to be protected for special, especially the chair in the corner.  We were not allowed to sit there.

When the Minister came to our home that one unforgettable time, we hastily prepared the parlor and of course, the covers were quickly removed. Soon the kettle was pipin’ hot, the biscuits and baked goods were fresh out of the oven and smelling of savory goodness. It was such an honor for us to have him come to our home. He sat of course in the corner chair and spoke to us one at a time and then he came to me. He asked me to come to him, sat me up on his knee and he said; “And you, young man, how are you doing?” I’ve never forgotten it.

It was as if God had spoken to me. 
It was as if God cared how I felt. 
I was filled with awe.

When we said that special prayer in church, you know, the one Jesus taught us, it was before I could read or write, but I knew the prayer by heart nonetheless. I prayed what I heard. When we came to that magnificent doxology at the conclusion of the prayer, I said it with reverence along with the others, “for thine is the kingdom, and the parlor, and the glory.” Yes, I said “parlor”. That's what I heard when the others said it and it made sense to me. The parlor is such a very special place. For it was in the parlor that the Priest took me up on his knee to ask how I was. It was as if I had been touched by the hand of God.

You can imagine my disappointment when I learned to read and discovered that the word was “power” and not “parlor”. Good heavens, what a letdown. To me the kingdom of God must be a very special place like our parlor where God sat enthroned in his overstuffed chair in the corner. Imagine such a special place! This is still how I dream of God. 

When our collect for this day says “purify our conscience by thy daily visitation”, that makes sense to me.  (~Book of Common Prayer page 212).  It goes on to say "when Jesus comes to us may he find in us a 'mansion' prepared for himself". That makes perfect sense too!  May we make our souls pure and ready for him just like we do our parlor in Somerville, or your parlor in Dorchester.

The human soul is the perfect dwelling place for God. St Augustine tells us that the human soul cannot come to rest until it comes to rest in God. We are to be more than a parlor. We are to be a "mansion" prepared for him so that by that by God’s daily visitation we may be made pure. 

“In my Father’s house there are many Mansions” aren’t there! That’s what John’s Gospel proclaims in fourteenth chapter. Isn’t it a glorious thing to know that Jesus visits us every single day and not just when the Priest finds time in his or her busy schedule to stop by for a cup of tea and fresh baked biscuits. 

This business of God’s daily visitation makes of us, each one of us, something holy, something beautiful for God. We may or may not be so beautiful to the human eye, especially in my case; but in the eyes of God we are a magnificent work of art! You and I are in God’s Museum of Fine Art just over there on Huntington Avenue in the Fenway! It is as if Jesus has all the time in the world to take us each one of us on his knee to ask; “And you, how are you today?”

Truth be told, some days I have to confess the truth; “Not so good Jesus”. There is much sadness in this world. There is injustice. We see our loved ones suffer and then taken from us. The tears pour from our eyes. Our hearts are broken so many times. Often, we see our hopes dashed by the cruelty of history. We see the poor ground up by oppression. The greed of injustice seems to reign even in this land. We are supposedly dedicated to “freedom and justice for all”. The pledge of allegiance we make in our schools is for all. Why then is it that so often it seems to apply only to some?  Sometimes we simply have to tell Jesus the truth, “You want to know how I’m doing? Not so good, Jesus. Not so good.” Today the Psalmist puts it this way (Psalm 80, BCP page 702);
“5 You have fed us with the bread of tears; *
you have given us bowls of tears to drink.
6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors, *
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.”

But God will not abandon us will he? The Prophet comes into our midst and reminds us that God is with us. Using unforgettable imagery, Isaiah tells us today; “God will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Immanuel; that means God is with us. It is as though God were to come right smack dab into the front parlor of our souls. The souls we have prepared for him. He comes in and sits down in that overstuffed chair by his daily visitation. He calls us each by name and sits us right up on his knee and says; “How are you, Child?” “Don’t forget, I love you?” “Let me wipe the tears from your eyes.”

Yes, “Thine is the kingdom and the parlor, and the Glory for ever and ever. Amen” When we become discouraged by reading the newspapers or watching the news, and by God, that can be down right depressing, God comes to us not just as a Child but as a Teacher, a Healer and as one whose Victory on the Cross conquers all sin and all death. 

Plus, I have news for all those who think theirs is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Boy, do they have a rude awakening coming! I’m sure that Caesar Augustus and Herod thought that theirs was the kingdom and the power and the glory, didn’t they? That dark and dangerous world was the same world the Christ Child was born into. Born of a human mother, in a rude little manger, with cows and sheep gathered about. There was no fancy parlor for our Jesus even of the sort we had growing up in Somerville or Dorchester. He had nothing, except for the gifts that were brought to him from the Arabian East. Talk about foreigners!

As he grew up he healed the sick, he cured the lame, he ate with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. He didn’t shy away from the lepers or any outcasts of the day. He even preached to the Good News to the detested Samaritan foreigner. He preached good news to the poor. He spoke truth to the powerful; particularly the biblical literalists the day; Pharisees, Sadducees and the Doctors of the Law. He raised the dead to life and even forgave the sins of many including the woman caught in the very act of adultery. Then, most difficult of all, he told us to love our enemies.

He changed the world, this Jesus did. And so did his followers. The power of his Gospel has reached from that time to this. All the way around the world. His love, his forgiveness, compassion and reconciling power, has embedded itself in the human heart all around the world. The Word of God endures and spreads unabated. 

And where is Caesar now? Or Herod. Isn't it interesting, by the way, that Jesus picked that part of the world to be born, live and die. Rome came and went. So have the Barbarians, Iconoclasts and terrorists of the day. The Carolingians, The Ottomans and The Western Colonial Empires and everything in between. They've all come and gone. Hitler’s heinous hatred and all other hateful ones before and since where are they? 

What of this country? God help us! Have we seen a rise in hatred in recent years in this country? Have we seen the rise of prejudice and fear? The tired old divisions never go away do they? Fears based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender and orientation never go away. In spite of the fact that we have grown up in a land that has taught us to celebrate our diversity, somehow the old fears, the old hatreds rear their ugliness once again and especially during the recent election. 

I hate to be the one to break it to any who set themselves up in power based on hateful speech, but they’ve sewn their own ruin right within the infection of their own hearts. Not to name names of course! But hear this; theirs in not the kingdom, the power and theirs is certainly not the glory.  The more they try to grasp onto their kingdoms, their powers and their supposed glory, the more it slips through their fingers like sand. 

We’ve seen what happens to that pitiful and hateful young man whose violence left death in the wake of his assaults at a bible study in South Carolina. His hatred merely returned back upon himself. Those he tried to terrorize, turned their fear back toward him with the love of God, the power of Christ's forgiveness and the reconciling power of The Holy Spirit. The pitiful one takes his hatred with him to his eternal reward. How sad for him.

As for those who build their power on arrogance, bullying, fear and hatred; they will also have their day. I'm here to tell you, God will have his day too. Jesus said; "By their fruits you will know them!" 

I will not be silent at a time of hatred. I've heard the those ringing words of Martin Luther King too many times to be silent in a time of deep darkness. We must all double down on the work that lies ahead of us to stay true to God's high calling to be faithful; 
Just a few of the things he said...just as a refresher for me at least if not for all of us. I'm sure you are familiar with so many of his words.
For instance;
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that." 
Here's a few that strike close to my heart;
"There comes a time when silence is betrayal." 
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." 
This one I love;
"Only in the darkness can you see the stars."

What we are to do just now may not be clear. That clarity will emerge as we move forward, but forward we must move. Again Martin Luther King said;
"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."
And this;
"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." 

The Gospel tells us that in this dark world of sin a savior is born. In the darkest time of the year, in darkest times of human history, hatred and violence, God will come and dwell among us. He will be born in your hearts again. That’s what Christmas is for. Love came down at Christmas. 
And love trumps hatred all down through human history.
(The word "trump" as used here is a verb not a proper name. Parenthetically, there is nothing 'proper' about that name!)

Empires come, empires go, but the Word of our God endures forever. "For the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have beheld his glory, the glory as of the only Begotten Son of God." ~John 3:16. 
"For thine is the Kingdom, and the parlor, and the Glory", as I used to say it as a child.
But then I was corrected, and rightly so.
"For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory for ever and ever." Amen.

In the Name of God, the Most Holy, Undivided, and Everlasting Trinity. Amen.

Fr Paul