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“No Magic Formula”

John 16: 24: “Until now you have asked for nothing in My Name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” Like the Sign of the Cross, the Name of Jesus is not just “a touch of magic” to ensure God grants our desires. To ask in Jesus’ Name means to ask as He would ask: Not in selfishness or greed or unrighteousness, but raising requests for the sake of others and for the furtherance of the Kingdom and for the glory of God. When we do, today’s Feast of the Holy Name will have more meaning than any mere turning of a calendar page ever could.

“Wise about What?”

Ephesians 1: 17: “,,, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” We all want wisdom considering what career choice to take, whether to go out with that person who’s been asking us, and the answer to number 12 on that tough math quiz. Those are all things requiring wisdom, but far more important to have is knowledge of God. The others are temporal questions, but the extent of how well we know God affects the quality of our lives, today and tomorrow. Get to know Him!.

First Sunday After Christmas Day: Feast of the Holy Family

“Purity of Mission” I want to look at this particular verse in Luke 2:25: “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.” Perhaps this verse doesn’t mean very much to us, because the word ‘consolation’ just doesn’t mean anything special to us anymore. Usually consolation is when you don’t get what you really want, or something didn’t turn out the way you plan, and someone says, “Well, if it’s any consolation, your enemy didn’t do well either.” Or it’s the prize they give to the one who doesn’t win – the consolation prize. Who wants that? The consolation prize is what they give to the one who finishes third

“Divine Memory”

Isaiah 26: 8b: “We have waited for You eagerly; Your Name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.” What makes God’s Name and memory so special that Isaiah can call it our soul’s desire? His Name refers not just to His ID tag, but to His character, His nature, and His ways. That’s to be longed for! And His memory? Unlike us, God remembers things the way they truly happened, not colored by our need to justify ourselves and make ourselves out to be the hero. On this day before the Feast of the Holy Name, let’s seek to walk like Christ and remember like God!

First Sunday After Christmas Day

What would be better, if you were born before Christ’ time, after Christ’s time, or during Christ’ time? For me, I would rather be born during the time when Christ walked the earth. I would have the privilege to see Jesus in person. He may have been incarnate in a human body, but I am sure that His image was the same as being the Son of God, because God said we are created in His image. I may be on the opposite side of the time line, but still Christ died for me and also gained my salvation through His death on the cross. Few people at that time had discernment that this man called Jesus would be their Savior. Few people were led by the Holy Spirit to know that this man called Jesus would be

Feast of the Holy Family: "Purity of Mission"

First Sunday after Christmas Day / Feast of the Holy Family: December 30, 2018 Isaiah 61: 10-62: 3/Psalm 148/Galatians 4: 1-7/Luke 2: 22-32 I want to look at this particular verse in Luke 2:25: “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.” Perhaps this verse doesn’t mean very much to us, because the word ‘consolation’ just doesn’t mean anything special to us anymore. Usually consolation is when you don’t get what you really want, or something didn’t turn out the way you plan, and someone says, “Well, if it’s any consolation, your enemy didn’t do well either.” Or it’s the prize they give to the one who does

“Suddenly Relevant”

Isaiah 12: 6: “Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” For seven centuries the Israelites had been singing this psalm of Isaiah without getting its full meaning. On Christmas morning it all became clear. This was Emmanuel! God was in their midst! The habitation of God was now with men, and He would ever dwell with them as their God. Happy season of Christmas, all you people of God!

“Precious Babes”

Matthew 18: 14: “Thus it is not the will of your Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” Lest anyone think that the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem were considered collateral damage to help young Jesus escape the clutches of the despicable Herod (whom some today try to make into a hero), see how much Jesus loves His little ones. Three times here he warns against causing them to stumble or perish. The love is obvious. Happy Feast Day, Holy Innocents!

“A Heart for Love”

John: 13: 35: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, when you have love for one another.” Of all the apostles and others who heard Jesus give this game-changing statement in the Upper Room that night, only St. John included it in his writings. They don’t call him the apostle of love for nothing! He, above all the other apostles and evangelists, combined a clear understanding of deep subjects like the Incarnation with a profound comprehension and practice of love as the foundation of it all. Happy Feast Day, St. John!

“Qualifications for Table-Waiting”

Acts 6: 2, 5, 8: “It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom … and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit … and Stephen, full of grace and power ….” So, you’re looking for someone to serve the people. Surely an entry-level job! But they sought for one filled with faith, the Holy Spirit, and wisdom, along with grace and power. They finally found him in Stephen. Don’t underestimate the importance (and degree of difficulty) of serving people. Happy Feast Day, St. Stephen!

“Ho, Ho, Ho, Shatter!”

Psalm 2: 9; 110: 6: “You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware ... He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will scatter the chief men over a broad country.” Don’t you love the Christmas Day Psalms – they’re so unexpected! Earthenware-like shattering and corpse-filled nations, the Babe in the manger hardly seems capable of. But that’s why He came, to redeem, then to rule. And while the prophetic language here may seem a little graphic, it’s making a point: The Son didn’t come to earth with game-playing in mind. Merry Christmas!

“Now, but not yet …”

Luke 1: 78b-80: “The Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” Although today is usually considered Christmas Eve, that is technically only true at sundown. More precisely today, in conjunction with yesterday, comprises the fourth week of Advent. Here we see Advent’s message come forth one last time – the Dayspring is right at the door, but the darkness is yet present. It may still be a day of desert-dwelling at times (v. 80), but we know Who’s on the way, and even prepare the way for His visitation.

4th Sunday of Advent: "Newness of Love"

We are in the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Three candles were lit previously – hope, faith, joy- and today, we light the candle called love. It is very easy to dismiss and to say, “I know what love is.” It is one of the most abused and talked about word in society, but do we really understand when Jesus said, “For God so loved the world?” Do we understand this with respect to our lives? Are we able to pause in the midst of the busyness of our lives and understand what love really is? Advent calls for vigilance, alertness, being awake as we expectantly await for something very significant in our lives – GOD’S LOVE. Advent begins the 1st cycle in the Church’s liturgical year called the cycl

4th Sunday of Advent: Newness of Love

Imagine you are Mary, heavy with a child and living in the slums surrounded with drug pushers, criminals, and noisy and fighting neighbors. And the news we hear tells us about inflation, ambush, higher water and electricity rates, and no 13th month pay. Yet we won Ms. Universe, and we hope to get more funds because of the upcoming elections. Mary lived in a worse situation and had nothing except hope. She commanded her soul to magnify the Lord, and then her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. Amazing woman. What are you heavy with right now? The shopping list? What feast to prepare in spite of the high grocery prices? Have we tried to seclude ourselves from the holiday pandemonium, to stay in

“Christmas Shenanigans”

Jude 18: “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” Lastly in this week’s look at what the Daily Office says about un-Christmas-like observances of Christmas, why does this time of year rank number one in the proliferation of festivities and events that are little more than occasions for ungodly lusts? The one-night elevation and even fulfillment of that office flirtation or classroom romance, the one occasion where drunk is cool – why does that have to be in celebration of Christ’s birth? Is this the way to offer Him glory, not to mention majesty, dominion, and authority? Surely a good time can be had without these expressions of ungodliness.

“Jingling Bells and Decked Halls”

Psalm 51: 15: “O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.” One of the more obvious deviations from a real marking of Christmas is in the songs we sing. The early centuries of the Church produced some truly awesome hymns that explored and celebrated what the Day and the Season is all about. Could we not update the music of these, instead of forever relating the adventures of Frosty and immiserating over ‘Last Christmas’? Let’s make Christmas about His praise!

“Naughty and Nice”

Psalm: 50: 6: “The heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge.” This is perhaps the most creative of man’s Christmas traditions, when we went and made Santa judge. He can check his list all he wants, twice or two thousand times if he likes. But God has another list (we call it the Book of Life) that is really much more far-reaching and binding.

“Preparation and Decoration”

Mark 1: 1, 3: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God ... Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” Here’s another way we’ve gotten Christmas mixed up: how we prepare for it. Isaiah and John say to get ready for the coming of Christmas by preparing the way for Jesus. That isn’t really accomplished with decorations, purchase of presents, or Saturnalia-inspired jingles – all starting around September 1.

“Kings and Rulers”

Isaiah 9: 6, 7: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders … There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness.” A proper celebration of Christmas should always include the issue of government – but without any mention of red or blue states, nationalism, or that new brand of colonialism we call globalization. So many of the prophecies of Christmas, including Psalm 2, Psalm 110, and others, echo Isaiah’s cry that Christmas isn’t only about redemption, but about who’s on the throne, as well. When’s the l

“Wants and Desires”

Luke 22: 42: “Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” How’s Christmas different in the Kingdom of God? Man’s Yuletide season always begins with the statement, “Here’s what I want for Christmas.” God’s Kingdom begins with a statement, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Perhaps there was no mistletoe in Gethsemane, but the genuine Christmas spirit of self-giving was certainly there!

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