December 1, 2019
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
So, a new deacon at Sts Simon and Jude. I know you’re thinking – he’s just passing through. No, today is the first day of my assignment to Sts Simon and Jude. (applause because they are polite) Hold on, before you get too excited – that means you’re stuck with me.
I have to admit though to this being very bittersweet. I was at my last parish for 10 years and my whole life as a deacon. I grew to love the people there and was loved back so it hurts to leave a people I loved so much. They were my people and I now hope that you become my people. And I have heard so many wonderful things about you that I chose this parish when I was reassigned.
Now, I’ve known Fr Pat for a while. Deacon John has been a big help to me in settling down here. I did meet Deacon Dennis and Deacon Tony and look forward to getting to know them better. Deacon Joe I have known since before I was a deacon.
But, can we just be honest here? I had no idea I was going to be this much better looking than all these guys. But, why don’t we keep that just between us because I do know they are sensitive. No use upsetting them because I know it must be hard for me coming here so much younger.
I am from East Texas and I like to preach about things I experience in life. So, if you are a person who loves homilies on High Theology – well, you’re not going to like me.
For instance today’s Gospel is about being prepared and if you’ve been paying attention to the daily readings that’s all we’ve been getting lately from Luke and now – first Sunday of Advent as we move to the Gospel of Matthew it’s the same message.
When I was very young – maybe 7 or 8 – the GI Joe was the best toy for young boys. I had one and his footlocker. But that year they came out with a tank that had a remote control. Not like today – it was wired but you could make it do all kinds of things a tank would do – climbing, running over bushes (small bushes) and it would fire like a real tank. You could put powder in it and it would make a white puff when it fired. The best toy ever.
My parents always made us choose one toy we wanted before we went to talk to Santa so that was my choice. And of course it came with all the requisite parenting talk.
“So, you want that tank? Yes ma’am, it’s the best. Well, you know you’re going to need to behave yourself. Yes ma’am. You will have to do all your chores. Sure. You have to do what I tell you to do. Yes, ma’am. Do your homework. Okay. And no complaining about going to church. OK. Oh, You have to be nice to your brother and sisters.”
Long pause – look around. Okay, she had me there but I would have sold my soul for that tank so I agreed.
In other words, I had to prepare if I really wanted to get that toy. Does this sound familiar at all?
If I was able to pull all that off, which for me wasn’t easy, when the time came I woke up and there would be my tank.
As I said earlier, this is the first Sunday of Advent. It is a time of preparation. There is a wonderful gift waiting for us at the end. We just have to do the preparation. We need to pray. We need to be obedient, we need to be stable and we need convert our lives from the noisy world we live in to the peace of living in Christ.
St Benedict, at 14, got fed up with the church and how it was being run so he went out into the solitude of the desert and began to live as a monastic. People heard about it and naturally wanted to live that peace. So as people came he knew that without some rules there would eventually be strife. So he came up with a couple of “trinities”. Fr Pat will talk about the first next week but today we speak of the second. Those in the monastery would be expected to pray, work and study.
Wow, my mom sounds like she was a follower of St Benedict.
All of this fits into what Fr Pat has discerned as the message for this year. He calls it the Year of Communion. This isn’t Communion as in Eucharist, although that is a part of it but Communion as in Community.
When a man and woman marry they choose to start a Community. God willing, they will be blessed with children. So the community grows and it is here – at the home – where community should begin. If we complete this community in the home then we take it out into the larger world.
That then, we hope, will become what we have here at Sts Simon and Jude because you bring this community to our larger community and it is your model to everyone who comes. As you influence others – like St Benedict did – you will see a transformation here. People wanting to become involved by attending. People wanting to be in ministries because that is how we share our faith.
That is how we become a light to the world. Sts Simon and Jude will be the model of how the church lives in communion.
None of this comes easy so we essentially go to school or boot camp where we learn the rule of St Benedict.
And as we practice this rule we become more.
And it all starts at home. With those we love best. With those we know best. With those we want to be the best.
You will be rewarded and it can start very simply. Get your Advent Wreath. Sit down as a family. Light the candle. Share the readings. Share your reflections.
My tank – was at the time the greatest gift I had ever had to that point. But you know what? It eventually quit working. Eventually I tossed it aside for the next best toy ever.
I said earlier that at the end of this time of preparation we call Advent we get a gift that truly is the best gift ever. And even if we mess up, even if we are not steady, even if we don’t study – if we don’t do a thing. We still get the gift.
It comes in a package of a young woman in a stable surrounded by the animals with her new born babe wrapped in swaddling clothes there in a manger. And that baby is called Immanuel – God among us.
And what is the gift that baby brings to all of us?