Vicar’s Corner: One Amazing And Uplifting Gathering

To reiterate something I wrote last week: ‘no one really likes having to attend a meeting.’ Then again, last Sunday’s St. Nicholas Annual All-Parish Meeting was not your “run-of-the-mill” meeting. Absolutely not. What we had was one amazing and uplifting gathering. When all was said and done and the closing prayer was said, truthfully, I hated to see everyone leave. There is a comfort, a sense of belonging when we’re gathered together; as a community, as a family of believers. What a joy it is for me to have this divine opportunity to serve such a church and such a wonderful community.

So much was accomplished in a relatively short period of time. We elected our new members to the Bishop’s Committee. Two delegates and two alternates to the 2015 Diocesan Convention have been elected. We discussed the updates to our church and what is yet to come. Finances were talked about, openly and with full transparency. We talked about where we want our church to be, what we envision for our house of worship and our dreams of what could well come to be. There was a lengthy conversation about our desire to become a “parish,” to drop the term “mission” from our title. There are both pros and cons to this move. However, there seems to be a rather strong and healthy head of steam for us to pursue this very matter. We will move carefully, judiciously and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As members were sharing their thoughts and concerns, I took some liberty and looked out at the many faces that filled the Hall. Certainly, I was paying attention to what was being said, be assured of that. However, looking out at this, my parish family, I felt such an overwhelming sense of pride, of happiness and a love that is so rare and special.

My friends, we did ourselves proud. We accomplished much, we focused our attention to the work that was before us, we ate our fill and we left the Hall in probably better condition than when we started. Truly in good ol’ St. Nicholas style and fashion, we did it right and we did it our way!

To everyone…you are forever in my prayers and always in my heart.

Blessings to one and all, and a million times over…thank you.

Amen.

-Manny

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Vicar’s Corner: The World Waits

It is a pure joy and honor to be gifted the opportunity to experience the culture and beauty of another country. I had been to Mexico once before and fell in love with the people, the atmosphere and the absolute wonders of the countryside. The rainbow of colors of the plants and flowers; it’s almost too much. As if God and nature just lost control and threw it all out there without any rhyme or reason but only to see just how many colors they could create. Such vibrancy; it would be understandable were someone to say it is overwhelming. I have to admit; I was beginning to believe that our cold, upper Midwestern winters had somehow muted my sense of sight, (could it be that I’m simply getting older?) These colors are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Then again, in time and due season, I shall savor our spring flowers and take in the beauty and bold, blood red of a blooming rose or the bursts of purple, orange and yellow of a climbing clematis. And I will gaze at our St. Nicholas gardens come late summer and early autumn and marvel at the beauty of the mums and the awesome display of hues and shades and I’ll swear I’ve not seen colors such as these.

Yes: all things in due time and all things have a season. As a Church, we remain in the season of Advent. We are about to enter the fourth and final week of this holy season. This weekend we light the last of our four candles. The entire wreath will glow and the feast of the Nativity will be that much closer. This glorious and joyful scene will be played out in every church that has an Advent wreath, in every house of worship that is waiting, anticipating and expecting the joyful news. Regardless where we are; whether in the warmth of Mexico or in the chill of the Midwest, we celebrate what is just, right and good and we do so with excitement and joy.

Perhaps it is because of my Michigan upbringing that Christmas, cold and snow are synonymous. They are supposed to go together, right? Not so in the tropic: for snow there is the sand that blows at will and the cold is the ice that gently slides down the frosted glasses. Still, we — the good people in Mexico, the good people in the north and all Christians the world over — await the birth of the Lord. We anticipate with excitement and glee the bells that will ring to herald the New Born King.

I read recently a quote of the Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, something that seemed rather well-timed and which I’d like to share with you now: “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” Ah yes, to recall the beauty of such as a rose in the bleak, cold midwinter truly gives our hearts and souls pause for joy and peace.

Yes, the world waits. Whether in the cold of the north or the balmy breezes of the south, we all await the birth of Jesus. To celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ entry into our world just as we have been celebrating for over 2000 years. All things in due time and in their season.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

The Vicar’s Corner: From Green To Purple (and sometimes blue)

AdventWreath200

We’ve seen our fair share of ‘green’ all about the church. From the altar cloth to hanging banners as well as the vestments I wear. It’s all part and parcel to the particular season of the Church year. You see, way back on June 8 when we celebrated Pentecost, from the Sunday that followed, that is, June 15 to last week’s feast of Christ the King, we have been in what is called “Sundays after Pentecost.” Some refer to this extended period as “Ordinary Time.” Both are acceptable. Now, however, we start anew.

While the calendar still has a full month to go before we usher in a new year, the Church year starts anew on the first weekend of Advent. This is what we are to about to celebrate this weekend. Down comes the green and up goes the royal blues and purples. The Advent Wreath is to be built by our very selves, as we place evergreen boughs into the wreath. Each week we shall light a candle: Weeks one and two we light beautiful, blue candles. Week three we light the radiant rose candle as we commemorate that Sunday we call Gaudete, taken from the Latin for “rejoice.” The forth and last Sunday of Advent we light the last of the blue candles. In a few days time, we ring the bells and raise our voices in song and prayer for Jesus is born to us!

But, just what is Advent? Well, let’s see, shall we: Advent is a “Church Season” which refers to a time of waiting and preparation for the great and miraculous feast of the Nativity of Jesus, born to the young, virgin Mary and her soon to be husband Joseph. Advent, in its most purest of forms comes from the Latin word, “coming.” The Latin word “adventus” from which comes the term Advent, is roughly translated from the Greek word “parousia,” which means “official visit, royal presence,” yet liturgically speaking, (Church talk) refers to the Second Coming of Jesus.

So, wait a minute…we’re celebrating the birth of Christ. Yet, from ancient times and the translations of both the Greek and Latin and from a theological point of view, we’re anticipating and preparing for Jesus’ return to earth? His second coming? That is right. That is so. It may not be very “Christmas-like,” but that is what Advent truly and historically signifies and represents.

You see my friends, the Feast of Christmas is our commemoration of Jesus’ birth for which we rejoice and celebrate. It’s our Savior’s birthday and we give thanks for His coming into our world as one of us; a human being. What Advent reminds us of is that Jesus is to come again and we are to be prepared for His arrival. I admit, that’s an awful lot of technical terminology but certainly material we understand and about which we need to be reminded. Simply put: Jesus is coming again. Are we ready for His return?

So, my sisters and brothers, we begin this four-week journey with anxious and eager hearts at the ready to announce that Jesus is born! While we rejoice, let us be ever-vigilant and ready for, as Sacred Scripture reminds us, “You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…to the time when we must give up our account, we know it not, nor is it needful that we should. The coming of Christ will be a great surprise.” (1Thessalonian 5:2.) In spite of this rather alarming message, there is a great deal for which we are to celebrate these four weeks. It is my prayer and my hope that as we prepare our homes with festive decor and seasonal ornamentation, more importantly, we are preparing our hearts and souls for Jesus’ return. This is the true message and meaning of Advent. The Blessed Mary said yes to the angel…what is our response to Jesus?

Amen.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150