Remember You Always Walk With God 12-16-2018

December 15th, 2018

A few weeks before Christmas, a woman who lived in a New York apartment building found a greeting card taped to her door. “Merry Christmas from the custodial staff”, it said.
“How nice”, she said to herself and promptly forgot about it. A week later she came home to find another card taped to her door. It was the same message, “Merry Christmas from the custodial staff”. But this time stamped right in the middle in big red letters, were the words, “Second Notice”!
Many of us are terribly forgetful. We immerse ourselves in our daily tasks of life as we must-we can forget almost anything: birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, our bank balance, our glasses. You name it, we forget it. We make lists so we won’t forget and then we forget the list.
But our forgetfulness isn’t limited just to the little things. We forget the big things as well; who our real friends are, what really matters in life, who loves us, who needs us, what we were made for. We just forget.
I believe that is why we need to gather here – week after week; to help each other remember who we are, remember what really matters, and remember that we aren’t walking this long road alone. We’re walking it with the Lord who is right at our side.
And what is this Lord like who walks at our side? Does God walk with us as a critic? A police officer? A judge? Or maybe just an impartial observer? In fact the Lord is none of the above.
The Lord walks with us as a partner and mentor who wants to see us succeed and who understands that it’s going to take us a while. Now what more could we ask? How can we not celebrate and rejoice as today’s liturgy urges us. How can we not be confident and hopeful and put all fears behind us. After all, God is with us and for us!
And there’s still more. Having God walking with us as partner and mentor gives us the opportunity to be in close conversation hourly. With simple words like, “Well, Lord, what do you think about this?” Or, “Lord can you help me see this clearly?” Or simply, “Help, Lord, I can’t do this one alone.” Those are the kinds of words that partners and friends speak very often.
All of that is what we have to come together here to remember. First, remember to rejoice and forget all your fears because God is with us. And second, remember to listen to and talk to God about the real stuff of our lives because God cares more than anyone else…and God knows the way home.
I would like to close by sharing with you my idea of what God’s special Christmas card would say to each one of us;
“Remember what you’ve seen me do”, says Jesus. “…the blind see, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, and dead men raised to life”. If you’ll let me, I’ll do the same for you”, he says. “I’ll heal what is sick in your spirit, if you’ll let me”.
“I’ll open your eyes and your ears so that you’ll know what really matters so you’ll know that happiness and peace are available to you everyday, even on the worst days. I’ll show you that and let you experience that, if you’ll let me.
“I will not insulate you from adversity, challenge, or pain. But I will always see you through them, and never let you come to ultimate harm. I’ll take you by the hand, and raise you up; I’ll help you to walk and I’ll walk with you until your journey is complete, if you’ll let me.
“All that is my promise to you, my solemn pledge. And I will not take it back”, says the Lord. We have a lot to rejoice about today! Don’t we!!

Road Builders 12-9-2018

December 8th, 2018

The little boy is scheduled for surgery the following morning. He is understandably scared. Late that night before the procedure, a nurse comes in to check on him. He is awake. Seeing the tears in his eyes, she sits on the corner of his bed and lets him talk about his fears. She explains not only what will happen but why. She answers his questions with honesty and assurance. After a while, the little boy understands. He’s still anxious, but the road is now a little smoother…
He’d be perfect for the sales opening. He has been invited in for an interview with the sales manager. Before the meeting he calls a friend who works in human resources. The friend tells him what he knows about this company and their culture and what they typically look for in sales associates. They study the company’s website together and the HR pro points out what to note about the company and what to talk up in the interview. He also helps his friend update and tune-up his resume. By the end of their time together, he’s ready for his meeting and a possible new beginning on the road of his life…
She was working on her psychology paper when she got the call from her mom. Her beloved Nana had died. Though not a complete surprise, she was still devastated. Her roommate made coffee and took her up to the dorm roof, where they sat and talked. Actually, she talked and the roommate listened. The roommate knew what she was going through because the roommate had lost her grandmother the year before. Her roommate’s empathy helped her negotiate, for the first time in her young life, the hard journey down the road of grief…
I would like to leave you with this thought: John the Baptist, that we hear so much about this week and next, came to fulfill Isaiah’s vision of the prophet: to “make straight” a highway to God, to create a level road for all of us to travel to the kingdom of God. We may have forgotten this, but because of our baptism, we take on that same role of prophet 2018 to create passageways and entries of hope, healing and support for all of us to complete our journey on the road to God’s dwelling place. Road builders: the nurse, the human resources friend, the roommate, every one of us sitting in this church today. Road builders to God!

The Best I Could With What I Have 12-2-2018

December 1st, 2018

I saw a movie once where there was a man being pulled in 2 different directions. One arm being pulled by an angel in a white outfit with wings. The other arm pulled by a devil all equipped with a red outfit and horns. “Do this,” one would say. “No do not, do that,” the other would shout. The guys head was spinning and spinning.
I feel like this guy when I start thinking about Advent and Christmas. Bring up 3 people to help demonstrate being pulled apart.
A. On one side the Church is pulling, reminding me it is Advent again. Blue vestments, Advent wreaths, four candles, and special environment. A time of patient waiting. Special preparations for the Re-birth of Jesus in our life. All good stuff.
B. On the other side, Christmas carols 2 days after Thanksgiving, advertisements everywhere, “buy this, buy now, pay later”, Christmas decorations and parties and Santa Clauses everywhere. It is like we skipped from Thanksgiving to Christmas in one day. Being pulled apart.
I know for me I want to use the next 3 or 4 weeks, we call Advent, to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to be more aware of where Christ is present in my everyday life.
I also know I will get caught up in the Christmas frenzy. That will be ok and a lot of fun. With that being said, I want Christmas to be different this year.
I remember one Christmas a few years back that was very different for me. My perspective was changed by an automobile accident. 5 innocent and unsuspecting people were killed in a head-on collision. (Snap fingers) It shook me and many others. I thought to myself, “that could have been me”. “That is the same road I travel to go see my mom.” It could have been me. This experience caused me to ask myself some significant questions. Maybe I need to ask them again during Advent 2018? Perhaps you could ask them to yourself?
1. Has my life on the earth made a difference for the better?
2. Am I doing the best I can to develop and share the gifts and talents God has given me?
3. What are my priorities? Are God and my family in the top 3?
4. Are there relationships or some area of my life that needs healing? Needs to change for the better?
5. The final question. Do I need to forgive someone? Do I need to forgive myself? Do I believe God could never forgive me?
Pick one or two of these questions and spend a few minutes thinking about your answers. Be honest. Ask God to help you make the changes you need to make now! Those few minutes might be the best way to make Christmas different this year. Pray for me as I try to do this and I will pray for you.