Advent Preparations

Next Sunday is the 2nd Sunday of Advent in Year B. You can read a full commentary on the gospel reading here.

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of God). 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” 4 John (the) Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 6 John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. 7 And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:1-8)

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How about us?

Today is the feast of St. Andrew, the one named the Prōtoklētos – or “first called.” Andrew is so designated because as it tells us in the Gospel of John (John 1:35–42) Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah and hastened to introduce him to his brother, Simon Peter.

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If only we’d known

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times published a front-page article: “Road to a million; a case study: Early optimism, indecision, then fatigue; now a scary spike.” Here are the highlights.

January 20th – it was announced that there was a first verified case of the coronavirus in the United States.

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Ship’s Captain

One of the aids to remembering events and where to place them in your life is having major milestones that serve as a point of reference, an external anchor so to speak. Sometimes it’s as simple as our progression through school – “oh, yeah, that happened at elementary school such-and-such.” Middle and high school serve well, as does college and so on. Major life events help secure our memory on the timeline: dating, marriage, children, family vacations. Careers and our work events – all of that and more. It all helps. “Sure, I remember that. It was while we lived in Baltimore, dad was working for Martin Marietta, and we all went to St. Perpetua.”

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Waiting and Hope

As we enter the Season of Advent, it strikes me that “Hope” and “waiting” are even more a part of our lives in these times. In the dark hours before dawn, I muse about waiting and hope in the season of Advent, I was pondering what is higher on my list – waiting for Christmas or waiting for a coronavirus vaccine, herd immunity and the return to normalcy. If I am honest, it is the latter. It feels like we are living in the time of Noah. We are not just waiting for the flood waters of illness to reside, but we are optimistically waiting now that the vaccines are on the horizon.

But while I am optimistic, am I hopeful? I know I am waiting, but am I hopeful? Are you?

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Hope and a Comment

Earlier today I posted “Choosing Hope“.  From time to time folks post comments – and I do read them all but have learned long ago there is not time to respond to the comments on a regular basis. Today someone posted a comment that I thought was such an awesome message… “you know what,” I thought to myself, “I am going to make a post of it.” So from my good friend, Jim Rossman:

A liminal 9 months for sure! But, we live in hope. My prediction is that we will limp into a new normal, dragging many deniers with us, exactly on May 1, 2021. (I don’t have to be right — just confident.)

Between now and then, I will use whatever platform is available to me, as we count down the days and weeks to that benchmark, to encourage:

  • hopeful preparation during Advent
  • celebration of the Lord’s birth (our most inspiring symbol of HOPE)
  • embrace the days of Lent as opportunity to open our hearts to God and make room for inspiration on the countless ways we can help our “fellow runners” limp to the finish line
  • acceptance of our ultimate HOPE in the Resurrection of the Lord, and
  • the final 26 day countdown to May 1 when an outpouring of Gratitude signals another “new beginning” —- where we come together as a Parish, a Church, a community and a nation with determination to recognize the unfair distribution of the suffering of this pandemic and to repair the fabric of our connectedness.

I can’t imagine just hunkering down in despair and taking a beating for 5 more months. Time to begin the countdown and the ground building for a better world post May 1.

[Wow, now that is a clarion call to all people of faith!]

Choosing Hope

Liminality is one of those “$20 words” having to do with being in being an intermediate state, phase, or condition – in other words, betwixt-and-between. The year 2020 is certainly a liminal year living between the pandemic’s start and the all too uncertain end. And such times are replete with stories. There are stories that affect us all; there are one that are personal – but there are always stories.

With winter’s approach and these hard economic times, there will soon be a story in the paper about a family huddled around the gas kitchen stove on a winter’s eve because the electricity bill is unpaid, and power is cut off. Somewhere there is a family huddled in the ER waiting room; their oldest child in an automobile accident, the surgeons coming to say, “We’re doing all we can.” Maybe it’s a loved one in the covid ICU. These are the moments you wish the world would end, at least the world as you now know it.

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Remembering Thanksgivings Past

I am grateful for a day in which we, as a people, pause to give thanks. And who do we have to thank for this holiday? Your answer is likely “The Pilgrims.” You would not be wrong, but then not completely correct, either. Certainly, Thanksgiving and the religious response of giving thanks to God is as old as time. When one considers enduring cultures, one always finds men and women working out their relationship to God. There is almost always a fourfold purpose to our acts of worship: adoration, petition, atonement, thanksgiving. Such worship is part and parcel of life. And yet, there is still a very human need to specially celebrate and offer thanksgiving on key occasions and anniversaries. Since medieval times, we have very detailed records of celebrations marking the end of an epidemic, liberation from sure and certain doom, the signing of a peace treaty, and more. Continue reading

Bucket lists

The readings for today are ominous and foreboding to say the least. It is the time in the liturgical cycle when such are the nature of the readings. For women and men of a certain age, we think about our lives, our faith, and our bucket lists. I remember about 4 or 5 years ago I was watching Coach Lou Holtz talk about his bucket list because he was so excited having recently accomplished #2 on his list – taking a ride on a nuclear submarine.  Check – been there, done that.

Lots of our bucket list are lists of want we want to do, see or enjoy.

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