Thoughts for the season

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 9:30am

Ponder the Promise

The Jewish believers built the foundation of their faith with their very blood, sweat and tears.

The Hebrew nation received the Promise in revelation. Kept the Promise by prophetic exhortation. Reestablished the Promise through divine intervention when it faded and even got lost.

And through it all, managed to pass on the Promise from generation to generation.

The Christian believers accepted the Promise handed on to them and seamlessly continued to build on the foundation  with their own blood, sweat, and tears.

The Promise revealed and the Promise fulfilled is one in the Christian mind and practice.

Jesus among us is the Promised One, come to full stature in our time. That awesome sentence professes the truthfulness of what the Christian family accepts, believes, and practices going on now for 2,000 years.

Advent reminds us all — Jew and Greek, slave and free — that even the Promise fulfilled needs restating, re-recognition; re-acceptance, less it fades and is possibly lost.

To a distracted Judeo/Christian worldview, the Emmanuel, the God with us, can and often is displaced by a simple candy cane or a partridge in a pear tree!

I appeal to the deep thinkers and the distracted to ponder the Promise this Christmas Day and season. Allow the 5,000 years of believers and revealers, who put life and limb on the line, to be the witnesses to the Promise, who is Hope and Justice and Love. Share the responsibility of those who wait the coming of the Savior and be alert to Him who is already in our midst.

Christmas is more than a word. It is a way of believing and a certain way of living.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

— Rev. Joseph Protano, Pastor, St. Andrew Catholic Church

Christmas Meditation

The very word Christmas conjures up many different thoughts and images in people's minds. Trees, decorations, seasonal songs, snow, evergreens, family get-togethers, and much more. Many of these have little or nothing to do with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. All of them are good in their own way as long as we remain mindful of why we celebrate. Jesus' birth is first and foremost a sign of God's love for us, his creation. His provision for the restoration of our relationship to God began to become clear when Jesus was born in that manger in Bethlehem of Judea. It culminated in the events of Holy Week and Easter when he died and rose again. Christmas has replaced Easter as the principal celebration of the year for many people. I wonder if that is because Jesus as a baby is easier to comprehend than Jesus as the crucified and risen Christ. In any event, we should celebrate! God loves us beyond measure and the birth of Jesus is one evidence of that love. "God's present to the world", some have said.

This is my last meditation for The Block Island Times. The years have passed and the time has come for retirement. Meg and I will be returning to our home in upstate New York to live. It has been a grand adventure to live and work among you for these past years and I will miss you and the island.

Have a truly Merry and Blessed Christmas.

— Fr. Dan Barker, Pastor, St. Ann’s by-the-Sea

Room at the Table

Jesus said, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous…” — Luke, Chapter 14

Most of us will spend time with friends and relatives around the dinner table over the holidays. This is a good thing, but during this season, we do well to ask ourselves what we can do to make room at the table for those we don’t know, for the impoverished, and the less fortunate. We may not have occasion to actually invite a stranger to a meal at our home (maybe we will!); nevertheless, at least we can explore ways in which we can go out of our way, at least figuratively, to ‘make room for them at the table.’

I was recently inspired by a BlogSpot by Brad Aronson who started a list to help us reach out to others with acts of kindness this Christmas. Here are a few of his ideas:

1. Purchasing gifts for friends and strangers at the same time

2. Virtual visits

Send cards to lonely seniors

Send cards to children who are fighting serious illnesses

3. Being neighborly

“Can I pick something up for you?” If you’re going shopping off-island, call a neighbor and ask if you can pick something up for them from the mainland.

I know in New England we usually don’t visit our neighbors without making an appointment a week or more in advance, but why not make Christmastime the exception to the rule by dropping by with a plate of cookies or a simple gift and note?

4. Encouraging kindness in others

Think of one or two amazing people in your life. Take a moment to write a letter telling them what you admire about them and the example that they have given you in how to live a better life.

When you see people doing something good or kind, tell them. It’s always a great time to give out compliments, but since the holidays can be harried, your compliments might be even more appreciated than usual. If you have something nice to say, then say it!

Finally, do that thing that you’ve been thinking about doing for a while now but haven’t gotten around to yet. Find your own charity. Give in your own way!

…And have a very Merry Christmas! 

— Peter Preiser, Pastor, Harbor Church