You house,
My house.

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

Today, our Psalm response is taken from the first verse of Psalm 122. It speaks of the overwhelming joy, gladness, happiness that comes to us when we enter the house of the Lord. When David heard the people say that they wanted to go up to the Lord’s house, His temple, his heart leapt for joy; We are all going, we are joining as one to meet the Lord.

Do we know how David felt? Are his words part of our experience? I can say that I know. Our Church and this parish are a place of joy for me. I can proclaim, using the words of Psalm 26: O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells. I hope David’s words and this place are joy for you too.

The Psalms mention the Lord’s house at least forty-seven times. Each mention is tied to praise, blessing, and renewal. In 1897, our forbearers sought a place of joy. They wanted to go up to the house of the Lord. When they got there, they wanted to find renewal and gladness. They didn’t. Rather, they found oppression. The vine they believed they were part of had withered; it was no longer grafted unto Christ but onto the political and economic interests of men of power. Psalm 127 instructs us: Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. And so, the men and women of that time determined to rebuild the Lord’s house. They did it, and because they did so, we can all say with Psalm 5: But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house.

Here we are, 121 years later. Today, we celebrate along with the words from Psalm 23: I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. More than celebrate, we continue to grow in our joy. How and why?

We continue to grow in joy because our Holy Church teaches that the house of the Lord is not just a temple or a building; it is our homes, it is our places. The house of the Lord extends beyond the walls of this parish church and encompasses our families, or neighbors, our communities, and all who seek to enter the house of the Lord. For those who do not know the greatness of this house, we are sent forth and called to make them part of our family. Repeating the words of Psalm 84 we can call to them saying: Blessed are those who dwell in the Lord’s house, ever singing His praise!

We continue to grow in joy because, as Psalm 92 says: We are planted in the house of the LORD. Being planted there means the house of the Lord goes where we go. Through our faithfulness and dedication to the Lord’s house, our homes and our families become bound together in the house of the Lord. Our homes become mini-models of His house. Our homes become places of praise and joy if we invite the Lord into our family life. Being in the house of the Lord, making our homes His house, and joining our families to Him we have the confidence David had and can say with him: Praise the LORD. you that stand in the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God!

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Arise and shine, I can just hear my mom saying those words as I covered my head with the blankets. Never all that happy to get up in the morning, here I am in 2018 as a priest of our Holy Church, leading a wonderful family of faith in our worship of God through His Son, Jesus. Of course that means I have to get up early. It’s worth it! The prophet Isaiah, using the words above, was speaking to the dejected people of Israel. They were in captivity in Babylon, with covers over their heads. He tells them to get up, to wipe the sleep from their eyes, to shine because an amazing thing was happening. They were being saved, recalled from exile. They were being called home. This happened to us that first Christmas. We were called to take on a new attitude. No more pulling the covers over our heads. The time of Jesus is here. We are being saved. Salvation had come, redemption is being accomplished. All we have to do is get up and meet and accept Him. Funny things happen in life. Sometimes not too “haha” funny. The light dims, the warmth cools, and we start pulling the covers over our heads again. When that happens we have to recall these words from Isaiah. We have to reconnect with the Manger, the start of great light and warmth. We have to gather the courage to engage in worship and community once again. The New Year is here. We are being called. Time to arise and shine.

Join us during this Christmas season (all forty days of it). We celebrate the Circumcision of the Lord, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord. The SouperBowl of Caring is coming up – help us feed those in need in our local community. Take part in our annual Outrageous Valentine’s Raffle. Stop by for a great homemade spaghetti dinner. Schedule a home blessing. Learn about our music scholarships. Become a member and sign up to help serve the community. We so look forward to meeting you. Time to arise and shine!

You may view and download a copy of our January 2018 Newsletter right here.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

One of the wonders of Advent and the Christmas season is Why. Why did Jesus come to earth? Why did God allow Himself to be humbled in such a way as to take on our humanity, to be born in a stable, to proclaim eternal truth to a people who would not listen, to be mocked and persecuted for that message, and to sacrifice Himself? In the most simple terms, it is about completion. The dictionary defines completion as ‘the action or process of finishing something.’ God did all these things to complete us; to bring about the fulfillment of God’s plan for humanity. The Church does not often speak of eschatological things – the end times and Jesus’ return – but as we focus on the moment of salvation that started coming ever closer in the stable at Bethlehem, we are called to do exactly that. Advent preparation is meaningless if it is just about Christmas day, or the forty day season of Christmas. We are to be preparing ourselves and living for complete completion. What began that night 2,017 years ago was God’s offer of all we need to get there. What we are to do today, throughout Christmas, and every day is to witness and cooperate in moving toward the completion Jesus offered and offers. We stand in this intermediate time. We are the link. Together we build the bridge from the joy of Christmas, the exaltation of resurrection, to completion.

Join us in prepare through Advent and begin the celebration of the Christmas season (all 40 days of it). We have our annual pot-luck vigil dinner on the 17th, a great breakfast on the 10th, and many other special events including our traditional candlelight midnight Holy Mass (really at midnight). Take a look at some of the reflections as well – like ‘Why be a member of this Church.’ Ever wonder, ever think about the answer – check it out. We so look forward to seeing you.

You may view and download a copy of our December 2017 Newsletter right here.

It is about
understanding.

And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 

Gaining understanding, seeing what God is doing and what our relationship is toward Him are the things Jesus fought for His entire life. He wanted us to see family as more than a functional organization that does stuff together, but as the model of the kingdom. Family is designed to be a peek into what the eternal kingdom will look like.

Jesus and his parents had been at the festival for at least seven days. They spent their time growing in relationship to their community (the model of church), to each other (the domestic church) and most of all, toward God (their eternal Father source of family). They were living out church.

We know how it is when we get caught up in something great. We don’t want to leave. So it was for Jesus. In the Temple precincts, Jesus had it all. He has the fullness of family all in one place. He didn’t want to leave. He was having an excellent time. He wants us to feel and live this way too – right now.

Jesus wants to share the fullness of family relationship with us. He wants us to gain insight, to understand and see beyond the ordinary and look to the extraordinary greatness of life that is the Christian family – the family centered on and living in Him. He wants us to revel in the family of God and to never want to leave.

God is all about family. He designed us and the world around us to mirror family life in heaven. “Let us make man in our image.” He wants us to be moved to such an extent that we want family. He wants us to stay, not just with Him, but with each other in family. He ministered to and built family to provide a life example – this is how it is supposed to be.

Jesus taught His disciples to refer to His Father as their Father. He asked the crowds – who is my mother, brothers, and sisters? It is those who understand and live in family relationship with Him and His Father. He wants us to remain, to stay in family love.

God’s family is built upon all the things Jesus taught – the example He gave us – one of dedication, worship, sacrifice, and love. God wants us to understand His great desire – that we are family and are to live that way.

As we once again renew and take up life as the kingdom family, let us remember the example of the Acts Church – people living as one – living, sacrificing, praying, and worshiping – really getting it, never wanting to leave.

Conviction from
the other side.

“Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

This Lent we are focusing on the theme of God’s conviction. Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world – clearly declaring our guilt.

Recognizing the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we have a choice. We can acknowledge and accept our guilt and flee to Jesus. We can declare our faith in him, admit our sin and conviction, and make Him the Lord of our life. In doing that, all sin is forgiven and we have access to the rich treasury of grace and mercy won for us by Jesus.

On the other hand, we can ignore or self-excuse our conviction. We can bury it, and try to fill our lives with the kinds of noise that shuts out the work of the Holy Spirit. When we do that we grow deaf to God’s call. We condemn ourselves to the coldness of outsider status.

For those who accept God’s conviction, who put their faith in the Lord, something amazing happens. They move from the conviction of guilt to a conviction in righteousness. This is what happened 120 years ago.

In 1897, a group of church goers moved from the hopelessness of external faith to the deep conviction born of a declaration of faith in Jesus alone. Today we celebrate and recognize that day.

The Christian conviction they experienced, their acceptance of the Lord over “going along” transformed their hearts. They moved from an outward conformity – casual agreement and compliance with their Church’s religious rules – to a deep conviction in what God promised them.

People can casually agree or conform with a lot of things and not be fully convinced of them or even believe any of them. People can go for many years living a lie, being deceived about what they believe and what they practice. It isn’t until they face the winds of affliction that the truth of their beliefs is tested. That is when they find out whether their house is built on the Rock or it was built on the sand.

The faithful of 1897 found Christian conviction built on salvation in Jesus. With that revelation, they faced the onslaught of the enemy, of persecution, trials, and affliction standing on the Rock. They found out that their old conformity could not carry them.

As they did, we must do. The Lord knows our choice. Our challenge is to examine ourselves to see whether we are in Lord. If we have accepted our conviction and live true conviction we, like they, like the Apostles, saints, martyrs, and heroes of the faith, will move mountains, change the world, bear much fruit, and be truly victorious.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Christians, in attempting to understand the tremendous nature of God, Who sent and sacrificed Himself out of love for us, adopted the Greek word agape to describe God’s love for us and how our love is to be. Agape is love that is universal, unconditional and extraordinary. Agape its stronger than circumstances… We are invited to accept God’s real love and to let it envelop us. Accepting His love we are overcome by its unconditional nature. We move from saying, ‘How can He love me.’ to swimming in the sea of His tremendous love, letting it draw us in, allowing it to refresh and renew us and finally allowing it to become agape love in action in our lives.

Join us as we move from the season of Christmas into the Pre-Lenten season. Check out all the great events we have planned for the month ahead, find some beautiful prayers, reflect on the true meaning of stewardship, and so much more.

You may view and download a copy of our February 2017 Newsletter right here.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Last year we dedicated ourselves to focusing on joy. In the spirit of one liturgical and calendar year ending and the next beginning, let’s look back. We began last year in Advent, a season of anticipatory joy. Fitting for us as Christians – God’s children – we awaited the best present ever. Then came that day standing at the stable, looking upon the baby Jesus and living the forty days of joyful celebration that followed. Knowing Jesus is always in our midst as well as newly with us. We walked though each season finding new joy in Christ and each other. Here we are – at the start – again reconnecting, celebrating, and knowing endless joy. Time to smile, shed a tear of joy at the stable, and look ahead.

Join us throughout December for a jam packed schedule of holy events, fellowship, and mostly joy. Escape the harangue of the world and find peace, time out from the madness in Jesus and the family of faith.

Send in your Polish Food Sale orders. Get a memory cross. Pick up those Christmas wafers / Opłatki. Join us for our annual Christmas Vigil / Wigilia pot-luck will be held on Sunday, December 18th following Holy Mass. Our SOCL students will present a short play for your reflection and enjoyment. Our brother, Derek Westcott will present two musical pieces he has been working on for months. Come see and support them. Genealogy, roots, stipends, college, read up…

You may view and download a copy of our December 2016 Newsletter right here.

Back on the early newsletter streak (thanks to the extra day this leap year).

March and Easter is here. Lent has flown by unexpectedly quickly, and we reflect on the amazingly unexpected things God has done for us. We invite you to join us for the remainder of of our Lenten events, our Seniorate Lenten retreat, and all of our Holy Week observances. There will even be an unexpected surprise Easter Sunday morning (come check it out at 8am).

Also in our newsletter, important news on our annual Basket Social (note the new location), CONVO 2016, and this Special Year Reverence Across our Holy Church.

You may view and download a copy of our March 2016 Newsletter right here.

The on-time (sorry, but not early) newsletter streak continues.

January – a time of new beginnings. What better way to start the new year than with circumcision? St. Paul told us that works like circumcision in the flesh are meaningless. What is required is a true dedication – a circumcision of the heart. We get there by faith. We cannot do things for God or achieve heaven by works, but we can dedicate ourselves by faith, and from that flows great deeds born out of joy and heaven.

January – the midst of the Christmas season. Tons of events and a real quick turn-around into the pre-Lenten season. It is going to fly by. Get updates on the work of the Church’s Future Direction Committee. Read about a new year dedicated to reverence, and a local theme focused on joy. Important information on our Church’s democratic process (yes, we really do need your help to keep it alive) is included too. Read up and remember – be joy filled in Jesus.

You may view and download a copy of our January 2016 Newsletter right here.

We do have a
King.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

We have a bit of a problem as Christians.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is before Pilate. Jesus stands His ground and tells Pilate about His kingdom. He tells Pilate the purpose of His coming – “to testify to the truth.

Our “bit of a problem” is that when we describe Jesus as our King we often times, both in words and visually, describe Him as a humble King. His head is bowed, He looks meek and frankly – weak.

This image can be compounded further because our Church has a democratic tradition in its management. We also live in a democratic society and take our liberties seriously. We tend to prefer our King to be meek and weak.

To help us fully appreciate the Kingship of Jesus – His formal and official Office as our King – the Holy Church gives us this Solemnity. We need to take this opportunity to fix our perspective, to adjust our vision to see Jesus as the One who has absolute authority to rule and reign over us. The Magi and Pilate called Him King. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as the gentle and humble King riding on a donkey – a symbol of a king arriving in peace. In the days to come, with the arrival of the fullness of His Kingdom, He will come astride a white horse. The King astride a horse is a symbol of a king arriving in power to judge and wage war.

The “Kingdom of God” is noted at least sixty-six times in the New Testament, most of the references are in the Gospels. Jesus proclaims: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come . . .

We should have no doubt, Jesus is our King and we owe Him total loyalty, obedience, worship, and adoration. While the time is here we need to greet Him as the King who came in peace to free us and accept His forgiveness and His Lordship. We need to receive Him in awe and reverence for LORD! We are not worthy. It is time for us to recognize that we need to give Him the Lordship and power over our lives – for “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”