Sunday, December 30, 2018

Prayer of Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
          Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
          Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
          Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
          Be honest anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
          Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
          Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
          Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
          Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Our Mirror

The good you find in others, is in you too. 
The faults you find in others, are your faults as well.
After all, to recognize something you must know it.
The possibilities you see in others, are possible for you as well.
The beauty you see around you, is your beauty.
The world around you is a reflection,
     a mirror showing you the person you are.
To change your world, you must change yourself.
To blame and complain will only make matters worse.
Whatever you care about, is your responsibility.
What you see in others, shows you yourself.
See the best in others, and you will be your best.
Give to others, and you give to yourself.
Appreciate beauty, and you will be beautiful.
Admire creativity, and you will be creative.
Love, and you will be loved.
Seek to understand, and you will be understood.
Listen, and your voice will be heard.
Teach, and you will learn.
Show your best face to the mirror,
     and you'll be happy with the face
     looking back at you.

Lead Thou Me On

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Dear Heavenly Father


Dear Heavenly Father, 
Creator of the heavens and the earth,
the skies and the seas, and everything in them,
You are worthy of all glory, honor, dominion, and strength.
You have every right to call the shots
in my life, and in the world.
I thank You for the peace that comes with accepting
that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of humanity.
I know unequivocally that I can trust Your infinite
goodness, wisdom, and holiness.
Please help me to hold my blessings with open hands,
not hoarding them for myself,
but willing to give them back, to share them,
and to use them on behalf of Your glory, as You so lead.
It’s in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, that I pray.
Amen

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  Recently I have done a lot of reflecting on the impact and importance of family on our lives.   Looking at my own family, I realize that my sisters and brothers are far more important to me now than they were twenty years ago.  Now that our parents are gone, my siblings and their families are all the immediate family I have left.  What holds us together are common memories, experiences and our love for each other.

In addition to our biological families, many of us have created other families for ourselves.  Again, looking at my own life, all my siblings live overseas.  What has made my life in the USA easier are the relationships I have developed here.  I have a family of priests, a family of parishioners and a family of friends all who support me in my ministry in various ways.  These people have made my life richer and fulfilling.  Our immediate families (and I am including adopted families in this instance) nurtured us and helped us to grow into the people we are today.  The families we create for ourselves support us now, where we are and continue to nurture our growth. 

In Biblical times, family lineage was a matter of great importance because it was through one’s lineage that a person could demonstrated that they were true Israelites.  This is true of Jesus and is why Matthew began his gospel listing forty-two of Jesus’ human ancestors.  In fact, the whole Christmas story is built around the importance of lineage.  But in today’s gospel, Luke 2:41-52, something extraordinary happened.   This is the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus breaking away from his family and establishing ties with a different family, the family in his “Father’s house.” 

What is interesting about this story is that it is the last we hear of Jesus until he begins his public ministry approximately eighteen years later.  During those eighteen years all we know is that he was obedient to Mary and Joseph and “he advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  But in many ways, this story sets the stage for Jesus’ public ministry because once he sets out, he never returns to his family.  His new relationships were built around the people who followed him and included the twelve apostles, all the disciples, special friends like Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and many others.   

No matter what our familial relationships are, St Paul instructed the people of Colossae and he instructs us on how to practice the virtues of a new life in Jesus Christ: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put-on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:12-17).  This is what Jesus did and what He expects us to do. 

God our Father,
we give you all thanks and praise
that you chose for your Son a human family.
Through the prayers and example
of Mary and Joseph,
may we too learn
to make room for Jesus in our lives,
that he may grow up in us day after day
and make us more like him.
Teach us to rely on your word,
that in our trials as in our joys
we may be clothed in gentleness and patience
and united in love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Amen

Friendship


. . . is you.
. . . is love.
. . . is shared.
. . . is forgiving.
. . . is understanding.
. . . is shared secrets.
. . . heals many hurts.
. . . is not judgmental.
. . . is shared laughter.
. . . is slow and steady.
. . . can be angry at times.
. . . is dependable and true.
. . . is meant to be savored.
. . . is more precious than silver or gold.
. . . is not perfect, much like we are not perfect.
. . . does not hold grudges or demand perfection.
. . . makes all the wrong things in life, right somehow.
. . . is meant to be gulped like lemonade on a hot summer day.
. . . is always there, through times of trial, happy times and hard times.
. . . just happens, but once discovered, needs to be tended like a beautiful garden.
. . . is a road to be traveled slowly, remembering the sights and sounds.
. . . is strength when you are too weak to notice its there.
. . . is a cherished moment of mutual understanding.
. . . reaches into your heart and grabs a firm hold.
. . . is a refreshing rain on a hot day.
. . . is sunshine through the clouds.
. . . cannot be forced or induced.
. . . is relaxed and comfortable.
. . . is a shoulder to lean on.
. . . is an ear to whine to.
. . . gets better with age.
. . . is shared tears.
. . . is shared pain.
. . . is shared joy.
. . . is shared.
. . . is love.
. . . is you.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Rocks in Your Life

A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox.  He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox. The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (The boy was very small and the rock was very large.)

When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn't roll it up and over the little wall.  Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox. The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed,  shoved -- but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers. Finally he burst into tears of frustration.

All this time the boy's father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow moved across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy's father. Gently but firmly he said, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had available?"

Defeated, the boy sobbed back, "But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!"

"No, son," corrected the father kindly. "You didn't use all the strength you had. You didn't ask me."

With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.

Do you have "rocks" in your life that need to be removed? Are you discovering that you don't have what it takes to lift them? There is One who is always available to us and willing to give us the strength we need. When the apostle Paul faced times of a broken spirit and sapped strength, he proclaimed to the Corinthian church,

My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, then my power is made perfect in you.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Awakening the Christ Child

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son, from the Father, full of grace and truth.   ~ John 1:14

The power of Christmas is not automatic. It can't be taken for granted. It has to be given birth, nursed, coaxed, and lovingly cajoled into effectiveness. The baby Jesus doesn't save the world, the adult Christ does and our task is to turn the baby Jesus into the adult Christ. We need to do that in our own bodies and with our own lives.

As Annie Dillard once put it, the Christ we find in our lives is always found as he was found at the first Christmas, a helpless infant, lying in the straw, someone who needs to be picked up and coaxed into adulthood. To make Christ effective, we need, ourselves, to become "the body of Christ".

To put it metaphorically, the Christ-child has to be awakened by us. We need to go to the manger and awaken the child.

We awaken the child by inducing it to smile. How's that done? Where is the Christ-child? In terms of an icon, the Christ-child is in the crib, but, in terms of spirituality, the Christ-child appears in our lives in a different way.

When Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit - defined as charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, longsuffering, fidelity, gentleness, and chastity - then obviously the child she gestated will radiate those qualities. We awaken the Christ-child when we smile at charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, longsuffering, fidelity, gentleness, and chastity until they begin to smile back. What comes back is the power of Christmas, a baby's power to transform a heart, divine power hidden in human weakness.

We have to help make Christmas happen.

Monday, December 24, 2018

World Peace


Merry Christmas

Afrikaans - 'n Geseende Kersfees
Afrikander - Een Plesierige Kerfees
Albanian - Gezuar Krishtlindje
Arabic - I'd MIILAD Said Oua Sana Saida
Armenian - Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Azeri - Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Basque - Zorionstsu Eguberri. Zoriontsu Urte Berri On
Bengali - Bodo Din Shubh Lamona
Bohemian - Vesele Vanoce
Breton - Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian - Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Celtic - Nadolig Llawen
Chinese:
     (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
     (Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
     (Hong Kong) Kung Ho Hsin Hsi. Ching Chi Shen Tan
Cornish - Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Cree - Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian - Sretan Bozic
Czech - Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce
Danish - Gladelig Jul
Dutch - Vrolijk Kerstfeest
English - Merry Christmas
Esperanto - Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian - Roomsaid Joulu Puhi
Farsi - Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish - Hyvaa joulua
French - Joyeux Noel
Frisian - Noflike Krystdagen
German - Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek - Kala Christouyenna!
Hawaiian - Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew - Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi - Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Hungarian - Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Icelandic - Gledileg Jol
Indonesian - Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish - Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian - Buon Natale
Japanese - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Kala - Khristougena kai Eftikhes to Neon Etos
Korean - Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latvian - Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
Lithuanian - Linksmu Kaledu
Manx - Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Maori - Meri Kirihimete
Marathi - Shub Naya Varsh
Navajo - Merry Keshmish
Northern Sotho - Mahlogonolo Keresemose
Norwegian - God Jul Og Godt Nytt Aar
Pennsylvania German - En frehlicher Grischtdaag
Papiamento - Bon Pasku i Felis Anja Nobo
Pig Latin - Errymay ristmaskay
Polish - Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese - Feliz Natal
Rapa-Nui - Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Romanian - Craciun Fericit
Russian - 
Schastlivogo Rozhdestva!
Serbian - Hristos se rodi
Samoan - La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scottish - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur
Serbian - Hristos se rodi!
Singhalese - Subha nath thalak Vewa.

Slovak - Vesele Vianoce or Sretan Bozic
Slovene - Vesele Bozicne.
Spanish - Feliz Navidad!
Swedish - God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt Ar
Tagalog - Maligayang Pasko.
Tamil - Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Thai - Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish - Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian - Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu - Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese - Chung Mung Giang Sinh
Waray - Maupay nga Pasko
Welsh - Nadolig Llawen
Zulu - 
Jabulela Ukhisimusi