May Patience and Compassion be our experience of rebirth in Christ

Last Sunday of Advent 2012

                                                  The Rev. Leonard Oakes                      

 For the past Sundays in Advent, we have been anxiously waiting and preparing for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the last Sunday of our preparations. We are now with much patience waiting for that very moment where we celebrate the rebirth of God’s Love for His creation in the form of His Child Jesus, Santo Nino.

Two more days and it is Christmas! In my personal experience as one who is anxiously waiting for this event, I have one important message to share:

It was said that patience is a virtue. Well, patience indeed will reap joy when it is coupled with perseverance. When I was a child, I would patiently wait and constantly check my Christmas stocking if I have a gift from Santa. I remember that socks with hole on it. Even now, I still wait and at times check if there is something inside my decorated stocking.

Last Sunday, I sang an old song from a barrowed tune “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”  So I sang, “I’m dreaming of Ipad Computer, it’s been a year since I last ask.” Patience and perseverance had their prayers answered. And so now, I’d like to sing it again for you, but this time it will be this way: “Thank you, thank you, thank you very much thank you.”

God hears your prayers in many ways. I remember a story about these young brothers who were spending their night at their grandmother’s house and she told them that before they go to bed to make sure they said their prayers. They went to their room, got down to their knees. They youngest boy started to pray at the top of his lungs. “God I pray for a new Xbox, I pray for a new computer, I pray for a new ipod so I could listen to Christmas songs” His brother punched him and said, “Why are you screaming? God isn’t there?” He said, “I know that, but Grandmother is.”

I have now the latest Ipad with retina because your love for me is overflowing. My patience and perseverance have gathered their prize. (That doesn’t mean the collection for your contribution is over since I have to pay back the Church of what I used to obtain that item. Mrs. Milanes will be with patience wait for you at the door.)

But let me tell you my experiences in my numerous attempts to buy that computer and how I passed the test of Patience. I was on my way to best buy whistling with lots of smile to everyone I meet as I entered the store. I went straight to the computer department and saw this Mac Pro computer with retina and fell in love not with the prize but with the features it offers. A lot of visions came to my mind as I look at it. I thought about being able to surf the internet faster in my research for books or issues to read. I thought about not having any headaches and frustrations with this new device. I was resolved to buy that computer so I called the treasurer and said, “I found what I needed.” I gave the quote to the treasurer and she issued me a check. I tell you, I was with high spirit and very positive about having that computer. I went back to best buy and gave them the check. The cashier runs the check with her check reader. Believe it or not, the machine came with this message. “Denied, you have to call the tele- check for verification.” I said to the cashier, “I’m pretty sure there’s money in the checking account.” She told me to call the 800 number and the customer service representative told me that this happens especially when the account has no transaction history with the store. I told her, “I have been buying items for the church here with another account that we recently closed.” She advised me to get the old account number so she could run in her computer. I called our treasurer and inquired about the old account number with Chase Bank. Soon as I got the number, I called back the 800 numbers and Alas! She found the transaction history and said It is alright to use the check. After two hours, I am ready to play that new computer. The cashier run it again but denied. The cashier thinks we should try another check since the old check has imprints at the back. It was already 9 in the evening so I said, “Let’s do it tomorrow.”

I would ask you, what would you have said if that happened to you? Would you have screamed at the customer representative? Would you have cursed Best Buy and promise not to come back anymore?

I went back that morning with a new check and it was again denied. I decided to go to the bank and requested a cashier check. I went back to best buy and gave them the cashier’s check but the machine denied it again due to subject to verification of clearance. I smiled and suggested to the cashier to call the manager and try to talk to the bank manager. After several minutes, it got approved and processed. I now have the Ipad in my hands; I hugged it as if it was a reunion. I thanked the cashier for her patience and assistance. On my way to the car, I whispered to the ipad, “I’m not going to let them stop me from having you.” I knew God was checking on my patience and now I enjoy the fruit of your love this Christmas.

I challenge you to have patience and perseverance in your daily life. You may not get the answer to your prayer now, tomorrow, next week, next month or the whole year, but if you will not give up, God will not give up on you. Keep praying and believe you will one day find the answers to your prayer. Patience makes a difference when you persevere. Do not be discouraged.

Today’s gospel tells us how Mary, who is carrying Jesus in her womb, made a difference in the lives of her cousin Elizabeth and of the child in her womb. Mary, being anointed by the Holy Spirit, hurried to the mountain country where Elizabeth lived, thereby conveying the Holy Spirit to her cousin and her child. The trip from Nazareth in Galilee where Mary lived to a village in Judea where Elizabeth lived would take four days by foot. The two cousins greeted one another, one running to assist the other, both pregnant with life and faith. Elizabeth’s unborn child leaped with joy in recognition that salvation was near.

Mary, with her patience and compassion, helped Elizabeth in her time of need and served her baby John was born. That was her perfect, loving, and sacrificial gift to Elizabeth. This story teaches us the importance of mutual ministry. Each of us has a unique call, leaving us no reason for envy. Mary brought the Savior; John recognized and identified Him; and Elizabeth gave prophecy, mediating God’s word by interpreting this event.

We can make a real difference in the lives of others by bringing Jesus to them. Every day is Christmas and Christmas is the ideal time for us to be filled with the spirit of Christ, allowing his rebirth within us. Thus he enables us to share his love with all whom we encounter by offering them humble and committed service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate caring.

I invite you to spend time with your family during this season. Visit your elderly parents and grandparents. Share your patience and compassion for them. Hug your children and be slow to anger for they carry the love of Christ in their hearts. May Patience and Compassion be our experience of the rebirth of Christ in our lives. Share a chat or smile with your neighbor. Sharing Jesus with others is the best Christmas gift we can give. God wants each of us, like Mary, to carry to those around us the Lord of Life. Let us take the time to visit others this Christmas, to bring some inspiration into their lives, and hopefully to bring them closer to God. Amen.