Lincoln’s Log 4-18-2021

Easter Repentance

Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Acts 3:19

“Jesus said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Lk. 24:46-47

This weekend, the third Sunday of Easter, we read from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. These two books in our Scripture are companion volumes, both written by St. Luke with the intention of telling the story of Jesus (in the Gospel) and the story of the early Church (in the Acts of the Apostles).

In both the Gospel and in Acts this Sunday we read a word that we associate with Lent, not Easter. That word is: repent! At the beginning of lent, we heard the call us to repentance as Ashes were placed on our heads, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” But that was lent. Shouldn’t we be done repenting by now? After all that work, can’t we take a break from repenting and enjoy ourselves?

We easily forget that there are two dimensions to repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. Both elements are always present, but during lent, we often focus on turning away from sin. This facet of repentance can make us think of repenting as dour or dark or difficult. But turning away is only one side of the repentance process.

Easter exposes the other, more important, side of the process. In Easter repentance, we turn toward the new life and love of God given to us in Jesus. We repent joyfully. We celebrate the fact that Jesus has conquered sin and death and this celebration is a form of repentance. Sin can’t survive in the presence of real joy. Embracing new life in Jesus drives death away. Our hearts sing, “Alleluia,” which vanquishes fear. It is as if our hearts were empty but are now filled with the love of Jesus. His fullness drives everything else away.

Easter repentance is not dour or dark or difficult. It is cheerful and light and easy because Jesus has conquered death and sin. Alleluia!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-11-2021

Risking Easter Joy

“The Joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel #1

“When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability — it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience.”
Brene Brown

This time of year I find myself asking, “Why are we better at keeping the 40 days of Lent than the 50 days of Easter?” It seems like we are better and penance and walking the way of the cross than we are at living the joy and new life that Jesus gives us at Easter. I often hear people talking about their Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; but rarely have I heard someone talking about how they are living with new joy in the season of Easter. Yet, we are in a season that is filled with joy. Alleluia’s ring through the liturgy; flowers bloom; the Scripture speaks of mercy and peace. The message of the church in the season of Easter is clearly one of joy and new life.

Here are some ideas to help you enter into Easter Joy (adapted from the wonderful book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun):

  • Attend to the people who give you joy. What attracts you to them? How can you learn from them? Ask God how you might celebrate them in a way that encourages them.
  • Identify the place you most readily connect with God. Is it in nature? Listening to Christian music? Participating in Mass? Solitude? Whatever the place or experience, go there. What do you want to tell God about the joy you receive there?
  • Think of activities that give you joy. Do it!
  • Recall some of God’s gifts to you. To celebrate God’s grace to you, write a song of celebration, make a collage (or other work of art) that represents your joy, write a poem of praise, play music and dance before the Lord, or memorize a verse of praise from Scripture and repeat it all through the coming days.
  • Ask God to give you the gift of joy.

What are you doing for Easter this year? Take the risk of joy this Easter!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 2-26-17

Goose, Goose Breast, Fry, Food, Christmas Food, Feast“There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink and find enjoyment, for these are from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24

“One will have to give account in the judgment day of every good thing which one might have enjoyed and did not.”
The Talmud

Lent is nearly upon us, but before we began our time of fasting, we have the time of feasting known as Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday). Mardi Gras is not a time of overindulgence or immorality as it is sometimes portrayed. Instead, at its heart, Mardi Gras is about enjoying the gifts God has given us to the fullest. It is a time of gratitude and thanks.

I priest in the diocese recently shared his favorite Mardi Gras prayer, which gets at the sensuousness and delight of Mardi Gras.

O Lord, refresh our sensibilities.  Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice.  Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat, and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard.  Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations.  Above all, give us grace to live as true folk – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand.  Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve thee as thou hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. (Robert Farrar Capon)

May the next few days be days of great joy and gratitude in your life as we prepare for the coming lenten fast.

“Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass us by. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Et none of us fail to share in our revelry; because this is our portion, and this is our lot” (Wisdom 2:6-9).

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