Archive for December, 2022

To Give Birth to God 1-1-2023

Friday, December 30th, 2022

Ever since her mother tried on the gloves in the department store,
her ten-year-old daughter decided this would be her present to her. For
weeks, she put aside part of her allowance; she earned extra money
doing chores and running errands for neighbors. On Christmas morning,
she saw the delight on her mother’s face as she opened the box. In the
joy she experienced in bringing joy to her mom, God was born.
A group of volunteers from a local church have spent the past
dozen weekends at the building site. Under the direction of the
professional carpenters and trades folk who have donated their time, as
well, they framed the house, enclosed the building with sheet rock,
painted and tiled, and are now completing the finishing work. Whether
they realize it or not, they are building more than a house for a family in
need: They are making a dwelling place for God.
One night a week, she returns to her classroom at the local high
school. Her students are not teenagers but adults who never finished
high school and immigrants from Latin America and Asia. Together they
struggle through vocabulary, spelling and literature. With each new
word understood and passage grasped, this young teacher gives birth—
to God.
The great Dominican theologian Meister Eckhart preached that
“we are all meant to be mothers of God” for “God is always waiting to
be born”. God seeks to be born in our own loveless stables and forgotten
caves; God waits to come to life in Bethlehem’s of anger and
hopelessness; God makes a dwelling place for himself in the Nazareth’s
of our homes, school and workplaces. On this first day of 2023, we
honor Mary, the Mother of God, under her most ancient title, that of
Theotokos, the Greek word for “bearer of God”. In baptism into the life
of Mary’s child, we are called to be “bearers of God”—to give birth to
God, every one of us, each in our own way.
I close, today the New Year 2023 lies before us like a blank
canvas. So many possibilities—more than just the simple resolutions we
steadfastly keep until kickoff time of today’s first football game. But a
whole new year, an entity of time, begins today. We Christians believe
that God has sanctified all time in his work of creation and his recreation
of the world in Christ. May this new year, be truly new for each one of
us—a time for renewal, for making this year a year of peace in our
hearts and homes, for becoming the people of compassion God calls us
to become. And may we always remember that every day can be a new
start, that God enables us to always begin a new canvas, that we can
erase the crooked lines and the clashing colors to begin a new work of
art reflecting the beauty and light of God’s life and love. Jesus—Be born
again and again through us 2023. Amen

Christmas 2022 12-25-2022

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

Wally was big for a first grader. Everybody loved Wally. No
bully, he was the gentlest of souls. Wally was a friend even to the
smallest kids at school.
When the school staged its Christmas play, Wally wanted to be one
of the shepherds. But the teacher directing the play had a larger role in
mind for Wally. Wally was cast as the innkeeper. Wally practiced and
practiced, but became more and more nervous about his lines.
The night of the play, everything was going beautifully. Then
came the part where Mary and Joseph knocked on the door of the inn.
Wally answered the door right on cue and gave his line.
“What do you want?”
“We seek lodging,” came the response.
“Seek it elsewhere, the inn is filled,” Wally replied, with just the right
touch of brusque annoyance.
“But, sir, we have tried everywhere, we have come a long way, and we
are very tired.”
“Go away,” Wally properly commanded. “There is no room in my inn
for you.”
“But sir, my wife is with child. Don’t you have a corner where we can
get out of the cold?”
That’s when it happened. Wally broke his icy stare and looked at
Mary. There was a long silence. The audience became nervous and
uneasy. Everyone thought Wally had forgotten his lines.
“No, be gone,” the prompter whispered.
“No, be gone,” Wally said halfheartedly. Joseph sadly placed his arm
around Mary as they began to move off the stage. Wally couldn’t stand
it any longer. Big he was, cruel he could never be. With big tears
welling in his eyes he gave a performance never to be forgotten.
“Wait, Joseph, don’t go!” Wally cried. “Bring Mary back. You
can have my room and I’ll sleep in the cold.”
A few people thought Wally had ruined the Christmas pageant.
But most knew better.
Wally the reluctant innkeeper embodied the spirit of our Christmas
celebration, expressed so eloquently in Isaac Watts’ beautiful hymn: “let
every heart prepare him room.” The reality is that Christmas is a
challenge to us and our values and our dreams. Just as Joseph is
challenged by God to welcome the child into his home and heart despite
the difficult circumstances, God challenges us to welcome his Christ into
our everyday lives and allow the child to transform our hearts and homes
in his peace and justice.
If you are ready to take up the Christmas challenge, then let me
leave you with a few words as a special reminder to you:
“It is Christmas! It is the most wondrous feast – the birthday of the
One who came to show us a God of love. How beautiful are the feet of
those who walk the extra step across a room to greet someone with
whom they have had differences. How beautiful are the feet of those
who step beyond the material gifts and appreciate the heart of the giver.
How beautiful are the feet of those who move about in the kitchen
making the special foods and serving the guests who gather. How
beautiful are the feet of those who not only go to church services but who also fully participate by greeting others joyfully, praying and
singing heartily. How beautiful are the feet of those who walk into
homeless shelters or places with little comfort to bring some of their
own abundance.
Yes, how beautiful are all those feet who walk with the good news
this day, with the intention of love in their hearts, for they are living the
message of the One who came so long ago. The Christ of abundant
love, born over two thousand years ago, lives on in us. As our feet take
us near and far, let us continue to be the Christ to one another.
I close:
Divine Messenger,
We will carry the good news of your abundant and abiding love to
all we meet and greet today, tomorrow, forever.” Amen

A Thought Before Christmas 12-18-2022

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

There is a story that comes out of India which tells of a beggar
whose great hope was that he would meet the king. Then, he dreamed,
alms would be given him unasked and wealth scattered all around him in
the dust. One day, the king’s golden chariot came into the village and
actually stopped where the beggar stood. The king saw the poor man,
got out of the chariot, and walked with a smile toward him.
The beggar was ecstatic. He felt that good fortune had come his
way at last. But instead of giving him anything, the king held out his
hand and said, “What do you have to give to me?” The beggar was
confused and undecided. Then slowly, he took from his loaded
knapsack a single grain of wheat and gave it to the king. The king made
no move to give him anything in return. Disillusioned and dejected, the
beggar walked to his bare room. At day’s end, he emptied his bag on the
floor and was surprised to find a single grain of gold among all the other
grains of wheat. He wept bitterly and thought: “If only I had the heart to
give the king my all.
The beggar found only a single grain of gold in his bag because he
had given away only a single grain of wheat. If he had given more, he
would have received more.
A few weeks before Christmas – in the midst of money being tight,
and the normal Christmas rush and pressure – we have many things to
give – Let us not be afraid to give them. How about these:
1. Remember an old friend
2. Call or write to someone who has lost someone through death
3. Give peace
4. Forgive an enemy
5. Set differences aside in our families
6. Give of yourself – a small bit of quality time
7. Perform an act of kindness
8. Offer a few sincere thoughtful words of encouragement and
9. Give love
and guess what, Christmas will be forever! Wouldn’t that be great!