October 13, 2011

Our Mission Is To Proclaim The Good News

(Homily notes for St. Luke’s Day, Year A, 2011 by Rev. John Gishler)

This brief announcement by Jesus is both a declaration of who He is and a statement of His mission. It is one of the most dramatic moments in the Bible. As followers of Jesus we need to keep focussed on this mission of proclaiming good news to the poor. Many people and churches have become side-tracked and settled into a more comfortable mission of keeping the physical church going. The good news that Jesus proclaimed challenged religious and political authority and led to constant and violent opposition. It transformed lives. In our time many people are fearful, confused prisoners to false religious ideas. Many are spiritually, emotionally and physically blind and in need of healing. Many are not even aware of the possibility of spiritual oppression. Our mission is to proclaim the year of God’s blessing, to challenge people to go from error into truth, sin into righteousness and out of death into life.

October 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Leads To More Blessings

(Homily notes for Thanksgiving, Year A,  2011 by Rev. John Gishler)
Thanksgiving is a special time of the year when we focus on how God has blessed us – at least that was the original intent. The readings remind us that Thanksgiving leads to increased blessing. Thanksgiving acknowledges our dependence on God for material and spiritual blessings and keeps us in right relationship with God. Thanksgiving increases our blessings. It is like a harvest of righteousness

1. The flip side of this is a warning that failure to give thanks leads to disaster
In the Deuteronomy Reading (8.7-20) Moses is reminding the Israelites of how God has made a covenant with them. God has promised to give them protection, good land and prosperity. They are reminded of the powerful and miraculous things God has done for them. They are warned to not become proud and forget their God. Being human, this is of course what happened over the centuries. In the Old Testament Isaiah describes the long period of apostasy when Kings and clergy forgot their part of the covenant. The official reading from the Common Lectionary stops at verse 18. The next two verses are very sensitive, particularly in our time of conflict in Palestine. In verses 19 and 20 the Israelites are warned that “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods...you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you...” Moslems and Christian Palestinians obviously interpret this as negating the territorial claims of modern Israel. Failing to give thanks has consequences