Sunday, December 29, 2013

The First Sunday after Christmas

Dear Friends in Christ,
The Gospel
St. Matthew 1.18-21
The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public
example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost: and she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. (Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.) Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: and he called his name Jesus.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.Amen.
For me the most important portion of this mornings Gospel story is " And they shall call His Name " Immanuel", i.e. God is with us.
You might want to take some time to consider reading the blog of Father Anthony Chadwick, who is a collegue of mine, but residing in France. Click here to get to the blog in question. There are a number of elements he touches on, which are so very familiar to us all and I confess that this includes me.

I too miss those whom I have loved , but have gone before us and offcourse every year there is another empty chair at the family Christmas table. My consolation is that those whom I loved and passed on are now living in that place where sorrow and pain shall be no more and that is a great comfort. Immanuel " God is with us ", he will be with me in the years that I have left on this pilgrimage.
Father Chadwick also mentions loneliness, many of us can identify with that , I can too, with my releatives away in Melbourne and so busy  and other relatives being overseas. The loneliness is also associated with the cost of discipleship, because we you care for the Catholic Faith , then many others including former Anglican friends in the Australian Anglican Church seem to have the need to tremple right over you. The loneliness is also associated by the cold shoulder treatment of former friends and colleagues in the ACCA, Fathers Robarts and Mitchell. Yes , I know that I have upset them , but I have asked to be forgiven , but they dont seem to be able to do that so easily. Yes the Christmas story reminds us clearly that " Love " has come down at Christmas" . Jesus also taught us " Love one another as I have loved you", have we missed the boat to put this message completely into practice?
Father Brian Tee of the ACCA , before going back to this body , was a good friend to me, when he and his flock returned to the ACCA, he gave me a final blessing and then dropped me as a contact. This again is sadness at Christmas and so in contrast with the message of love at Christmas.
How then , could we ever become united Brothers and Sisters in Christ, perhaps starting within the continuing Anglican movement ?
To overcome the sadness one must look ahead at the life on earth of this Baby Jesus, Who as He became fully human also knew tears and suffering like we do. Immanuel , " God is with us ", Jesus was with us when He died on the Cross for our sins in order that we might live, He ascended into the Heavens to prepare a place for us and He is even with us now , sitting at the right hand of the Father.
I call this blog " Ding dong , merrily on High, first of all because the Catholic Faith is a blessing to me and secondly I am on a pilgrimage with Christ, which means my feelings of sadness and loneliness will definately be replaced by joy and peace.
Teach me Lord to bow with respect , love and devotion at your Crib,
Teach me Lord to kneel at the feet of Thy Cross ,
Teach me Lord to always believe in Your Holy Name,
And one day bring me home to be with you for ever.

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne