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Advent I

+ Let us pray…
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Good Morning and blessings to you all!

Happy new year to you as well! Today marks the start of the new Church Year, and the season of Advent.

We have a series of new beginnings this week, things that are happening around and with us all. From these multiple details, I'd like to introduce the idea of confluence.

Confluence is a term that is used in geography that describes the coming together of more than one river to create a larger one. An example of confluence would be:

"The Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

Another meaning of confluence is the coming together of multiple streams of other items, such as people or events.

Our gospel reading this morning describes just such an event. Imagine being a resident of Jerusalem, and people rushing by. There was a crowd starting to gather, and children grabbing the fronds from the trees moving ahead.

You hear the singing before you get there – the sound of celebration, the sound of a king arriving in triumph.

His arrival echoes the arrival of King David many years before, with the King riding a colt, and the people singing loudly as He comes into the city.

These people's lives were touched by Jesus in a real way – His procession into Jerusalem brought them all together with Him, and together with us, two thousand years later.

Later in the service, we will be partakers and participants in the Holy Communion. Again, this is another example of confluence – Each part of the communion service follows the actions of Jesus, and in so doing, we become participants in that most important sacrifice of atonement. Some have called this a 'commemorative' event or a reenactment – not in the least. In a very real way, the communion brings all of us at all times, together with Jesus for this Last Supper.

Confluence also brings us together with others we may have never met, were it not for certain circumstances. One series of events I can personally cite is the time I spent talking with Canon Clyde Cox, one of my instructors at Logos House who passed away quite suddenly this week.

He was a challenging conversationalist, one that called out certain opinions in a paper, and would listen to a defense with anticipation. I found his conversations, critiques and humor to be something I enjoyed a lot, and I looked forward to the time when I finished a paper, and we would get to discuss it. I am saddened by his passing, but I look forward to further conversations with him eventually.

Confluence is the flow of people and ideas, of lives and time. God uses these all to season and educate us in what He needs for us to do for His Kingdom.

Let me mention one more example. Eighteen years ago now, I was asked if I had ever considered seminary by the rector of my church. Well, I was stunned at the question, because, no I hadn't, but then, I started to pray about it. I had felt that God had something He needed me to do when I was confirmed, so I started to prepare myself and my family for that adventure.

Through many twists and turns, leaving that church and any idea of an ordained ministry, I prayed and continued to talk with God, tell Him of my sense of a call, and how I could serve the Kingdom.

I think my children counted 30 churches we attended before we arrived at Trinity. Nancy and I taught Scripture at home and searched for a church that fit the scriptural requirements. We looked for a while and finally, with a call to Bishop Marsh a couple of years ago, we found Trinity.

Also, with time and prayer, I realized God had called me back to where I can serve in ordained ministry, something I thought I was leaving many years ago. Today, I am closer to that new adventure than ever before, since my canonical exam is now in the hands of the Board of Examining Chaplains. Next, should my verbal defense prove worthy, I will be preparing for ordination to the diaconate.

Confluence – the bringing together of time and people and events – is something that God gives us every day.

In a thousand million ways, he brings us into situations, and allows us to meet, greet and talk to people all around us. In these small interactions, the Lord gives us the ability to plant the seed, the idea that a life lived with God in it is fuller, more satisfying, just generally better than without.

He also lifts us in these moments, to where we can truly see what we can give – God bless us all in the little steps and words we use today, to His greater glory.

Let us pray,

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen .

Charlie Niemi

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