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

Lent/Easter Homily Series

I thought I would share a few of my homilies from lent and the beginning of Easter. They build on one another and are my first attempt at a bit of a homily “series.” Let me know what you think!

You can find all of the podcast episodes at: Exploring His Kingdom (buzzsprout.com)

Here are the episodes in the series:

The Woman at the Well

The Man Born Blind

The Raising of Lazarus

Holy Thursday – The Battle Begins

Easter Sunday – Jesus Victory

Lincoln’s Log 2-28-2021

Growing in Trust

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Rm. 8:31b

“How deeply do you believe that since God is for you, no one can destroy you?”
Question of the Week

In the story of the Transfiguration we hear of a powerful encounter with God. A few disciples travel with Jesus to a grand mountain vista. There, before their eyes Jesus begins to glow with a radiant light. Ancient prophets appear with Him and a voice booms from heaven declaring Jesus, “My beloved Son.” Wow!

How would you react if you were one of those disciples?

Mark tells us that the disciples were “terrified” (Mk. 9:6). The whole scene was overwhelming. The disciples didn’t know how to respond.

And suddenly, it was over. The disciples look around and there is no one else there, “but Jesus alone with them.”

As they come down the mountain and return to their lives, the questions keep coming. What does this mean? Jesus “charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mk. 9:9). They don’t even understand what Jesus was talking about but are questioning in their hearts “what rising from the dead meant” (Mk. 9:10).

This powerful encounter with God didn’t provide the disciples with answers. It spurred them to deeper questions. The mystery of God’s love for them in Jesus didn’t come all at once. It was only after the resurrection that the meaning of Jesus’ transfiguration began to become clear to these disciples. It took time for them to trust what had been said to them in that powerful mountaintop experience. They had to grow in their ability to trust Jesus, even though it had been revealed to them.

We all make a similar journey. We know that God loves us. We have heard the Gospel and we celebrate it week after week in our walk with the Lord. Yet, like the disciples we need to grow in our ability to trust. Every morning we open our eyes, every disaster averted, every prayer answered, every experience of forgiveness, generosity, or love reveals the trustworthiness of the Lord. We trust a little more. Some days are better than others. Some experiences challenge our ability to trust and others make the Lord’s steadfast love clear.

This week we explore the heart of that trust with our question, “How deeply do you believe that since God is for you, no one can destroy you?”

Pray with the question. Share it with others. Ponder it in your heart. It can lead you to deeper trust if you allow it.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 2-21-2021

Ministered to by Angels

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him.”
Mk. 1:12-13

“When or how could you step away from your daily responsibilities to renew yourself, so that you can do a better job of following in the footsteps of Jesus?”
Question of the Week

I still remember the first retreat I led. It was for people who were preparing for baptism. Lent wasn’t too far off and this was the first retreat for all of them. They were all a little nervous, but I had been walking with them for several months and knew them well. They trusted that I wasn’t going to do anything too strange. Besides, it was only a few hours on a Saturday morning. I think most of them expected an extended version of what we did at our normal sessions.

But that wasn’t it at all.

After sharing a few readings from Scripture, I talked with them about spending some time in quiet. I stressed that the silence had a lot to teach us. I challenged them not to spend the time thinking about all the things they could be doing instead of being quiet but to allow the silence to teach them. I gave them a handout with a few spiritual questions on it about the readings we had read, but urged them to ignore the handout unless they were going crazy with the silence. I would be available to visit with them if they needed someone to talk with and we would discuss their experience with the silence after our time was up.

And the silence was powerful.

As I sat and prayed for them, I could see them settling into the quiet. They spread out throughout the building. They were all very quiet. A sacred silence descended.

After our time was up, we gathered together and shared our experience with the silence. One woman said that she felt a deep peace. Another man said his mind was racing for the first 20 minutes or so, but finally settled down and he could hear the beating of his heart. One woman said that she cried most of the time we were in silence, but she didn’t know where the tears came from. After the tears she felt that part of her had been healed. Several people said it was strange at first but they were able to settle in after a while. Some folks struggled and honestly admitted that it was hard, but they could see that it could be valuable to have silence as part of their life.

Jesus experienced a profound silence in the desert. We read that he was tempted by the devil, surrounded by wild beasts, and that angels ministered to Him. When we allow ourselves to be led into silence the same things can happen to us. All of our temptations are exposed, our inner wildness becomes apparent, and we can experience the ministry of angels… and we are renewed. Take some time this week to ponder our Question of the Week: “When or how could you step away from your daily responsibilities to renew yourself, so that you can do a better job of following in the footsteps of Jesus?”

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-12-17

“When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’ And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.”
Mt. 4:11

“We… look upon the transfiguration above all as the celebration of that presence of Christ which takes charge of everything in us and transfigures even that which disturbs us about ourselves. God penetrates those hardened, incredulous, even disquieting regions within us, about which we really do not know what to do. God penetrates them with the life of the Spirit and acts upon those regions and gives them God’s own face.”
Kathryn Spink

Every year, on the second Sunday of lent, we hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It seems like an odd time to hear this story which so clearly foreshadows the resurrection. Some scholars speculate that we read this story near the beginning of lent to give us the courage to persevere in our lenten discipline.
I have a different theory, at least for this lent as we focus on being forgiven.
Read as a story of forgiveness, the Transfiguration takes on new meaning. Jesus reveals His glory to Peter, James, and John. He also reveals their need for forgiveness. They are confronted with Jesus’ majesty and see how pitiful they are in comparison. They fall short of their calling. Jesus glory confronts them with their sinfulness. They fall prostrate and are overcome by fear. They see their brokenness for what it is. In the light of the Transfiguration, sin is exposed for what it is.
But the story doesn’t end there. After revealing His glory (and the disciple’s sinfulness), Jesus comes to them with the healing words, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” They are forgiven. There is still a long journey of healing and transformation ahead, but Jesus assures them that he will be with them. He is not a judge, but a savior. He does not condemn but forgives.
What is true for Peter, James, and John is also true for us. Jesus brings us face to face with our sin. He does not let us off the hook. The close we come to His glory, the more we realize our need for forgiveness. But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus also assures us that He is our savior, not our judge. He releases us from fear and invites us to continue to follow Him.
We are forgiven. Let’s follow Jesus!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

 

 

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-5-17

ice-cream-cone-1274894_640

“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
Mt. 4:11

“The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a ‘delight to the eyes’ and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.”
CCC 2847

What is the difference between undergoing trial and being tempted?

Trials are different than temptation. Trials happen to us. Trials come upon us. They are beyond our control and affect us from the outside. Trials lead us to depend on our strength. Trials reveal our weakness. Through trials, we develop our character and can become stronger, holier, better people. Trials are endured. “… affliction (trial) produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint… “ (Rm 5:4).

Temptations also happen to us. However, temptation works from the inside. Temptation asks us to consent. It asks us to give our heart over to the temptation. Temptation asks for our cooperation, not merely our endurance. Temptation invites us to sin by freely choosing evil. Temptation makes evil look appealing. Temptation has a moral component to it. It engages our will.

Because God has made us with free will, temptation can be consented to or resisted.Eve and Adam were tempted by the devil, they consented. Jesus was tempted in the desert, he resisted and overcame. We are all tempted when something we know to be wrong or evil appears good. Our minds twist and we justify what we know to be wrong.

The good news of Jesus’ overcoming temptation in the desert is that with Him we can overcome temptation as well. The closer we follow Jesus, the greater our ability to overcome temptation.

When temptation strikes, turn to the Lord. Remember that He has conquered all temptation. Trust that He will get you through. In resisting temptation, by God’s grace, you become free!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

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

 

A prayer to help get ready for lent…

Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never

refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother

whose hands never cease to serve your beloved

children because they are moved by the divine love

and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your

compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl

of knots that exist in my life.

You know very well how desperate I am, my pain

and how I am bound by these knots.

Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing

of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust

into your hands the ribbon of my life.

No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it

away from your precious care. In your hands, there

is no knot that cannot be undone.

Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power

with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your

hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for

the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope

O, my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me,

the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment

of my destitution and with Christ the

freedom from my chains.

Hear my plea

Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Quote of the Week: Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 4-13-14

 

By Pietro lorenzetti [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying:  ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.’”  (Mt. 21:9)

“[Pilate asked the crowd] ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?’  They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!””  (Mt. 27:22)

This Sunday we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week.  The technical name for this day is:  Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.  This name hints at the dual dimension of today’s feast.

The first dimension is pointed out by our entrance procession.  Instead of gathering in the church as usual, we gather elsewhere and hear the proclamation of the Gospel recounting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  We hear of the crowd singing “Hosanna” (which means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”) and rejoicing.  They welcome Jesus as a king who has come to set his people free.  There is a spirit of excitement and anticipation as they wait for Jesus to free his people from Roman domination.  We join the crowd in this song as we enter the church.

But it is not long before we encounter the second dimension of this day.  It is one of two days a year that we hear the proclamation of the Passion.  On Good Friday, we hear St. John’s account of the passion; today we hear Matthew’s.  Moments after joining the crowds cries of “Hosanna” and welcoming Jesus as a king who will save us by his power, we join the crowd in crying out for Jesus’ crucifixion when he does not meet our expectations.

The dual nature of today’s liturgy points out the weakness of our hearts to surrender to the power of God revealed in love and mercy.  It points us firmly toward the full celebration of the Paschal Mystery through the celebrations of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter).  Through the celebration of these sacred days this week, may our hearts be strengthened to surrender to the love and mercy of our God.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood