Friday, December 18, 2009

Can you tell me what to do???

Day by day - Day by day - Oh Dear Lord - Three things I pray - To see thee more clearly - Love thee more dearly - Follow thee more nearly - Day by day

Well, while I cannot answer the question in the title of this post is a specific manner for every one reading, I will respond in a general way. Oh, and yes, the Godspell kick continues.... LOL Ok, so, What should I do? is the question the people approached John the Baptist with as the Gospel continued from St. Luke during this 3rd week of Advent.

It is interesting, and maybe not so interesting, but anyway, that what John tells the people is not something over the top nor did he reinvent the wheel so to speak. Rather, John calls the people to take up and follow through with the things they have been called to originally and to stop wandering from that call. For example, those who have clothing or food to share and those in charge of money or authority to be honest and responsible. So we see the essential element here, is faithfulness to what we have been called to do in the first place. If we shed ourselves then of any dishonesty or other sinfulness and negativity that has crept into our lives and be about the business of responding faithfully to who and what we are called to be then indeed the paths will be straight within and we will be disposed to receiving God's grace properly.

Often though, many times we think we have to come up with some new random over the top solution to our problems or be really creative or unique. While sometimes there are situations that will call for a little more ingenuity than others, on the whole, if we are faithful to God's call and abandon our wandering then in turn we will experience the grace of God's always faithful love for us! Now onto Wicked!!! ...just like Elphaba sings: Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind of the see we can drift and so it is then during this season of Advent to bring ourselves back to the dock, to stop the drifting and secure ourselves properly in doing God's will.

...and if we do this day by day then does not Christ grow within us all the more? Is Christ not then born in us again? And while yes we celebrate the birth of Christ which happened some 2000 years ago and anticipate His return, we also celebrate the Christ born in each of us day by day. Christmas, if you want to wrap it up in a bow is a time of thanksgiving, anticipation, and embracing Christ in us is what Christmas really draws us to rejoice in, hope in, and live in!!! see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Point in the right DIRECTION

On the 2nd Sunday of Advent we heard that we are to make straight the ways of Lord, so on and so forth, a familiar Advent message from the Gospel of Luke:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk. 3:4b-6)

Now while at first, you may, like myself, have the song Prepare Ye from the musical Godspell running through your head. Ok, so seriously now, the descriptive and metaphorical language of paths, mountains, valleys, hills, and the like are meant to draw us to a self examination of our own ways.

For how often is it that we tend to forsake the age old principle of the shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line and make long and tangled roads in our lives? How often are we all too comfortable with letting good ol' "time"* solve our problems and allowing things to become drawn out and twisted as opposed to marching directly straight down the road to forgiveness and mercy?

The paths we are called to make straight and valleys we are called to fill are the ones in our own lives. The lack of love, charity, and so on, we are called to reconcile, make straight, and allow the grace of God to flow in us freely rather than with all the roadblocks can put up.

If we allow this grace to flow in us freely, we prepare the way of the Lord, and allow, through a renewal of our own discipleship, Christ to be born in us once again!!! Which reminds us that Christmas is not simply a celebration of what happened approximately 2,000 years ago, nor is it a celebration of anticipation of when Christ will come again, but it is also an ongoing event everyday. A process of letting Christ be born in us today and everyday by being vigilant towards our anxieties and drowsiness of heart and of making crooked ways straight is also what we rejoice in, and celebrate on December 25th.

Let us not over complicate things, make crooked ways, or devise ways to get from point A to point B that we hope or think are quicker!

*Like the saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," the same is true of time. Time doesn't solve problems, people with the help of God solve problems.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent... time of vigilance

As many Advents, or really all, let's be honest, do, the readings this past weekend spoke of anticipation and being on one's guard. Specifically Jesus said that we should be vigilant.

Now with this vigilance, and specifically when it comes to anticipating Christ or the end times, we must always decipher what we are focused on. What do I mean by this? Well, our culture has some O.C.D. going on surrounding end time events such as cosmic disasters, violence, famines, etc. as personified by the movie 2012, the history channel special The Nostradamus Effect, and a new facebook app I saw today about 2012, all of these teach us to be vigilant about big things that really do us no good.

While Jesus did elude to cosmic events taking place in the end times in the sky and such, he mentioned that we should be vigilant in preparing our hearts and shaking off the anxieties that weigh us down. Ultimate Jesus points to an interior focus regarding vigilance not an exterior one. In fact, think about it; has not all the hype of 2012, especially if you buy into it, cause more fear and distress and anxiety too rather than goodness and hope and spiritual growth? Furthermore, are we not lacking in faith and placing our trust in a false hope if we buy into the dooms-day 2012 predictions? Are we saying that the Mayans or Nostradamus know more or are more in charge then God? Let's just say there's going to be one big event that wipes us all out, wouldn't our time be better spent getting to know the God we will meet? And, lastly, not to sound shallow or anything but really, if the world were to end in 2012, isn't that God's job to take care, worry about, and handle, not ours?!

However, if we are vigilant about matters of the interior, i.e. of the heart, mind, and soul, such as, the virtues we struggle with or where we will strive to grow, don't we stand more to gain? Yes, we do!!! For if we are vigilant about shaking off needless anxieties and worries do we not gain the freedom that comes with that? If we concentrate and standing erect before the Lord and purifying our hearts, confronting our struggles, naming and claiming what we do well and where we need to grow, do we not stand to gain a whole bunch more? We do!!!

For if we strengthen what we do well as Christ's disciples and seek to improve where we are lacking, in our quest for growth, Christ is born again within us and amongst others we come into contact with.

While hype and vigilance in the uncertain seems so alluring, we can grow in God's grace which is assuring. While we can buy into hype about what 'might' happen some day, we can grow in God's grace today and everyday. In all of this, we need only to name and claim those areas of strength and growth, be specific and challenge ourselves to allow hope, to allow Christ to be born within us again and again. Should we not place our focus here?

PIE Mania!

With the passing of Thanksgiving, the time for pie mania came and went too. I had a good Thanksgiving with my parish and immediate families. I also had a wonderful time baking Thanksgiving pies... yes, one of my hobbies includes baking pies... put me in a kitchen and I'll bake all day and be completely content. That is exactly what I did!!! While I don't mean to brag, all I can say is: "Bring it on!" Baker's Square and Marie Callendar!!!

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving found me baking 19 pies! And, I baked a 20th pie on the weekend, the final of the Thanksgiving pie season. With recipes based on basic recipes I've collected online and from other sources, I went to work. The Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, with some help from my good friend Fr. Chris, I put together 22 crusts in preparation for the big baking day. Then after a good night's rest and some last minute shopping for the freshest ingredients possible, the baking commenced!

Wednesday saw the yield of 6 dutch caramel apple pies (my signature pie), 3 pumpkin pies, 3 french silk pies, 2 triple berry pies, 1 pecan pie, 1 chocolate pecan pie, 1 blueberry and cream pie, 1 strawberry and cream pie, 1 cherry pie, and a triple berry cream pie on Saturday. It was a full days work that concluded with making fresh whipped cream.

I must say it is quite a joy to know that others enjoy these pies and I'm thankful God has blessed me with this talent that I can share. I am also very thankful for the help I received in the kitchen from making the crust to two wonderful assistants who helped clean and prep utensils and ingredients on Wednesday. Now, it's on to including the eggnog pie on the Christmas list.