Deacon Lincoln’s Log 12-29-13

“Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream…  He rose, took the child and his mother. “

Mt. 2:13f

Joseph is one of the greatest listeners of all time.

Scripture doesn’t record a word that Joseph spoke, but it does record his listening.

Joseph’s deep desire was to  keep his wife and newborn child safe.  The world around them was hostile.  Joseph knew the ruler of the world wanted the child dead.  He was displaced without family or friends to help.  He was poor and powerless. He didn’t have many options.  Powerful enemies surrounded him.

So Joseph listened.

He listened with one ear to heaven and one ear to the needs of his new family.  Joseph listened to the dangers around him.  Joseph listened with the ear of his heart.   He closed his mouth and opened his ears.

And God sent Joseph a message.

It wasn’t an easy message to accept.  He was to leave where he was and start over in a new place.  It would not be easy or safe.  There were no details, no long range plan.  Only a command to go.

And Joseph went.

His listening bore fruit in his action.

Joseph continued to listen.  As he struggled to root his family in new soil, he listened with one ear to heaven and one ear to the needs of his family.

And it happened again.  God sent Joseph a message.  Return!

Again, no details, no long range plan.

And Joseph went.

His listening bore fruit in his action.

Joseph is one of the greatest listeners of all time.  He listened deeply and he never stopped listening. He responded to God’s messages.  His listening heart shaped a life of holiness.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 12-22-13

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.

The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis

… the angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream.

Mt. 1:3

I imagine he was angry and confused when he found out that his betrothed was  pregnant with a child that was not his.  His thoughts must have raced around his mind like a roller-coaster and his emotions were spinning like a top.  But Joseph did not want any harm to come to his beloved, so he decided to end things quietly so that Mary would not be in danger.

Then, while he slept, Joseph had a powerful encounter with the Lord.  It changed his plans and transformed his life.  Joseph opened himself to a mystery beyond his understanding.  He had always been a “good man,” but this was different.  This was a personal encounter with the Lord’s messenger.  The Scripture doesn’t give us a detailed account of what Joseph thought and felt at this point but I imagine that his heart overflowed with joy.  He responds to that encounter with faith.  “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”

Every moment of our lives we are called to a personal encounter with the Lord.  Like Joseph we are probably “good people,” but there is more to life than being good.  Maybe our thoughts are running wild or our emotions are out of control.  No matter what the state of our soul, the Lord comes to meet us and bring us the same joy he brought Joseph.  How will you respond?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Are you ready?

This time of year always makes me a little uneasy. The days are getting shorter. Darkness is spreading, creeping more and more into each day. There is nothing I can do to stop the growing darkness. I’m powerless to bring back the light. The lights in the house seem to be working overtime to hold back the ever growing darkness and I know eventually they will burn out. Each day has more darkness than the last. If the darkness continues to grow at this rate, the world will be completely dark by March!

 But I know that isn’t going to happen. In a few weeks we will have our shortest day and then the light will start to return. The light will push back invading darkness. Darkness is not the final word. The days will grow longer and the light will be victorious.

 It is this natural cycle of darkness and light which gives rise to the particular gift of Advent. In the darkness of Advent we prepare for the coming of the light that is Jesus (Cf. Jn. 1:5; 8:12).

 During Advent, we reflect on Jesus’ coming in three ways:

  1. Jesus came in history

  2. Jesus comes in mystery and

  3. Jesus comes at the end of time.

 1. In part, what we celebrate at Christmas is Jesus coming in history. We come to know Jesus presence in history primarily through study. I recommend reading John’s Gospel with its powerful themes of light and darkness this time of year. As he came to Nicodemus (Jn. 3), Jesus comes to us in the darkness and reveals why he came into history: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). By entering into our history, Jesus gives time meaning and purpose. We are not headed toward a random end, we are moving toward eternal life.

 2. We encounter Jesus in mystery every day. Jesus comes to us daily and invites us to follow him. As the wise Dominican priest Fr. Goeffrey Preston says, “When God visits, he doesn’t just say ‘Hello.’” The mysterious presence of Jesus in each moment invites us to turn away from all that is sinful and to embrace the life God is calling us to. Jesus is present now as much as he was at the time of the apostles, simply in a different way. Advent calls us to wake up to the presence of Jesus and respond right now.

 3. Finally, Advent calls us to prepare for our final encounter with Jesus at the end of time. Most of us avoid thinking about our mortality. We don’t like to think of our own death or the final end. We get uncomfortable. But that discomfort is part of Advent. It confronts us with the ultimate question of the meaning of our lives. Each of us will take our last breath and Jesus will come to us. This season challenges us to review our life in light of that final encounter with Jesus.

 Jesus came in history. He comes mysteriously into your life each day. He will come again.

Are you ready?

That is the final disturbing question of Advent. As we get closer each week to celebrating Jesus’ birth we are forced to ask ourselves this question. It is a question meant to rearrange our souls. It is not a question primarily about Christmas. It is not a question about parties or presents or decorations or trees. It is a question about who we are. It is a question about the meaning of life. It is a question about our openness to the power and presence of God in our lives.

Are you ready?

God is coming. That is the meaning of the term advent. Are you ready to meet him?

He is coming to set all things right. He is coming to bring justice and peace to the world. He is coming to conquer darkness, even the darkness in your own heart.

Are you ready?

Is your heart set right? Do you want justice for all people?

God is coming. Advent is here.

Are you ready?

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 12-8-13

Xmas vs. Christmas

I have received a few questions about the “Xmas” program on our school sign.  Why Xmas and not Christmas?  Is this an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas?

No!  The person who put up the sign did not have enough copies of the letter C and Xmas is a common abbreviation for Christmas.

I didn’t realize how vehement the culture wars around Christmas had become and in particular how the word “xmas” had become misconstrued as an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.  I did some digging and here is some information about the origin of Xmas as an abbreviation:

Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas . It is sometimes pronounced /ˈɛksməs/, but it, and variants such asXtemass, originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation /ˈkrɪsməs/. The “-mas” part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass,[1] while the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek wordΧριστός which comes into English as “Christ“.[2]

There is a common misconception that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas[3] by taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but its use dates back to the 16th century.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xmas (emphasis added), Snopes.com has a similar explanation

The X in Xmas is an abbreviation using the Greek chi (X), the first letter of the word “Christ” (in Greek).  It has been used for at least four centuries, primarily by Christians.  However, in today’s culture wars it is often understood as an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.  So, should we change the sign?  Take a look.

Whatever you think about the Xmas vs. Christmas debate, be sure to keep the focus this season (and always) on Christ our savior who loved us so much He became one of us to save us from our sins.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood