Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Here we are in the Blizzard of '16, housebound, stating at the television if you're lucky enough to have power. Church has been cancelled tomorrow. It's too dangerous to be out there driving around. And God is aware of the situation, trust me. So I was just thinking why don't we ponder what the gospel lesson is about tomorrow and chew on that for a while as opposed to going crazy staring at the four walls?

So the reading from the gospel is Luke, chapter 4, verses 14-21. Jesus is beginning his ministry. He was baptized by John, went into the wilderness for 40 days and, in these verses we are told he has been filled with the Holy Spirit. So he comes to his hometown of Nazareth, attends synagogue and as a courtesy, since he is becoming well known for his teaching, they let him read for the scrolls. He reads from Isaiah, the following,
 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Everyone is waiting to hear what Jesus will say next, how he will explain the text to them (that is, after all, what rabbis or teachers do--they explain and answer questions about the text). And what does Jesus say? He says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Picture the people of Nazareth, the people who have seen Jesus growing up with their children, saw him working in Joseph's shop. Seems a bit presumptuous--this statement. The people who knew him when he skinned his knee, wiped his nose with his sleeve, hammered his thumb, they are supposed to believe what he is telling them? He is announcing who he is, right there.

And we, 2000 and some years later, we're supposed to believe, too? Are we not? Do we really believe, though? We say we believe this man was among us and he was our Savior. But what happens when we skin our knees? When we are angry at the job, our spouse, the world, God? Do we still believe then? Jesus is still proclaiming the good news to us, even all these years later, telling us we can trust him no matter our circumstances. He promises to help, to give, to love us wherever we are and no matter what we do, if we come to him, he will takes us in.

It was not presumptuous for him to proclaim those things, it is imperative that we hear him and believe. Because nothing is the same after we do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Epiphany is one of those words...

I don't know if you have noticed it or not, but the church always seems to have words that stick out. They aren't used anywhere else. Words like: narthex, sacristy, vestments. But the curious thing is that the "church" also has words that are used in other places: baptism (by fire usually), blessing (or a curse) and epiphany. The word epiphany means:  a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence. This is the season of Epiphany, when we come to understand that Jesus came and surprised us all by saving us from sin. The most famous story of the season is the one where the Wise Men come from the East to offer the baby, gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is symbolic that three guys from out of the area came to see the "King of the Jews" and they themselves were not Jewish. That is kind of what Epiphany emphasizes. You don't have to be Jewish to see Jesus as Savior of the world. 

I was reminded of something today which I wanted to share. It has to do with a house blessing, writing the following in chalk over the door post. It's a way to celebrate this becoming aware of the gift of the Messiah. It goes like this:

20 + C+M+B+16

The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the customary names of the three Magi:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words, "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" which translates to "May Christ bless this house". The year is divided before and after these letters with the plus signs (small crosses) representing the protection of Christ on the dwelling.

Happy Epiphany! And I wish for you an intuitive and sudden understanding of the miracle of Jesus coming to us!