As we celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ tomorrow, my heart is filled with gratitude for our communities of Christ the King and St. Stephen, for the manifold blessings bestowed on us even in this pandemic.
“Boost your health with a dose of gratitude” was the title of a web launch by a medical group. The essay cited thousands of years of philosophic and religious teaching urging gratitude and then cited new evidence that grateful people, for whom gratitude is a permanent trait, have a health edge. Commenting on this website, preacher John Buchanan writes, “It may be that grateful people take better care of themselves, but there is evidence that gratitude alone is a stress reducer, that grateful people are more hopeful, and that there are links between gratitude and the immune system. So, your mother was right when she made you call your grandmother and thank her for the birthday card.” I invite you to celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ with us at 9.00am at CTK or 9.30am at St. Stephen, and then take the grace of such a grateful celebration to your loved ones.
This weekend, we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. In this week’s bulletin, Julie Ashmore writes, “What if, in response to this crucible that we call ‘2020’—a year marked by suffering, discord, and death that only an unprecedented pandemic, over-the-top natural disasters, racial injustice, and contentious elections could bring--What if, in response to all that, we choose selfless love?” She continues, “Of course, this involves more than just rising above the devastation and ugliness of this year--as commendable as that would be. It also involves being “alert” and “mindful of Him,” “doing right,” so we are not “lacking in any spiritual gift.” It means not allowing the good of the season--the roasting of chestnuts and the flurry of family fun—to supplant what’s essential — selfless, loving acts of corporal and spiritual mercy. These help us grow in love of God and others and make the world a better place.”
This year, we have a unique opportunity to focus on the true mystery of the incarnation, as our movements are very much restricted due to the pandemic. We can savor the silence, as St. Joseph did. We can ponder on the meaning of advent as Mary treasured the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. Join us for Mass online every day at 9.00am or view it later at your convenience. On weekend masses during Advent, one of our women ministers will share a short reflection at the start of mass, to remind us about the meaning of each week of the season, followed by mass and sermon by the Presider.
I have attended a number of sessions on Racial Justice together with Kathy Gannon Briggs from our parish as we were nominated into the Diocesan Task Force. The Bishop has asked the group to develop educational materials and pastoral care support, as the Diocese of Oakland acknowledged that more must be done within the diocese to address and end inequalities. I would like to recommend a book for your reading during this time, BECOMING BRAVE: FINDING THE COURAGE TO PURSUE RACIAL JUSTICE NOW.
In Becoming Brave, Brenda Salter McNeil traces the journey of realization that came to her after 30 years of teaching and working in the field of racial justice. Triggered by a question asked by a young seminarian at one of her workshops, "Dr. Brenda, when are you going to talk about justice?" she reveals in this book how she awakened to the understanding that what she was doing, the programs she had developed, the workshops she had given, the lectures she had proclaimed were simply not enough.
During the Advent Season, we remember that “Though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
(Phil 2:6-7). Jesus was entitled to majesty as God, but He gave up His privileges as the Son of God, in order to embrace us and be one with us. In bringing about reconciliation and racial justice, there is always the element of sacrifice or letting go of some of our privileges. There is no better time to learn about Racial Justice than the Season of Advent.