From the Pastor’s Desk (12/19/2016)

Merry Christmas! 

I attended a magnificent Lessons and Carols concert by the Maryland State Boys Choir during Advent where they sang “The Dream Isaiah Saw.”  The piece is astonishingly moving both in its music and its poetry.  It begins with those familiar and famous lines from the Prophet Isaiah:

Lions and oxen will sleep in the hay,
leopards will join with the lambs as they play,
wolves will be pastured with cows in the glade,
blood will not darken the earth that God made.

And then moves on to a real prayer:

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
life redeemed from fang and claw.

Murders are again up in Baltimore City; heroin overdoses in Harford County are setting records and this community has suffered the consequences of devastating addiction; the past election cycle has been mean-spirited, vulgar and vicious.  Why?  It occurs to me that, as fewer and fewer people go to church (whatever church), do not believe in God and do not practice the fundamentals of love, charity and forgiveness, our society deteriorates.  We don’t have to guess what happens when we don’t go to church or take our children to God’s house — we now have firm evidence!

The Dream Isaiah saw will never become a reality if we are only here for the Christmas Poinsettias and the Easter Lilies only.  But it’s not simply about worship of God.  Maryland Catholic Charities is the single largest private supplier of social services to the homeless, the poor, single mothers, those with special needs and the addicted in the State. Catholic schools provide a way out and up for many students who have no hope in their local public schools.  Our own St. Mark Food Pantry provides a myriad of meals and assistance with BGE bills, rent and other basic supplies to hundreds of families just during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These “good works” will disappear if we are not part of the church, if we are not active, if we no longer hear the call of God to take “new lodging in our heart.”

We are so happy you are here.  But the truth is that our church family usually numbers around 1,300 on a typical weekend, but for Christmas we will host more than 3,000!  We need to practice our faith daily.  God needs us to be His face and voice in the world and to bring our society back to center.

The beautiful hymn continues with the following words:

Peace will pervade more than forest and field:
God will transfigure the Violence concealed
deep in the heart and in systems of gain,
ripe for the judgement the Lord will ordain.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
justice purifying law.

Nature reordered to match God’s intent,
nations obeying the call to repent,
all of creation completely restored,
filled with the knowledge and love of the Lord.

May this be true for each of us this Christmas and every day beyond.  Come, renew yourself weekly here at the table of the Lord at St. Mark, and invite friends, neighbors and family members to do the same.  Let us work and pray to fulfill the dream Isaiah saw!