Homily – December 16, 2018

If we watch the evening news night after night we must have some form of depression. Night after night it’s a downer. It is difficult to laugh at the ‘gong show’ south of the border. Our own leadership is bent of turning back social programs meant to help men and women struggling to survive. We’re hearing of cutbacks to programs designed to protect our natural resources, our water systems, our lakes and forests. The message is ‘we’re open for business,’ come take what you want of our resources, develop our greenbelt areas and we’ll clean up the mess you leave behind.

Our friends in Europe are in a mess with political turmoil, strikes and anti-immigrant demonstrations. Brexit is front and center in England. And of course our weather doesn’t help. It would be nice to see the sun and blue skies more often.

Our life within our church is burdened by the failure of our bishops to face and handle the abuse scandals instead of covering them up to save the reputation of the church.

This season of Advent can be a downer too. We hear of predictions of the end of the world, stars falling from heaven, disasters on earth and people fainting for fear.

But this Sunday’s scripture gives us a boost. It’s not all gloom and doom. We hear words like; rejoice, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near, do not fear, do not let your hands grow weak. John the Baptist calls his listeners to a life of fairness and justice and care for the weak.

Priest put aside their purple vestment and wears a rose colored one, the symbol of hope and life. We light the rose candle in our Advent wreath, a light that calls us to hope.

No matter what worries and troubles weigh us down in our personal lives, there is a greater reality – the peace of God guards our hearts in Christ Jesus. God is with us, we are not on our own. This Sunday calls us to rejoice to celebrate the presence and love of God is our lives in the person of Jesus our Christ. As one writer wrote, ‘God has given us permission to enjoy life and it pleasures. Pleasure is God’s gift; it is not a forbidden fruit.’

Today’s scriptures call us to rejoice, to celebrate our lives, our families, our friends and our faith.

What does it mean to celebrate something? To celebrate an occasion is to heighten it, share it, savor it and enlarge it and enjoy it. We also celebrate in order to link ourselves more fully to others, to be playful, to intensify a feeling, to bring ourselves to ecstasy, and, more commonly, just to rest and unwind. Enjoy the moment, enjoy this person, enjoy this occasion. Enjoy. It is good to be. So often we don’t trust this invitation. There’s a down east saying, ‘you may be laughing today but you’ll be crying tomorrow.’ Because of our incapacity to enjoy something simply for what it is; a beautiful day, meeting an old friend, a birthday, we often try to create that enjoyment through our excesses. So we drink too much or eat too much and take the joy out of it all. We lose the simple joy, the gift of the present moment.

The simple joy of our present moment is; ‘The Lord is in our midst you shall fear disaster no more.’

May we all be blessed to enter into the celebration of this awesome wonder; the Lord our God is with us; right here, right now. Rejoice, again I say rejoice.