Are you antsy?

By nature, I am a fidgeter. The 2nd most common question of my childhood was “Chris are you feeling antsy.” (The most common was, “Are you hungry?” I could eat.) Sitting still just isn’t something I take to easily. As a younger person, if you would have given me the option of sitting on the beach or hiking in the mountains, I would have picked the mountains every time. How about you? Are you antsy?

As I get older I am getting better at remaining still. I no longer do a little dance while I brush my teeth. I don’t get up from my desk every five minutes while trying to work. I play an imaginary kick drum under the table during dinner. I might even pick the beach over mountains sometimes. 

In the gospel this Sunday Jesus says, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

In our culture we don’t often glorify the act of remaining. In fact, more often than not, we vilify people who remain. It’s as if the act of remaining grates against our need to produce or to move forward. Remaining is seen as the act of the coward who isn’t bold enough to head out on adventure. Maybe in some sense that is true at times. 

However, Jesus commands us to remain in his love. It isn’t a suggestion or invitation, it is a commandment to remain. Then Jesus explains that the way to remain in his love is to keep his commandments just as he has kept God the Father’s commandments. Follow Jesus. Do what he says. Remain in his love. 

The reality is the we fail to do this every day. Instead of remaining in Jesus’ love, we venture out in sin and selfishness. We get spiritually, morally antsy. 

If you are the kind of person who struggles to sit still, you understand the feeling of restlessness. I think we sometimes get this feeling when it comes how we practice our faith too. We feel like we must not be doing enough. We feel like we haven’t earned God’s love. We feel like we gotta go do something to be a better Christian. 

Jesus tells us this Sunday that what we really need to do is remain in his love. If we are seeking to follow Jesus’ commandments, then we just need to stay where we are. If we are receiving the Sacraments and engaging in daily prayer, remain in that. If we living lives of service and sacrifice that aids our fellow humans, we should stay right there. 

Don’t over complicate our faith by getting antsy. Avoid evil. Do good. Pray. Remain in Jesus’ love. 

Live It: Practice remaining in Jesus’ love by practicing sitting still. Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and then simple sit in silence and listen for God. Do it once today or once a day for three days and see what happens.

Sunday Readings for May 9, 2021.

The Pleasure of Anticipation

When I was growing up, my mom used to say, “Often the anticipation of something is more enjoyable than the thing itself.” The older I get the more true I find this to be. Whether it is taking the kids to Disney or waiting for date night, the anticipation of something is a significant part of the enjoyment for me. 

These days in the midst of this pandemic the thing that I most often anticipate is online delivery orders. I know this sounds a little crazy but I have developed a whole system of anticipation so that I get the maximum amount of enjoyment from my order. Doesn’t matter if it is long desired wood shop tool or just a bottle of vitamin C, I try to maximize my anticipatory enjoyment.

Here is what I do. As soon as the website where I made my online purchase gives me a tracking number, I click on it. Usually all they’ve done is printed a shipping label, but no movement yet. That’s okay because then the next time I check the tracking number SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED! YAY IT’S COMING! Get it? Then everyday I click on that tracking number and watch my package travel from wherever in the USA slowly making its way towards my house. Then when my package is “out for delivery,” I watch the front door for a brown box. I listen for the talking computer that lives in my kitchen to tell me a delivery has arrived. As silly as this sounds, it is really enjoyable for me.  

With this in mind, I think the gospel this Sunday is less of a threat and more of an invitation to enjoy Advent/Christmas more. Let me explain.

In the gospel Jesus says we need to actively wait for the end of the world. He says, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” What does he mean? Jesus explains it is like a rich man who travels abroad and leaves his servants in charge. Jesus explains that they have to be ready for him to return any time. God forbid he return and find them not ready. 

My whole life, I read this scripture like a threat. It’s as if, Jesus is threatening us with the end of the world. If not the end of the world maybe Jesus is threatening us with our coming death! I always felt like he was saying, “Better be good, because you never know when you’re going to die! Better watch out!” Yikes! But that is how I read it. I don’t think that is the whole story and the way we can know this that we read it on the first weekend of Advent. 

Advent is all about preparing to welcome Christ again this Christmas. Advent is all about waiting and watching. Advent is all about Anticipatory Enjoyment! Instead of dreading the end of the world or our end, Jesus is trying to given us clues as to best enjoy this life!

Jesus is inviting us to live lives of anticipation. Jesus is telling us to wait and watch because good things are coming and we will lead the good life now by anticipating the good life of heaven. 

What do you hear when Jesus says, “Be watchful! Be Alert!” I hope you hear his invitation to have the best Advent you’ve ever had. Don’t worry, anticipate with joy!

LIVE IT: Figure out a way to anticipate Christmas this year. Advent calendar, Jesus Tree, countdown calendar, traveling wisemen, put one decoration on your tree everyday, etc. When you do these anticipatory actions, say a simple prayer asking for Jesus to come and to fill your life with joy. 

Good at Waiting.

GW-2020-02-02-Meta-ImageHeader Large.jpg

The other day I was sick and needed to get into Urgent Care as soon as possible. I looked on line at various Urgent care locations and discovered that they posted their wait times online. I drove past 2 locations with hour+ long wait time to arrive an an urgent care with no posted wait time. Why? Because no body likes to wait. We are live in a time and place with shortest and fewest wait times. We have the lowest levels of patience when it comes to waiting. Instead of waiting, we take out our phones and do something. Waiting in faith is hard for us. 

In the gospel this Sunday we read about Simeon who the Holy Spirit had told him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the savior of Israel. He had to wait. Simeon waited day in and day out in the temple for the Lord to come. He didn’t know when Jesus was coming, but he still waited. How many little babies did Simeon hold hoping and wishing for the Messiah only to realize he had more waiting to do?

Can you imagine Simeon’s joy, delight, and exhilaration when he finally Jesus in his arms? That experience of anticipation and fulfillment must have be the core of Simeon’s faith. Yet, Simeon’s faith didn’t come from God’s fulfillment of his promise, but front he promise itself. Simeon waited in faith because he trusted God. 

Far too often when we pray we expect God to answer prayers faster than Amazon. We want what we want, when we want it, which is now. We are high-demand consumers of God’s love and goodness and we want our demands/prayers met in a timely manner. 

God knows our hearts. He knows and desires what is best for us. God responds to all prayers with either yes, no, or wait. Sometimes the waiting is the best thing that could happen to us. It is in the waiting that the Holy Spirit works. Sometimes it is in the waiting where we meat God face to face. 

LIVE IT: Find someone you trust to ask the following 4 questions:

  1. Are you good at waiting? Why or why not? 
  2. Are you waiting for anything right now?
  3. What have you learned while waiting for something?
  4. Have you ever waited for God to do something? What happened?

Sunday Readings for February 2nd, 2020.

Wait.

May 28th Sunday Readings.

Have you ever been behind someone at a traffic light that turns green and they don’t textingmove? Of course you have. It seems that often the light turns green and nobody moves because they are looking down at their phone. I have to admit I have no patience for that moment. I don’t think many of us enjoy waiting for others to move.

Yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know that there are times we are the cause of our own delay. As frustrated as I may get with a stop-light-texter, I’ve certainly been the one to hold up the whole line of cars (Also, DON’T text and drive. Don’t do it. Whatever it is, it can wait.)

In fact, I would say that more often than not, I’m the one tapping the breaks when it comes to something that asks something of me. I don’t know about you, but when I have a decision to make, it is easier for me to say, “Let’s wait,” instead of, “Let’s go!”

In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus says “Go.” Jesus gives his disciples and each and everyone of us a command to move, to go from where we are and make disciples. He doesn’t say, “Prepare more.” He doesn’t say, “After you know enough.” He doesn’t say, “After you are good enough.” He tells us to go.

Sharing that our faith matters to us and that Jesus is important in our lives isn’t always easy. And certainly we should be prudent in how we go about sharing our good news with the world. However, if we wait too long, in the name of prudence, we may never go.

This week, wherever you go, take your faith with you. Don’t leave the name of Jesus at HNOJ or the quiet of your own room. Bring Jesus to the soccer practice, ice rink, grad party, or family dinner. Go!

LIVE IT:
I dare you say the name of “Jesus” sometime this week in a positive way, in an unexpected place, and see what happens.