Sunday, December 17, 2017

Smallness

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
December 17, 2017

Year B: The Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Canticle 15
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Smallness
            “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, often called “Gaudete Sunday,” from a Latin word meaning, “rejoice.”
            The change in color from blue to rose is meant to signal that, ready or not, our Advent time of waiting and preparation is almost over.
            Today we begin to shift our attention from John the Baptist, that fiery prophet of repentance and baptism, and focus on Mary, the young woman from the countryside who said yes to God and changed everything.
            God is about to come among us in a new way!
            Rejoice!
            I started today’s sermon with words from today’s second lesson, from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Rejoice always.
            Easier said than done, right?
            Especially these days with our many personal troubles and fears, with our incessant 24-hour news cycle, for many of us it’s hard enough to rejoice sometimes, hard enough to rejoice once in a while, let alone rejoice always.
            We certainly hear a lot of rejoicing going on in Mary’s Song, the Magnificat, which we said today in place of the psalm and we hear a lot of rejoicing in the hymn, Tell Out My Soul, which is a poetic paraphrase of the Magnificat.
            In the Gospel of Luke, pregnant Mary sings her song while she is visiting her kinswoman Elizabeth, who, it turns out, is also miraculously pregnant - pregnant with the future John the Baptist.
            Thinking about that scene, I’m struck by the contrast between this intimate but not so unusual encounter – two pregnant women sharing the excitement of new life – and the big words of Mary’s Song:
            “God has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.”
            “Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord!”
            And, I think it’s that contrast between the small intimate encounter between two pregnant women and the big words of Mary’s Song – it’s that contrast that shows us the way to rejoicing sometimes and, maybe, even rejoicing always.
            Because the truth is that God’s greatness is found most easily, most clearly, in smallness – as small as a baby being knitted together in the womb – as small as a feeding trough meant for animals but doubling as a crib.
            God’s greatness is found most easily, most clearly, in smallness – as small as holding the hand of one we love, as small as half a room in a nursing home – as small as a last breath.
            Rejoice – because God’s greatness is found in smallness.
            I haven’t mentioned it lately, but we continue to offer our monthly healing service over at the nursing home on Montgomery Street – and continue to pray at all of our services for its residents and employees.
            To be honest, after four years or so of going over there, it’s become kind of routine for us. Gail, Vanessa, and I know what works and what doesn’t. We know who’s likely to interrupt the service by yelling or wisecracking and we know who’s going to sleep through the whole service.
            Occasionally one of the employees at the nursing home will call me, asking me to come over and offer “Last Rites” for a resident who’s life is drawing to a close.
            This never becomes easy, exactly, but by now I’ve done it so many times that it also has become routine.
            Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I got one of those calls. As I made my way over there, I imagined the scene I was about to walk into: probably a very old and sick person lying in bed, unconscious, approaching the end of life, with no one else in the room.
            But, when I got to the room, I was startled to find a young woman – certainly younger than me - lying in the bed – her eyelids heavy, drifting in and out of consciousness, but still pretty alert.
The dying woman’s mother and sister were there, clearly exhausted by grief, but, and this is a little hard to explain, but they were so still, so seemingly grace-filled and peaceful, even in the face of such sadness, such loss.
They didn’t really need the prayers, the ritual.
            To be honest, I had walked into that room pretty much on autopilot, but I was awakened to see the greatness of God in the smallness of shallow breaths and the determination to face - really face - something so tragic, so heartbreaking.          
After I left them, still a little dazed, I stopped at the nurses’ station and asked if it would be OK to drop in and say hi to a resident who I visited from time to time. I’ll call her Maria, though that wasn’t her name.
Maria, who was in her early 70’s, had attended our monthly services from the start and I could tell that, unlike many in our congregation, she was still alert and was particularly interested in what we were doing and saying.
For most of the residents, the music is their favorite part – but Maria enjoyed my little homilies the most – so I liked her right away!
Anyway, after a while I began making trips over to the nursing home to visit Maria in her room – actually her half of a room, the size of a modest closet, really – and learning her remarkable story.
She had grown up an only child, kind of solitary, and, she entered the convent when she was really still just a girl, as was the custom in the Catholic Church as recently as the 1960s.
Like many nuns of her generation, she eventually left the convent, though she remained a deeply faithful Catholic. She went on to pursue higher education in Biology, eventually earning a PhD (with honors) from Cornell.
She went on to a distinguished scientific career, running labs, traveling to conferences and delivering papers, and so on.
(I know this because she told me – and because she gave me her resume, maybe because she thought I might not believe her!)
Then, her health began to fail and one disaster after another befell her. Finally, more than pretty much anybody I’ve ever met, she ended up losing everything – her home, her career, her books (a loss she mourned especially deeply), and all of her money.
She ended up a ward of the State (with a state-appointed guardian who had the power to approve or disapprove every single expense, including even something as small as a pair of shoes) and she ended up living in a half a room over at the nursing home.
She usually only left the nursing home for doctor’s appointments.
Her life was one of the most tragic I’ve ever encountered – and, one level, her life in the nursing home was the pretty much the smallest life I’ve ever experienced.
And, yet, she remained a deeply faithful person, someone who, despite all of her misfortune, still loved God – was, in fact, in love with God.
She was a deep pray-er and she was also a profound spiritual poet.
Here’s a sample:
I can only trust / that you will continue to lead me / through that unquestioning trust / which is faith / it is only you, my Beloved / who matter / all my gifts are given/ it is for you to decide / how and when / they are to be used /for your glory / not mine.
During our times together in her little half-room, sharing our stories, praying and having communion together, I experienced God’s greatness.
Rejoice – because God’s greatness is found in smallness.
That day a few weeks ago, after I had given Last Rites to the dying young woman and when I went to the nurses station to ask about visiting Maria, the women behind the counter looked stricken and whispered, “Oh, she died, just a couple of days ago. She had been sick, in the hospital.”
I felt my stomach drop and tears come to my eyes. In the hours and days that followed, I felt angry that no one had called me and I felt guilty that too much time had passed since I had last checked in on her.
Most of all, I felt profoundly sad that she died alone in the hospital and there was to be no service, no memorial, to commemorate the end of this remarkable life.
But, the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve concluded that, although I would have liked to pray with her at least one more time, there was something fitting about her death, something appropriate about the smallness of it.
She died alone, alone with the God who loved her – the God she loved so deeply. And, that’s more than enough.
Because the truth is that God’s greatness is found most easily, most clearly, in smallness – as small as a baby being knitted together in the womb – as small as a feeding trough meant for animals but doubling as a crib.
            God’s greatness is found most easily, most clearly, in smallness – as small as holding the hand of one we love, as small as half a room in a nursing home – as small as a last breath.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Amen.





           

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Voices Found

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
December 10, 2017

Year B: The Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

Voices Found
            From today’s psalm, (Psalm 85):
            Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
I think I’ve mentioned to you before that I’m serving on the Search and Nominating Committee for our next bishop.
            It’s certainly been an interesting and challenging – and time-consuming – experience, but, most of all, it’s been a real privilege to serve with a lot of good and dedicated people as we seek the next leader of our diocese.
            Last week the sub-committee that I’m on had a meeting out at the Church of the Holy Innocents in West Orange.
            I tend to be early for meetings, anyway, but this time I got there early on purpose because I wanted to spend a little time in the church’s graveyard, where my friend and predecessor, the tenth Rector of St. Paul’s, the Rev. Frank Carr and his wife Lee are buried.
            Standing at the grave, I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for Fr. Carr, who was such an important influence in my life, kind of my “spiritual grandfather,” always so supportive of Sue and me, and especially supportive of my call to the priesthood.
            I’m still so thankful that he lived just long enough to attend both of my ordinations – ten years ago now – and, in fact, he had the red stole I wore at my diaconal ordination specially made for me – one of my most prized possessions.
The other day, after I said my short prayer, I took a photo of the Carr’s gravestone and posted it on Facebook, along with a few words of thanksgiving.
            A couple of people commented on it, including one woman who grew up here on Duncan Avenue and remembered how kind Frank and Lee were to children.
            She shared a charming memory of Fr. Carr gathering the children around the church’s flag pole to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and at the end he would shout out in his booming voice, “Hip! Hip!” and the kids would respond, “Hooray!”
            “Hip! Hip!” “Hooray!”
            Some parishioners here still remember that booming voice, and although I only knew Fr. Carr as an old man, I remember it too because, despite all his ailments, that big voice never left him.
            We all have things about ourselves that we’d change if we could, right? In my case, I’d like to be just a little bit taller – just two inches taller so I could be as tall as my dad – and I wish I had a more powerful voice, a booming voice like Fr. Carr.
            Because, you know, with my voice, I’m not sure I could quite pull off, “Hip! Hip! Hooray!”
            Today, on the Second Sunday of Advent, we are reintroduced to one of the central figures of this holy season: John the Baptist.
            Of course we don’t know what John’s voice sounded like – maybe it was booming like Fr. Carr’s or maybe it wasn’t so impressive, but, you know, it really doesn’t matter because we know how John used his voice. He used his voice to challenge people to change their ways – John used his voice to call people to repentance – John used his voice to prepare the way for the Messiah.
            John used his voice to name – to call out – wickedness – the wickedness of ordinary people who fell far short of God’s commands, I’m sure in pretty much the same ways that you and I fall short today.
John used his voice to name – to call out - wickedness - especially, the wickedness of the leaders of the day.
            And, although John’s message must have been hard for a lot of people to hear or accept, people did respond to his voice, a lot of people. We’re told that large numbers of people – both country people and city people – went down to the Jordan to confess their sins, to be baptized, to have their lives transformed.
            Whatever it sounded like, John the Baptist found and used his voice for good, used his voice for God.
            Today we live in a time when more and more people are finding and using their voices, too.
            It seems like every day more women are stepping forward, risking a great deal to speak about the harassment and abuse they have endured, calling out the often hair-raising misbehavior of movie and TV stars and producers and directors, newscasters, and politicians and candidates for office, not to mention the many, many more men who are not famous, but who have been harassers and abusers, too.
            It hasn’t exactly been a surprise – we all knew this kind of stuff goes on - but it’s been heartbreaking and disgusting to realize how vast this problem is, to discover the rot eating away at our society – and, it’s been so sad and disappointing when men we like and respect have fallen and, let’s be honest, it’s also been pleasing when men we don’t like and respect have been accused and fallen, too – and there may be others who we hope will tumble soon.
            I’ll never know how hard it’s been for these women to speak up, but we seem to finally be hearing and responding to their voices.
            As you probably heard, Time magazine named these brave women the “Person of the Year,” calling them “The Silence Breakers.”
            Voices found.
            And, you know, in this time of trouble, I see signs that the Church is beginning to find its voice again, too. For so long, we’ve been focused on our own little internal issues, worried about institutional survival, keeping the doors open, and yes, keeping the clergy employed.
 But, now we’re finding our voice again, and like John the Baptist and like Jesus himself, we’re calling out the wickedness in our time and place.
            A powerful North Carolina preacher named Rev. William Barber II has restarted the “Poor People’s Campaign,” a campaign started back in the ‘60’s by Martin Luther King, Jr., a movement that was cut short by his assassination in 1968.
            Rev. Barber and the others are calling for a moral revival in our country, calling on our leaders and our people to turn away from racism, turn away from blaming the poor for their plight, and turn toward fixing a system that seems purposely designed to keep so many people – to keep certain people – down.
            My hope and prayer is that our next bishop – and more and more of us – will find and use our voices to call out the wickedness in our time and place.
            Because, it is wicked to harass or abuse another human being, to reduce a beloved child of God to a thing, an object to be used for our own pleasure or gratification.
            It is wicked to be a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor who have so little and giving even more to the rich who have so much.
            It is wicked to be a Nazi or a white supremacist - or any kind of supremacist, for that matter.
            It is wicked to close our doors to refugees fleeing oppression and violence.
            It is wicked to mock and discriminate against other people because of what they look like, or sound like, or where they come from, or whom they love, or what they believe in.
            It is wicked to poison the earth due to our own greed and convenience, sentencing future generations to hunger and destruction.
            It is wicked for landlords to make miserable the lives of their tenants, hoping to drive them out and increase their profits.
            It is wicked that, in a country as rich as ours, the homeless still roam our streets and even more are squeezed into apartments with family and friends, hidden away from view.
            It is wicked to talk casually about war, to be seemingly even eager for war, war that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in just the first few minutes – and it’s especially wicked if we’ve never offered our service, never put our lives on the line.
            And, it is wicked for the Church to stick its head in the sand, to hide behind our doors, to just worry about our own survival, to not find and use our voices to call out the wickedness that’s all around us.
            All of us – those with booming voices and those with nasally voices – all of us - those who are eloquent and those who mumble and stutter – all of us - need to find and use our voices.
            And, like John the Baptist, we can do it - because it’s not really about our voice, but allowing God’s voice to speak through us.
            Just like for the women who’ve spoken up, it’s scary - but if we really find and use our voices, if we allow God to speak through us, then I have no doubt that at least some people will respond and repent just as they did when they heard John the Baptist and Jesus, bringing the long-ago vision of the Psalmist to life:
            Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
            Amen.
           
           
             
            

Sunday, December 03, 2017

"So Much Wasted Time"

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City
December 3, 2017

Year B: The First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

“So Much Wasted Time”
            I’m sure that pretty much every adult in the room thinks that kids today – kids today! – spend too much time looking at screens, too much time on their phones or on the computer, too much time playing video games.
            Of course, lots of adults are doing exactly the same thing, but let’s set that aside for now.
            There have even been studies done showing that all that time looking at screens is changing how kids learn how to relate to other human beings. In some cases, kids are having trouble reading facial expressions because they are not used to having a simple face-to-face conversation.
            This is concerning, of course. And, I’m not one to give parenting advice, but parents should probably consider limiting just how much time their kids spend staring at screens.
            But, at the same time, if I’m honest, I have to admit that when I was a kid – when I was a kid! - along with pretty much my whole generation, I spent a ton of time looking at a screen, too.
            Of course, it wasn’t a computer or a cellphone or a videogame device.
            It was TV.
            Now, even as a kid, I was a pretty avid reader – I loved to read books.
            But, I’m sure that if I could somehow add up all of the waking hours of my childhood, I’m sure that I’d find that I spent way more time with my eyes glued to the tube than I did with my nose in a book.
            Probably I spent more time just watching Star Trek than I did reading!
            As I’ve thought about this, I’ve remembered those seemingly endless weeks of summer vacation when I spent a lot of time at home watching reruns of such educational programs as I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, The Munsters (or, if I was feeling more intellectual, The Addams Family), My Three Sons, Green Acres, The Partridge Family, and, well, I could go on.
            Since these shows were on every weekday, we’d see the same episodes over and over again – and we could use a kind of shorthand with one another: “the one when Lucy gets into a fight when making wine,” “the one when the Brady’s go to Hawaii,” and so on.
            And, thanks to that repetition, the actors who starred in these shows became so very familiar to us, so familiar that we fooled ourselves into thinking that they were the characters they played, fooled ourselves into thinking that since we “knew” them so well they must somehow “know” us, too.
            We kind of “get involved” with these actors and with newscasters, too, who also play a kind of role, so it can be upsetting to find out that they aren’t the characters they play on TV, can be very upsetting to find out how flawed they can be – as we seem to be discovering just about every single day.
            And, it can also be a very emotional experience when we meet some of these stars, which I can attest to having encountered William Shatner several times in person – each time with tears in my eyes.
            In real life, he’s an elderly Canadian actor who doesn’t know the first thing me or, I’m sorry to say, care about me one bit. Of course, right? But, although I know it’s not real, on some other level, he is Captain Kirk and we’ve been on so many adventures together on the USS Enterprise.
            And, that’s why some of us get quite sad when these actors die.
            For example, many people – especially many women of a certain age – were grieved when David Cassidy, the star of The Partridge Family, died a couple of weeks ago.
            Back in the early ‘70’s he was an incredibly huge star, a teenage heartthrob, the first crush for many girls, but, as often happens with celebrities, he didn’t do so well after his moment passed, and, in fact, suffered from alcoholism for many years.
            After David Cassidy died, his daughter shared with the media her father’s last words:
            “So much wasted time.”
            Today is the first Sunday of a new church year, the First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of this brief but holy season – a season when we are called to prepare, yes, for the birth of the Son of God in an out of the way and very poor place – a season when we are also called to prepare for the last day, when we will be judged on how well we served the King and the Kingdom.
            So, while out there in the world so many people are caught up in what they think is the “Christmas Season” with its frenzy of materialism and also, unfortunately, the annual and fake “culture wars” about what cashiers are supposed to say and what Starbuck’s should print on its holiday cups, here in church the message and the focus is supposed to be quite different.
            And, we certainly heard that in today’s Gospel reading, where there was no Christmas cheer at all, right?
            Instead, Jesus looks ahead to the last day – a day that isn’t marked on our calendar – a day that only God knows – the day for which we must prepare.
            So, the message of Jesus to us is quite clear: “Keep awake.”
            Or, to put it another way, “Stop wasting time.”
            Now, Jesus isn’t calling us to be sleep-deprived or to deny ourselves rest and recreation. Not at all.
            But, Jesus is saying that since we don’t know the day or the hour, we must not postpone doing the work God has given us to do.
            We must not postpone loving one another – must not postpone telling one another, “I love you.”
            We must not postpone welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and lonely, and comforting those who mourn.
            This brief and holy season of Advent is a good time to take stock of how we live our lives – and, an opportunity to spend even just a little bit less of our precious time staring at screens and spend more time looking into the eyes of our brothers and sisters, the people we may think we know so well but maybe haven’t really talked with in a very long time.
Advent is an opportunity to spend more time looking - really looking - at the faces of those who cry out for mercy and compassion, those who hunger for a sign of God’s love in our broken and terrified world.
            I’ll close with one of the most beautiful blessings I’ve ever heard. It’s a call, a prayer, to stop wasting time:
            “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make the journey with us. So…be swift to love, and make haste to be kind. And the blessing of God, who made us, who loves us, and who travels with us be with you now and forever.”
            Amen.
           
           
           
           
            

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Available to the Kingdom"


St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
November 26, 2017

Year A: The Last Sunday after Pentecost – Christ the King
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

“Available to the Kingdom”

“The Kingdom of God is available to you in the here and now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom.”
            As most of you know, for the past few months the leaders of St. Paul’s and Incarnation have been discussing the unification of our two churches early next year.
            Since we still have a few big and kind of thorny issues to work out, I haven’t said much publicly about it, yet. But, I’m happy to report that our “unification Committee” conversations have been positive, cordial, and productive.
            During our meetings, I have felt God’s Holy Spirit present and at work, creating genuine unity out of longtime division.
            One of the really nice side benefits of this process has been the opportunity to think about what’s essential about our life together here, at St. Paul’s.
What are the distinctive core characteristics of our church?
What makes St. Paul’s St. Paul’s?
If you’ve been around for a while you know there have been a lot of changes here these past few years but our core remains the same.
Here in church we are formal, but friendly.
We are traditional, but not stuffy.
That’s been kind of our niche here among the Episcopal churches in Jersey City and I don’t see it changing much no matter what happens next year.
As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Since we are formal (but friendly) and traditional (but not stuffy), our worship is very similar to the way Christians have praised God for many centuries.
We observe the liturgical seasons of Lent and Advent and the great feast days just as Christians have for hundreds and hundreds of years.
If we could somehow transport Christians from the earliest days to St. Paul’s, they’d be confused and dazzled by lots of things, right? But, they would recognize the basic shape of what we do here week after week, listening to the stories of God and us and then gathering around the table and remembering Jesus blessing the bread and the wine, offering himself to us, offering himself for us all.
But, one thing that would probably puzzle the earliest Christians is the feast day that we celebrate today on the last Sunday of the church year: the Feast of Christ the King.
Christians from the past simply took Christ’s kingship for granted, would have understood in their bones, in their hearts, that since Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords then all the others who claim to rule – all of the Caesars past and present – are pretenders, are frauds.
For the early Christians this was all so obvious that there was no need to have a special day to celebrate Christ’s kingship.
It would be like sun worshipers setting aside a special day to remember and celebrate the warmth of the sun!
Well, sure enough, the feast that we celebrate today – the Feast of Christ the King – is, in fact, one of the newest additions to the church calendar.
The Roman Catholic Church only added it to the calendar in 1925 and then moved it to the last Sunday of the church year in 1970 – and many other churches followed suit, including, obviously, the Episcopal Church.
The feast was added to the calendar because the Church realized that, unfortunately, a lot of Christians were placing their faith not in Christ, but in other “kings.”
Back in the 1920’s, the Church could plainly see that Christians were trusting Communist “kings” like Marx and Lenin – Fascist “kings” like Mussolini and, soon, Hitler – and many Capitalist “kings” who taught that money and the newest product can and will make us so very happy.
That was a long time ago, and it would be wonderful to say that nearly a century later we Christians have learned our lesson, but of course that’s not true.
Let’s face it, so many of us Christians still place our ultimate faith in the “kings” of today, whether that’s a military or political leader who singles out certain people as our enemies and promises a return to past glory, or maybe some new technology that does indeed bring miracles but also presents new and serious problems for us to figure out.
So, yes, I’m pretty sure that our ancestors in faith would be surprised – shocked even – that so many Christians fall for these pretenders, but they wouldn’t be surprised by the basic problem - because Christ is a king like no other and his kingdom is not the kind that the world celebrates or even expects, even after two thousand years.
On this final Sunday of the church year, our gospel lesson looks ahead to the last judgment, when we will be judged on how well we served the King and his Kingdom.
And, perhaps to our shock still even after all this time, it turns out that the Kingdom is Bergen Avenue and Christ the King is out there right now, begging for change or a bite to eat.
It turns out that the Kingdom is the homeless drop-in center where Christ the King is hanging out with his buddies, trying to keep warm, hoping for something more nutritious to eat than a cheese sandwich.
It turns out that the Kingdom is the nursing home where Christ the King is lying in bed, alone, forgotten by his family and friends.
It turns out that the Kingdom is among refugees fleeing from oppression and violence and Christ the King is right there among them wondering what kind of welcome he will receive from people who claim to be his followers.
It turns out that the Kingdom is in apartments all around us, where Christ the King lives alone and isolated, friendless, barely remembering the simple pleasure of breaking bread with a brother or sister.
And, it turns out that the Kingdom is right here at St. Paul’s, tucked away and easy to miss on a side street, formal (but friendly) and traditional (but not stuffy), where all different kinds of people meet just as our spiritual ancestors did and tell the old stories, where we gather at the table and remember Jesus blessing the bread and wine, offering himself to us, offering himself for us all.
I started today’s sermon with a quote from the great and wise Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. He’s obviously not a Christian but he certainly gets it:
“The Kingdom of God is available to you in the here and now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom.”
And, as the church year draws to a close and as we find ourselves living during difficult days, days not so different from the 1920s, when people put their faith in other kings and other kingdoms, that really is the question for us Christians.
Do we make ourselves available to the kingdoms of the earth, the kingdoms ruled by the Caesars of today, by the many pretenders with their false and destructive promises?
Or, do we make ourselves available to the Kingdom of God, God’s kingdom that is right here and now, a kingdom ruled by Christ the King who doesn’t live in a palace or a mansion but dwells right here among us, most especially with the poor and the outcast?
“The Kingdom of God is available to you in the here and now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom.”
How we answer that question will make an eternal difference.
And, who knows, if we give the right answer, maybe some day we will be able to drop today’s feast from the calendar – able to drop it because it will be obvious to everybody that Christ is indeed our King – as obvious as the warmth of the sun.
May it be so.
Amen.