Archive for November, 2011
no, not football, that started months ago. not basketball…those people are still arguing. today marks the kick off, the starting bell, the tee off of Advent. you might have felt something going on the past couple days…the thick news paper the day after Thanksgiving, the mega traffic jams around town, the news stories of mayhem at the malls. you may be thinking we have to prepare…do I have my list of things i will ask for ready to go? do i know what things i will buy? when should we put up the decorations and should i go ahead and buy a few extra strings of light before we even begin the process? everyone knows the lights never work two years in a row. if this is the feeling in your air, you aren’t alone. it’s everywhere. the bustle of the hustle is a real distraction for the peace on earth the season can bring, but only if we let it. throughout the days ahead cross-skills will try to keep the focus on the real meaning and order of the season’s “roster”. and we hope you will join us. each one of us take in the fanfare in different traditional ways. the music, the decorations, the food, the parties, the giving and receiving – it is the celebration and it should be grand. after all, we are propping up the coming of the MESSIAH, but let us not forget to give it meaning. as is always the charge: let’s all do something different in our lives this season to glorify and live the miracle we proclaim.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 37-38
of course the question is coming, or maybe you have already been asked. you may have even asked yourself…”what am I thankful for this year?” as much as this is a time of year to stop and give thanks, these days many people have had to re-evaluate lately what “blessed” really means. this is a time in american history where a lot of what we “have” is in the balance. mortgages/homes lost or in jeopardy, jobs/businesses lost or threatened, finances then under attack from lower levels to no income at all and the cost of living is becoming an obstacle course! although we are living in tumultuous times, any situation where we receive the gift of perspective can actually be our most thankful and blessed days. when we begin to realize the value of our shelter and not the size or location of it. when we are simply walking down the street and re-discover the strength of our legs allowing us to do this very simple task while the health of our family or friend may be compromised. when we are standing in our own back yard and notice how pretty the sky is and we have not had to travel for the splendor. when we find the most beautiful sight to be in the face of the people we love. an ice-cold glass of water in the summer or a warm bed as the nights get cold begin to have new meaning to those who are truly thankful. we really don’t have to look very far to find a life of struggle and despair. and when you do, you will more often than not find someone who will tell you how low the bar for happiness has become. for simple pleasures of a peaceful night’s rest or a bit of encouraging news become the brass ring. this in mind, let’s do something different this thanksgiving we may not have done before. remember that giving thanks is an action phrase. let’s plan to give thanks with our actions. here are a couple of ideas: start a list of things we are thankful for, keep it until the end of the year and see how long that list becomes, anything goes. make it a competition among family members. or how about giving what talent or treasure we have to someone who has less. our small sacrifice can be our brothers savior, give thanks by giving a little bit more. or try reconnecting with our more meaningful relationships, friendships we don’t make time for. and then there is worship – after all isn’t that what it really is anyway? worship really is going to the Man, on our hands and knees, and thanking Him in person for our daily bread, for his mercy on our trespasses, and for our most treasured blessings, __________ (fill in the blank). but does our worship really match the magnitude of our thankfulness to the provider of all things? let’s think about changing something we are doing within our faith to show our gratitude this season. let’s find a way to give back the thanks to the One who gave it.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17
many of us are in a constant state of “planning” or at least we feel we should be since people are always asking “so…what’s your plan?” “what do you want to be?” “what are you going to do next?” and once we have a plan we are then mere fools if we don’t have a “back up plan”. think of the tools that are available to help us achieve our plan….calendars, organizers and smart phones in the day-to-day and then there are seemingly endless textbooks, classes and research available throughout the years leading up to “the plan”. then there are the people we have in our lives to help guide us in our plan; the college planners, the wedding planners, vacation planners, the retirement planners and the not-so-popular funeral planners. it is a wonder how we can get anywhere in this “life thing” without always having someone to help us through it. truth is we really can’t. take a look back and no matter how easy your road has been or how rocky your travels are chances are you did not get where you are now without the encouragement, advise and support of someone along the way. but why do we spend so much effort planning our futures? is it so that we can lighten our future burdens by becoming prepared? is it so we can maximize our personal gifts and make the most of our blessings? or is it because we recognize that life is to be cherished and the milestones in life should be held up as precious and celebrated? it’s yes to all of the above. life here can be anything we want it to be but only because He has allowed that. He has provided the ultimate plan and each of us should employ His expertise, read His guide-book and heed His advise for the plans have already been set. while many of us are in the midst of our meticulous process to get where we are going we could be missing the opportunity to seek His guidance and make our baggage so much lighter. constantly guided by our own selfish intentions we may never find our true path. we may get to the end of the road, our bags filled with the “stuff ” we have collected along the way but still somehow find ourselves empty-handed. executing our future plans is solely up to each one of us (God is pretty big on accountability). the future is ours to shape and we can’t go back. we can’t retake the steps we have already made. a really successful plan is measured not just by where you have ended up but by how you got there. as always, the truth has been said. the words has been used. we just have to apply them.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” – Luke 9:23-25
today catholics celebrate the lives of all Christians who have died in a state of grace, it is all saints day. these pillars in history leave us with stories from failure to glory, from struggle to strength and from follower to Christian leadership. these were real people who walked the planet we live on with compassion, generosity and grace. the people celebrated and remembered today left this earth having made a mark, they left an impression. they changed the people who knew them then and continue to impress those who learn about them today. similarly our entire nation has celebrated icons like dr. martin luther king, jr., past presidents on presidents day, and fallen service men and woman on memorial day. we have historically revered these models for their leadership, selflessness, bravery, and their impact on freedom and justice. but the question is this…when we seek role models today, are we still looking for these qualities? take a look at the news stand next time you are in the grocery store. who are we celebrating and why? what are we celebrating… gifted athletes, cheating celebrities, beautiful faces, bizarre murderers, struggling addicts and thieves? who are we when we don’t prop up the people who carry the torch for all that is right and good? think for a moment on who you would call a role model…a person you’d like to be….are they “talented” or truthful? are they “rich” or righteous? are they brave or bogus? the greatest example of humanity to walk the same dirt we walk was patient, peaceful, honest, forgiving, courageous, loyal, and a leader among leaders. He walked here so that we could see, if only for a short time, the ultimate model set for us. think about who we are watching as an example for our life. then, stop and think who might be watching us as an example for their life.
“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11