A Welcome Word in the Wilderness

Each one of us could tell a story about the wilderness. I am not talking about the scenic overlook along the highway, the unspoiled beauty of nature, or that quiet, back to nature, weekend getaway from the hassles of life. No. Our stories would be ones of struggles, ups and downs, highs and lows, stories of being lost and overwhelmed, stories of stumbling, falling down, and wondering when, how, or even if we will get up again.

The wilderness of which I am speaking is not the geography around us but the landscape within us. This interior wilderness brings us to the limits of our own self-sufficiency, it leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed, living on the edge. In the wilderness there are no distractions. There is no place to hide. In the wilderness we face the truth of who we are and what our life is like.

Fresco of St. John the Baptist
Fresco of St. John the Baptist by Meister von Gracanica, 1235 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes we go to the wilderness, other times it comes to us. Either way it is hard work most of would rather avoid. There is, however, no quick fix. There is no way out of or around the wilderness. The only way is through the wilderness. That’s what John the Baptist knows and proclaims in today’s gospel. Before him it was Isaiah crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

There’s something about the wilderness. It’s the place where our lives can be transformed, the place we are most open to changing and being changed. Hidden within every wilderness is the beauty of divine presence. That’s why every year at this time the season of Advent takes us not just to the wilderness but to our wilderness. Continue reading “A Welcome Word in the Wilderness”

When Our World Ends

I don’t know when the world will end but I could tell you stories about when my worlds have ended. They would be stories of loss and grief, stories of disappointment and failure, stories of broken relationships, stories of sin and guilt, stories of shattered dreams and hopes, stories of when life seemed empty and bereft of meaning. I’ll bet you could tell similar stories about the days your worlds ended. We all have them.

Every day the world ends for someone. I don’t mean their physical death but that the physical, emotional, or spiritual environment in which they live is destroyed, the web of their relationships is torn, and their world seems barren and desolate.

Sometimes these stories are public. We read and hear about them in the news. The world has ended and continues to end for the people of Syria. In some way Governor Romney’s world ended with the results of this year’s election. Hurricane Sandy has left many with end of the world stories. Other times the ending of our world is a secret kept in the depths of our heart, known only to God and our selves.

The end of the world is your story and my story. It’s the story of every generation and today it is the gospel story. It is a story of cosmic proportions, involving the sun, moon, and stars, the roaring of the seas and the waves. It is enough to shake the powers of heaven. Continue reading “When Our World Ends”

Epiphany Proclamation 2012

The Epiphany Proclamation is an ancient practice of the Church. On the Feast of Epiphany the date of Easter as well as other feast and fast dates are proclaimed. The Proclamation proclaims not only dates but the reality that our lives are to be lived in rhythm with and according to Jesus’ life.  Here is  the proclamation for this year. Dear brothers and sisters, the … Continue reading Epiphany Proclamation 2012

Waiting for Mary’s Answer

This year the Fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on Gabriel’s annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The following is from St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return … Continue reading Waiting for Mary’s Answer

Witnesses and Interrogators – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28; Advent 3B

The collect and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent may be found here. The following sermon focuses on the gospel, John 1:6-8, 19-28. There are, today’s gospel suggests, two ways of approaching life and God’s presence in the world. One way is demonstrated by John. The other way is demonstrated by the priests and Levites. We are either witnesses or interrogators. John was a … Continue reading Witnesses and Interrogators – A Sermon on John 1:6-8, 19-28; Advent 3B

Expectations, Baggage, and God

Remember packing for the last trip you took? Suitcases, backpacks, bags. Sometimes packing can be the most stressful part of the journey. What did you take? What did you leave behind? Why did you take what you did? Most of us, I suspect, pack for our trips based on our expectations of where we are going, how long we will be gone, what we will … Continue reading Expectations, Baggage, and God

Advent Credo of Daniel Berrigan, SJ

“It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss— This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life; It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction— This is true: I … Continue reading Advent Credo of Daniel Berrigan, SJ

When Exile and Words of Comfort Meet – A Sermon on Isaiah 40:1-11, Advent 2B

The collect and readings for today, The Second Sunday of Advent, may be found here. The following sermon focuses on Isaiah 40:1-11. “Comfort, o comfort my people.” These are God’s ancient words to his people; spoken through the prophet Isaiah in the 6th century b.c. Their relevance and timeliness, however, are not lost on us today. It is not hard to find people in discomfort, … Continue reading When Exile and Words of Comfort Meet – A Sermon on Isaiah 40:1-11, Advent 2B

“In Those Days….” – A Sermon on Mark 13:24-37, Advent 1B

The collect and readings for the First Sunday in Advent, Year B, may be found here. The following sermon focuses on Mark 13:24-37. “In those days….” So begins our entry into the Season of Advent. It sounds ominous and it is. Advent is not just a liturgical season of the church year. It is a reality of life. It happens in all sorts of ways. … Continue reading “In Those Days….” – A Sermon on Mark 13:24-37, Advent 1B

Immersed in Each Other’s Lives – A Sermon on Matthew 3:13-17, Baptism of our Lord

Today, the First Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. The collect and readings may be found here. The appointed gospel is Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered … Continue reading Immersed in Each Other’s Lives – A Sermon on Matthew 3:13-17, Baptism of our Lord