Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blessed are we...

Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent Friends,

The Gospel today is one of my favorites, the story of the Annunciation...of Mary and Elizabeth coming together each to help the other in their time of need, as well as to share a great joy.

For so many years and in so many places I've prayed with this reading, I am always touched by the idea of these two amazing women, one young, one not so young, being able to spend this amazing time of their lives together in love, support, care and creativity. Can you imagine the baby clothes being knitted...or whatever they did in the middle east to prepare for the birth of such beloved sons?
That time must have been such a treasure to those cousins.

Today it is the last line of the Gospel that is compelling to me: Blessed are  you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord, would be fulfilled.

In my own life I know this is absolutely true! There are many times when I can now see that God has called, moved and directed me (most times unknowingly) towards a certain path. That path always leads, eventually, to greater life and love in Him. As I get older I realize that the trick is to listen a bit more to try and hear where God is leading and what God might be asking of me. In order to believe what God has said to me, I need to quiet down enough to hear God's voice.

I am getting better at trusting that God's promise will be fulfilled. Even more, realizing that fulfillment will come in God's time and not my own. That doesn't mean that there aren't small moments of doubt along the way, they just don't overpower me as much. Recently someone shared a quote with me, attributed to Joan of Arc- "I am not afraid, I was born for this!"  I've been praying with this line a lot. First of all, I think Joan should have been, and I am sometimes, a little afraid...but beyond that very human emotion, I would like to think that I am living the life God imagined for me. That these years of service to the church, the honor of working with as many families as I have, the love shared in my own circle of family and friends, all of this, nothing big, just normal day to day life, is what God had in mind for me. And I feel very lucky, very blessed by the gifts given to me in my life.

So, I do believe that God's promises are fulfilled to me and on a much larger scale, to our world. I know we as a world don't listen well. Maybe that will be my prayer this Christmas day, that in the midst of the suffering and pain, the violence and heartache that seems so prevalent today, I can pray that more people will begin to take the time to listen to the quiet voice of God in their hearts and create small pockets of peace in our world. Maybe those small little peaceful places can grow big enough to cover the world with hope!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Happy Third Sunday of Advent.

It seems to me like I've had this conversation multiple times in the past week about WHY this is 'rejoice Sunday' or why we light the pink candle...but I can't complain for the opportunity to say to someone that it's all about being happy. It's that joyous expectation that something wonderful is going to happen soon...but we still have to wait for it...

That must be how a couple feels as they await the arrival of their first baby...I know grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends go crazy waiting for that first baby! Such joyous anticipation. Such happiness. God is so good to give us these moments of great joy!

It is way too easy to see December with all it's commercialism as a time of stress and anxiety. I am grateful to God that for some unknown reason, so far, deep down, I feel pretty peaceful about life. I know there is a lot to do, I know we're trying to make the season prayerful for others...and I may lose my cool with the ones I love, but mostly, I think I feel pretty calm. I am looking forward to time to celebrate the love of family and friends. I am excited about the beauty of the liturgies we will celebrate together as a parish family. I am grateful for the abiding trust in the God that cares for us even in the midst of a scared, crazy world.

One of our students this week asked a really great question: If they thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah, how come they didn't listen to or believe him when he pointed toward Jesus and told them that HE was the Messiah? What a really good question!! If the guy you thought was the Messiah told you straight up, "Nah, it's not me, it's HIM!" Why wouldn't you believe him?

I don't know. Maybe because they had a preconceived image of what the Messiah should look like...(really, John covered in camels hair was their image?)  and since a poor carpenter from Nazareth didn't fit their image, they weren't interested. What a shame. They missed what was right in front of their faces because they couldn't open their eyes or mind or hearts to see the truth!

Perhaps as we move into the third week of Lent, this reminder of the joy in life, we might ask for the grace to find the moments to be happy in the midst of all our Christmas preparations. Maybe we can go a little slower, breathe a little deeper and hold close to our hearts a few of the little tiny thing that cause us to remember that God is with us, that God loves us, that God holds us close with abiding care.

So light that pink candle on the advent wreath and hum that song of rejoicing. God is truly with us, in our world, and that is something to celebrate.