The Good Word for Nov 30th – First week of Advent

For the complete Sunday readings click here. 

Do you remember the classic Folgers Coffee commercial called, “Peter Comes Home for Christmas.” (Watch it here.) I loved this commercial growing up and it was on every Christmas. In it, Peter makes his way home on Christmas and surprises everyone. It’s clear that no one expected him and yet there he was. And he made coffee.

The commercial is a little idyllic. I wonder if Peter’s parents prepared for him to come home? They weren’t expecting him and were happy he was there, but were they ready for him to come home? If they didn’t expect him to come home, I bet they didn’t do anything to prepare.

The question today’s gospel asks us is this – do we believe that God is coming to be near to us? Do we really expect God to come? If not, then nothing in our lives has to change. We don’t have to change anything about how we live or what we do day to day if we don’t expect God to come.

The message of the gospel on this the first Sunday of Advent, is that God is coming. God will return to his people. God is on his way and we should prepare, be ready, and be alert to his return. The key we can’t expect to know when God is coming, but we can be certain that God is coming.

If we believe that God is coming, what are we willing to do about it? How do we stay alert and ready? Jesus’ key word is “watch.” We have to look for God. My dad would say that we must keep our “eyes pealed.” We must look for God’s coming to us with the eyes of our heart.

Live It:
Pray everyday for this first week of advent this simple prayer: “God, open my eyes to see how you are coming into my life.”

The Good Word for Nov. 23rd

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

My wife is amazing. The other day we had some of our couple friends over. We all have elementary-aged kids. The adults were all down stairs in our living room talking and the kids were upstairs playing in our playroom. All of a sudden we hear this shrill scream and instantly, all the moms start to get up until my wife says, “Ohh, that’s mine,” and runs upstairs to care for our 5 year-old.

Out of the fifteen kids who could have been screaming, how did she know it was Sophia? Because my wife is Sophia’s mom and Sophia is her child. Liz knows her children and her children know her.

In our first reading, from Ezekiel, God explains that he is a shepherd who really knows his own sheep. He knows them so well, that when they are scattered and separated, he will still go after them and find them. The lost he will find. The injured he will help. The sick he will heal. And those who are a little too full of themselves, he will humble.

The key to this passage is that we belong to God and he will do anything to bring us back into relationship with him. So the question is, if God wants to be close to us, how do we get close to him? Jesus answers this question in gospel.

Jesus says whenever we have helped the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill, or imprisoned we have helped him. And whenever we have been near to the least, we have been near to him. So, if you want to be close to Jesus, get close to the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized. It’s that simple.

Live It:
Make a plan to be close to the poor, vulnerable, or marginalized sometime this Advent. Need some help making your plan? Check out our website on ways you can reach out. https://www.hnoj.org/outreach

The Good Word for November 16th

For the complete Sunday readings, click here.

huffyOne Christmas I received an amazing gift – a Huffy White-Heat Bike. It was rad. (Okay, the year was 1991. Totally rad.) That year I road my new bike everywhere. My neighborhood was my domain. That summer I road my bike to Aaron’s house for wiffle ball, to Jason’s house to play the original Nintendo, and to swim practice nearly every morning. Short of a few rainy days, I think I road my bike everyday.

The three servants in the gospel reading for this weekend are also given a gift. Each is given a sum of money. The first two servants take that money, and through investment, make back more money then they started with. The third servant is afraid of the master, so he digs a hole and hides his gift.

Why is the master so upset with the last servant when he comes home? The third servant doesn’t really use the gift he is given. The third servant doesn’t take full advantage of the incredible generosity of the master. The third servant acts out of fear and hides his gift. By not using the gift he is given, it’s as if the third servant doesn’t really accept the gift at all.

Jesus tells his parable as both an encouragement and a challenge. Continue reading

The Good Word for Nov 9th

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

table flipHave you ever been so angry that you wanted to turn over a table? We see this all the time in movies and TV shows. Several people are sitting around a table in a restaurant or an office. One person gets so upset that they stand up and flip over the table – plates and silverware go everywhere, pens and note pads go flying. Pretty dramatic.

In our gospel, Jesus takes it even a step further. He makes a whip out of rope and literally chases the moneychangers out of the temple area. Whenever we see this portrayed in a Jesus movie, it looks like Jesus is pretty upset, just like every other table flipper. But was Jesus really angry?

The disciples use a different word – zeal. Zeal is being greatly enthusiastic about an idea or mission. People who live with zeal are passionate, devoted, eager, intense, and even fanatical.

So what is Jesus so fired up about? Jesus is zealous for his house, for the temple of the Lord. Jesus’ intense response was brought about because people were trying to profit financially off of people’s desire to get close to God.

Roman coins were not allowed into the temple, and so the moneychangers charged exorbitant, criminally high rates to exchange the coins for Jewish currency. Those wishing to sacrifice at the temple Continue reading