3rd Sunday of Advent 2017 – Salvation is Close

A deep sense of confidence and assurance radiates from the readings on this Third Sunday of Advent. Keeping in mind the great challenges experienced by the Jews in the first reading and the Christians in the second reading, Isaiah’s and Paul’s message of joy and hope sounds out of concord with their immediate circumstances. However, worrying and fretting can only take you so far. Their words have stood the test of time. Although written in different situations at different times, their message is rooted in the same loving God who has called us and will not fail us (1 Thes 5:24) because God has clothed us in garments of salvation and wrapped us in integrity (Is 61:10).

In knowing intimately the God they bear witness to and worship, Isaiah and Paul are not only able to speak confidently about God’s promise but also urge their communities to live with joy and hope knowing that they are God’s chosen people.

The question of identity also shines through in the readings. We see it taking shape in the Gospel when John the Baptist clears all doubts about who he is. His identity is an anchor. When asked, “Who are you?” He replies with conviction. He’s the forerunner,  the one sent to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. His reply moves us to anchor our own identities, in relation to Christ.Read More »

Coping with Loneliness at Christmas

by Rusty Wright

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of 20 years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing.

No fun.

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death: “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand. The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits. Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems. Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness?Read More »