Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Unforgivable Sin

There is a sin that is so awful that it is unforgivable. It is feared most by clergy. It is not what you may suppose. It is not mentioned by the prophets, apostles, or even our Lord. But it has become the sin to be feared the most in the modern age. Wonder what it is? It is the sin of being irrelevant.

People will do anything to keep from falling into this sin. Preachers are the most careful. A man may be called careless, liberal, progressive, or even outrageous. But don't let him be called irrelevant. That would be the death of his public life, ministry, and influence.

Because the fear of not being relevant is so great, extreme measures must be taken to keep one's finger on the pulse of popular society. Hours of time are given to watching the latest television programs, keeping apace with the top sports teams, and listening to the latest bands on the top 40 list. In addition there is the ever changing lingo. We have to be aware of the latest catch phases of those who are cool. In this regard it is the celebrities who are gods. Their every move must be scrutinized and trumpeted to the nation for the people have a right to know.

So I wonder, what would happen if a man came along that didn't give a whit about all this relevance stuff? Instead, he concerned himself with what is important to God. He spent long hours in prayer, gave himself to fasting, divested himself of all worldly goods to care for the poor, and preached uncompromisingly of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. I am sure I do know what would happen- the same thing that always happens. The public would not stand for it. They would hunt down such a man, pressure him to recant his politically incorrect statements, and publicly crucify him if he did not. Isn't this exactly what happened to the prophets, the apostles, and our Lord?

I am confronted with the sober truth that I am not this man either. Rather, like many of my weaker brothers and sisters, I too am worried that perhaps I will commit the unpardonable sin of irrelevance. But I long that God will make me other. In the meantime, it is my prayer that God will raise up such a man. For hell will shake and the world will be turned upside down (or rightside up) by such a man. Furthermore, I pray that God will raise up a whole generation of such. For only then will God's kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord, make of us such people! Amen!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent: Preparing For The Coming of the Lord

Another Advent dawns. As a latecomer to things Catholic, I have only been observing Advent for about the last 8 years. Each time it comes, I embrace it with much anticipation. For the world it is Christmastime. It is a time for activity and STRESS!!! For the Christian it is Advent. It is a time of quiet reflection, spiritual examination, and preparation for our coming Lord.

Advent calls me from my busy life to quiet times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord. Advent reminds me that I am due for a check-up. It has been sometime since the intense spiritual overhaul of Lent. I have grown lax and sloppy. I need to spend some time in prayer, contemplation, and meditation. I need to inspect my soul. I need confession, repentance, and absolution. I need to be ready for the appearing of the Lord.

As I meditate on the coming of the Lord, I am like many around me who are thinking about the Babe in the manger. But in addition I am also thinking of the glorious King who is soon to return to judge the living and the dead. He will establish His kingdom forever. Therefore I am ever on the watch for His return that I may be among those who will go out to greet Him and help usher Him in His return to the earth.

Advent calls me from the illusion that this life is all there is. I am able to retreat from the continuous striving of "making a living". Instead I am able to dwell secure in the one who is The Life. I clean up my act, so to speak, for the King is coming. I do not want to be caught off guard.

Advent is a time of new beginnings. For Advent is the beginning of the Church's liturgical year. I begin with a clean slate. Mistakes of the past can be left behind. I may look forward to the future- a future filled with God's mercy and grace.

For these and so many more reasons I relish this brief time of year we call Advent. I hope you do too. May we all make it a priority to prepare ourselves to celebrate the first coming of Jesus so that we will also be prepared for the second coming of our Lord in power and glory!