Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category

The Gift of “Long Walk” 12-20-2020

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

One Christmas, a boy in an African village gave his teacher an
exquisite seashell as a gift. He had walked many miles to find it, to a
special bay, the only place such shells could be found. The teacher was
quite moved by the boy’s gift: “What a beautiful shell. You must have
walked many miles for it. I am deeply grateful for your gift”, the teacher
said.
“Teacher”, the boy said, “long walk part of gift”
Often the most beautiful gifts we give are not the seashells, but the
“long walk” of forgiveness, empathy, love, and understanding.
Especially at this busy time of the year, we can be overcome with the
shopping, the mailing, the addressing, and the decorating. Remember
that “long walk” is as much a part of the love we give and receive as the
destination, that the best Christmas presents are those of the heart and
spirit.

Remember You Always Walk With God 12-13-2020

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

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 ultimateharm. 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 12-6-2020

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

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 2020 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 co-worker, the roommate,
every one of us sitting in this church today. Road builders to God!