This Week – January 11, 2019
Wednesday night was one of those nights – a night that provided a delightful reminder of God’s impressive action in our parish life. While the group in church was singing and praying for migrants and refugees, the Knights were holding their monthly business meeting in the hospitality room, the leaders of our Becca’s Friends Ministry were meeting in the south end of the Parish Hall, and the folks who knit and crochet were pursuing their crafts at the Parish Hall’s other end. We have so many of those nights. God is good and so are you.
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER
Traveling Devotions – Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) Icon and Prayers – 8:35 – Thanks to the members of the 8:35 Club for signing up to host the traveling OLG icon for the next four months. The signup sheet is now posted in the 8:35 section of the Gathering Space bulletin board. CCD families will be the next to be invited to host the icon and pray the associated prayers.
Prayer Service for Refugees and Migrants – Thanks to all who came to pray on Wednesday night. The prayers and the music were very engaging and the translated testimonies moved many hearts. While we hold many different views about how best to serve migrants and refugees, we know that each of us is called to pray for these beloved of Jesus who, as a child, experienced firsthand the refugee life.
Praying for Loved Ones with Illness and Injuries – If you would like one of your loved ones to be named in our Sunday Prayers of the Faithful for people with illness or injury, just call the church office and make your request. We are currently trying to improve our methods for getting people on and off the list. Meanwhile, keep the requests coming. The prayers help.
Sunday’s Homily – “January 6, 2019, Feast of the Epiphany; Hope Part VIII: Hoping for Warm Welcomes”
To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page
THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:
Your Christmas Generosity – The results are now all in and they are impressive.
The Advent Giving Tree (AGT) – The AGT Committee put up 750 gift-request tags and received more than 1000 gifts. That is correct: they requested 750 gifts and received 1,000. Many of the requests were for gift A OR gift B and the donor gave gift A AND gift B – e.g., the request for boys’ size 7 shoes or boots produced shoes AND boots.
Becca’s Friends – With the help of many St. Joe’s parishioners, our Becca’s Friends Ministry hosted a Christmas dance that was attended by more than 100 guests. Many of the people who came for the great food and dancing belong to St. Joe’s but the majority were not parishioners and many of our guests came from area group homes. Members of our Youth Group and CCD Programs provided invaluable company.
THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:
Our Government Shutdown – The shutdown makes life difficult for many government employees and for the many who work for government contractors. If the government shutdown has put you in a difficult financial position, please Contact Michelle Laffoon in our Social Concerns office. Your parish is praying for you and might be able to help you a little with your highest priority bills.
Dates to Mark:
Our Annual Pasta Dinner – Friday, January 25 –– a great night for the entire family. My personal regret is that I will not be there as I will be away making my annual retreat from January 23 to January 31. Yes, I confess I am feeling a bit envious of you who will be there.
Calling all Married Couples – “All You Need Is Love” – Saturday, February 16 – at the 4:45 Mass with dinner and a party afterwards, a celebration of marriage for all our married couples. Recall last year’s reception after the 11:30 Mass on Valentine’s Day? This celebration will be that excellent but different. Plan to be there.
Collection Counters – Thanks to Bill Houle and his remarkable team of high-productivity, low-maintenance collection counters, we had the Christmas collection counted and in the bank before noon on December 26. The Christmas counting is a gigantic undertaking and Bill and his team made incredibly short work of it all. Great thanks to Bill and all.
Committees and Councils – Great thanks to members of the many committees and councils who are working extra hard in the post-Christmas season.
Parish Council -- Thanks to the Parish Council for tweaking the meeting time and for the great conversation about a number of very important issues, especially the issue of how best to minister to parishioners who, for a variety of reasons, cannot join us at Mass
Buildings and Grounds – Thanks to B&G for tweaking its meeting time and for doing the hard work of establishing priorities for the remainder of this fiscal year. If our parish gets major subsidies on the AC units that need to be replaced, we will be able to pursue one set of priorities. If not, we will pursue another. Your deliberations have produced great wisdom.
Finance Council – The Finance Council meets this Tuesday to discuss, among other important topics, our finances for the first half of the current fiscal year, how close we are to the agreed upon budget, and what course adjustments we can or should make.
Members of all these groups make great contributions to our ability to grow as disciples of Christ, to take meaningful next steps in our lives as priests, prophets, and kings.
With blessings for every St. Joe’s parishioner and whatever is going on in your life these days. May God divide whatever sadness you are feeling and multiply the joy.
January 6, 2019, Feast of the Epiphany
Hope Part VIII: Hoping for Warm Welcomes
Who doesn’t hope for a warm welcome? We hope we will receive warm welcomes when we are feeling vulnerable. We doubly hope that for our children and our loved ones. We know the ultimate warm welcome awaits us in heaven but, meanwhile, we hope for sincere receptions and we hope that those who welcome us into new situations will value our gifts. It is a very human experience.
Two groups of people in Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 60) hoped for warm welcomes and a place in the community – the exiles who would be returning to Jerusalem from Babylon and the visitors from Midian, Ephah, and Sheba who would someday visit Jerusalem. They would come to Mount Zion from places and cultures with which the people of Jerusalem were not familiar. They would be bringing gifts that the locals might not recognize. Of course, those returnees and visitors would be feeling vulnerable and hoping for a warm welcome and an appreciation of their gifts.
Many questions surround the Magi’s origins and motives (Matthew 2). Notwithstanding those unknowns, we do know that they came to Bethlehem from far away bringing gifts that were rare or unknown in Bethlehem. Herod feared them, gave them a very insincere greeting and cared little about their hopes and their potential contributions. The Holy Family, from what we can infer, received the Magi and their gifts and their unfamiliar ways.
What about you (in three questions)? First, when have you been the vulnerable one hoping for a warm welcome, a sincere interest in your story, and an appreciation of your gifts and potential contributions? Perhaps you had the experience when you moved from one place to another, when you tried out for a team (athletic or professional), when you wanted to join a ministry, when you needed to share important but scary news about yourself, when you needed to go to confession, or when you had achieved something beautiful and important? Who welcomed you and valued your gifts?
Second, where have you offered precisely that sort of warm welcome and sincere appreciation to someone you knew well or someone you were just getting to know? Perhaps it was a friend or a relative who had undergone a personal transformation and needed to feel safe with that new insight? Maybe it was someone who joined you at work or on your team or in your neighborhood – and you did just the right thing? This is not to say “Anything goes” or “Every idea is equally valid.” But God does invite us to welcome many people and their varied ideas and gifts.
Finally, where might God be prompting you now to offer that warm welcome – the sort that Herod withheld from the Magi but the Holy Family offered? To whom does God want you to say, indeed more than in word, “You matter?”