Archive for December, 2016

Christmas 2016 12-25-2016

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

INTRO
A. I remember my first Christmas as a priest – 40 years ago – a small country chapel in the Santa Cruz Mountains (150 people). It was great.

B. I can still picture it – the church was dark – people walked in with candles in their hands. Everyone wanted to light their candles from a special Christmas candle near the altar.

C. As the people came forward they sang familiar carols.
I knew these people – Some had tears in their eyes –
Some of these people had a very hard year…..like some of you may have had this year.
1. a young family who lost a child at birth
2. several families who had gone through a painful divorce
3. a teenage boy who had been battling his drug addition
4. 3 or 4 people who had lost their job
5. a new widow after 50 years of marriage
6. 2 or 3 people diagnosed with cancer
7. on and on – they and many others came…singing, and seeking, the LIGHT of CHRIST.

II As I watched this Christmas procession – I experienced a very holy and powerful moment. These people – regular people like you and me – in that small remote chapel – some way connected with the ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD- THE PROMISE OF GOD……

A. Emmanuel – God with us – and the entire world – in the person and spirit of JESUS – especially where it is darkest in our lives – that amid the human condition – stresses – tragedies – problems – we all face at different times – there is HOPE – no matter how many September 11’s we experience – there is PEACE. There is a LIGHT to lead us to a new day. Our scripture says it best – “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”………THE ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD, EMMANUEL.

III. In this group of people was a wonderful teenager – Tom was a special kid.
Tom was fourteen years old and big for his age – physically. But mentally he was about four-educationally impaired. Nevertheless he had faithfully attended religious education classes for years and knew that Jesus was his Savior and friend.
In the Christmas pageant Tom had only one line. He was the innkeeper, and all he had to say was “There is no room” when Mary and Joseph came to the inn looking for a place to stay.
Tom practiced his line for weeks, until he could open the door, listen to Joseph’s request, and then in a strong voice proclaim “There is no room.”
The night of the pageant came. Everyone was dressed in their authentic costumes. One young girl played the pregnant Mary. Her face was glowing with joy. A lad dressed as Joseph tried to look mature and responsible.
The two came down the aisle of the church and knocked at the door of the “inn.” Tom swung the door open, and on cue responded, “There is no room.”
But at that point Tom didn’t understand that it was a play. As Mary and Joseph turned to walk away, tears ran down his face. Suddenly he called out to them – “Wait! Don’t go! You can have my room!”…….“Wait! Don’t go! You can have my room!”
THE ENDURING PROMISE OF GOD – EMMANUEL WITH US

-God with us in the person of JESUS ……
-God with us in the person of TOM the teenager’s welcoming……
-God with us in the person to your right and left on Christmas 2016….
-God with us in the people of your FAMILY- look at them often and appreciate them. Accept the JESUS in them…Embrace them with Love – Each in your own way – Don’t take them for granted.

IV. Let me close with a beautiful poem because to me it lays out the real challenge of Christmas.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:

“to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers and sister and family,
to make music with the heart.”

I pray we take this challenge to heart. I pray we live it – each in our own way. Merry Christmas 2016!

Impossible 12-18-2016

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

In a lot of homes I’m sure there are certain words we do not allow to be used; vulgar words, bad words.
I was in a home where the mom had an allergy to the word “Hate.” It could be as simple as, “I hate spinach,” or more serious as, “I hate my teacher.” This word would bring a lengthy dissertation about how unhealthy that word was.
There is a word I believe God doesn’t care for. It’s not a swear or a vulgar word; it is an everyday word that people misuse terribly. The word is “IMPOSSIBLE.”
Yesterday we said,
1. It’s impossible for people to fly.
2. It’s impossible to make boats that travel underwater.
3. It’s impossible for someone to walk on the moon.
4. It’s impossible for the Berlin wall to come down.
5. It’s impossible for Russia and the US to ever be friends.
6. It’s impossible for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
Today we say:
1. It’s impossible for the Jews and the Arabs to make peace.
2. It’s impossible to get rid of gang violence.
3. It’s impossible for California to absorb all these new immigrants.
4. It’s impossible to find a cure for AIDS.
5. It’s impossible to create a society where no one goes without basic food and shelter.
6. It’s impossible for Father Ron to lose weight.

God scorns that word and the attitude behind that word, God who alone is wise.
A person might say:
1. It’s impossible for me to get over my grief and move on, especially during the holidays.
2. It’s impossible for me to deal with my addictions.
3. It’s impossible for me to temper my self destructive vice.
4. It’s impossible for me to make peace and develop as a healthy human being.
But today these voices who shout the word “Impossible” are contradicted by an angel flying down from heaven, and the old post menopausal lady swelling with life, and the teenage Virgin Mary with the word of God resting in her womb. These three join together to say: “If it is the will of God, then it’s possible–nothing is impossible with God. Let us remember! Let us Believe!

Make Time To Laugh 12-11-2016

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Many of you have seen the show TV Bloopers, they are hilarious. I have read about newspaper bloopers, how one word can change so much. I would like to share with you some parish bulletin bloopers. I think they are great!
Don’t let worry kill you – Let the Church help.
Thursday Night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
The service will close with “Little Drops of Water.” The cantor will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.
The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

I started my homily this week with these because I have experienced so many people stressed, anxious, grumpy, mostly over getting ready for Christmas. This Sunday (formerly called Guadete Sunday – Rejoice) with its pink candle reminds us that no matter how dark it might be in our lives, that no matter how anxious or grumpy we might feel, for whatever reason, no matter how depressing the world situation might be – the light, the joy of God will never leave us. We need to hold on to this Good News and we need to rejoice today. We need to smile – we need to laugh – right in the face of hard times. Maybe this will help:
The late great humorist, Erma Bombeck, told the story of what happened to her in Church one Sunday…
“I was intent on a small child who was turning around and smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals, or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling.
“Finally his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a littler theater off Broadway said, ‘Stop that Grinning! You’re in Church!’ With that, she gave him a belt and, as the tears rolled down his cheek, she added, ‘That’s better,’ and returned to her prayers. We sing, ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!’ while our faces reflect the sadness of one who has just buried a rich Aunt who left everything to her pregnant hamster.
“Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears, and if your not, than you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear stained face close to me and tell him about My God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us. I wanted to tell him he is an understanding God. One who understands little children who turn around and smile in church, and even curious little children who rummage through their mothers’ handbags. I wanted to tell that little child that I too have taken a few lumps for daring to smile in an otherwise solemn religious setting.
“By tradition, I suppose, one wears Faith with the solemnity of a mourner, the mask of tragedy. What a fool, I thought, this woman sitting next to the only sign of hope – the only miracle – left in our civilization. If that child couldn’t smile in church, where was there left to go?”
Let me close with this: There is an organization of business people who donate their time visiting hospitals – especially children’s hospitals. They go to these hospitals as working “Clowns” – here is a portion of their special prayer:
“Lord, as I stumble through this life, help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged. Never let me forget that I am a clown, that my work is to cheer people up, make them happy, and make them laugh. And in my final moment, may I hear you whisper, ‘When you made my people smile, you made me smile!’”
Finally, when you are going over your gift list, don’t forget these gifts:
1. The gift of laughter
2. The gift of a smile
3. The gift of joy brought on by a phone call, card, or a short visit
4. A sense of healthy humor
5. Giving a gift to ourselves – not to take ourselves too seriously.
With that in mind, what do you get when you cross a praying mantis with a termite? – A bug that says grace before it eats your house.
Thank you. (REJOICE)