Lincoln’s Log 1-3-2021

Epiphany

“It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
Eph. 3:5-6

“The word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal,’ in the sense of ‘according to the totality’ or ‘in keeping with the whole.’ … All men [sic] are called to this catholic unity of the People of God… and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.
CCC #830

God wants everyone to be saved (See 1 Tim. 2:4)! That desire for salvation is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Epiphany. Our prayers and readings remind us that God is calling everyone to salvation.

Our first reading reveals God’s promise that not only would God’s chosen people be saved, but that all the nations would find salvation through them (Is. 60:1-6). The second reading reminds us that in Jesus, God’s promise of salvation has been opened to all people, not just his chosen people. Finally, the magi in the Gospel are the first fruits of this new offer of salvation to all. As foreigners, they are invited to salvation through Jesus, the Messiah long-promised to God’s people.

This desire of God for the salvation of all humanity is what motivates us to share our faith. Those of us who are parents start at home by doing our best to help our children to grow up as disciples of Jesus. All of us proclaim the good news of salvation by serving those in need around us and praying for the salvation of the world. We can also reach out to specific people we know who may not have heard about the mercy and love of God.

We do these things because God wants everyone to be saved and He wants us to help him make that desire a reality. As we begin this new year, let’s recommit to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone we know!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-27-2020

The Church of the Home

“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”
Col. 3:12-14

“The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason, it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.”
CCC #2204

One thing the pandemic has taught us is the importance of the domestic church. The phrase domestic church refers to the church of the home. It is helpful to think of at least four ways we experience the church.

  1. The universal church with the Pope as the chief shepherd of Jesus’ flock.
  2. Our diocesan church, where the Bishop serves as the shepherd.
  3. Our parish, with our pastor (or pastoral leader), as our local shepherd.
  4. Our home, with parents as the chief shepherds.

The domestic church describes #4 – our home. The home is the first place where we learn how to love and forgive; how to serve and support; how to be gentle and kind to others. For most of us, it is the first place we learned to pray. We encounter Jesus in our homes every day!

The pandemic has presented serious challenges to the experience of church #1-3 because it has hindered our ability to gather. However, the domestic church, our homes, have proven resilient. We are able to pray in our homes with whoever is present, or even alone. We can use technology to connect with other homes. Jesus comes to our homes whenever we invite Him.

In some ways, we have been thrown back to the most fundamental experience of church. As we struggle together through the winter months, let’s deepen our experience of being a domestic church, knowing that Christ is the head of our homes. Invite Him in! Let’s also reach out in creative ways to connect our homes so that our parish, diocese, and the universal church can grow in depth and breadth through the power of our home churches.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-20-2020

A Slightly Early Christmas Present

“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
Lk. 1:26

This year the St. Thomas More Missionary Discipleship Team decided that instead of giving out a book to everyone for Christmas (as we have in years past), we would give everyone in the parish a yearly subscription to Formed.org.

Formed.org is an amazing resource for Catholic digital content. I would encourage you to check it out and start using it right away. There are movies, short videos, books, audiobooks, bible studies, and more. There are resources for all ages and all of them are solidly Catholic.

Signing up is completely free. You will never need to enter a credit card number or any financial information. All you need is your name and email address. Signing up takes less than two minutes and is easier than ordering a pizza! Did I mention all the content is free to you as a parishioner at St. Thomas More. Here is how to sign-up:

It is that easy, and don’t we like things to be easy this time of year. As we enter into the winter months, spend some time with some good Catholic content to nourish your soul and spirit. Merry Christmas!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-13-2020

Testify

“‘A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.”
Jn. 1:6

The Advent wreath is beginning to light up. This weekend we light our third candle (often pink) as we rejoice that we are over halfway through the season of Advent. Christmas is just around the corner.

These Advent candles testify to the coming of Christmas. They don’t make Christmas happen. Christmas would come whether or not we had candles (believe me, there have been years when my wreath wasn’t out, but Christmas still came!). Our Advent candles aren’t even the light. They support the flame and make it visible, but our candles are useless without the light that is given to them when we “light them up.”

Our Advent candles testify to the coming of Christmas. They testify to the light.

John the baptist is like an Advent candle. He knows that he is useless without “the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie” (Jn. 1:28). He comes to testify. It is that simple. His words and actions, even when they are dramatic, point to a reality that is beyond his control and even beyond his understanding. John does his best to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.

As we walk through these final days of Advent, let’s remember that our job is no more than that of John. We do not need to make Christmas happen. God is doing things that are beyond our control and understanding. He is coming with salvation in His hands. Our job is to testify.

How do we do that?

Look around! See what God is doing. Give witness to the good things that God is doing in our midst. He is the one who gladdens our hearts. Ready or not, He is coming. The best preparation for Christmas is to testify to the goodness around us. Then we will be like John this Advent as we become “the voice of one crying out in the desert” (Jn. 1:23).

May these final weeks of Advent find us crying out the goodness of God, for the Lord is coming!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-6-2020

The Hope of Advent

“‘Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”
Is. 40:1

[Note: Due to my schedule and early holiday bulletin deadlines, I am writing this Log a few days before Thanksgiving.]

As I write this my heart is experiencing the tug of war between hope and despair. This tension has become familiar over the last several months. For example, I read in the news about a promising vaccine and further down the page about the health and economic challenges of the coming winter. I look outside and see the sun shining, but I know the grey of winter will be coming. My heart and my mood vacillate between a cautious optimism and the depths of despair. For me, this is the mood of Advent.

Advent is always a season of waiting and of promise. It can handle this type of tension. Today’s second reading reminds me that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day” (2 Pt. 3:8). The journey we are on is a long one filled with tension. This is not a surprise. We can be patient and sit with the tension. But there is more than just stoic endurance for us this Advent.

The real good news that Advent brings is that this tension is leading us somewhere. We are people of hope because we are on a journey that has a destination. Several years ago, Pope Benedict reminded us that, “the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey” (Spe Salvi #1).

Advent reminds us that there is a goal and that it will justify the struggles and tensions we experience on the way. The Second Letter of Peter puts it this way, “According to His promise we await new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pt. 3:13).

This tension in my heart is an invitation to hope. The promise of God’s coming Kingdom is great enough, and his promise sure enough, that I will live this Advent filled with hope. The struggle is real, but the promise is sure.

May God bless you on your Advent journey.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader