Monthly Archives: December 2018

Thursday Reflection 12.13.18

Thursday Reflections
What is God Calling Me To Do
December 13, 2018
What are the events, experiences, gifts-you-receive, services-you-do-for others that bring you joy this time of the year? I know so many of us are running amuck trying to balance family and work, children and spouse, shopping and prioritizing, travel and home, community and (perhaps) church. So many folks longing to be happy and to “feel” all that peace and joy we are supposed to feel at this time of the year. Heck, we might even tolerate the nasty unusual cold that has hit our region prematurely. It feels better (so I am told) at Christmastime! (yeah .. right!)
           But as I have written in years past, I also know that this time of the year brings, to some, not all, a mixed emotional bag full of memories – terrible image – and not all of them so good. Clergy know of this season as a time of telephone calls and walk-in unexpected appointments of those who continue to struggle with life’s unfairness and pains. There are those feel no joy do feel angrier because they can’t find whatever it is they think they need to give them that peace.
           One of the few blessings of growing older is to live through such times and to learn that in spite of certain undeniable truths (such as: life is unfair; your friends will never always support you; death always takes away those we love much too soon; family is loveable but at times infuriating – and a plethora of other annoying facts), I have come to learn that joy comes in simpler ways. And I have to stop running, and take that moment to experience them and not just rush to where I think my schedule next demands I must be.
           So I found great joy in the voices of all those carolers singing up a storm last Saturday Evening at the Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long. Perhaps for some, this might be their only experience of Church. I hope not – they know not what they are missing. But if it is, then they were touched at least for a moment. A parishioner shares a good moment in what I know to be a struggling relationship at home – and for a few moments I feel the joy and hope within that person that is not always there – again, for good reasons!  No matter what time of morning, afternoon, evening or night when I come schlepping back to clergy residence, I am greeted by the world’s most opinionated control freak puppy with sniffing snout and wagging tail and a wondrous “I am so happy to see you; you are my joy and life; I love you always; now don’t I deserve a treat?” welcome.
           I find joy when someone, anyone, remarks that a religious message at this time of the year, not necessarily from me but from any religious leader to whom they have listen of whose text they read, has made a difference for them and made them think. I am filled with joy when people find Christ in Christmas and know that this truth will set them free.
           You can’t make everyone happy. You will not always be happy. But there will be moments when God’s hand can slow you down and touch your soul. I hope you’ll stop and experience those moments.
Fr. Joe

Thursday Reflection 12.6.18

Thursday Reflections
What is God Calling Me To Do
December 6, 2018
           Today is the day on the Christian calendar (East and West) that marks the memory of one Nicholas, Bishop of Myra who was tortured and murdered for his faith and his leadership role in the local Christian community during the time of the persecutions instigated by Roman Emperor Diocletian (maybe 342 A.D. – ish?)
            A man renown for a holy life and courage, if you same his name in Latin (a language he NEVER would have spoken as an Eastern Bishop, you would call Holy Nicholas: “Sanctas Nicholas.” And if you say his name fast enough for centuries, and cut the name up a bit, you get: “Santa Claus!”   If you dress him up in the red robes of a western European Bishop (robes he NEVER would have worn as an Eastern Rite Bishop), you get the red robed Santa. Amazing what lives on after our time – how we are remembered.
           This man’s life is shrouded in mystery. All we know with certitude is how he died as a leader and loving pastor of his people. But we know enough of legend. He is considered the patronal saint of sailors – for reasons I know not. He is also considered the patronal saint and protector of children. He was known to oppose those powerful ones who would have forced girls from among the poor into prostitution in order to support their impoverished families. He saved children. He made powerful enemies. He was a man of God who took being a Christian seriously. He was known to give away church resources to assist the poor. And now you can connect the dots and see how our cultural icon reflects the only vaguely remembered generosity of a hero from a long lost era in a land so far away.
           Being a disciple and a member of the Jesus movement is serious work. And costs us love. It may cost us life. But it is so rewarding. So we might now visualize or remember Nicholas as he was. But we can imitate him to a point and strive to be more generous, loving courageous and mindful of those who do not have as much as we.  That’s why this is such a special time of the year. Remember “Sanctas Nicholas.” Be like “St. Nick.”  Let generosity fill your heart and spill into your actions!
Fr. Joe