Join us for the final Sunday of Advent & for our Christmas Eve services. Questions? Email Cynthia, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 815-338-0950.
Some 35 years ago I was ordained on December 15th. I received this as an ordination gift. It came in a red velvet frame and we bring it out each Christmas, although it's a direction to live by each day.
"Christmas is more than a day at the end of the year
More than a day of joy and good cheer
Christmas is really God's pattern for living
To be followed each day by unselfish giving
Then Peace on Earth will come to stay
When we live Christmas every day."
-- Anonymous Source
Join us for the final week of Advent & for our Christmas Eve services. Questions? Email Cynthia, email@example.com, or call 815-338-0950.
A Fish Story
It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it, that “a fish story” is a kind of idiom for a tall tale in today’s vernacular. Nevertheless, for Christians, a fish story is no tall tale but woven into the vocabulary of our beliefs. After all, Jesus first called Galilean fishermen to be his disciples, the multitude were fed by five loaves and two fish, and the shape of a fish became a symbol for Christians. Jesus transformed the fishermen’s call from netting fish to fishing for people. (Mk1:17)
Today’s fish story came to me via our daughter from the internet. It’s a story of a fisherman from an island off the coast of Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Joao Pereira de Souza found a tiny South American Magellanic penguin on the beach, covered in oil and nearly dead. Who hasn’t been charmed by the waddling white and black birds that can’t fly?! Thus, Joao tenderly washed the penguin, fed him to build his strength back, and then tried to release the penguin back into the wild; but the penguin wouldn’t leave. The two bonded and Joao named the penguin Dindim. The penguin stayed for 11 months, and then one day disappeared.
A few months later, Dindim returned and followed the fisherman home. The pattern continued. Dindim has spent 8 months of the year with Joao and the rest of the year mating off the coast of Argentina and Chile, approximately, and amazingly, 5000 miles away. Joao professed, “I love the penguin like it’s my own child.”
While not scripture, it seems to me that both Joao and the Dindim have lessons to teach us. God calls us to become more like Joao and love and care for those who have been placed in our path, to be enchanted by the world about us. Scripture teaches us to remember that we, too, have a bond and have been named a Child of God. Most of us do our own share of waddling, but have the gifts to become more like Dindim to stay the course, be more willing to go the extra distance to profess our faith and devotion, to be thankful that we have been loved and saved, and to express that gratitude for the new life offered.
To God be the glory! Amen.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Thank you, God, for the joy of living.
Thank you for the blessing of love.
Thank you for the comfort of friendship.
Thank you for the kindness of strangers.
Thank you the freedom to make choices.
Thank you for the wonderment of opportunity.
Thank you for the excitement of challenges.
Thank you for the wisdom learned in failures.
Thank you for new beginnings.
Thank you for fulfilled endings.
Thank you for the dawn of the day.
Thank you for the peace of night.
Thank you for the re-creation of play.
Thank you for the commitment of work.
Thank you for life and all it brings.
Thank you for the hope of salvation.
Thank you, God, for these and all your gifts.
To God be the glory!
Adapted from Prayers of our Hearts by Vienna Cobb Anderson
“There are loyal hearts, there are spirits brave,
There are souls that are pure and true;
Then give to the world the best you have,
And the best will come back to you.”
Life’s a Mirror, by Mary Ainge De Vere
Just what is life’s mirror telling us? One thing that it tells is that our media is rife with stories about loyalty, or the lack thereof. The Dictionary of Etymology tells us that the word loyal comes from Old French meaning faithful, allegiance. We see daily evidence of the essence of kinds of loyalty mirrored by loyal Cub fans, honest and true friends, patriotic brave soldiers, and pure faithful Christians. We are in awe of people who give their lives for the sake of loyalty, truth, and faith, as well as being disheartened by disloyalty, unfaithfulness, and falsehood. In fact, I believe that loyalty must come from deep within the heart, not caught by reflection, but by deeds. It cannot be demanded, rather, it must be freely given.
We see loyalty displayed in our civic lives in the “pledge of Allegiance,” and in our spiritual lives in the creeds of our faith,” I believe in One God…”, in the Baptismal Covenant, and especially in our Lord who was faithful to His call to save us, even unto death.
Humans aren’t the only creatures who have the traits of loyalty and faithfulness. Some creatures, like the Mourning Dove, mate and are faithful for life. There are multiple stories of dogs who reflect loyalty by their actions when their owners fall sick, the dogs guard them, either not leaving their side, or running for help. In Carmen Bernos De Gasztold’s book, Prayers from the Ark, he includes “The Prayer of the Dog.” The prayer mirrors a dog’s loyalty.
I keep watch!
If I am not here, who will guard their house?
Watch over their sheep?
No one but You and I
what faithfulness is.
They call me, “Good dog! Nice dog!”
I take their pats
And the old bones they throw me
And I seem pleased,
They really believe they make me happy.
I take kicks too
When they come my way,
None of that matters.
I keep watch!
Do not let me die
Until, for them,
all danger is driven away. Amen.”
Today, I’d like us to ponder for what and whom we are faithful and, loyal, and how and what we reflect? Being faithful to our country is not just keeping the laws of the land, but also doing everything we can to make it the best place we can, to be informed, to continually vote for the best leaders we are able to decipher, to be the best citizens we know how to be, watching out for the greater good of all.
In order to be the best citizens of the Kingdom, we are called to believe in The Trinity; continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and in prayer; resist evil and repent and return to the Lord, when necessary; proclaim the Good News; seek and serve Christ in all persons; and strive for justice and peace, in essence, being faithful to the teaching of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must be dogged in our attempts to reflect the love of God.
Dogs are taught to “come” to their masters. Unlike dogs, Christians are not only taught to “Come“ to their Master, The Lord, but to grow ever deeper and one with Him. Dogs dig with their paws. May we use this time to pause and ponder our faith and loyalty, to dig deeper and pray, “Lord, Increase our faith.” (Lk 17:5) Give to the world and God the best we can, and the best, Eternal Life, will come back to you.
To God be the glory!