The older I get the more aware I become of how my life, my way of being, is filled with contradictions. It is neither all darkness nor all light. It is both at the same time. I have said things I wish I could take back, made decisions I regret, and done things that don’t reflect who I want to be. In the darkness of what I have said, decided, and done, however, a glimmer of light always shines, illuminating what could have been and holding out hope for what can still be.
I suspect each of you could say similar things about your life. Contradictions seem to be part of the human condition. One moment we are kind and gentle and the next harsh and mean spirited. We are filled with compassion for one person and indifferent to another. The contradictions of our life are revealed in those moments when we say, “I don’t know what came over me. I’m just not myself today.” They are the cause of sleepless nights, hurt feelings, and the reason we confess our sins each week. They lie at the heart of all the times we’ve said, “I should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve.” Continue reading
The crowds from last night’s liturgy have gone home. There’s just a few of us here this morning. The noise, song, and voices of last night’s celebration have fallen silent. The candlelight of Christmas Eve has given way to the dawn of Christmas Day.
That sounds a lot like the second half of St. Luke’s Christmas story (Luke 2:8-20). The multitude of heavenly host praising God have become silent. The angels have left and gone back to heaven. The glory of the Lord is no longer shining on the shepherds. In fact, the shepherds have gone back to their fields and sheep.
We are left with Mary, Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. They say nothing. There is only silence on this day. Maybe that’s how it should be. Continue reading
There are some stories that simply bear repeating. Children want to hear the same old bed time story. Lovers tell the story of meeting and falling in love. Parents tell the story of their child’s birth. Tonight the Church tells the Christmas story. None of these stories are new. They have been told throughout the ages and will continue to be told.
It does not matter that we might know the story by heart. Even when we know all the characters by name, even when we can quote their conversations, even when we know what happens and how the story ends, some stories are worth hearing again. Not only that, some stories need to be heard again.
There is something within us that wants and needs to hear the great stories again and again. It’s not because we think the story has changed or might end differently. It’s because our story, our individual life story, has changed and we’re just not sure how it will end. Continue reading
“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
When I look at the various situations and circumstances of my life, the joys and sorrows, the successes and failures, the hopes and the disappointments, the struggles and the accomplishments, I so want to find hidden within them a fulfillment of something spoken to me by the Lord. I don’t think I’m alone in that. I don’t think I am all that different from you or anyone else. I think we all want that, even if we don’t know it. We want to believe.
We want to believe that our life and existence are more than our circumstances. We want to discover a value and meaning that is lasting and not situational. We want to know and experience God is with us. We long for something beyond the circumstances. It’s not about denying or ignoring our circumstances. It’s about believing through the circumstances rather than in the circumstances. It is a different way of believing than what we are used to.
Most of the time we take the facts of a situation, as we see them, and, using reason, come to a conclusion. That’s our usual way of believing. It’s characterized by rational thought, deductive analysis, and scientific thinking. We allow the circumstances of our lives to determine or at least strongly influence what we believe about God, the world, others, and our selves. Continue reading