Count on three prayers for you this week: that God will make you even more aware of the gifts God gives you, that God will make you even more aware that “all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,” and that your celebrations of the holiday will be just what God wants for you.
This Week in Prayer
The green Sundays are now behind us. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. The Sundayafter that is the first Sunday of Advent. Hence, this coming Sunday’s vestments are white, and the next four Sundays’ are purple. These last three green Sundays have included valuable advice from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. On November 5, he reminded us to work hard at our God-given missions. The message on November 12 was “persevere.” Last Sunday, the 19th, he urged us to know when to trust our choices and when to defer to others or to keep praying and consulting.
In Sunday’s brief second reading, 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6, Paul tells the Thessalonians six times that they are good, inspired, and trustworthy. In most matters, they can trust that their choices. Those choices – about faith and family and community and kindness and other matters – probably line up with God’s hopes. Ironically, those affirmations follow some significant reprimands. Chapter four contains a very stern message: “When dating and marrying, you Christians of Thessalonica should not immediately trust your instincts or choices.” They needed to recognize that, on some topics. their instincts and choices lined up with God’s hopes and were trustworthy. On other topics, not so much.
Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 25: 14-30) alters the message slightly. It reminds us that, at certain times in our lives, it is probably better not to trust some of our instincts and choices. The gospel’s one-talent fellow illustrates the point. He clearly possesses observable aptitudes. The master in the story would not have given him even a single talent, the equivalent of three-years’ wages if that servant had not demonstrated good judgment. But fear overtook the servant. Excessive worry prompted him to bury the assets rather than grow them. Wouldn’t he have been better off if he had acknowledged the fear and admitted to himself, “this is not a good time for me to be making such choices”?
Each of us is gifted in many ways. Each of us has what it takes to make inspired choices that align with God’s hopes. But not a one of us is all-knowing. Each of us has limits. Each of us is a more effective disciple when able to admit “I’m not good with this topic” or “I’m not good at this time.” What about you? How do you know when the topic or the time renders your judgment unreliable? How do you know when your choices probably line up with God’s hopes and when they probably do not? Is it a gut feeling? If so, how would you describe that feeling? Is it a more spiritual feeling? Do you notice the ebbs and flows of faith, hope, charity, and serenity? Maybe we experience more of those graces when our choices are inspired and less of those graces when our choices do not align with God’s. How would you explain to another when you know your choices are inspired?
And in sorting it out, we recall, “feel good” is not the criterion. Jesus made the world’s most inspired decision when he chose to give his life for us. He did not make that choice because it provided immediate gratification. How do you suppose he knew that choice was the right one?
Remember the special Mass times for Thanksgiving Masses. There will be a 5:00 pm Mass on Wednesday followed by an hour or so of indoor tailgating for adults. There will also be an 8:30 Mass on Thursday morning. There will be blessings of food after both Masses. As far as I can tell, the custom in this part of the world is to leave your turkeys at home and bring a bit of the bread and or wine or some other small thing that will be a part of your celebration.
- Read last Sunday's readings
- Read the coming Sunday's readings
This Week in Community
Maybe it will be the start of a new parish thing. Maybe not. But no harm in trying. Join the hour or so of indoor tailgating after the 5:00 pmMass on Wednesday. If we get it going, it could easily become a prime time for our college students to reconnect. Plus, it is a great time to chill – between the shopping and the major cooking push. Bring your own munchies and bring a friend. We’ll have the fireplace in our renovated Hospitality Room going for you.
Thanks to all who made Sunday’s wreath-making event such a fine one. Special thanks to Donna DeLucia and Holly Canica and all who pitched in. And great big blessings for the families that will light their Advent wreaths at home and will be extra attentive to God’s promise to give us Christmas and all it implies.
We still have two big Advent events in the offing:.
The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.
The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concerthere at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.
This Week in Service
Friday night and Saturday mornings were moments of exceptional devotion here at St. Joe’s.
On Friday night, members of our Becca’s Friends Ministry painted Christmas pictures for cards to be sold for an ARC summer campership fund. The paintings can now be viewed in the Gathering Space.
And while Becca’s Friends were painting, members of our Advent Giving Tree Ministryinstalled the Giving Tree in the Gathering Space and did a most remarkable job of decorating it. They also attached 800 tags – each connected to a nifty little angel handmade by Krissy Case. (Please notice the due date on your tag. The gifts that are going to Appalachia are due December 3. The rest are due December 10.)
Meanwhile, back in the Memorial Hallway, members of our Youth Ministry sorted over two thousand pounds of Thanksgiving food for Saturday morning distribution to 5 area agencies
Then came Saturday morning when the Knights of Columbus picked up and delivered 75 rolling carts for food bank clients in Somerville – while several others came to load and deliver all the food that the UTES had sorted on Friday night.
Again, it was one of those moments when all parishioners could lean back for a moment and think, as the poem almost says, “We are a church that has done what a church should do, a church that has sheltered life . . . “
The Baby-Bottle Project is well underway. If you haven’t already picked up a bottle to fill, give it some thought. If you already have, think about returning it full, if your means allow.
January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?
May these next days be days of great blessings. A prayer for all travelers and, for those who might overdo it just a little, a prayer for only inspired amounts of self-recrimination. And absolutely a prayer for those who feel the absence of someone special at the table.