Fourth Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-45  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel is one many of us are familiar with. Mary travels to visit with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The joy and faith shared between these two women is truly remarkable, as they both possess unwavering faith in Christ. Whether it’s Elizabeth’s faith that God would grant her a son in her old age, or Mary’s trust that God will guide her throughout the very controversial and unconventional nature of her pregnancy, both woman understand that God has a specific plan for each of them. Neither question His reasoning or methods. Rather, they rejoice together in the fact that they are playing active parts in the coming of Christ.

Sometimes on this earth we are placed in confusing and disheartening situations. It can be hard to look past these trials to understand that God has a wonderful plan in store for each and every one of us. As we celebrate Christmas and enter the New Year, let us all look to Elizabeth and Mary as role models of faith. Like them, we may not always know why or how God’s plan will work out, but we must trust in God and find moments of joy along the way.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The Third Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18

 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

Third Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel reading provides us a glimpse of the teachings of John the Baptist. Imagine that you are sitting on the banks of the Jordan River. You’ve been hearing rumors that the Messiah is coming. Many people believe that this man, John the Baptist, is the Messiah. However, as you listen to him preach you understand that the Messiah is yet to come. Your heart may sink for a moment, knowing that you have not yet encountered the Messiah, but there is still some hope that remains, knowing that His arrival is imminent.

In many ways, we are all still followers sitting at the edge of a river. As we near Christmas Day, we grow more and more excited for the arrival of Christ. However, unlike those people who sat at the Jordan River those thousands of years ago, we are blessed to have Christ with us already. None of us alive today have lived without Christ. We have the comfort and peace of knowing that He has come and that He has saved us. Sometimes we forget who blessed we truly are, and take His earthly presence for granted.

This year, let us all anticipate and prepare for Christ just as our ancestors did on the River Jordan. Let us not forget that the same Christ that arrived 2000 years ago is the same Christ that encounters each one of us today.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Second Sunday of Advent (2018)

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First Scripture Reading: Baruch 5:1-9

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.
For God will give you evermore the name,
“Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”
Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went out from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy,
in the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

In this week’s first reading God is readying the arrival of Christ on earth. Instead of reserving this encounter for only the most worthy, wealthy, or remarkable, God is ensuring that all of mankind (Israel) “may walk safely in the glory of God.” God’s path is a joyful one – one of “Righteousness Peace.”
God’s path towards Christ is one we are all invited to embark upon. No matter how lost, alone, or unworthy you may feel, God is inviting each and every one of us to have a personal encounter with Christ. As we near the midway point of Advent, evaluate where you are in regard to your personal relationship or journey with Christ. Are you avoiding His gaze or running toward Him with open arms? Perhaps you don’t know how you feel. That’s okay too. Regardless of how you may be feeling, take some time to reflect on this week’s readings. Reflect on the love, salvation, and peace that God promises all of us.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The First Sunday of Advent (2018)

First Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ (NIV)

First Sunday of Advent

In this week’s first reading, we are reminded of the promise God made to the people of Israel and Judah. God’s promise is one that assures safety and hope. This promise was given during a time of great suffering and despair, a time when salvation and joy didn’t seem possible. However, God always keeps His promises. In this case, God’s promise was kept with the arrival of Jesus Christ—“the righteous branch sprout from David’s line.”

Just as the nations of Israel and Judah looked to God for deliverance, we can also look to God and His promises for comfort and hope. We are Israel and Judah. We are all in need of saving. As we enter into the season of Advent, let us anticipate the coming of Christ with the same zeal and passion as our distant ancestors.

One Nation Under God: Reflections on the 4th of July

The 4th of July, also known as Independence Day in the U.S. is arguably the most important day in this great country’s history. On this day we celebrate with fireworks, barbeques, parades, friends and family. We honor the bravest men and women who fought for our freedom over 240 years ago and those who are fighting to protect our freedom today. On the 4th of July one can’t help but enjoy the sound of rhythmic music, children playing, and the thunderous fireworks which light up the sky with contours and colors that compel us to stop what we are doing and be thankful for what we have.

While we stop to embrace everything we are thankful for it is ever so important that we also turn to the One who is most responsible for our freedom. God Almighty has granted us with true blessings of freedom both in heaven and on earth. In fact, John Adams, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence praises the Most High when he so elegantly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

John Adam’s faith in The Lord was made extremely evident here. He was one of the first of many to turn to God with thanks and praise when the newfound relief of freedom settled in over our great country. Celebrating 242 years of freedom by the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we remember and praise those who have bestowed this great amenity to our united nation. Lastly, thank you to all of our veterans and current servicemen and thanks be to The Lord! Let freedom ring!

4th of July blog pic

Prayer for America

Dear God, we thank you for the bountiful blessings you have bestowed on us. Guide us in being good stewards of these gifts. Let us care for all of your beautiful creation, from the redwood forests to the gulfstream waters. Make us instruments of your peace in order to put an end to rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. Help us to love and care for all of our neighbors -locally and globally- so that we might be truly crowned with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Amen.

Prayer source: https://www.pinterest.com/source/franciscanmissionservice.org/
Post written by: Antonio Vuyancih