Wednesday December 7, 2016 Unity

Posted December 7, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Ephesians 4:3-6

Normally, like hangs with like…  you never see a duck flying with geese or a wolf in a den with foxes.  That is why human beings stand out in a segmented world.  Our species is all humanoid but the differences are amazing to see.  Sizes, colors and temperaments are as varied as snowflakes.  The importance of diversity is discussed almost ad nauseum.  BUT there is so much that unifies us and brings people together.  If you bring 50 women together in a room and give them a couple of hours to chat something amazing happens.  When the time comes to an end, there will be many small groups where commonality is found…  pregnant women always are the first to gather together because their unifying identity is obvious.  The working women migrate together and share about issues of balance, bosses and glass ceilings.  Those who are moms begin to regale one another with stories of kids and the mature women of the group discuss issues of aging:  health, travel, grandchildren and spouses both alive and dead.  There are unifying issues that allows people to come together and find commonality.

In faith, God is the unifier.  My brothers and sisters in Christ share the journey to heaven and the love of the Lord.  If that is the center of lives, the other differences can be worked through and overcome.  That is how marriages and convents survive.  There is something bigger at work than shared meals or a love for TV or cards.  God creates in each of us a homing device that is spirit that allows us to recognize and attract those who are “brothers and sisters”.  The family of man needs the unity of the Spirit to survive and thrive because that bond of peace brings us together to support one another.  This summer when the Pulse shooting occurred, Orlando residents put aside their differences and created a united support to help each other find a new reality.   Safety and peace are something to work for and everywhere the show of love brought that out for anyone feeling the loss.  God has called me to oneness with His Son but also to a unity with His people.  Being called to unity is an important part of my faith.  It is the foundation of my hope for a better world when I can imagine that unity will prevail and each of us will recognize the great number of traits and factors that are the same, instead of focusing on the differences.  God is the unifier.  He is over all, through all and in all… how can I not recognize Him in everyone?

Lord help me to love others and grow in gentleness and patience.  Allow me to recognize YOU in the people I meet each day and see their similarity to YOU instead of focusing on their differences.    

Tuesday December 6, 2016 Treasure

Posted December 6, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:21

When I was very young we would wake up to our shoes being filled with candy and oranges to celebrate St Nicholas Day.  Eventually, this tradition went the way of the dinosaur after my dad died it was hard for my mom to keep all the balls in the air…  but I started it again with my own children to celebrate on December 6 until my divorce and the girls no longer lived with me.  When I was alone on December 6, I would make cookies or fudge and take it to families wishing them a Happy St Nicholas Day.  I wanted to keep the tradition alive because lovely St Nick was the predecessor of Santa Claus and I really wanted the blessings of generosity and hope to be a part of my Christmas Season.

Today, poor St Nicholas is all but forgotten.  It is rare to even hear his name spoken but he occasionally pops up in a song.  “Jolly old St Nicholas, lean your ear this way…”  As a Bishop, Nicholas gave hope to the people.  Dowry’s for poor young women so they could marry.  Gifts of food and gold coins for the impoverished people under his care.  Santa is a shallow substitute.

Today shoes can cost thousands of dollars.  There are not too many children who would be delighted to receive an orange but surprises still melt the heart.  Life can deliver all sorts of ways to separate us from what is our treasure but St Nick reminds me that hope is the greatest gift ever received.  My daughter would transition her home on December 6 into Christmas to delight her sons when they awoke today.  This year, she let them help her decorate and they realized what a gift they had received.  Their comments about hard work and time involved helped them all have a new appreciation for “treasure”. The Advent season reminds me that the only treasure lies in heaven.  Seeking to keep Christ in Christmas and every other day of the year is a challenge for anyone who proclaims to be a Christian.

Lord, help me always remember where my treasure lies.  Give me hope and confidence to overcome the world and its pull toward sin.  Keep me heart focused on you! 

Monday December 5, 2016 Knock

Posted December 5, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

There are many Christmas stories that discuss ASKING for things.  George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life asks to escape his money woes by never having been born.  Elf asks to meet his father.  In Miracle on 34th Street the young heroine asks if there is really a Santa Claus.  Children have the asking thing down pat… making lists of what they want and adding to them each day as Christmas draws near.  In the original Christmas story, Joseph and Mary knocked on many doors asking for shelter but were turned down everywhere until an innkeeper offers them a shed with the animals.  Not exactly what you and I would be excited about if we were expecting a Holiday Inn or a Marriott.  The Holy Family accepted what God provided and that is the real beauty in their story.  Mary was grateful for the straw bed and the warmth of the animals.  Instead of complaining she made the best of the situation.  There is a big lesson in that for me.

God wants me to ask Him for what I want.  Sometimes He will answer NO, sometimes NOT NOW and other times, YES.  My duty as a child of God is to respond gratefully no matter what He responds.  When I ask, I know He will answer and that is a blessing all in itself.  Uncertainty is the worst.  Limbo is a painful state.  When I go confidently to my father, then I am truly a disciple.  The men who opened up the roof to lower their paralytic friend to bring him to Jesus were not disappointed.  Jesus forgave his sins and then cured him.  There is always an answer with God.

Lord help me to live expectantly as a child at Christmas time.  Help me to lean into Your promises and KNOW in my heart that You will answer me.  Give me the courage to ask, seek and knock because too often I am fearful.  I come before You and in my temerity I ask for Your love and blessings. 

Sunday December 4, 2016 Prepare

Posted December 4, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:  A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.  Mathew 3:2-3

When I was in my twenties, there was a small play with two characters used as a sermon on this the second Sunday of Advent.  Santa and John the Baptist were costumed and made their way down the aisle after Father read the Gospel singing their appropriate songs…  John: Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord and Santa belting out Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  It was an interesting and fun way to discuss the season and what it has become for so many.  Santa’s version of shopping and baking, wrapping and decorating against John’s way of preparing hearts and repenting for sins were each touted by the respective advocate.  It hit home with adults and kids alike.   And Santa left singing  Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord and the congregation joined in.  

I wish that the world could share this way of PREPARING.  I love the holidays and embrace my inner elf with my tree and village, my favorite recipes and gifting for those I love.  But I look past the glitter and see much hurt and hunger for true friendships.  I know that God is saddened that Jesus birth is no longer center stage in these days of preparation.  Hearts are not trimmed with light as houses are.  Many are darkened with over spending and greed, fear and loneliness.  He wants to fulfill Tiny Tim’s wish…  “God Bless Us EVERY ONE!”  but there must be a turning to Him in humility asking for forgiveness and a mending of the chasm that is deep and wide for so many.

Lord I am eager to welcome Your new born Son into my home and my heart.  I stand as Your lost child awaiting the Messiah with great expectation.  Help me to prepare so that I am truly ready to have my King and My God come to visit me.  Help me always Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Saturday December 3, 2016 Whoever

Posted December 3, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the poor lends to the needy honors God.  Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.”  Proverbs 14:31; 19:17

There is so much opportunity to serve others.  Life presents us with the all types of people with whom to interact.  Only God’s grace prepares us to meet each person with the kindness and generosity with which Christ would have.  Jesus alone was prepared to deal with the needy in perfection.  He gave just the right answer to each person who appeared before Him.  Even Solomon could not solved the problems of poverty of heart, mind and soul.  If food and money were the answer to every poor person… the dilemma would have been solved by socialism.  If escape was truly the answer… drugs would have been created to relieve all depression and paint a better life.  (Better living through chemistry.)

BUT the real answers are found in love and kindness.  A real smile, a hand held, a hug shared are what is needed not only be the poor but by everyone.  The widows and orphans, the homeless and hungry, the disenfranchised and incarcerated all would blossom under a kindness that is graciously given.  The Lord will take this kindness lent on His behalf and help even the tiniest ray of hope given to fill the sky with light.  I ask myself often, How would the world be if all believers tried to provide for each other’s needs?  Whoever is ME and You!

Lord, you have the power and the ability to make this world a paradise.  You have shared this power with Your believers and it is up to me to be Your hands and feet.  Help me to honor the poor and help the needy always. 

Sunday November 27, 2016 Watch

Posted November 27, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:16

Generally people would drive more carefully if they knew that today the police would have a speed trap.  Most would lock their car or their house if they knew the robber is coming.  Others would evacuate when the hurricane was headed their way.  Some will not take prudent action even when the warning signs are clear as day.

Advent is a time of being watchful.  God in His great wisdom gives us this time of watching and preparation.

My days are full and it is easy not to stop and really examine my motives, fixing my gaze past the mundane and into the eternal.  I know that God must wonder at my own and the rest of His children’s carelessness.   Reminders are everywhere…  the death of a loved one at 50, an apartment fire that takes everything, a car malfunction that leaves the family stranded on the side of the road.  This life can change in a heartbeat.  If I would only step away from the urgent ad focus on the IMPORTANT!  God wants me to be with Him in paradise forever… what am I doing today to get there?

I love the themes of light and darkness throughout the season of Advent.  They remind me to keep my eyes on the prize.  I am NOT of the night or of the darkness.  I am a creature of the light.  Stay awake is a rallying cry in Advent and see all God has in store.

Lord, help me to watch carefully and take the actions necessary to be with You in heaven.  The days here are evil and I must remember that I am called to more.  Enlighten my path this Advent Season and draw me to You this Christmas and to my life with You forever. 

Thanksgiving Thursday November 24, 2016 Spreading

Posted November 24, 2016 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

It is so nice that our country takes a day for Thanksgiving.  It is a great day… just food, family and fellowship.  What a concept that I wish could be spread over more days or past the confines of blood relations.  As we say grace and share what we are grateful for… I am hopeful that Pope Francis words would come to life.  “Let us seek the grace of remembrance so as to grow in the spirit of gratitude.  Let us ask ourselves: Are we good at counting our blessings, or have we forgotten them?… Once we come to realize how much God has given us, a life of self-sacrifice, of working for Him and for others, becomes a privileged way of responding to His great love.”

Spreading the GOOD NEWS can be as simple as smiling at a stranger; putting an extra toy in your shopping cart to be donated to TOYS for Tots or packaging up food boxes for those who are homeless.  God’s love is viral, it is spread by contact.  Only I can pass it on.  I love candlelight services when in a dark church, one candle lights another and another so that quickly we are basking in the glow of hundreds of flames, alive in Christ.

Spreading the love is the simplest thing to do but it is not the easiest.  It takes getting outside of myself and becoming aware of what is happening around me.  It requires self-sacrifice and that is never easy!  Saying yes to being a Christian means responding to His love by living for others.  Parents do this for years, always putting the needs of their children ahead of their own.  Can I love a stranger and sacrifice myself like I did for my daughters?  That is what spreading the love of Christ is really all about.

Lord, I am indeed thankful today for Your love.  Give me the grace to spread that love to others.  Help me to live a life of self-sacrifice realizing the privilege of being Your child is part of my blessings.