Growing up one of my favorite things to do was to go to Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. There were so many choices even though many still choose Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry. When you entered the place, there was a wheel where you would go and take a piece of paper with a number. The person behind the counter would say, “Serving number 22” and you would be so happy to have been chosen to be served. It required patience, yet once the ice cream was given there was pure joy.
There are times when our patience is tested. Not wanting to take the time to wait, feeling that there is too much to accomplish to have to wait, or feeling rushed. To wait, for some people is just not an option. Wanting to be served without waiting, making others wait so that our needs are met first is a challenge for us.
I am inviting parishioners to try and gauge their patience when coming to mass, staying afterward to greet and meet people, to even say hello to the Pastor. The rush to get out the door and move on to the next project can cause us to miss the important things about gathering for mass.
The Narthex and the shaded area outside our entrance are invitations to every parishioner to take some time to meet people and to get to know them a little better. People who we often see but never take the time to talk with. It is amazing what happens when parishioners and guests decide to have a donut, talk to some new people and let the parking lot clear up as others dash out. These types of things can change the parish from being seen as too large, to being seen as a real community.
The other important aspect of patience is not to be impatient with God. Whatever stress we may be going through, we need to be sure to take a moment to thank God before we leave. That is why I ask that people return to their seats after receiving Communion. The beautiful act of receiving our Savior on our hand or on our tongue is such a gift that it must be reflected on before we walk out the doors. We really should not receive Communion and walk out without any reflection. After reflecting for a couple of minutes then we can make the decision to leave if it is necessary. This is the real practice of patience by being patient with God.
Time is a gift from God, it is not guaranteed, it is not expected it is all gift. May our attitude about waiting for good things never stress us but allow us to be open to the joys of life.
Peace in Christ,
The season of Lent comes very early this year as we begin on February 10 with Ash Wednesday. There have been Lent seasons that I have really looked forward to especially when I feel the need to renew my life, examine what needs to change or take a different approach to my life. At the same time there have been other Lent seasons that I have not been very open to challenge, conversion or stopping my rhythm in life because my heart was not open to reflection or renewal.
Believe it or not Lent can be the most important and wonderful journey in our spiritual lives. When one is open to new possibilities, open to renewing our outlook on ourselves and life and ready to be challenged to change behaviors, it can be the most moving time in our lives. Yet when we approach Lent as simply a season to give something up and do not take time to reflect on what really needs to change in our lives, then Lent simply becomes a time that we were miserable for giving up something for six weeks.
I find it interesting that when we are challenged to relook at our “sacred items,” meaning those things we have determine should never change or be questioned, it sends a clear message that something needs to change. When one is offended by someone suggesting that systems, ideas, laws, behaviors, relationships might be approached differently, it can send people’s blood pressure rising. In other words, it has been determined there is no openness for discussion or looking at a shadow side of something we love or admire.
What are the “sacred items” in our lives that we dare not look at or see differently? It does not necessarily mean what we hold dear is totally wrong, but it might mean it is time to change our attitude or insights into life, people or systems.
This Lent find the sacred item that needs to be renewed with a different outlook. Maybe our pride of not wanting to be wrong, our stubbornness in making other people wrong and our need to be right can all change. Maybe can change our way of thinking when it is placed ahead of the Gospel of Jesus or rules our life and is not so much God.
This just might be the Lent that everyone will look forward to with a desire to know that whatever we are willing to question will in the end draw us closer to the truth.
Peace in Christ,
Our faith is God is a constant call to care for those who are weak, powerless, defenseless and forgotten. It is really not an easy call. At times people who answer the call to help those who need assistance are seen as people who just want to make others happy or to relieve their guilt for having blessings that others may not have. Why is there resistance from others when one simply wants to protect and defend those who need protection? That is the important question for me. One may like to watch movies or hear stories of people helping others to overcome the odds and resistance, yet when it comes to real life situations there often is a different attitude. Trying to listen to what God wants us to do in helping others is not always easy, in fact we may encounter anger and even hate.
Our humanity sees every person born as vulnerable and so dependent that without protection, the newborn would surely die. That is a stark reality. The newborn is at the mercy of parents who either love and care for them or neglect, abuse and do not want them. Newborns are helpless and need the love of all humanity.
As our thoughts again this January turn towards the abortion issue, it is an important reminder that in our desire to ensure the unborn are seen as gifts from our loving God, we will experience some anger, resentment and ridicule from people who do not see what we see. The unborn are defenseless human beings. I find it interesting that if abortion was a nice clean painless procedure where no one gets hurt, it should be out in the open and shown for everyone to see. Yet no one really wants to see the aftermath of an abortion. It is unbelievable that a human life is terminated is such a sad and gory way.
So everyone must seek to understand what God really wants from us in speaking on behalf of those who have no voice, no power or no control over what happens to them. It might begin with the unborn but it should extend to everyone in all stages of life. It is our call to speak out on: protection of children, care for adults who are ill and disabled, care for the elderly whose minds have weakened and care for those whose health cannot be improved because of unbelievable costs.
What is it when our desire is to protect the least and vulnerable as God wants us to, yet we are met with anger and resistance? I think we all have some kind of answer but what is God telling us to do?