Luke 21:25-36 Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Happy New Year! Sunday begins our new liturgical year, year three, the year of the gospel according to Luke and I want to invite you to join me in A Year of Finding God in All Things. First let me give you a bit of context. You see, finding God and responding to God is not a new idea.
In the Christian Testament (although it is true of the people of the Hebrew Testament as well) we meet single Mary and the Shepherds, all of whom are visited by angels. And when his parents take him to the the temple to be named, somehow the old visionary Anna knows Jesus is the promised Messiah. How do all of these ordinary people recognize the presence of God? How can they tell? Remember, all of this happens before the healings, signs and miracles of Jesus’ ministry?
All three of the synoptic gospels report the melodramatic moment of Jesus’ baptism wherein Jesus has a vision of the heavens torn open and sees a dove descending upon him and hears a voice saying, “You are my son the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1.9-11, Matthew 3.13-17, Luke 3.21-22) How does Jesus know it is the Spirit of God talking and not a dose of spoiled wine?
After Jesus’ death the disciples report meeting the risen Jesus in all different contexts (garden, closed room, on the beach, on the road)… in all different forms (gardener, stranger, foreigner, friend). Vision? Revelation? Hallucination?
How did all of these people whose stories have impacted hundreds of millions of people, even entire civilizations, how did they recognize the Spirit of God with them?
I cannot answer that, but the promise Jesus makes to all who choose to believe can. ”The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (John 14.26) Furthermore, if we leap into the Book of James, a treatise written for Christians between 90-100 CE, the writer counsels the early Christians and us, “Rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness and welcome with meekness the implanted Word that has power to save your souls.” (James 1.21)
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, the implanted Word of God lives within us which means we participate in the incredible revelatory tradition narrated in the Bible. The story of the relationship between God and humanity continues to evolve today - through us.
This Sunday I will invite the congregation of Apostles to join me in a year of Finding God in All Things using An Ignatian Book of Days by Jim Manney. It is based on St. Ignatius’ exercises or practices aimed at finding God in all things.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits, a religious order of men who do not live in monasteries, are not monks and mostly not priests. They are people who engage in every ordinary profession, teacher, cook, accountant, scientist, street sweeper, with the fundamental conviction that God can be found in all things. Ignatian practices gives us a way of looking at the world that helps us see, feel and experience God’s presence in our daily lives, and be better for it. To learn more click on upper right corner to hear Fr. James Martin describe how he found God while watching TV and eating spaghetti.
Perhaps you would like to join us finding God in the midst of the distress and confusion among nations, in the roaring seas and the foreboding waves shaking our world today?
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