Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"On the Edge"

 
 
While traveling separately through the countryside late one afternoon, a Hindu, a Rabbi, and a Critic were caught in the same area by a terrific thunderstorm. They sought shelter at a nearby farmhouse.  “That storm will be raging for hours,’ the farmer told them. “You’d better stay here for the night. The problem is, there’s only room enough for two of you. One of you’ll have to sleep in the barn.”

“I’ll be the one,” said the Hindu.  “A little hardship is nothing to me.” He went out to the barn.  A few minutes later there was a knock on the door.  It was the Hindu.  “I’m sorry.” He told the others, “but there is a cow in the barn.  According to my religion, cows are sacred, and one must not intrude into their space.”

“Don’t worry,” said the Rabbi.  “Make yourself comfortable here.  I’ll go to sleep in the barn.” He went out to the barn.  A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was the Rabbi.  “I hate to be a bother,” he said, “but there is a pig in the barn.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing my sleeping quarters with a pig.”

“Oh, all right,” said the Critic.  “I will go sleep in the barn.” He went out to the barn. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was the cow and the pig. (Author Unknown)

In our Gospel today, Jesus did not run away from the sharp criticism of the townspeople.  In fact, he stood his ground – he was up to his heart-space filled with Mission energy and ready to proclaim that the Reign of God goes beyond the boundaries and borders of traditions. There is amazement at first with the grace and beauty of his words. Jesus will do something unheard of in his culture – he will direct his ministry even to the Gentiles. Then the crowd becomes easily twisted with rage and rejection. The angered mob, no longer neighborly, leads him out of the synagogue, to the top of the hill and to the brink of the precipice.  But he, effortlessly, passes through this “perfect storm” of rejection. There is “no return of violence for violence. Soundlessly . . . divine freedom walks right though the seething mob, its irresistible force bound by nothing on earth. . .”

Something to ponder:

“Leaving home takes courage. We have to be brave enough to explore our questions, to cultivate our dissatisfaction with the present state of things, to notice what disturbs us, what feels unfair, terrible, and heartbreaking. We have to be unafraid to look reality in the eye and notice what’s really going on. If what we see opens our hearts, this is a good thing, because that’s where our courage is found. With open hearts, we can bravely begin searching. We can go into the world with our questions, carried by our yearning to find a simpler and more effective way to live life and to benefit more people.

• What issues consistently get your attention?  Which ones make you angry? Which one make you excited?
• Have you glimpsed or experienced a future that inspires and motivates you?
• What do you want to be for this world?  What is the contribution you hope to make?
• Are you willing to risk being changed by this journey?” (Walk Out Walk On by Margaret Wheatly and Deborah Frieze)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Presentation and Purification!



This Saturday we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation, which is an ancient celebration that commemorates the purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus in the temple; this occurred 40 days after his birth as prescribed by Jewish law. According to Mosaic Law, a mother who had given birth to a boy was considered “unclean” for seven days. According to Jewish law, the firstborn male child belonged to God, and the parents had to "buy him back" on the 40th day after his birth, by offering a sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” in the temple. On that same day, the mother would be ritually purified. 

Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph’s sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons, shows that Mary and Joseph were very poor. Once in the temple, Jesus was "anointed" by the prayer of Simeon, in the presence of Anna the prophetess. Simeon, upon seeing the Messiah, gave thanks to the Lord, singing a hymn.

       “God, you can now release your servant, release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I have see your salvation, it is now out in the open for everyone to see. A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and the glory for your people Israel.”
Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words.  Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother:
“This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel. A figure misunderstood and contradicted - the pain of a sword-thrust through you – But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.”  (From The Message)
Simeon thus foreshadowed the crucifixion and the sorrows of Mary at seeing the death of her Son.

My “poetic musings” on this feast:
Embracement
A presentation in the temple.  A mother purified according to the Law.  A child anointed, blessed, and praised.  A child cradled in the feeble arms of faithful Simeon. Simeon ~ one not to experience death until his eyes beheld his Savior. Yet within his embrace, he holds the one named - Amazing Counselor, Strong God, and Prince of Peace!           

Anna ~ Prophetess, temple-dweller, and widowed-worshiper gives praise and thanks with full voice for this child of redemption. She has fasted, prayed, and waited eagerly to be filled with the richness of this sacred moment.

Both old ones, fragile in age and sight, now experience crystal clear vision of the God-child – the awaited one who now rests upon their breasts; the child receives blessings, praise, and anointing in this ritual of purification.

A quiet knowing energy whispers through the hearts of these holy ones, for in a time yet to be, this child will one day be held in the arms of his grieving mother upon removal from his cross of contradiction.  He will be touched with fragrant oils of anointing once again as he is presented within his Passover tomb.  Within this temple of rock, he will be embraced by Mother Earth, clasped to her breast - only to enter the deep mystery of redemptive resting, waiting, readying to RISE with sun-energy!  Alleluia!

And so little child, grow in the wisdom of the Spirit, and in favor of God. Your time has come; your hour is now - for you will preach the Good News to the poor, announce pardon to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, set the burdened and battered free, and proclaim - THIS IS GOD’S YEAR TO ACT!

Child of Favor, O Child Anointed - Child Embraced – teach us to release all that is held captive and oppressed within our spirits; teach us to know and gently embrace the wisdom deep within our souls that will free us so that we, too, may proclaim Good News, be GOOD NEWS! Amen! Amen!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mission Movers Part II


A son and his father were walking in the mountains.  Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: “AAAhhhhhhhh!” To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhh!”  Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” He receives the answer: “Who are you?”  Angered at the response, the little boy screams: “Coward!” He receives the answer: “Coward!”  He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?” The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.” This time the father screams to the mountain: " I admire you! The voice answers: "I admire you!" Again the man screams: “You are a champion!” The voice answers: “You are a champion!”

The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: “People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life;  Life will give you back everything you have given to it.”  (Your life is not a coincidence.  It's a reflection of you!" - Author Unknown)


"Life will give you back everything you have given it.”  This week on the feast of St. Agnes of Rome, January 21, we “unveiled” the two walls in our lower level of our motherhouse that are the Historical Wall and the Legacy Wall. These walls are “museum like” – although one dimensional  – they tell the story of CSA – our mission, charism, and ministry through photos and inspirational  stories that are named, “Courageous Initiatives.”  

CSA has truly given much over its 155 years in existence – Being and BUILDing community and carrying out its Mission:  The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (also known as CSA) is a nonprofit congregation of sisters who strive to minister with simplicity and hospitality in the fields of education, health care, pastoral ministry and social service.

We are "women of spirit", dedicated to promoting justice and building community throughout various areas of the U.S. and Latin America. Our hands-on ministries include nursing, leadership training, spiritual direction, hospice care, teaching, advocacy, holistic healthcare, and more. We are actively involved with U.S. legislative, U.N. and global partnerships regarding issues at the heart of our ministries: justice, poverty, health care initiatives, and empowering and educating women and children around the world.

We are committed to the transformation of the world, the Church and ourselves through promoting:
systemic change for the quality of life
justice for the economically poor
furtherance of the role of women in church and society
mutuality, inclusivity and collaboration
We invite you to join us today - in prayer, in financial partnership, in vocation. By sharing our lives and our faith in community, we support one another to live with singleness of purpose: that among us and in our world the Risen Christ be discovered and revealed.

I am honored and proud to be a member of these “Women of Spirit” -  who through these “Walls of Story” – tell of how CSA has given back again and again “echoing”  its mission, purpose and call to all whom we serve and beyond!  If you are considering a religious life style, please contact our website at www.csasisters.org and click on JOIN US for more information.  
However, the other part of the story is that sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many have given to CSA again and again over these 155 years as well "echoing" generosity, support, encouragement, and hope.  They share in our story, our mission, our charism and in our ministries.  Life is a "team effort"  - mission lived out is never a solo flight -  We all are "champions" of God's mission revealed through the Spirit.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mission Movers!




A story is told of how a visitor arrived at a quarry who asked the men who were working there what they were doing. ‘Can’t you see I’m breaking up stone?’ said one gruffly.  ‘I’m making a living for my family,’ said the second man. The third man had a greater vision. ‘I’m helping to build a cathedral,’ he replied with a glowing smile.

This week, Barack Obama stood on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and proclaimed the oath of office for President of the United States - as he embarked on his second term with new vision, hopes, and goals.  He delivered his Second Inaugural Address – his Mission Statement – that will propel him over these next four years.  He is not breaking up stones, or just earning a living.  He is “charged up” to build this country. 

In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus, too, has been “charged up” by his desert experience and now has a greater vision. “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.”  No doubt the Galilean paparazzi were weaving in and out of the crowd to catch a better glimpse of this hometown boy who has returned to preach in the synagogue. “There were no priests in the synagogue, which was simply a prayer hall. The priests were in the Temple, the only place where sacrifice was held. Every male Jew had a right to read the Scriptures and to speak to the assembly.”

In this Gospel selection, Jesus comes to synagogue in Nazareth and unrolls the scroll and reads the words of the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”   This is his Mission Statement – It was a passage about the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is announcing that he himself is that Messiah. He applies the words of the prophet to himself. “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me [at his baptism], for he has anointed me.”  He is setting out to build the reign of God – it will cost him everything – even his life!  

Luke will give us high definition quality of who God is through the continued revelation of his Gospel – for we will hear of how the blind will be given sight through the application of spit and mud.  The poor will be preached the Good News on the grassy hillsides; those held captive by the Romans or through oppressive laws and regulations, customs and traditions will experience liberation with words of healing, reconciliation, and mercy.  The Spirit of God is loose and all is fulfilled in our hearing!

So what is the Good News for us to ponder?

  • Where in our lives are we blind, oppressed, held captive, experience a poverty that is like a deep hole, and are in need of liberation?
  • Try writing your own Mission Statement and stand in front of a mirror and proclaim it to witness God gifts to be of service to all no matter the cost.

An enthusiastic young man who had just graduated as a plumber was taken to see Niagara Falls.  He studied it for a minute, and then said, “I think I can fix this.” (A true Mission Mover!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Agnes - A woman before her time!



Someone once wrote: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Today, January 21st, we gather to remember and to celebrate St. Agnes of Rome, under whose patronage the Sisters of St. Agnes were founded. She declared herself Christian in a pagan society and committed herself to remain virgin in a patriarchal culture.  She gave testimony that she had chosen Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior with the public sacrifice of her life.

Much of her life and death are surrounded by legend, but early writings tell us that Agnes was born into a wealthy and powerful Roman Christian family and, according to tradition, she suffered martyrdom at the age of 12 or 13 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian on January 21, in the year 305.

The story is told how the Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, for women, at that time, were property of the State and had children to promote the State’s agenda.  But Agnes refused a forced marriage and remained adamant that she had consecrated her virginity to Jesus Christ.  Her refusal was considered an act of treason and punishable by death.  At that time, Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, so Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel.  In one version of the story, it is said, that as she processed through the streets, Agnes prayed, and her hair grew and covered her entire body.

Some also asserted that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind.  She was sentenced to death with many other Christian companions who refused to worship the Roman gods and to pay homage to the emperor as divine.

Agnes grew up in a patriarchal culture, whose religion included many gods – a religion of laws, customs, and prescriptions that no longer had the power to define her.  Agnes chose a new way of life – a life of virginity.  She was resolute in choosing her own power in Christ to define her new identity.

So what is the Good News for us today?

  • Our God continues to invite everyone to live with hope, trust, courage, and faith.  We are all called to be witnesses of the Risen Christ. 
  • As women and men religious, associates, friends, and partners in ministry, it is on such a feast as today, that we are invited to ponder our own witness to our faith and the values of our Christian lives.
  • That like Agnes, when we find ourselves standing “naked” in our vulnerabilities, limitations, powerlessness, doubts, dilemmas, and decisions that affect the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political challenges of life, may we more and more learn to call upon the Spirit for guidance, grit, and grace – for it is in God that we live and move and have our being.
    
    Tomb of St. Agnes in Rome
    


Thursday, January 17, 2013

"The Wedding Guest"


In John’s Gospel (John 2: 1-11) we get a glimpse of what our God does best and enjoys the most – God enjoys being with people in the ordinary and extraordinary times of their lives. God desires to be “guest” in the everyday happenings of our lives. In John’s Gospel, there are many layers and levels of meaning as well as a great many symbols throughout his writings.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus, his Mother, and disciples are invited to a wedding celebration. Now his time has come – for in this “Book of Signs”, his public ministry begins.  Here at this wedding, he is not the host of the feast, but a guest like everyone else. His ministry now opens with a gesture of hospitality in an intimate, personal, and familial setting. With the sensitivity of his Mother, he is informed that the wine at the feast has run out.  (We all know how this can be an embarrassment for the Wedding Planner and the bride and groom!) He is now moved to respond not only to the lack of wine but to free the young couple from shame and embarrassment.

In his creative imagination, he notices the six stone water jars standing dutifully at the entrance of the home. These jars held 20-30 gallons of water for the Jewish purification rituals of washing hands after each course of the meal. It is here within these jars that the power and presence of God is experienced.  Much like in Genesis: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. . .” - that with Jesus’ blessing hovering over the waters within the jars, scarcity becomes abundance, shame is released and honor restored, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, and simple waters of purification now become choice wine.  Can you imagine? Now they have at least 150 -180 gallons of choice wine!  A wine that probably would win First Prize at a wine tasting forum which selects the best wine to meet the criteria of outstanding quality, value, availability, and excitement! 

However, in this “sign” – the old is made new – the waters of purification reflecting tradition and customs has now been transformed into a new wine. This is a new time; a new age, the Kingdom is NOW! – the Messiah is in their midst – God is “in the flesh” and Jesus is the New Wine!!  God is manifesting abundance, extravagance, endless and unconditional generosity in the person of Jesus! Let us celebrate!

So what is the Good News for us today?  Let us reflect on the following selection, Everything Possible by Ed Hayes, Prayers for the Domestic Church

We are grateful, in this prayer, for those persons who, through their gifts of excitement and adventure have taught us not to fear change, nor resist the new.
We are thankful for your Son, your Sacred Word, who spoke to us of new wine for new wine skins, and who calls us daily to a new kingdom and to a new covenant.
May our hearts be ever-changing, ever in growth as we journey to You, our Mysterious Source, you who are forever fresh and new yet forever the same. Blessed are You, Lord our God, who gives spice to life with change. Amen.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cana Up-close and Personal!


This Sunday, the Gospel is the Wedding at Cana: here are my reflections. 



A few years ago my niece, Debbie, and her husband-to be, John, invited me to do the “reflection” at their wedding ceremony.  I was thrilled and honored.  However, to gather their sacred story, I asked if I could interview them before hand. They accepted my request and this is what we did.  

The three of us met one evening of which I had two pitchers placed in front of them.  One was filled with water, the other one empty. When we settled in, we prayed and then began our sharing. Each time either one answered, they poured water into the empty pitcher until it was filled to the brim.  
Here are a few of the questions I asked them: 
John, what are the gifts that you see Debbie brings to your marriage?  
Debbie, what are the gifts that John brings to your marriage?
John, how does Debbie help you grow to be a better person?
Debbie, how does John help you grow to be a better person?
What are your hopes and values?
What do you hold sacred in your relationship?

On the day of their wedding, I placed the pitcher filled with the “waters of their friendship” in front of the podium. I also had a second “empty” pitcher along side of the one with water. Thus when I began my “reflections” and re-telling of our night of sharing, I poured some water from one pitcher into the “empty” pitcher.  However, with each pouring of the water into the second pitcher, the water was noticeably turning red like a rich wine!  The crowd began to have a soft hum. 

You see, I had put a large amount of red food coloring in the second pitcher and with each addition of water, the “wine” like water began to fill the pitcher. 

I went on to say that as we all witness Debbie and John’s marriage ceremony, we also witness that the “waters of their friendship” were becoming transformed into a rich wine of faith-filled married love.  This transformation continues to deepen for a life time.  And it has – their story continues to spill over with generosity and love for family, friends, relatives, and for all whom they serve through their work and relationships.

So what is the Good News today?
What "waters" in your life are waiting to be transformed?
What is the "rich wine" that you share with family, friends, co-workers, etc., that brings healing, hope, compassion, peace, or forgiveness?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jesus' Baptism~ A purpose driven life!



Baptism of Christ by Dave Zelenka 2005
In 2002, Baptist pastor, Rick Warren published his book, The Purpose Driven Life. In the first year of its publication, there were over 11 million copies sold.  Within 4 years there were over 30 million copies sold and it became an international best seller translated into more than 50 languages. Why was this book so popular? Could it be that in today’s pop culture and social networking the messages that come to us are - we don’t have enough, we are not good enough, and we are not enough – which leaves people “wobbly within” and anxious to have someone help them understand God’s purpose and path for their lives?  Or could it just be that we fear to slow down, to become quieted, and still  - attempting to avoid pondering the questions that everyone eventually faces in life, which are: Why am I here?  What is my purpose?

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus has been walking around with the same questions – yet something happened to Jesus when he was baptized. He was changed – charged – transformed! Something spectacular happened – the heavens opened, the Spirit came upon him, and there was cloud-talk with a voice that said, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” Nothing like high drama and special effects to get our attention! With these intimate and consoling words, Jesus was changed forever and charged with the energy of the Spirit as he came up from the waters of the Jordan  His purpose was revealed. His mission was announced. No discernment or searching needed. All he need do in his short earthly life is to become it – his mission, his purpose!! As John Dear writes: “God does not mince words or make small talk. God gets right to the heart of the matter.”

As baptized followers of Jesus, we, too, stand in readiness, in vulnerability, in authenticity as we hear in our depths that God says to each one of us, “You are my beloved.”  We, too, are charged by the Spirit to claim, accept, honor, and embrace who we are – for we are beloved!

This being beloved carries personal, spiritual, social, interpersonal, and global implications. If we are willing to take this seriously, it means that we as God’s beloved have to be open to the awesome and wonderful news that every other human being in the world is also a beloved daughter or son of God – it means that we are all one; we are all chosen; we are all called to bring sight to the blind, release to those held captive, light to those who wander in darkness, and justice to those who are oppressed.

As followers of Jesus, we share in his baptism, his ministry, his death and resurrection. It means that just as Jesus heard the cloud-talk-affirmation, “You are my beloved,” God says to each of us, “You are my beloved.” God is loving us, affirming us; God is delighting in us, and calling all of us into our true Self, and to our true purpose.

Something to Ponder: “We stop searching for purpose, we become it.” ( I Will Not Die An  Unlived Life by Dawna Markova)

Baptism of Christ #2 by Daniel Bonnell
http://www.bpkearneyaddiction.com/artwork.aspx

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holy Stubbornness!


A short while ago, I participated in a spiritual direction instruction on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises with other participants who were entering into their second year of ministry preparation as spiritual directors. As I began to listen to the presenters speaking of meditation, they invited us to imagine ourselves at the birth of Jesus and present in the stable. I found myself resisting this form of prayer and I said to myself, “This is not how I pray. I am not comfortable with this form of meditation. The fewer the words, thoughts, and images, the better for me to be just present to the Presence.” Well, God thought otherwise. Somehow I was given a sacred nudge to just try it and open myself to the grace of the moment and the Gospel. The reflection below is the result of my struggle - God loves us even when we “act up” or “act out” as God delights and dares to move in and through our holy stubbornness.

Servant Freed! 

I stand in the darkened fissure of the stable,
lit only by the glowing face of the boy-child.
Parent eyes glistening with holy wonder,
while heavened stars point to
mangered Messiah.
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand in the darkened temple portico
observing those of the Law encircling
the teacher-child.
His face radiates with
purpose and passion about God’s call!
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand in the Cana garden among
the six stoneware water jars.
His mother moving his mission,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Waters of purification touched
with words of transformation
become intoxicating wedding wine.
Speak these words over me . . .
fill me to the brim with courage as
I listen, as I wonder, as I breathe,
for I am only servant.

I stand along the steep grassy edges of the
partial rocky hillside,
His face emits energy with each spoken,
“Blessed are you!”
I listen, I wonder, I breathe,
for I am only servant.
I stand in the upper room, corner-concealed,
yet his eyes beckon me to move
within his touch.
His carpentered hands accept each foot
as with the artistry of fitting rough hewn wood.
With tender, soothing, healing – intimate
knowing, he bends to wash my feet.

Upon this embrace - God-light, God-love
streams into my very soul-
I listen and hear within me:
Untie her.
What do you want me to do for you?
Pick up your mat.
I do not condemn you.
You are worth more than many sparrows.
You are no longer servant – you are friend.
I wonder, I breathe . . .

 sjh

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Epiphany 2013! - Part II




This moment is an “epiphany moment” – there is a sudden spiritual intuitive awareness, a flash of insight that God has come to more than the people of Israel – God is shining forth to all peoples – a “showing off” of God’s unconditional love of all people through the smile and laughter of a tender new born baby.

Now after they experience looking upon God’s face, there is a newer and deeper awareness of being welcomed, accepted, and loved.  They realize that their encounter with Jesus truly changes them and they now see life differently.  Could it be that their past efforts at searching constellations, charts, maps, wisdom figures, and robed rulers for knowing certainties will no longer give them what they truly desire?

God whispers to them in their dreams and warns them of the danger they will meet if they return to Herod.  Having been in the presence of God, they discover that they need to let go of old routes of travel and return home another way.  They leave with new inner knowing; they are filled with joy and awe and try to hold the meaning and mystery of this personal encounter with one who is beyond all galaxies, the Prince of Peace!

This feast reveals to us that for God there are no foreigners, no strangers, no aliens and no outsiders.  We all belong to our God no matter what external physical or cultural difference there may be between us; we all belong to God no matter what religious convictions or lifestyle differences there may be between us.  Our God is inclusive, unpredictable, imaginative, compassionate, creative, and an “infinitely incomprehensible holy mystery. . . "  This feast means that we are all called to be “epiphany people."  There is no turning back to “old routes” – just an on-going commitment to “shine forth” with courage, compassion, vision, and hope.

For reflection!
• What are the stars in our lives and to what is God calling us at this time?  Is there a star that beckons to lead us where we would choose not to go?
• Where does God want us to search for new Bethlehems and new Nazareths for our world so that we will discover how to live in right relationship with all creation, to dialog toward peacemaking, and to live in harmony with others, no matter under what faith constellation they live?
• Let us be grateful for the wise-women and wise-men in our lives who have been the star-gazers of truth, the whispers of compassion, forgiveness, and hope and who have brought to us their gift of a listening heart.

Epiphany Extras!
• “Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible, Love indestructible, in frailty appears." (G. Kendrick)
 
• A little girl was trying to persuade her father to come to her school nativity play. ‘I’m to be one of the three kings,’ she said, ‘and carry the Frankenstein.’

• Author Sue Monk Kidd: When my daughter was small she got the dubious part of the Bethlehem star in a Christmas play.  After her first rehearsal she burst through the door with her costume, a five-pointed star lined in shiny gold tinsel designed to drape over her like a sandwich board. "What exactly will you be doing in the play?" I asked her. 
"I just stand there and shine." she told me. I've never forgotten that response.

• Ms. Terri asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Kyle's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent.  “The Flight to Egypt,” was his reply.
Pointing at each figure, Ms. Terri said, "That must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, But who is the fourth person?” “Oh, that's Pontius-the pilot.”

• Reginald's New Year Diet
Reginald was terribly overweight after Christmas, so his doctor placed him on a strict diet. 'I want you to eat regularly for two days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for two weeks. The next time I see you, you'll have lost at least five pounds, 'his doctor assured him.
When Reginald returned he shocked his doctor by having lost almost twenty pounds. 'Why, that's amazing, 'the doctor said, greatly impressed, 'You certainly must have followed my instructions.'
Reginald nodded, 'I'll tell you what though, I thought I was going to drop dead on the third day.' 'Why, from hunger?' asked his doctor. 'No, from all that skipping.' 
 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Epiphany 2013! - Part I



“At the heart of Christian faith is the almost unbelievable idea that the infinitely incomprehensible holy mystery of God does not remain forever remote but draws near in radical proximity to the world.” (Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God)

We celebrate this Sunday the feast of the Epiphany (Little Christmas) in honor of the incomprehensible, unspeakable nearness, and holy mystery of God as manifested to the Gentiles.  This Gospel  story http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010613.cfm  has the makings of a Hollywood movie with high drama, a plot which features desert travel, guiding stars, divine dreaming, a dark force of threatening danger accompanied with the shadows of envy, revenge, and power. And in contrast,  a vulnerable new born child.

These Magi were Gentiles from the Persian priestly class from the East, which is present day Iraq and Iran.  They were wisdom figures, interpreters of dreams, star-gazers, who observed the movements of the plants and stars.  Scholars do not know which star they saw, but it spoke to them about the entry of a king into the world.  They traveled to Jerusalem thinking that the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies was to be found there.

The Magi confront King Herod, telling him that they seek a new ruler – a new Light – a new Truth! This does not go over well with Herod.  He gets distressed when he hears of their intentions.  The Gospel story continues to reveal Herod’s secret meeting with the Magi, desiring his need to find this new born king, but it is only false piety, arrogance, paranoia, and hate that rule his heart.

The Magi continue their trek across deserts, without any assistance of Map Quest, or a spiritual GPS – with only the light of an extraordinary star which stops over the place where the child is in the small insignificant town of Bethlehem.  This drama continues to reveal that they entered the home, finding Jesus in the arms of his mother - they are filled with joy at the sight!!

Creator of the Stars; God of Epiphanies, You are the Great Star; You have marked our paths with light; You have filled our sky with stars naming each star,
Guiding it until it shines into our hearts; Awakening us to deeper seeing, new revelations, and brighter epiphanies
(Author ~ Macrina Wiederkehr)

To Be Continued: