Homily for December 13

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily


It’s the hap-happiest time of the year!

Well, that’s what the song says - but for many,
the truth is something very different.
• When you tear off the bright ribbons and wrappings of Christmas,
you’ll often uncover some sadness underneath...
• If you look closely behind all the quick and easy holiday smiles,
you may find tears, moistening many faces…
• As you listen to Christmas music,
you might hear your own heart echo strains of loneliness and loss…

Much of what this season purports and pretends to be
is, for many, just that: a posture, a presumption
that we’re all supposed to feel and act in a particular way,
-- in a particularly joyful way.
For many, that’s very difficult; and for some it’s nearly impossible.

And yet, here’s St. Paul urging us in the second scripture today: 
Rejoice always! 
That sentiment might be hard for some of us to swallow,
especially if we find the holidays to be a difficult time.
But there’s also a truth, a wisdom, in Paul’s words
that can serve us well.
The joy St. Paul writes about is something quite different
than being “merry” in December every year.
The joy of faith is of far greater strength and substance
than “yuletide glee.”

Rather, the joy of faith is rather like a river
coursing through the depths of our hearts
even in those times when all around us
life may be bone-dry, desert thirsty:
times when we need, so desperately,
just one cool drop of water
to slake a thirsty sadness threatening to consume us.

The joy of faith is like a light, glowing,
somewhere deep within our souls
when all around us everything seems cloudy,
over-shadowed by loss and disappointment.
This is a joy within, waiting for the soul’s long, dark night to pass
and for a new day to dawn with light to shine on the path we walk
and to lead us safely home to peace.

The joy of faith comes in that moment when,
somewhere deep within,
in a place we may have long forgotten,
we find a hint, a trace, a gift, a grace from God,
revealing and reminding us
that there’s another way, another day;
that we’re not alone but that we walk with God,
who walks with us, who’s been with us,
every step along the way,
all along our dark and rocky path…

The joy of faith isn't about being “merry.”
It’s about the peace that comes from trust in God,
in God’s abiding love for us,
even and especially in difficult and hard times,
and in the hope that peace is waiting for us:
a peace that knows no sorrow, knows no pain:
a peace that has no end,
a peace that can reawaken joy in us.

St. Paul writes this, too:  Have no anxiety!   
(Right!  “Have no anxiety!)
But in everything, make your requests known to God!
I know some people who are tired of praying.
They’re tired of praying
because they’ve already prayed too long
for someone, or for some thing or for themselves
and it seems that God’s not answering
- maybe not even listening.

But no prayer every leaves our lips without God’s hearing it
and even unspoken prayers, hiding in our hearts' silence -
are all heard by God.
God’s doesn’t always answer quickly
- or in the way we want,
but prayer always draws us closer to the Lord,
who knew, himself, what it was to cry out
when it seemed no one was listening to him
and no one was answering him.
We may not readily receive what we pray for
but every prayer can draw us closer to the love of God.
The presence, the companionship of God
is the first answer to every prayer.

And, St. Paul goes on to say:
If you rejoice always,  and pray at all times,
then God’s peace will be yours.

What’s this peace of which Paul writes?
It’s more than the end of conflicts. 
It’s more than a solution to my problems.
It’s the peace that comes of knowing that God is with me,
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
It’s the peace that comes of knowing that whatever I’ve done,
what ever my troubles may be, whatever tomorrow may bring:
God loves me as I am
and there’s nothing’s greater than God’s love.

This peace, then, isn’t the peace
I hope is somewhere down the road
at the end of my difficulties.
The peace Paul writes about is the peace of God
accompanying me, on my rocky path, every step of the way,
through all my troubles.

Can we stop for a moment, then,
and maybe close our eyes and pray…

Can we put our problems in the Lord’s hands for a few minutes…

Can we remember something joyful in our lives:
a person, a time, an event – even something long ago…

Can we remember that joy and savor it…

And thank God for it…

Can we hold that joy in a grateful heart,
and take in, drink in, the peace it offers…

Let’s pray…

Lord, the jolly jingle's all around but not in every heart...

Red and green are everywhere but some folks just feel blue...

The rushing 'round to buy and wrap disheartens lonely souls...

Plans for Christmas eve leave out all those who'll be alone...

This “merry month” will be, for some - the hardest time of all...

So, help me, Lord, I pray...

Help me hear the tears that fall as Christmas bells are ringing...

Let me see the shades of blue that cloud a neighbor's joy...

Help me wrap my love to share with those who'll be alone...

And on hearts that ache and know the pain this season often brings,
let your touch come, with grace to heal, with peace, on Christmas day...                             



Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!