Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Feast of St. Stephen/1 Christmas

 


December 21, 2021

 + Well, I have to say that today is actually a pretty sad day.

 In case you haven’t heard, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the great former Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa, died this morning at age 90.

 He was of course, a great leader, not only in the Church, but also in the non-violent movement that helped to topple the Apartheid Government of South Africa.

 But he was so much more than that.

 But more than that, he was a towering figure in the Anglican Church, and especially among the more Catholic minded Anglicans and Episcopalians.

 And he was a prophet—a true modern prophet.

 As I have  mentioned many times over the years, Archbishop Tutu was one of my heroes.

 And the world and the Church are a bit more empty today without his presence among us.

 It’s appropriate that Archbishop Tutu died today, on the feast of Sty. Stephen.

 St. Stephen was a person who could look into the future, who held strongly to his Christian faith, who was loudly able to proclaim that faith and live that faith out by his very life, very much like Archbishop Tutu did.  

 Those first founders of our church were a smart bunch.

 They also were a prophetic bunch.

 Naming our church after St. Stephen was a smart thing.


 Of course, the reason they came to this name was because St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Casselton, ND had just closed in 1956.

 And we inherited much of their furnishings.

 But St. Stephen was a great saint for us to have as our patron.

 In the Orthodox and Roman traditions of the Church, the patron saint of a church is viewed as more than just a namesake.

 They are seen as special guardians of that congregation. 

 And so, it is especially wonderful to celebrate a saint like St. Stephen, who is our guardian and who is, no doubt, present among us this morning, with that whole communion of saints, who is always present with us at worship, along with Desmond Tutu as well.

 St. Stephen, of course, was the proto-martyr of the Church

 “Proto” is the important word here.

 Proto means, essentially, first.

 He was the first martyr of the Church.

 He was the first one to die for his open proclamation of  Christ.

 He also is considered a proto deacon in the church.

 He is a special patron saint of deacons—and of all people who share a ministry of servitude to others.

 What better saint can we claim as our patron that St. Stephen?

 He was the first to do many things. 

 Just like we, as a congregation, have been the first in doing many things.

 St. Stephen, in his stance on a few issues, was not always popular obviously.


 There is a reason they dragged him out and stoned him.

 Archbishop Tutu as well was outspoken.

 He too stood up and spoke out against injustice and racism and homophobia and all the things we at St, Stephen’s have stood up and spoken out against.

Archbishop Tutu once said,

 "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

 Well, we certainly have never been shy here at St. Stephen’s for speaking out against injustice in our own Diocese or in the world.

 And speaking out and making the stance we have in the past and the reaction we have received from others, let me tell you, I can feel for both St. Stephen and Archbishop Tutu.

 So, again, talk about two perfect saints for us to celebrate today.

 So yes it’s appropriate that this congregation that has been the first to do many things, is named after St. Stephen.

 When we look back at our 60 year history, just think for a moment about all those people who came through the doors of this church.

 Think about how many of those people who have been hurt by the larger Church.

 Think about how many were frustrated with the Church.

 And more often than not, their relationship with God suffered for it. 

 But they came here searching.

 Searching for true religion.

 Searching for a welcoming and open community.

 So what this true religion? 

 I see the Episcopal Church, as specifically St. Stephen’s,  as making a real solid effort at true religion.

 For me, St. Stephen’s personifies in many ways, what true religion is.

 The Church should be like a dinner party to which everyone is invited. 

 And St. Stephen’s has always been the place that knows this one blunt fact: The only thing there is no room for in true religion is for those who cannot love each other.

 St. Stephen’s is a place very much like a family.

 We don’t always choose the people God has brought into our lives, but we always—ALWAYS—have to love them.

 So what is true religion?

 True religion begins and ends with love.

 We must love one another as God loves us.

 True religion begins with the realization that, first and foremost, God loves each and every one of us. 

 When we can look at that person who drives us crazy and see in that person, someone God loves wholly and completely, then our relationship with that person changes.

 We too are compelled to love that person as well. 

 Love is the beginning and end of true religion. 

 Certainly, St. Stephen’s has always been a place of love. 

 Love has never been a stranger here.

 Love has been offered to God not only on this altar, but among the pews and in the undercroft and in the narthex and in the parking lot. 

 And most importantly in the lives of our members out in the larger world.

 That Love that God has commanded us to share has went out from here into all the world.

 We who are gathered here have been touched in one way or the other by the love that has emanated from this place and these people.

 We are the fortunate ones—the ones who have been transformed and changed by this love.

 We are the lucky ones who have—through our experiences at St. Stephen’s—been able to get a glimpse of true religion.

But our job now is not to cherish it and hold it close to our hearts.

Our job now is to turn around and to continue to share this love with others.

Our job is take this love and reflect it for everyone to see.

So, in a very real sense, we, at St. Stephen’s, are doing what that first St. Stephen did. 

We are striving to do what Archbishop Tutu did.

We have set the standard. 

We have embodied who and what both St. Stephen the Martyr and Desmond Tutu stood for.

Even when it was not popular.

Even when people felt it wasn’t time.

We have stood up again and again for what we have felt is our mission to accept all people in love.

We have journeyed out at times into uncharted territory.

And most importantly, we have, by our love, by our compassion, by our acceptance of all, been a reflection of what the Church—capital C—is truly capable of.

We do all we do as St. Stephen and Archbishop Tutu did it—with our eyes firmly set on Christ, with our lips singing and praying, with our head held high, with love in heart, even if stones and rocks are falling around us.

We do so affirmed in our many ministries.

It is an amazing time to be at St. Stephen’s.

Those poor founders of our church would only be amazed at what this congregation they envisioned in 1956 would one day be.

As we begin another year of ministry, let us do with gratitude to God and one another in our hearts.

Let us shake off the negativity and those nagging doubts that may plague us.

And let us, like St. Stephen and Desmond Tutu, be strong and firm in our faith in God and our convictions of serving others in love.

And may our God—that source of all love, that author and giver of all good things—continue to bless us with love and goodness.

May we continue to flourish and grow. 

And may we continue to venture bravely forward in  all that we continue to do here among us and throughout the world. 

Let us pray.

Holy God, when St. Stephen looked up, he saw you, seated in glory and majesty on your throne with Jesus your Son at your right hand of God; when Desmond Tutu spoke out against the powers of darkness that prevailed, he was sustained and strengthened by you; we are grateful for Stephen and Desmond  and the vision they gave us of what awaits us in your Kingdom. Help us to embody their spirit of strength and vision as we do the ministry you call us to do in this world, and let us, like them, come to that heavenly Kingdom that you have allowed us to see today. We ask this in Jesus' holy Name. Amen.

 



Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas

 


December 25, 2021

 

 

+  Last night at Mass, I mentioned that I’m a church geek.

 

You know how you know I’m a church geek?

 

Because one of my greatest pleasures in life is doing the Christmas morning Mass.

 

Yes, I know.

 

Christmas Eve is beautiful.

 

Really beautiful.

 

But Christmas morning.

 

I don’t know.

 

It’s just just…something so very special.

 

I think that is what Christmas Day is all about.

 

This sense of it all being just…a bit more holy and complete.

 

For me, that captures perfectly this strange feeling I have experiencing this morning how I LOVE a Christmas Day mass

 

And now—this morning— Christmas is here.

 

This morning, we celebrate the Light.

 

And we celebrate the Word.

 

Our Gospel reading for today is one of my favorites.

 

In it we hear:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

 

In the beginning, God was at work in our lives.

 

God was speaking to us form the beginning

 

And God continued to speak to us.

 

 

Today, we celebrate this Word that has been spoken to us—this Word of hope.

 

This Word that God is among us.

 

When we think long and hard about this day, when we ponder it and let it take hold in our lives, what we realized happened on that day when Jesus was born was not just some mythical story.  

 

It was not just the birth of a child under dire circumstances, in some distant, exotic land.  

 

What happened on that day was a joining together—a joining of us and God.

 

God met us half-way.

 

God came to us in our darkness, in our blindness, in our fear—and cast a light that destroyed that darkness, that blindness, that fear.

 

God shed Light on us.

 

And God—in the Word—spoke to us.

 

In both ways, God reached out to us.

 

 God didn’t have to do what God did.  

 

But by doing so, God showed us a remarkable intimacy.

 

But, how do we respond to God’s reaching out to us?

 

We respond by being the ones through whom God is born again and again in this world.

 We need to bring God into reality in this world again and again.

 We need to be the conduits through which God comes to this world.

 We need to be God’s Light

 We need to speak God’s Word of love.

 Why?

 Because God is a God of love.

 Because we are loved by God.

 Because we are accepted by God.

 Because we are—each of us—important to God.

 We are, each of us, broken and imperfect as we may be some times, very important to God.

 Each of us.

 And because we are, we must love others.

 We must give birth to our God so others can know this amazing love as well.

 Knowing this amazing love of God changes everything.

 When we realize that God knows us as individuals.

 That God loves us and accepts each of us for who we are, we are joyful.

 We are hopeful of our future with that God.

 And we want to share this love and this God with others.

 That is what we are celebrating this morning.

 Our hope and joy is in a God who comes and accepts us and loves us for who we are and what we are—a God who understands what it means to live this sometimes frightening uncertain life we live.

 This is the real reason why we are joyful and hopeful on this beautiful morning.

 This is why we are feeling within us a strange sense of longing.

 This is why we are rushing toward our Savior who has come to visit us in what we once thought was our barrenness.

 Let the hope we feel tonight as God our Savior draws close to us stay with us now and always.

 Let the joy we feel tonight as God our Friend comes to us in love be the motivating force in how we live our lives throughout this coming year.

 God is here.

 God is in our midst today.

 God is so near, our very bodies and souls are rejoicing.

 And God loves us.

 That is what we are experiencing this day.

 

In Christ, God’s Love came to us.

 

In Christ, God’s Love became flesh and blood.

 

In Christ, God’s Love became human.

 

And in the face of that realization, we are rejoicing today.

 

We are rejoicing in that love of God personified.

 

We are rejoicing in each other.  

 

We are rejoicing in the glorious beauty of this one holy moment in time.

 

So, let us rejoice.

 

And let us be glad.

 

God is with us.

 

And it is very good!

 

Let us pray.

 

Holy God, you are with us. You are present in our midst. And we rejoice in the Presence for which we have longed for for so long. Fill us this morning with true joy, with true hope, so that we can share this joy and hope with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

 

 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

 


December 24, 2021

 + Most of us, throughout our lives, find ourselves clinging to life’s little pleasures.

 Occasionally, something fills us with such joy and happiness, that we find ourselves just wanting to savor that moment, cling to it, hope it will never end.

 They don’t happen often.

 And we can’t make those moments happen by own concentrated will, even if we try really hard.

 Even more often, we don’t ask for those special moments.

 They just happen when they’re meant to happen and sometimes they come upon us as a wonderful surprise.

 Now, having said this, I’m going to admit something to you that will come as no surprise I’m sure.

 I really am a church geek.

 I love being in church.

 I always have.

 And the best times to be in church were always Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

 One of life’s pleasures for me has always been Christmas Eve.

 And more specifically a Christmas Eve Mass.

 Some of my most pleasant memories are of this night and the liturgies I’ve attended on this night.

 Another of life’s small pleasures is Christmas morning.

 I especially enjoy going to church on Christmas morning.

 The world seems to pristine, so new.

 And one of my greatest pleasures as a priest, is to celebrate the Eucharist with you on this evening that is, in its purest sense, holy.

 And tomorrow morning I am looking forward to celebrating the Eucharist right here.

 I also understand the tendency we all have of getting caught up in society’s celebration of Christmas.

 It’s easy to find ourselves getting a bit hypnotized by the glitz and glamour we see about us.

 I admit I enjoy some of those sparkly Christmas displays.

 And you know what I really enjoy?

 I sometimes really enjoy a good Christmas commercial on TV.

 I’ve probably shared this before at Christmas, but there’s one old commercial that instantly put me back into my childhood Christmases.

 I’m sure you’ll remember it too.

 If not, just look it up on Youtube.

 It begins with the Ink Spots are singing “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire”


 Two very attractive people are in a very modern (by 1980s standards), sparsely decorated office overlooking the Transamerica Building in San Francisco.

 The man introduces himself as “Charles,” the woman as “Catherine.”

 Charles asks Catherine: “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

 “No,” Catherine says. “What is it?”

 We never find out what that question is because, just then, the shadow of a Leer jet flies across the Transamerica building.

 Then announcer comes says: “Share the fantasy. Chanel no. 5”

 For some reason, that commercial was synonymous with Christmas for me as a child.

 So much so, that later, I had to buy my mother a bottle of Chanel no. 5.

 That might sound sweet, but every since then, guess what she wants ever few years?

 Chanel no. 5.

 Let me tell you, that stuff’s expensive!

 Now, I know that that commercial had nothing at all to do with Christmas.

 There wasn’t a Christmas tree in sight in that commercial.

 Nothing about it spoke of Christmas.

 And yet, for me, it WAS Christmas.

 And I remember the joy I felt that first time I bought my mother that bottle of Chanel No. 5.

 So, yes, I understand how easy it is to fall to the temptations of what the world tells us is Christmas.

 But what I think happens to most of us who enjoy those light and airy aspects of Christmas is that we often get so caught up in them, we start finding ourselves led astray into a kind of frivolousness about Christmas.

 We find ourselves led off into a place where Christmas becomes fluffy and saccharine and cartoonish.

 Christmas becomes a kind of billboard.

 That, I think, is what we experience in the secular understanding of Christmas time.

 The glitz and the glamour of the consumer-driven Christmas can be visually stunning.

 It can capture our imagination with its blinking lights and its bright wrapping, or, as in the case of the Chanel No. 5 commercial, it can do it without any bright lights and wrapping.

 But ultimately it promises something that it can’t deliver.

 It promises a joy and a happiness it really doesn’t have.

 It has gloss.

 It has glitter.

 It has a soft, fuzzy glow.

 But it doesn’t have real joy.

 The Christmas we celebrate here tonight, in this church, is a Christmas of real joy.

 But it is a joy of great seriousness as well.

 It is a joy that humbles us and quiets us.

 It is a joy filled with a Light that makes all the glittery, splashy images around us pale in comparison.

 The Christmas we celebrate here is not a frivolous one.

 It is not a light, airy Christmas.

 Yes, it has a baby.

 Yes, it has angels and a bright shining star.

 But these are not bubblegum images.

 A birth of a baby in that time and in that place was a scary and uncertain event.

Angels were not chubby little cherubs rolling about in mad abandon in some cloud-filled other-place.

They were terrifying creatures—messengers of a God of Might and Wonder.

And stars were often seen as omens—as something that could either bring great hope or great terror to the world.

The event we celebrate tonight is THE event in which God breaks through to us.

And whenever God beaks through, it is not some gentle nudge.

It is an event that jars us, provokes us and changes us.

For people sitting in deep darkness, that glaring Light that breaks through into their lives is not the most pleasant thing in the world.

It is blinding and painful.

And what it exposes is sobering.

That is what God does to us.

That is what we are commemorating tonight.

We are commemorating a “break through” from God—an experience with God that leaves us different people than we were before that encounter.

What we experience is a Christmas that promises us something tangible.

It promises us, and delivers, a real joy.

The joy we feel today, the joy we feel at this Child’s birth, as the appearance of these angels, of that bright star, of that Light that breaks through into the darkness of our lives, is a joy that promises us something.

It is a teaser of what awaits us.

It is a glimpse into the life we will have one day.

It is a perfect joy that promises a perfect life.

But just because it is a joyful event, does not mean that it isn’t a serious event.

What we celebrate is serious.

It is an event that causes us to rise up in a joyful happiness, while, at the same time, driving us to our knees in adoration.

It is an event that should cause us not just to return home to our brightly wrapped presents, but it should also send us out into the world to make it, in some small way, a reflection of this life-changing joy that has come into our lives.

Tonight, is one of those moments in which true joy and gladness have come upon us.

That’s what makes this a holy time.

So, cling to this holy moment.

Savor it.

Hold it close.

Pray that it will not end.

 And let this joy you feel tonight be the strength that holds you up when you need to be held.

 Tonight, when we gaze upon this Christ Child, God own very Son, we realize, God has reached out to us.

 In Christ, God has touched us.

 In Christ, God has grasped our hands.

 With Christ, our hands have been laid on God’s heart.

 This is what it is all about.

 God is here, among us.

 This feeling we are feeling right now is the true joy that descends upon us when we realize God has come to us in our collective darkness.

 And this joy that we are feeling is because the Light that has come to us will never, ever darken.

 Let us pray.

Holy God, you are with us. You are present in our midst. And we rejoice in the Presence for which we have longed for for so long. Fill us this evening with true joy, with true hope, so that we can share this joy and hope with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

4 Advent


Dec. 19, 2021

 Luke 1:39-49 (50-56)

 + A few weeks ago, our very own Jean Sando preached a sermon about the Blessed Virgin Mary at one of our Wednesday evening Advent Masses.  

 It was a wonderfully defiant sermon (I don’t know if Jean viewed it as defiant, but it was).

 In it, she addressed some very important issues regarding Mary, especially the Church’s continued view of her as “meek and mild.”

 We are definitely being inundated by “meek and mild” Marys right now!

 Jean also preached about the view of Mary as some perfected virginal being that is held as an unattainable ideal of what good Christian women should be.

 I agreed entirely with Jean’s sermon because she and I shared many of the same frustrations about Mary.

But I do have to say that my frustrations might even be deeper, especially since, as you all know, I have a very deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

She has always been a major presence in my spiritual life.

And I know the psychologists here will have a field day with this, but since my mother died, my devotion to Mary has definitely deepened.

In fact, for me, Mary has always represented much, much more than just the meek and mild image the Church sometimes saddles upon her.  

For me, I think my devotion and love for Mary actually encompasses seeing her as a symbol of feminine aspects of divinity—of God.

Which I think is also very much a reason the Church does the whitewash they sometimes like doing on Mary.

 To approach the feminine aspects of divinity is frightening to the Church.

 As you know, I have been studying Judaism for the last several years, and for my it has definitely deepened my own Christian faith.

 I have found that to truly understand the Gospels and the life of Jesus, I need to sometimes to see what was happening not through Greek, Hellenistic eye (which we as Westerners tends to do all the time), but rather to look at all scripture through a Hebrew lens.

 At times it’s hard to do so.

 But it has also been revolutionary for me, as a Christian and as a priest. 

 Seeing the Gospel stories through a Hebrew lens is sometimes difficult.

 But one aspect of doing so has been the approach to the scriptures we find about viewing representatives of God as divine beings.

 For early Hebrews people it was not uncommon for them to see the people who they believed were sent to them from God as being divine.

 We find this most profoundly in the story of Jacob and the Angel.

 The angel, of course, is not God, but God’s representative.

 But for Jacob, as he wrestled with angel, he felt he was truly wrestling with God.

 Certainly, for the followers of Jesus, who saw him as a very unique representative of God, they saw him as divine.

 And in him, they saw God.

 More importantly, they saw in Jesus a loving, compassionate and wildly inclusive God.  

 It did not take much of a leap for the Greeks to take this Hebrew view of God’s representative and formulate something as complex and mysterious as the Trinity.

 We’re not going to get into all of that today.

 But we can see God’s divinity in other people in scripture as well.

 And when we start seeing that divinity in someone like Mary, we are offered a glimpse of something particularly unique.

 We are offered a glimpse of the feminine aspects of God, which we find in the story of Mary. 

 This is important, because, as Jean pointed out in her sermon, there are not many opportunities in scripture for women to act in the capacity of representative of God.

 But we do see it uniquely in Mary.

 Bear with me.

 In our Gospel reading for today, we find Mary and Elizabeth rejoicing in the ways in which God was working their lives.

 Mary, carrying within her flesh God’s very Son—the Messiah made flesh, this very unique representative of God—carrying divinity within her— and Elizabeth, carrying within her flesh John, who would later be the Baptist calling to us from the Jordan River (and also, might I add, a representative of God to many people as well), meet and there is a spark between them.

 What is that spark?

 That spark is God’s energy at work in them.

 What I have always loved about this story from scripture is that neither Mary nor Elizabeth probably can fully comprehend what is going on within them.

 How could they?

 How could any of us?

 But what they do know is that something strange and wonderful and HOLY has happened.

 God is happening. And in a big way!

 Mary, the young virgin, has conceived under mysterious and certainly scandalous circumstances and is about to give birth.

 And Elizabeth, the barren elderly woman, also is also about to give birth.

 Neither should be having a child.

 Yet, somehow, they both are.

 These sort of things don’t happen in ordinary life.

 Certainly nothing even remotely like this happened before in the lives of these two  Jewish women.

 But now, here they were, greeting each other, both of them pregnant with children that came to them by miraculous means.

 And, although they might not fully understand why or how, they feel real hope and joy at what has happened to them.

 The full expression of this hope and joy finds it voice in the words of Mary’s song.

 “My soul glorifies the LORD

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

 And in doing so, Mary truly does embody God.

 The divine dwells within her in a very unique and beautiful way.

 And because God does, she becomes something more.

 She becomes a unique representative of God.

 Certainly she is a representative of God to Elizabeth.

 And certainly she continues to be to many of us even today.

 But, of course, it can’t just end there.

 It is isn’t enough that we simply look to others a representatives of God.

 Essentially this is our goal as well.

 It is our goal to embody God’s Light and Love and Presence within each of us as well. 

We are—each of us—called to be unique representatives of God in this world.

 We, like Mary, we are called to carry within us Jesus.

 Wherever we go, we should bear Jesus within us.

 Like Mary, God’s own gift to us dwells within us.

 Like Mary, God’s very Word dwells within us!

 And like Mary, we should be able to rejoice as well, at this fact that Jesus dwells within us.

 We too should sing to God, in joy and hope:

 “My soul glorifies the LORD

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

 Now, we have been hearing the Magnificat quite a bit this morning, as we should.

 This “Song of Mary” is one of my beautiful scriptures we have.

 But before we think this is some nice little song to God from innocent teenage girl, I would like you to remember how radical it really is.

 How defiant it is.

 And how political it is.

 Oh, you didn’t catch Mary’s political jab?

 It’s right there:

 “…[God] has scattered the proud in their conceit.

[God] has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.”

 This is no meek and mild teenager!

 For her, living there, in that time, that says a lot.

 And it’s echoing pretty loudly for us here and now.

 God, we realize from this Song of Mary, does not let the “proud” in their conceit last long in that place.

 We know that God has no problem casting down the mighty from their thrones.

 Mary’s song of defiance is our song of defiance today as well.

 And that, even in our defiance, we are full of hope in a God truly does do these things.

 Like both Mary and Elizabeth, this hope and joy we are experiencing later this week should be coming up from our very centers.

 This is really how we should approach the miracle that we commemorate on Friday evening and Saturday.

 Like Mary and Elizabeth, we will never fully understand how or why Jesus—God’s very Son made flesh, Gods divinity—has come to us as this little child in a dark stable in the Middle East, but it has happened and, because it happened, we are a different people.

 Our lives are different because of what happened that evening.

 That is how God works.

 God loves us enough that everything we have feared will be taken from us.

 And that is what we are rejoicing in, along with Mary and Elizabeth, this morning.

 Our true hope and joy is not in brightly colored lights and a pile of presents until a decorated tree.

 Our true hope and joy is not found in the malls or the stores.

 Our hope and  joy is not found in Amazon or Etsy (though I really love both Amazon and Etsy)

 Our true hope and joy does not come to us with things that will, a week from now, be a fading memory.

 Our hope and joy is in that Baby who, as he draws near, causes us to leap up with joy at his very presence.

 Our hope and joy is in that almighty and incredible God has send us the Messiah, the anointed One, the One promised in the prophecies of scripture, in this innocent child, born to a defiant teenager in a dusty distant land.

 Our hope and joy is in a God who send us this amazing gift—who has sent us LOVE—real and abiding LOVE--with a face like our face and flesh like our flesh.

 LOVE embodied.

 This is the real reason why we are joyful and hopeful on this beautiful winter morning—on this last Sunday of Advent.

 This is why we are feeling within us a strange leaping.

 This is why we rushing toward God’s very Messiah who has come to visit us in what we once thought was our barrenness.

 Let the hope we feel today as Jesus draws close to us stay with us now and always.

 Let the joy we feel today as Jesus comes to us in love be the motivating force in how we live our lives throughout this coming year.

  Let us greet God’s chosen One with all that we have within us and let us welcome him into the shelter of our hearts.

 And, with Mary, let us sing to the God who sends Jesus to us with all our hearts,

 “My soul glorifies in you, O Lord,

and my spirit truly rejoices in you, O God, my Savior.”

 Let us pray.

 Our souls glorify you, O God. Our spirits truly do rejoice in you. Visit us, here in this place in which we dwell, and live within us. Let us carry your Presence with us wherever we may go. And go with us wherever we may go. Let us be your representatives to those who need your love, your light, your radical, all-inclusive love, now and always. We ask this in the Name of Jesus our Messiah who is about to dawn like the Sun into the night of our souls. Amen. 

The Requiem Mass for Jonathan Gilbert

  The Requiem Mass for Jonathan Gilbert March 29, 1978- April 12, 2022 June 25, 2022 + Well, we gather today not really wanting to b...