Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Christmas!

In my mind’s eve Christmas is always perfect. 

I picture a large fireplace, stockings hung on the mantle, a Christmas tree with an abundance of presents, and a large happy family filled with laughter and joy on Christmas Eve and when morning dawns. One surprise after another announces how thoughtful and loving we all are of each other.

Many of us seek to create Christmas after the images we have in our minds’ eye of what this holy time means to us. 

But then there comes reality, perhaps what Christmas has become will be just a bit different for many of us. Many of the family we celebrated with in those days are no longer with us. Thankfully, we tend to forget the hurt and the conflict that left us out of communion with one another. Some of us will be alone. There is fear and poverty, and a few too many dislike others for one reason or another. I do wish Christmas could be perfect like it is in my mind’s eye. But, truth be told, Christmas is real.

There was one Christmas that was both perfect and real!

Especially real and absolutely perfect was that first Christmas, we read about it in the tonight’s Gospel. Our homes are warm, but in that holiest of holy places, there were barnyard animals, and God’s greatest Gift to the world was placed on a bed of hay where these same animals eat. That’s what the word “manger’ means after all. In French the word “manger” means “to eat”. In Italian “mange, mange” means “eat, eat!”. 

There was no room for this Child and his family in any local Inn where it might be cozy and warm. There were no hospitals, no midwives to minister to the Mother of God. Still they huddled close for warmth. Bethlehem gets cold at this time of year. It can even snow there. I would not be the bit least surprised if God’s living beings could see their breath on this most holy night. 

Included in the reality of this Holy Family is the fact that Mary and Joseph were “engaged” or “betrothed” as the Old English would have it. Jesus was born to us without the benefit of wedlock. Matthew’s Gospel records Joseph’s concerns about our Lady’s honor. But then the dream that came to him reassured Joseph of God’s decision to make this birth the instrument of God somehow becoming Flesh and Blood among us. (~Matthew 1:1-23)

Whatever the case, they had to make haste and get to the city of Joseph’s “house and lineage” where he could be recorded for the census. Nothing but death is more certain and real than taxes! And so it was that this family of modest means made their way by night to the little town of Bethlehem. 

We are told that the journey was a dangerous one. There was Herod and his murderous threats. The Family travelled by night. A star appeared to guide them on their way. And then, in the fullness of time the Child was born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes to keep him as warm as she could. She held him close to bond her love to his. No matter how deeply we dig down into the Mystery of this birth narrative we cannot help but be filled with the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace of Christmas The vision of that Mother and Child has moved the world then and since to the Gospel of Jesus; his life, death, and resurrection, and his victory over sin and death.

The angels sang when they told the shepherds of the news. They too made haste to see this thing that had come to pass. And so it was that all of heaven and earth would sing. 

In my mind’s eye, this is really where my gaze comes to rest. Not so much in the comfort and warmth of my own home but in the reality and perfection of God’s coming to us in the Word of God made flesh and blood in Jesus. 

I think it right that he would be born in a “manger” where the animals could not help but take a taste of hay. Very likely Mary and Joseph would gladly feed them. After all, the animals were hungry too. And Mary and Joseph being grateful for this humble place to birth a child, would only be too happy to share what little they had with the animals who gave them what warmth they could generate.

Christmas makes us all hungry for good things to eat. My grandmother’s squash pie, I can almost smell it still! The oven bursting with turkey, the turkey bursting with stuffing and all the fixings. The dishes laden with food. The family gathered passing it all around, and me stuffing my plate   and my stomach beyond its capacity to hold it all. The memory is all so holy.

And then the long and luxurious afternoons where the women played cards and gossiped in the kitchen and the men would sleep in the parlor. My brother Bobby and I playing with trucks or troops and when there was a loud noise which there was bound to be, one of the uncles would growl at us to be quiet. We’d snicker and comply for a bit. But then it would happen all over again. It was Christmas!

This was all a long time ago for me. But many more will rehearse the family traditions all over again this year. Others celebrate Christmas in their own peculiar and unique way. But it all began a very long time ago when the greatest gift of all was given on one very silent and holy night far, far away. 

And my soul sings with joy to this old world because of what I remember in profound gratitude for the life God gives me and the family that made me who I am. 

And tonight God’s Table is laden with good things to eat. Perhaps it only looks like a little wafer broken by an old semi-retired priest and a cup of ordinary wine. But we gather too around this table and hold out our hands to receive this Child born anew tonight in our souls. 

This Bread and this Wine is more than all our Christmas Tables put end to end from one generation to another for as long as humankind has feasted in all our holidays rolled up into one. This is God’s very Banquet Table. And all of us, from the first days of our redemption until now and yet to come are welcome and invited! 

This Bread and this Wine we receive tonight was born in a manger a long time ago and far away. He fills us with good things, his very life born for us in flesh and blood like everything that is real about him and us. Jesus fills us with Eternal Life.

My soul sings with joy to this old world because of what I know of this little Child and his mother dear. For Joseph, the carpenter, and the donkey standing near. The cattle lowing and the rooster crowing. 
And the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The Perfect Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

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

Fr Paul

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Crash Landing

A Crash Landing!

Forty six years ago today I was ordained a priest of the Church at St. Luke's, Malden, alas a congregation no longer with us. It was snowing to beat the band that day. My buddy Graham drove in safely from Detroit, but the Bishop got stuck in a snow bank in Newton. Bob Legon ran out of music to play on the pipe organ so he was playing "Moonlight and Roses" by the time Bishop Burgess arrived. He was the first Black Bishop in the Episcopal Church, and I asked Kitty Rippy to sing "Precious Lord". Tony Garratt Reed was there and he and later his family were to become life long friends. And so I greet this Gaudete Sunday with Rejoicing.

No sooner do I say that but we coming crash landing into the ferocious words of John the Baptist with his “in your face” confrontational style; “You brood of vipers!” His way of calling us a bunch of snakes in the grass. Now, that’s a fine how do you do!

Compare and contrast that with the tone we hear in today’s other Scriptures. We hear of Joy as we light the Rose Candle on our Advent Wreath. This is why we call the day Gaudete Sunday…the word “Gaudete” means “Rejoice”.

The prophet Zephaniah writes of Joy;
“Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you”

In the Canticle we sing of Joy;
“Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One.”

Similarly Paul in his letter to the Christian folk in Philippi writes; 
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” 

But then the collect of the day says; “Stir up your power, and with great might come among us, and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, come speedily to deliver us.”

The Joy of Advent, the Rejoicing with which we greet this day, is in stark contrast to the reality of our sin. 

There is much suffering and sorrow still. God knows violence, injustice, and oppression are always and everywhere. So it was when John came to announce the Advent of Jesus. 

And he rightly confronted the powers of darkness within us; he knew we are sorely hindered by our sins; “You brood of vipers”; he called us. Ouch!

John uses harsh language and dire warnings to catch the attention of his listeners. We may need to be shaken up a bit out of our complacency. Then, just a jarringly, what he asks of us is really quite reasonable; all he asks of us is “be generous and honest”
If you have more clothing or food than you need, share.
Tax collectors, be fair.
Soldiers, no threats or extortion, be happy with a fair wage. 

Mind you, we are indeed sorely hindered by our sins, and we often find ourselves spinning our wheels while the world spins on in its own sinful circles. 

How do we indeed allow God’s Grace to speedily come to our aid so that we may become agents of God’s loving justice and compassion?

The first thing John reminds us of is that we cannot leave it up to God to do it all alone. We are God’s ambassadors. If there is to be peace with justice we will have to be the ones to make it so. If there is to be a cessation of violence, it will be up to us. There are still many hearts to be changed before Peace can reign supreme and secure in the human heart.

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. That day 26 innocent children lost their lives. Many of us vowed, never again. But since that day there have been 1919 more mass shootings. (By way of reference, here is a listing of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history. 

Like the kids in Parkland, Florida I don’t want prayer any more. What I want is to protect our children, our young people, ourselves. I want action. Congress has taken none. Many states have begun a patchwork of laws to help curb gun violence. But we alone among western democracies have yet to develop a robust regulatory regimen to stem the tide of gun violence. 

I suppose if I say too much on the subject, I may have my head handed me on a platter, much like John the Baptist did when he raised his voice at the Advent of Jesus.

In the meantime all I would ask for is the application of the Second Amendment themselves which begins with the words; “A well regulated militia…” There, that’s all I’m asking for…”a well regulated militia”. 

Alas, in our public discourse, we are not likely to engage in conversation about all this without tempers flaring. We are not a skilled people when it comes to the art of conversation. We are more adept at confrontation, much like John himself. We tend to engage in name calling. 

What makes me rejoice is the Advent of Jesus. Jesus is the One who will sit down with us first and spend hours listening. His teaching comes later. He listens first to his own inner demons in the wilderness forty days and forty nights. Then he listens to the heartache of the sick, and the poor, the bereaved, the mentally ill, and the outcast. It is with these that his love and healing touch begins. 

Only then does Jesus teach. And his sermons are filled with Blessings and Beatitudes. He proclaims a message of Peace that strikes to the heart of our deepest yearnings.

A yearning for forgiveness, love, and reconciliation. These are the most powerful words in the human heart, but they are also the most difficult to achieve. Forgiveness, love and reconciliation are experiences that only Jesus seems to master. If only we could do as Jesus does. 

All across the world, in our families, our communities, our politics, there are so many divisions, Jesus asks us; “love one another”. Race, class, nationality, gender, orientation and so on, “forgive one another”. When God sees the world there are no borders, no walls. We are all one. You’ve seen the satellite images of this fragile earth, our island home; “Be reconciled to one another”.

John may see us as a brood of vipers. But Jesus sees us as a much more lovable lot than that. He delights in us. There are no outcasts for Jesus. No poor. No sick. No Republicans or Democrats. No distinctions whatsoever.

That’s how Jesus is different. There are simply no exceptions. He is not happy until all our sins are forgiven. That’s the mystery of the cross to me. 

Today marks the 46th Anniversary of my ordination as a Parish Priest. I got to thinking about all this not so long ago. All the congregations I’ve served, all the people I’ve known and loved. All the Baptisms, Marriages, Burial; Hospital Visits, Office Visits and the way folks pour out their hearts and souls to me and to God.

And then I wrote these words:

“St. Peter,
Let me make this plain and simple.
"If there's a heaven and somehow I feel sure there's bound to be",
I'm not going into the place until you're all in there first.
All of you.
You are witnesses, today; I’m saying it right out loud in front of God and everybody.
So please...
Love one another.
Forgive one another.
Be reconciled to one another.
That's our work.
I'm not going into heaven until the work is done.
So, please don’t keep me waiting too, too long.
I love you all too much to leave anyone out.
So get busy with the work that has to be done!
I said it.
In black and white.
Hold me back until everyone else is in...
Got that Peter!”

ll I’m saying to you is what Jesus said to us before me. 
“Love one another.” 

This above all else will Rejoice God’s heart.

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

Fr Paul.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Peace, perfect peace

I have never had a dream quite like the one I had the night before last.

It was Wednesday December 12, 2018.
David's 38th birthday and the Feast Day of our Lady of Guadalupe.

Joshua and Lizzie have a difficult decision to make.
It may be that Al's time has come...a time to love him to the end.

We spoke for about an hour on the phone while I drove home from Trinity Church in Haverhill.
Our hearts were breaking as we spoke.

And then that night I slept in peace, perfect peace.

In my dreaming, I stood at Your altar and there was a beautiful linen cloth there with perfect iron folds lovingly, carefully, made pure and clean by devotion and love. Betty from our Altar Guild was there.
Cindy and David were there. Family, my family and God's family gathered all around.
There was the color of Rose. It was a deeper Rose than one would expect for Gaudete Sunday.
It was the Rose of Our Lady.

David and She were most prominent in my dreaming at first.
I seem to remember spreading the Table as Cindy looked on. She smiled.
Michael was there being Michael and that made me smile.

And then I stood at Your Altar.
I continued doing as You would have me do.
I placed the paten on the linen cloth.
It cradled the Priest host and several rice wafers.
I prepared the chalice with wine, and a ceramic cup with juice and sanctified the water with Your blessing.
I spread my hands in prayer and said the words of remembrance.
And there You were. And here You are.
And I did not waken. I slept on in peace, perfect peace.
Fr Paul

Monday, December 10, 2018

God's Difficult People

God’s Difficult People

Kathleen was a difficult person. She sat in the front row with her brother at the 8AM service every week. It was like looking at a picture of American Gothic. All that was missing was the pitchfork. What a way to start off a sunny Sunday morning! I think she disapproved of me. After all, I was Irish. I married an Italian. She arranged her face in every imaginable contortion when I preached. I don’t think she liked what I had to say. Even when I tried saying things I hoped she’d like, she made faces. 

One day in a fit of pique she called me on the phone and told me in a somewhat pompous tone; “In view of Christian Charity, I think we need to agree not to speak to one another.” 
Considering how things were going between us, I managed to say; “My good woman, that’s the first nice thing you said to me since coming to this church!” 

Some time later, she was hospitalized and she was informed by her doctor that she had a very serious heart condition. She had but a short time to live. She was my parishioner, so no matter what, I visited her. When I came into her hospital room, she broke into tears and she poured out her heart to me. We prayed together as she prepared for enter God’s nearer presence.

The day had come, thank God, for forgiveness. 
What does it mean to you to forgive and to be forgiven?
How many times are you to forgive? Seven?
How forgiving are you?
Jesus taught us to pray; “forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The word “forgiveness” takes center stage in the Gospel Proclamation. 

John’s ministry of proclaiming forgiveness occurs at a particular time and place. It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, AD 14-37. Toward the south in Judea, Pontius Pilate was the governor, AD 26-36. Herod was the tetrarch, that is to say a regional overseer in Galilee, an area north of Judea; 4BC—AD39. Further north still, well north of Samaria are Ituraea and Trachonitis, regions ruled by Philip; and then Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene also in the far north. As to the High Priesthood at the time, Annas was succeeded by Caiaphas. Luke makes clear that John’s ministry extended over a period of time, and covers a significant amount of geography. 

John’s ministry was one of proclaiming forgiveness of sin through the waters of Baptism. There were probably difficult folks then too, families had feuds, folks were likely estranged from one another. 

John proclaimed a message of forgiveness to a people who lived under a brutal regime of the aforementioned strong men. It was welcome news and John was much beloved. His was a voice of one crying in the wilderness or so it seemed. So much of the news then must have fallen on jaded and disheartened ears. 

The occupation forces and the repressive tactics of oppression made life cheap then. Many’s the time, coming and going in and out of town, someone would be hung upon a cross to die as a sign to anyone who might dare to question authority.  The power of contemporary dictatorial leadership was absolute. You were not free to question the authorities. 

Democracy was long forgotten from that brief shining moment in Athens when folks were free to debate vigorously and then vote. It would be a long, long time coming before folks were free again. 

Democracy does not come easily. And when it does, it can disappear through an erosion that is hardly perceptible unless people are especially watchful, involved, informed and well educated. So wrote the Founding Fathers of our Democracy. 

But back to John! Imagine meeting John, with his fierce fervor telling you of your place in God’s salvation plan. Imagine him telling you of God’s forgiveness. Imagine John baptizing you in the River Jordan. His message to you was that you were free from the bonds of political violence. Free from hate! Free from feuding pettiness. Free from your own inner demons!

Imagine John telling you; now you are God’s own child. There is a whole new kingdom that belongs to God, and you are a citizen of that kingdom. When you become a citizen of that kingdom you are born again. You are alive forever. 

It was John’s belief that he was sent to announce the coming of Jesus; the Word of God made flesh and blood. He got all excited when he told his followers;
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’"

This is exciting news. The Great Leveler is coming to us. 

How can you contain yourself when you think about it. In the eyes of The Great Leveler there is no rich and poor, slave and free, male or female. There are no outcasts. Whoever you are; no race, ethnicity gender, class, or orientation can separate you from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You are all One in Jesus!

John is the one, who in Salvation History, proclaims the Advent of the new ministry of Jesus.

John was born to Elisabeth. She had been a childless woman, until the Archangel Gabriel announced that God had found favor with her. Zechariah held the new born baby in his arms and exulted in God’s Salvation plan like Hanna had done at the birth of Samuel, and in the way Mary would do at the birth of Jesus. God’s surprises the humble poor with the gift of life because of the goodness they exemplify in this world. Zechariah’s mouth is opened after a long silence, and his tongue is freed to sing; 
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

John was a prophet. He came to warn us about the error of our ways. Life is too short for all the hatred. This is why repentance is at the heart of forgiveness and Baptism. John is God’s messenger. He is like a refiner’s fire, like fuller’s soap. He seeks to purify us and make us clean. 

Ultimately John got himself arrested and beheaded. After all if you proclaim something about a King and a Kingdom, you can make a paranoid schizophrenic Tetrarch very nervous. Talk about difficult persons! Herod and Pilate had no idea of what John and Jesus meant about his Kingdom and his Kingship. How could they? They had no idea of God, repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life. 

But God is our stock and trade. Forgiveness, repentance and eternal life are all mixed into the waters of Baptism where you and I were washed and made pure and clean. 

Forgiveness is a tricky business because it may require facing some rather difficult persons; there may be mental illness, substance abuse,  and hateful, hurtful folk. The truth of the matter is that there are too many difficult personalities in life. Good Lord, we cannot even govern ourselves because of political gridlock. Truth be told, each of us is a difficult person to somebody!

Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with difficult persons in the years since I first encountered Kathleen. 

Listen up sinners! John is still here proclaiming Baptism as the Way to forgiveness. He is still a voice of one crying in the wilderness. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!.”

Empty you hearts and let go the hurt. Breathe in the fullness of God’s sacred silence into your empty lungs. There it is. Don’t wait for the doctor to tell you that you have the very worst kind of heart trouble and you have but a short time to live.

Now is the time to repent and believe! Now is the time to make room in your heart for Jesus. It’s never too late. Kathleen and I found this out a very long time ago. And Kathleen, I pray for you now as I pray for you often. Kathleen, won’t you pray for me too!

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

Fr Paul

Thursday, December 06, 2018

St Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day

What I love about life is the pure simplicity of it all. Here for instance, is the opening sentence of this morning's appointed reading from The First Letter of John.

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
   ~1 John 4:7

Monday, December 03, 2018

Candlelight & Hope

N.B. In Advent Christians light the Advent Wreath. In Hanukkah Jews light the Menorah. Some thoughts about Hope. 

Put on the Armor of Light

The Advent wreath is in place. The Christmas Tree from Halifax, Nova Scotia has arrived and thousands of lights brighten the night sky on the Boston Common. In our evening driving, more and more homes are now decorated for the Christmas Holy Season. Many use the word Holiday, but I like to use the root words; “Holy Day”. That’s because time is holy. Life is holy. God’s Creation is Holy. The days become shorter and shorter as we approach the Winter solstice. It brightens our souls to see Christmas lights brighten our homes. The passing of the Seasons reminds me of the lovely old Sunday School Hymn I learned as a child.

Advent tells us, Christ is near:
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
All the glory of God’s grace.

On those Sundays during Lent
The Bible tells us to repent;
That in Lent we may within
Earnestly confess our sin.

Holy Week and Easter, then,
Tell who died and rose again;
O that happy Easter day!
“Christ is risen indeed,” we say.

Yes, and Christ ascended, too,
To prepare a place for you;
So we give Him special praise,
After those great Fifty Days,

When God sent the Holy Ghost,
On the day of Pentecost,
With us ever to abide:
Well may we keep Whitsuntide!

Last of all, we gladly sing
Glory to our God and king,
Glory to the One in three,
On the Feast of Trinity.
   ~based on words by A Katherine Hankey, 1888

The Church Year so simply and succinctly summarized!

The contrast between the works of darkness and the armor of light is as clear as night and day. We can be children of the darkness or we can be a children of the light. For the sake of our survival and redemption we need to know the difference. As Jesus came to us in a manger, born of a human mother, reared in a home in Nazareth, and ministered to us in Galilee, so we learn to put away the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life. This is what our Advent Collect teaches. In our Baptism we renounce the works of darkness. We turn to the light and embrace the love of God and his righteousness. More and more we become courageous agents of God’s love in a dark world. In our mortal life we embrace the eternal life of God. This is our “end” and our purpose for living. 

The Gospel teaches that the end is always at hand. We just don’t know when, how, where or what. Jesus taught us to be watchful; awake and alert to the facts.  

The signs of the end are all around, and Jesus tells us; “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” It may be the kind of end that references the end of a civilization or an era. We can name some of them like the Classical Civilizations; the Greece and Rome of Jesus. There were the Dark Ages, although we also know that Celtic Civilization flourished at the same time and preserved many of the writings of the ancients. The Renaissance and the Reformation brought a new birth of science, art, and literature and spirituality to life. The effects of the Industrial Revolution are still with us as we move into the Information Age. Nations come and nations go. 

Nature also sees its ends and new beginnings. The process of natural selection and evolution are as inevitable and immutable as any law of nature. Many species go into extinction as the influence of human activity and other influences encroach upon them. We nearly saw the end of the Buffalo and the American Bald Eagle. But with careful intervention, we managed to nurture them back into abundance once again. Not long ago, I read of the return of the American Bald Eagle to the City of Boston in the estuary of the Neponset River. It made my heart rejoice to read of it. In a visit to Yellowstone National Park. Several years back, I saw with my own eyes an abundance of Buffalo, Elk and Antelope. It is a magnificent sight. 

The recent publication of “The Fourth National Climate Assessment” indicates that there is a growing preponderance of evidence of global warming. Melting polar ice caps; and glacial cover in the Himalayas, the Alps, Greenland and Alaska all point to significant and unavoidable change to our planet. We are free to recognize the prophetic utterance and do something about it. Or we may choose to bury our heads in the sand. Your call!

Whether it is personal, natural, political, social or spiritual; the biblical message is clear; The End is At Hand. 

That is only one kind of “end” however. There is another. For what end have you and I been created? What is our “purpose”. What is the “reason” for our being here? 
Life is busy and hectic at this time of year. But unless it is centered in what our purpose in life is, we run the risk of merely running around in circles like a gerbil on a treadmill. Sometimes I wonder about Advent. We tend to gloss over this wonderful season of urgent expectation. The music, the decoration, the celebration are all a wee bit premature. We celebrate the birth of the Child before he gets here, and then after all the hoopla, there is a let down. No sooner than the Christmas Dinner is over, we cannot help but sigh and say; “Oh well, that’s Christmas for another year!” Then the January “doldrums” set in and we find ourselves in a funk.

That’s not what the Church Year teaches. The Sanctification of Time teaches that every moment of your life is worth celebrating. Christmas is a season that is born with a Baby. As you and I both know, the birth of a child is but the beginning of a long story. Even when a child grows into adulthood, you’re not done. And you know it! Sometimes they move right back into the house, and on and on the story goes. 

The Christmas Season extends 12 days out until it bursts forth into glory with the The Season of Epiphany. The Wise Men come to worship, Jesus is Baptized, and then his early ministry emerges. At the conclusion of The Epiphany season, we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus on the Holy Mountain. There is so much life to celebrate.

Our “end” is not a conclusion only. Our “end” is a reason for being. Why has God put you here? With what love, and compassion does God want you to live this life? George H. W. Bush said that he was not afraid of death, he had so much to live for. Good Lord, the man parachuted out of an airplane on his 90th birthday. God rest your soul Mr. President. I’m glad you are back with Barbara!

You and I are set in a world of Darkness and despair. The Season of Advent is born in Hope. The very first candle of our Advent Wreath says so. How can we be present to those who despair? For so many there is no God or Jesus. If there is no God there is no Hope. If there is no Jesus, there is no Redemption. The world needs a People of Hope. That’s where you and I come in. We are the People of the Christian Hope.

The Catechism teaches us; “The Christian Hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world…Jesus does not come in weakness but in power…everlasting life is a new existence in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other.” ~Book of Common Prayer, page 861

I love Advent. Jesus teaches us that the End is near. Jesus will come again! I take that as Good News. My end and yours is to live on purpose for God until our life’s end. This is what gives us Hope. This is what gives the whole world hope. 

Mary and Joseph had a long way to go as they prepared for the Birth of the Holy Child. So too for us. We have a long way to go to Bethlehem. Into the Darkness we go with courage and confidence.  Put on the Armor of Light, now in the Time of this mortal life!

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


Fr Paul