Tag Archives: Advent

Blue blue Christmas

According to the liturgical calendar:today was supposed to be a Sunday of rejoicing.

No one at Small Parish felt like rejoicing this morning. :o/

Due to the recent events happening in the nation, today was not a day to celebrate. At Small Parish, we grieved & remembered the victims of the Newtown school shooting. We started the Mass with reading responsively the Great Litany. After the Lessons were read, our priest helped us address the sadness that we collectively feel about what happened on Friday morning.

We also prayed for the victims by name . That was really hard for me, as I’ve spent some time working in a public school system & many years working with and among children & youth of the Church. I noticed that the fellow & sister educators of m parish are especially affected by this tragedy. We never thought about a scenario such as this when I was working at an elementary school.

As I’ve already said, these things just should not happen.

I keep thinking about the families of the slain kids & the Christmas that won’t happen for so many people in & around the Newtown, Connecticut area. :O(

Years ago, my Presbyterian minister offered a ” Blue Christmas” service in December for anyone & everyone who might be grieving during this ” most wonderful time of the year”. I’d lost my beloved paternal grandfather that August, so I went to church on that designated Sunday evening. It was a time for we Christians to grieve in community & it was very cathartic.

This morning’s Mass at Small Parish had the same cathartic effect for me{ and probably for others in attendance , too} Grieving in community is healthy , both for the mind & soul.

Today I am grateful for the Church Universal’s gift of ” presence” & community.

Amen.

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In the wake of the school shootings….

madonna

My heart breaks tonight. Words cannot suffice regarding how I feel about the most recent school shootings. I ache for all of the victims’ families & the entire town of Newtown.

This should NOT have happened.

A priest-friend of mine asked on Facebook” Where is God in all this?”

Where is God indeed?

I am glad I am not the only person who wants an answer to that question. How can a loving God ” allow” such slaughter of innocence?

Yet I am comforted { at last a wee bit} by the image of The Blessed Mother holding the Infant Christ on her lap. On my desk in our home office is an icon card of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. Although I am not sure of the name of this particular rendition of ” Madonna & Child” I’ve always been comforted by the image of a tiny, vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth wrapped safe in His mother’s arms. I imagine that this very Jesus welcomed each of the innocent victims of yesterday’s school shooting tenderly & gently.

Scripture tells us that our loving God will not & has not given up on humanity. Humans can be evil creatures & I am sure these acts of evil sadden our Creator. No matter what Israel did, God was steadfast in God’s love. No matter how many times God’s People screwed up, God never reneged on God’s love.

It is times such as these that my Catholic faith really anchors me. I do not know WHY this happened to these families in that town in New England. But I do know that God has NOT forsaken humanity— regardless of what ” the culture ” might try to show us. Somewhere & somehow, love & Shalom will prevail .

Amen.

Annual Meeting

Tomorrow is 2 Advent.

Per tradition at Small Parish, it is also the Sunday that we’ll hold the Annual Parish Meeting. We’ll all gather for ONE Mass at 9 A.M. followed by the meeting & then the monthly potluck luncheon.

Anyhow, we elect two new vestry members  at this meeting. I’m on the ballot as a possible new vestryperson.  We have two other fabulous people who are also on the ballot for the vestry election, so there is a good chance that I might not be elected.   Although I am a bit nervous about the election tomorrow I’m a bit reserved about serving on vestry for three years. 

 For many reasons, I feel called to at least put my name on the ballot for vestry at this time in my ” walk with God” & I will do my best if elected.  But if I am not elected I will not feel too sad.  Honestly, I am not the ” board meeting” sort of person & I would much rather be active in ministries such as EYC & assisting at the altar as an acolyte. If it is God’s will that I serve my parish as a vestryperson, I can only promise to do my best if elected.  And with the spiritual  growth that I’ve experienced this year, I am ready to move a bit out of my ” comfort zone” if I am called to do so.

Tikkun Olam

 Shalom Shabbat, y’all.

Coming from an interfaith family– I am a huge fam of both Christmas & Hanukkah. Naturally Christmas means more to me, but my Jewish heritage is a gift–and one that I have never taken for granted.

Anyhow, I came across a Hebrew term this evening that I had not known until now. It is : ” Tikkun Olam” & it is { very loosely} translated as ” to fix what is broken”.

As Christ-followers, we have a responsibility to fix what is broken in our world.  The Advent/Hanukkah/Christmas season is the perfect time to reach out to our sister & fellow humans who are suffering in mind, body or spirit.  Instead of focusing on materialism, we should take time to help another person { or people} who are needy.

Although helping to provide basic needs is a great way to start, sometimes people who ” seem” to not need help are the neediest.  There are many lonely souls in the world : & I know from experience that the loneliness amplifies itself tenfold during the holidays. Reach out to someone who is struggling emotionally or spiritually this Advent. Give to your local food bank. Visit an elderly person who might not get may visitors. Donate toys to a shelter for homeless families.

 

Spread shalom this holiday season.

Advent with ++KJS Day 14 “Ready for Grace”

Tonight Best Dude & I are having a traditional Hanukkah celebration. { he’s not Jewish…aswe met in church but he’s interested in learning about my Jewish heritage, so we’ll do this tonight} I’ve got my grandmother’s menorah on the table & we found birthday candles that * just * fit in the menorah. I’m cooking latkes for supper tonight. YUM!

The Presiding Bishop, in today’s sermonette, talks about hunger. There is much physical hunger going on in today’s world . But I’ve also notice spiritual hunger among many people I know. She says that to we Christians, Christ is ” the Bread of Life”. When we attempt to live out our baptismal covenant we are offering that Bread to others who might nt even know they are hungry.

I am blessed with both enough physical food to eat & a rich spiritual heritage into which I have dipped to sustain me. 2011 has been a tough year for most people, but we can take substance both from receiving Christ at the altar & BEING Christ’s Body in the world.

When Best Dude & I sit down to say the traditional Hanukkah blessing this evening, I’ll give thanks to our God, a God Whose Grace knows no limit.

Amen.

Advent with ++KJS Day 13 ” Share the Wealth’

Being generous also means sharing our gifts & abilities . Not all of us are blessed by God with the same gifts & talents, but all are blessed.

In the days of Jesus, a ” talent” was a coin that represented a lot of Roman currency.

Each of the gifts that God betsowed upon you & me is very valuable. Bu, ++Katharine asks us what weplan to do with out talents. Will we be like the slave who, for fear of losing our talent” bury it” by not allowing its use to glorify God?

Do we use our talents to glorify God or to glorify the Self?

Its important to keep our mninds & hearts on Our Lord while we do God’s work.

Amen.

Advent with ++KJS Day 12 ” A Cup of Starbucks”

I like a good cup of coffee.

Best Dude & often I frequent coffee joints. One of our favorite coffee stops is a family owned place in our beach town. He thinks that this little place serves ” the best biscuits & gravy ever” I think the fare at this coffee place is good.

Once again, today’s reading from ++ Katharine convicts me. Darn it!

Thee are people in other parts of the world who, for the price of a cup of a specialty latte here in America, could eat for one week. In this economy right now in The United States, there are people who are literally wondering where their next meal will come from. The gap between the ” haves” & the ” have-nots” is growing around the world & right here in or own nation.

While I do not think that more government programs are the solution to feeding { and tending to other basic needs} of our country’s & the world’s hungry , as Christians we *do* have a responsibility to tend to the poor. Our responsibility is to reach out to those in need…without passing judgement upon hem or their choices which my or may not have contributed to poverty.

Admittedly I am guilty of this sort of judgement…I often ask myself questions such as ” Well, if that teen mom would have been more careful, she wouldn’t struggle with buying clothes & toys for her baby”. Or ” if that person would stop drinking I wouldn’t mid giving him money. I don’t know where my money goes when I give it to him.” Like many others, I am much more comfortable helping those in need who share my values. Its easier to help those whom we understand or with whom we agree.

This time of year, especially, I am reminded that all humans are created equal. In spite of our inequality, we are ALL God’s children.

What some well-meaning Christians do not realize is that our baptismal covenant calls each of us to ” Seek Christ in ALL persons”. Yes, ALL PERSONS, not just those whose lifestyles we deem ” worthy” of our assistance.

Advent with ++KJS: Day 11 “Doing Is Believing”

I do not buy into ” works theology” , the idea that one can earn points with God by performing certain works. To subscribe to such an exclusive theology would totally discount that thing we know as God’s grace. { Martin Luther had it correct in his 99 theses against the Roman Catholic Church regarding selling & buying of ” indulgences”}

Because know about the grace of our loving God, my faith compels me to want to help others. because God is so good to me{ and even in these dire economic times, can safely say that everyone I know has enough to eat, a place to live,& adequate clothing. I’m also blessed by a loving family, many friends, a parish in which I am comfortable, & the most wonderful Best Dude ever! Indeed, I am blessed.

Bishop Katharine says: ” Good, healthy & holy ministry involves seeing the healing of one person or situation as part of the larger whole.”

No one person or a single charitable organization or government-funded social program can heal ALL of the world’s ills. Yet if we work together, healing & reconciliation is possible.

How shall we acheve such a lofty goal? I do not have the answer, but I do know that my response to God’s grace is to lend a helping hand & do whatever I can{ however insignificant it seems to me at the time} to help one person or situation.

Advent is a good time of year to think about the gift of grace that we are given & engage in creative ways to show or appreciation for what Christ did for us on the Cross by acting as agents of healing & change inour own corners of Creation.

Amen.

Advent with ++KJS Day 10 ” God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions”

God loves ALL, No Exceptions

I am proud to be Irish-American. Dad’s people came to western Pennsylvania in the early 1800’s. I’ve grown up among my Irish American kin & identify strongly as an Irish-American.

But there is also some English on Dad’s Mom’s side of the family, relatives about whom my brother & I did not know about until I was 9 years of age. The woman I still call ” Grandma” is actually my father’s stepmother.

Pap’s first wife & mother of my dad & his older brother, died of polio when my father was a baby. My brother & I still do not know our English kin {they live in upstate New York}. I recall that at first it disturbed me that the woman I know as ” Grandma” isn’t my blood-relative. I felt betrayed by Dad for his withholding this vital piece of my genealogy from me. When I went through three weeks of two back surgeries at Pittsburgh’s Childrens’ Hospital & saw Grandma tend to my medcial & emotional needs I knew she loves me regardless of our lack of a DNA connection. Anne IS my grandmother. She raised Dad like a biological son. She loves me.

Mom’s kin came to America from Russia & are Jewish. Her parents moved to south Florida hen I was very young & we only sw them but for once per year. However, Mom did make a point to teach us about the feasts & fasts { along with a bit of storytelling from the Hebrew Scriptures} of her Ashkenazic Jewish heritage.

My mixed heritage has been a gift : I can appreciate diversities within even our own Christian faith . Sometimes it is hard for me to understand other people’s point of view, but my unique heritage is a constant reminder that God loves EVERYONE. God isn’t partial to any one part of humanity…and Christ died for the sins of humanity. God loves those whom we can’t like & even those groups or individuas who ate us simply for being whowe are & our way of life.

It is not right for those of us in the majority to target certain ethnic groups as ” outiders’. This can mean ethnic or religious groups, but the poor, the disabled, { occasionally the elderly} & homosexuals.

Bishop Katharine says” God’s presence among us in human flesh is a Gift to all the nations.” May we remember this as we wait for Immanuel, **God with us** to arrive.

In the Name of The Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Feast of St John of The Cross
2011

Advent with++KJS Day 9 ” Shalom Around The World”

Bishop Katharine started out her adult life as an oceanographer. According to her, this was a vocation that she dearly loved. But when the government’s funding for the research program on which she worked ran out, she found herself without an income & ” at loose ends”. In her book she said that the subject of ordination did arise even then, but ” I wasn’t ready to hear it.” God’s Plan for her included another leg of her walks with Our Lord.

Sometimes our life’s work, what will fulfill you & me the most changes. But, according to Bishop Katharine, the very act of our baptism represents willingness to stand” naked” & vulnerable before God & to let God tell us what metaphorical garment to put on next. Sometimes God acts quickly, but most of the time, we must wait & see or the opportunity that God will put in our lives to show us what is next.

I admit it: I am NOT a patient person!

In the early Church, baptism was an act that was much closer to the baptism that Jesus experienced in the Jordan River than the usual Anglican method of sprinkling water on the baptismal candidate’s forehead. But the theology is the same, when a person is baptized , she or he ” dies” to the old life & is “reborn {so to speak} as Christ’s own.

I’m waiting to see where my journey with God will lead me next. In the world where I find myself here in Northwest Florida, there is much work to be done to spread Shalom.

Amen.