Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Harvest of Plenty

Friends of Faith:
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving—a time to give thanks for the harvest of our plentiful blessings.

Liturgically this is the end of the Church year and our readings have been from the “end times:” Revelation which speaks of God’s harvest of His blessings—us; and Luke chapter 21 which foretells of the destruction of the temple, persecution, tribulation and the second coming.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Lk 21: 25-28

These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit* has been found; they are unblemished.Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with everlasting good news to announce to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water.” Rev 14: 3-7

As I complain about the time required to do something I would rather put off until tomorrow I wonder if I am truly giving thanks and glory to God for the blessings OF a job, the blessings of a household to clean and food in the refrigerator that needs preparation.

And I think about the time I make to go shopping, or watch a Hallmark movie.

God doesn’t call me to make time for myself, God calls me to help others. God doesn’t gift me with a job and food so that I can complain, he gifts me these treasures so that I can multiply them for his glory in serving His kingdom. I have been gifted with plenty – do I give thanks with the same intensity?

I am reminded that we are all called to be “farmers” – to raise, to multiply and to harvest the crops of God’s gifts. One day God will call me home. Will I be as “unblemished”as a virgin – not complaining about the jobs he has asked me to do; and will I follow Him in THANKSGIVING for all that He has blessed me to bring to harvest? Will he be able to harvest what He has planted? Who will be worthy enough to ransom as His first fruit?

“Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations.” (Rev 16:3) Thank You for the blessings of health, family, friends, a job, a warm house and of plenty of food this day. May I be reminded to turn these blessings into a harvest of plenty for Your glory. Help me to patiently and graciously give of myself so that others who suffer and others who have much greater needs than I may be decreased. Amen.

May each of us be reminded this Thanksgiving that we are not fulfilled by what might land in our shopping cart (in fact I hope many of us will protest the intrusion on this activity on our day of Thanksgiving for God’s blessings), but rather that we find time to give of our talents so that others may see God’s peace and joy in their lives – that God’s harvest will be plentiful.

May your harvest of plenty be spent with family and the treasures made by the sharing of time and talents with others,
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 17, 2014

God is Everywhere

Friends of Faith:

“‘Tis the season” where we remind our children: “Be good, Santa’s watching.” Or, “you know, Santa can see when you are mean to your sister or brother, or when you don’t pick up your toys.”

It struck me that while Santa may see many things, as adults we have someone much more important to answer to than Santa. Santa may know if I have been naughty or nice, but it is God who knows what is in my heart and it is God who gives us the eternal gift, life everlasting.
And while Santa may have more than one set of eyes through us as parents; God, as the supreme parent, needs no eyes, and yet He can see everything, everywhere.

I recently heard a Christian business owner talking about what might correct the faults within the business economy, he said: “nothing in this world will change as long as we obey man’s laws” – and then he pulled out a piece of worn paper from his pocket and said: “this is the only thing that will change our outcomes – obeying God’s commandments.”

He proceeded to read:  I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain ….  You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Ex 20: 1-17‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great­est and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two com­mandments’” (Mt 22:37-40).

(“Have I treated people, events, or things as more important than God? Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people? Have I harmed another through physical, verbal, or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind? Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself? Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another? Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another? Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I com­pare myself to others unnecessarily?”—USCCB exam of conscience)
Wouldn’t this world, our economy, businesses and relationships be different if we all obeyed these commands?

And it made me immediately think of Father Larry Richards in one of his talks with the comment that “not many of us ever confess to doing something against the very first commandment—that our “strange gods” are not statutes and idols as they were in the Old Testament, but rather that our gods have become the greed of materialism.” Exactly the reason the business owner reminded himself each morning before he started work, that his JOB wasn’t about money, but about serving others and about acting towards others as if they were the Samaritan who was ignored, or the sinners who were made first through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

So regardless of what my “job” is today or tomorrow it is important that I remind myself that God is everywhere and that God is supposed to be in charge of my work, that there is no “one,” no “thing,” and no event more important than fully loving, fully serving and fully knowing him. And that every choice I make should be directed to the choice of Jesus—to know, love and serve others.

So much more concerning than Santa knowing if I have been naughty or nice…. is that God knows my heart and as an adult I have a much higher standard to live up to than do our children and that includes teaching our children what it is that is truly important – God’s laws, not man’s.

Heavenly Father, You command goodness and give us your unconditional love. Help me to strive to behave in the manner in which you created me – willing to obey You, willing to serve others, and willing to be satisfied with all you have given me. Thank you for the constant reminders that you are everywhere. Help me to keep my eyes and ears open to your word. Purify my heart so that even when I fail, I will never be afraid to return to the love of your waiting arms. Amen.

So the reminder that children are to be good for Santa is also our reminder that we are to answer to the God who is everywhere,




Monday, November 3, 2014

Spirit Alive

Friends of Faith:

It seems appropriate that we gained an hour yesterday – an extra hour as nature changes seasons to allow ourselves time to adjust to a new temperature and climate—to remain naturally alive.
I often wonder what would happen if we truly allowed ourselves to live and change in our daily lives as nature does: if we more closely followed God’s design for life – coming to life, living fully, winding down and sleeping—morning, noon, evening and night—spring, summer, fall and winter— birth, childhood, adulthood and death.

It is human to want to take control of nature, to try to form it into some fashion that better suits my own purpose. Instead I should daily pray that God will be and remain my controlling force so that I will do his will rather than my own.
The recent Synod on the Family allowed us to see the Church alive—as it educated itself and sought wisdom and understanding within God’s nature. ‘The work of the synod focused on “the desire to strengthen and reinvigorate the pastoral practice of the church.”’ Its purpose is not and was not to change Church teaching, but to brainstorm Christ’s message in today’s current culture and to find ways to better evangelize Christ’s message to all.

The Synod showed that the Church does not sleep but remains vigilant and alive to protect us within a world of individualism, materialism and relativism, while understanding Christ’s message of healing and mercy for each of us in our human sin and weakness.
Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night….For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. 1 Thes 5: 1-11

I have heard lately the terms “pagans in the pews” and“spirits outside the doors of the Church.” This is what each of us could become if we do not stay “fully alive” by seeking education and constant conversion from Scripture and His Church, from never going into or beyond the church door. It is not enough to just say we are Christian, it is not enough to go to church only when we can or only when we “have to,” and it is not enough to just soak it in without any intention to live it and share it, because Christ calls us to be more – to be Spirit Alive!
As Paul taught the early Christians we are to remain vigilant and ready. While nature may seem to want to let us go to sleep, even in rest there is a restoration and growth. Faith, conversion and evangelization should never fall completely asleep and just like the Synod of Bishops we too should instead seek continuous education for a deeper understanding of Christ’s message through His Church’s teaching of that message.

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. Amen
And I offer an additional prayer for each of us as we participate by voting tomorrow:

Heavenly Father, May we abide by your control, forming our conscience not for our own benefits but for yours, and for the greatest good of all those around us—protecting every life and seeking liberty, not necessarily equality, but dignity for all. May those we elect strive to do your will not theirs, to strive for truth and peace so that justice may be given freely to all. Amen.
May I not be complacent in my faith, but rather seek further learning and understanding in His name,