Lincoln’s Log 11-29-2020

Watch!

“‘What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’.”
Mk. 13:37

Have you ever heard of bi-modal sleeping? Historians and archeologists tell us that prior to the 19th century, many people around the world divided the night into two segments with a period of being awake in between. For example, they would go to bed shortly after the sun went down, but rise again a few hours later for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, and then return to bed until morning. This is sometimes referred to as the “second sleep.”

A recent article on the second sleep states that:

During this waking period, people would relax, ponder their dreams, or have sex. Some would engage in activities like sewing, chopping wood, or reading, relying on the light of the moon or oil lamps.

Medieval monks used to rise in the middle of the night for prayer (called Vigils) and then return to bed. I know many people who, when they are battling insomnia or just can’t sleep for some reason rise to pray. Some even tell me they start praying the rosary while lying in bed and gradually drift back to sleep. One person told me her mother said the angels finish the rosary if you start it and then drift off. I love that idea!

Keeping vigil, that is rising in the night for prayer, is a powerful spiritual practice. It enables us to find some quiet and watch for the Lord’s coming. It is a practice that just about anyone can begin, whether you watch for the Lord for a few minutes as you drift back to sleep or rise from your bed and pray. Some of us are called to vigil when our anxieties or racing minds just won’t let us fall back asleep. Follow that call to keep vigil!

Prayer itself is a form of being awake. When we pray, we wake ourselves up to the reality of God’s presence. It is not surprising that Jesus tells his disciples to keep watch.

Advent is a special time for us to pray and keep watch. Follow Jesus’ call to keep vigil. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 11-15-2020

Gift and Responsibility

“‘His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”
Mt. 25:21

Responsibility is not a word we usually associate with gifts. We love gifts, but we don’t like responsibility. We enjoy gifts but associate them with freedom from responsibility. “It’s a gift. I can do whatever I want to with it,” we think to ourselves. Imagine being required to give a report on what you did with last year’s Christmas presents! Can’t we just enjoy our gifts?

This week’s Gospel reminds us that the gifts we have received from God aren’t given to us for our benefit. We may enjoy the gifts God has given us, but God has given us these gifts to benefit others. Like much of what Jesus teaches, we discover that when it comes to gifts, “it’s not really about us” at all. Everything is about the Kingdom of God. Our lives and our gifts are part of a much bigger reality than we can imagine. We are called to not just enjoy our gifts, but also to risk using them for the kingdom.

And it doesn’t matter what the gift is. We may not like it. We may think it is a useless gift. We may be embarrassed by it or be afraid to use it. But what we think about our gift doesn’t matter. No matter how small or seemingly useless the gift is, it has a glorious destiny. It is destined to help build God’s kingdom. St. Teresa of Calcutta (aka Mother Teresa) is often quoted as saying,

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

This is good news! If you want to find lasting joy, find a way to use your gifts, whatever they are, to serve others, and help build God’s kingdom. There is a new kind of freedom that we discover when we give our gifts away. It is freedom from ourselves and the freedom to love.

“Come, share your master’s joy.”

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-25-2020

The Law and the Gospel (Kerygma)

“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus responded, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.’ ”
Mt. 22:36-38

Last week, I wrote that the heart of the Gospel “is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person.” Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this week clearly makes this same point.

When asked by a scholar of the law about the greatest commandment, Jesus does not point to any particular behavior that is commanded, but rather to a person’s relationship with God. Rather than behavioral compliance, Jesus roots greatness in a personal loving bond with God. This bond affects the person at every level (heart, mind, soul, strength). Jesus interprets the law in the context of love.

What does this mean for us?

It means that everything we do needs to be rooted in an ongoing encounter with our loving God. This is the Gospel. It is personal. It affects every level of our being. It changes our behavior, not because of our own willpower, but because of the grace of God given to us in Jesus. We do not initiate this relationship. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). We are called to respond to this invitation to a new way of life.

St. Augustine famously said, “Love God, and do what you will.” As we respond to the loving invitation of God to new life, we are transformed and our actions become more loving. The law can show us what love looks like, but it cannot change our hearts. Only the Gospel, a loving encounter with Jesus, has the power to change our hearts.

Today, right now, take a moment to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life. Give Him permission to affect you at every level and change the way you think, feel, and act. Say “yes” to the Gospel and live a life of love!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Our Pilot Podcast is finally here!

EHK Interview Dean Gruner of Common Ground Exploring His Kingdom

Join Lincoln as he interviews the retired CEO of Theda Care and Co-Chair of Common Ground, Dean Gruner. They discuss the exciting new initiatives to empower and support the practice of dialogue in our community. Find out more about Common Ground here.
  1. EHK Interview Dean Gruner of Common Ground
  2. Our Sister Parish with Sr. Stephanie Spence
  3. EHK Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Fr. Jack Mullarkey
  4. EHK All Soul's Day Homily 11-2-2020
  5. Fr. Jack Mullarkey Homily 11-1-2020 All Saints

Lincoln’s Log 10-18-2020

Why Kerygma?

“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. ”
1 Thes. 1:5b

Last week in this Log we looked at some of the core scriptural expressions of the Kerygma. This kerygma is the core content of the Gospel message. But why is the church returning to this basic proclamation?

The reasons are pretty simple. The kerygma is the seed from which everything else the church does flows. The kerygma is an encounter with Jesus Christ. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians (above), the Gospel is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it this way,

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (Deus Caritas Est #1)

Everything we do is changed by our encounter with Jesus. The kerygma proclaims and makes present this encounter which opens up “a new horizon” and gives our lives “a decisive direction.”

As we reboot faith formation (now called Discipleship Formation), we return to the seeds of faith so that we can find our new horizon and direction. We are hoping to make this year a foundation to build on. The heart of the Gospel must be our guide. As our church teaches, “At the center of every process of catechesis is the living encounter with Christ” (GDC #75). As we reboot, I want to challenge each of us to return to the seed of our faith.

For a fuller explanation of the Kerygma, visit the St. Thomas More Facebook page and the Discipleship Formation playlist. You can also tune in to the “Exploring His Kingdom” podcast. But most importantly, open your heart for a new beginning. The seed of God’s love has been planted in you at baptism. Return to the source and encounter the Lord anew!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-11-2020

The Kerygma and a Podcast

“On that day it will be said: ‘Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!’”
Is. 25:9

Our church is taking a good, deep look at the way we make disciples. One of the key insights that has come out of this exploration is that we need to return to a focus on the basic proclamation of the gospel. This core proclamation, often called the kerygma, is the heart of our faith. As disciples, this kerygma forms our own heartbeat as well.

So what is it?

There are lots of ways to explain and proclaim the core of the Gospel, but here are some short lines from Scripture which take us straight to the heart of Jesus’ mission:

  • “Jesus is the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us” (Cf. Mt. 1:23)
  • “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15)
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16)
  • “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10)
  • Jesus of Nazareth “went about doing good and healing all (Acts 10:38)
  • “Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rm 4:25)
  • “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3)
  • “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3)
  • “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20)

Which of these verses speaks most deeply to you?

This month in our Discipleship Formation, we will be focusing on the kerygma, the core of the Gospel. Consider committing one of these short verses to memory. Let it roll around in your heart and mind this month. Also, explore the question of the week and be sure to share a meaningful meal, pray, read the bible, and share your faith with someone.

Another resource to consider is listening to the “Exploring His Kingdom” podcast. You can listen to the trailer here.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-4-2020

The Good News at the Heart of Jesus

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
Mt. 21:42 (see Psalm 118:22-23)

There is something wonderful about our faith. At the very heart of what we believe lies the message and person of Jesus Christ. He is the “stone rejected by the builders.”

While each of us has been created in the image of God, we have also all fallen into sin and betrayed that image. We have traded away the great gift we have been given for all sorts of things that will never satisfy our hearts. We are broken and helpless. Like the tenants in the parable this week (Mt. 21:33-43), we have betrayed and rejected our Lord through sin and disobedience. Our hearts have turned to greed and tried to possess what we were meant to care for. We have failed to love as we should. We have not cared for one another or our planet the way God intended but have used people for our own ends and exploited our resources for selfish gain. Underneath all of this lies a profound rejection of God’s plan for us.

Yet Jesus came to restore our lost image. He came to teach us how to live. But more importantly, to make new life possible by dying for us and in rising from the dead, he opened the gates to eternal life. He became the stone rejected by the builders so that he could become the cornerstone of our new life the Kingdom of God. This new life is offered to all who will accept it.

Living this new life is an adventure. It is “wonderful in our eyes.” It is a life filled with joy because our dignity as children of God has been restored. We are free to love as God loves and produce the fruit of the Kingdom.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S. Stay tuned for the “Exploring His Kingdom Podcast” coming soon!