I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I wonder if the translators got it wrong? I wonder if I can say “got” in that sentence? Paul, writing to the Philippians, says he is moving toward the goal. A grammar study would tell us that “to” and “toward” are two different things. There is a key distinction. As we enter into Advent and soon the Christmas season, this is a vital distinction. Are we moving toward or to Jesus? In any sentence, “towards” means “in the direction of that person or thing”. When we use “toward,” we are not describing a destination; the destination is without certainty. Toward only describes a general direction. However, when to say “to” we have defined the destination of our journey. While our exact way of getting to that destination remains un-described, we have set our goal with certainty. We work to get to it. We focus on it. We say with confidence, that is exactly where I am going. Advent is a call to prepare for the journey to the returning and victorious Christ. We are to spend this time getting ready, fortifying ourselves for His return so we can meet Him “standing erect with our heads held high.” We are called to set our destination, and retranslate Paul’s words – I am moving to the goal, to the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. That is where I want to be. We may feel fine walking toward Jesus. We might get lucky and trip into the manger at Christmas. The problem with a lack of certainty on our part is that we may miss the mark and end up separated, unable to get to our goal. Getting close, being in the neighborhood, is not enough for Jesus. He wants more. The four weeks of Advent lead to the forty days of Christmas. Time is short. Let us then set the goal, let us be dedicated and focused on the place we need to get to. Let us walk straight to a kingdom defined life. That is the goal, the prize.

December, the quick journey through Advent to the forty day season of Christmas. We discuss the journey, as you see above. Are we heading in God’s general direction, or are we going straight to Him? It makes a difference. We are so excited about these seasons, their quiet times and their activities. Join us for our meatless vigil dinner on December 16th. Listen to what our youth have prepared. Join in and ‘green the church’ on December 23rd.

Looking for real Midnight Holy Mass? Only here in Schenectady! Blessing of wine on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist – yes, that too.

We wish you all the many and varied blessings of these seasons as we expectantly move to Jesus’ return.

Check out all this and more in our December 2018 Newsletter.

Eat and
run.

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

Elijah is both literally and spiritually in the wilderness in today’s first reading. He is so despondent that he asks the Lord to take his life.

Elijah had engaged with the worldly prophets of Baal and Asherah, the false gods that the people of Israel had come to adore. With God’s power he destroyed those prophets and any hope their false gods could deliver. We would think that he would have had a new found confidence, obviously, look at what the One and true God had done. But something is wrong. Elijah experiences a sense of failure, some kind of downer emotion that is not at all obvious to anyone. It is inside him, a nagging evil that leaves him deflated, despondent, depressed, and ready to die. He sits under the Broom tree; the end has to be now.

Most of us have experienced hard situations like Elijah did. We may feel down even though all around us seems great. There may be true miracles in our lives, but we take a different message from them. We grow sad or even despondent.

This story is repeated many times in scripture. Hagar lays Ishmael under a bush and waits to die. Jonah sits under the Castor Bean tree and is angry and despondent.

Some people calls these times ‘bumps in the road,’ but they are more than that to us when we are in the middle. Previously, Elijah was seen as assured and triumphant. He seemed to have no problem finding his way, yet now we see a very different Elijah, an Elijah sharing more in common with Hagar and Jonah. All were, at one time, seen as the blessed of God. Yet they came to ask: ‘Where is the blessing?’

The answer and blessing, as always, comes from God. While we meet a very different Elijah, we meet the same Lord who ministered to Hagar and Jonah. We meet the true God who feeds us, provides drink, gives strength, and shows the way. Elijah’s story, that of Jonah and Hagar, invite us to get up, to eat and continue moving forward. Just as God stays close to Elijah in order to help him overcome his travails, we must have the same confidence that God is present and will be present in our lives; He stays close to us. It is always down to Jesus’ promise: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever”

Blessing of Pets – Next Sunday, October 6th

October 4th is the Commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi. If you wish, please bring your pets to church on Sunday, October 6th during our regular worship at 9:30am. We will hold a special blessing for our furry, feathered, and scaled friends. If you wish, you may also bring in some pet supplies for donation to local pet shelters.

blessing_of_the_pets

Blessed are you, Lord God, Maker of all living creatures, On the fifth and sixth days of creation you called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all animals his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this animal. By the power of your love enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

Observance of The Feast-day of St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of Animals

As you may have heard, there have been many pets and animals that were abandoned in the flooded areas around us and in our state’s southern tier. Various agencies in and around our area have taken up the search and rescue and rehabilitation of those animals found homeless. Although we could not be involved with the agencies that are trying to match up the animals with their owners, we could be helpful in those plans that will help to provide care until that reunion may take place.

Therefore, we are asking that if you have a pet or not, to stop by and add your prayers during a short service on Saturday, October 1st (the actual Feast-day is the 4th), at 10am. Also, if you could bring along some items to donate: dry or canned pet food, cat litter, leashes, or other items (no perishable food) you would like to donate. Some early contact with these agencies has been made.

Our prayer this year will have special import since there are a number of animals we will ask St. Francis to intercede for and ask God to protect and re-unite with their caregivers. Please add your prayer, voice, and donation. In advance, THANKS!

Commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi and Pet Blessing

As you may have heard, there have been many pets and animals that remain abandoned in the storms and severe weather that had plagued our nation over the past year. Various agencies in and around our area have taken up the search and rescue and rehabilitation of those animals found homeless. Although we could not be involved with the agencies that are trying to match up the animals with their owners, we could be helpful in those plans that will help to provide care until that reunion may take place.

Therefore, we are asking that if you have a pet or not to stop by and add your prayers during the short service on Saturday, October 2nd, 10 am. Also, if you could bring along some items to donate: dry or canned pet food, cat litter, leashes, or other items (no perishable food) you would like to donate. Some early contact with these agencies has been made.

Our prayer again this year will have special import since there are animals we will ask St Francis to intercede for and ask God to protect and reunite these pets with their care-givers. Please add your voice and donation. In advance, THANKS!