Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ…

As we come to the Christmas Season, I greet you and your loved ones in the name of the Christ Child.

Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation,
provides each of us this year with a gift.
The image of the Holy Family, the gospel
story of the birth of Jesus, and
circumstances in which we encounter this
reality provides us with a third way, the
Jesus way, to live in the midst of a world
terribly divided by political, economic, and nationalistic tensions.

What if each of us seeks to bring love and light, warmth and peace, to the situations of our lives much like the Christ Child breaking into the reality of the world in real time? As much as each of us wants to be “right” as opposed to all that seems wrong or out of place, what if the option was to love? Jesus in the Christmas reality offers redemption and peace as the answer to conflict and strife.

Peace on earth and mercy mild seem like distant, unattainable realities in the midst of our present world—actually no more or less than any other time in history. This Christmas season provides a third way, the Jesus Way, to incarnate love, to offer small gestures found in the redemption and peace of Christ for the world.

And you and I are the delivery system for this “Jesus Way”. Embrace the season, embrace the mission –carry the redeeming love and peace of Christ to the places and people in your life.

Sisters and brothers have a happy and joy-filled Christmas Season. Embrace the Jesus Way and live the message! Merry Christmas.

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano Bishop of Long Island

A Note on Today’s Readings | Third Sunday of Advent – Year C.

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

In our readings and in the Collect for today, the major themes of biblical, prophetic religion come together, deepening the preparation ofGod’s faithful people for the approaching Christmas festival. We praythat God will “stir up his power and come among us” and we are giventhe paradoxical message of fearful judgment and joyful anticipation.

This message is given first in Zephaniah’s announcement of “theDay of the Lord” when God will come to draw all people into a savingand life-giving community. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst.” “Sing aloud… Rejoice… Exult.”

For Paul and the church in Philippi, the Lord has indeed come inJesus’ death and resurrection. “Rejoice,” Paul says, and be partakers inthe peace of God, which is our true guardian and protector.

But first, we hear the harsh words from John the Baptist, warning that we must be prepared for that coming if it is indeed to be a time of rejoicing. Repentance is the key to that preparation. However, repentance must be more than a feeling, and it must be deeper thanoutward rituals such as water baptism, or tracing one’s descent fromAbraham. That repentance must bear fruit in social righteousness—in self-giving and concrete actions of love and mercy toward others.

The Lord is in the midst of us, and so we sing out joyful Alleluias as he comes to us in his Word, and again as he comes to us in the breaking of the bread.

Happy Sunday.

A Note on Today’s Readings | Second Sunday of Advent – Year C

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

Today is the first of the two Advent Sundays on which John the Baptist is the central figure. This dynamic prophet marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He announced the time of Messiah’sarrival and called the people of Israel to repentance in preparation for that coming. The Gospels see him as the fulfillment of Isaiah prophecy of one who will prepare the way for God to come to the peoples of the earth.

The writer of Baruch, one of the books accounted as the Apocrypha by Anglicans, is presented as addressing the Jewish exiles in Babylon with words probably borrowed from Isaiah. God’s people are called to look forward to the coming of God with joy and gladness, for when he comes God will lead all the peoples to our true home.

The second reading is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In greeting this congregation, Paul speaks of his affection for them and of his imprisonment. He urges them to continue in faith as they await the day of Christ’s return.

The Old Testament and John the Baptist looked toward the coming of the Messiah in history to establish God’s Kingdom. TheNew Testament looks toward the return of Christ at the end of history to bring that Kingdom to fulfillment. We, the Church, gather in Eucharist in the “in-between times” to celebrate the foretaste of that Kingdom and to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Kingdom to the world.

Happy Sunday.

A Note on Today’s Readings | First Sunday of Advent – Year C

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgy is concerned with our preparation for the return of Christ at the end of time. TheGospel reading today is a portion of Jesus’ words concerning that time. He tells us to see the events of history as signs of the approaching end and to recognize that end as the coming of our redemption.

The Old Testament reading today from the prophet Jeremiah looks forward to the time when God will fulfill the promise of a successor to David. The New Testament Christians understood the“righteous Branch” of David’s line to be our Lord Jesus Christ.

The second reading is from Paul’s first Thessalonian letter. His letters to that church were prompted by difficulties in that congregation due to their misunderstanding of the Lord’s promise to return. In today’s reading, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to see their ministry and mutual love as the way to prepare for the Lord’s return.

There is an “already, but not yet” aspect to the New Testament’s discussion of the Lord’s return. God’s kingdom is not limited to a time in the far off future; it began breaking into human history in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Lord comes to judge and to save in each moment in the life of his people. Above all, he is revealed in our encounter with him in the Eucharistic meal.

Happy Sunday.

Moments from the 152nd Convention…

…and 150th Anniversary Eucharist.

It was a packed house at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale as the Diocese of Long Island came together for its annual convention and 150th Anniversary celebration and Eucharist. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the special guest throughout.Comprehensive convention news in addition to video of the presiding bishop’s opening remarks to convention, his sermon from Saturday’s Eucharist, and Bishop Provenzano’saddress will be available on the diocesan website soon. The entirety of the Eucharist is currently available on Facebook.

Bishop Provenzano Issues Statement on “Exodus” migration, calls diocese tojoin him in going to the border

On Friday, November 16, Bp. Provenzano addressed the 152nd convention and announced his intention to go to the border to assist asylum seekers. In remarks preparedfor convention, he wrote, “Today, as we celebrate our past, we again are confronted withan urgent need to act on behalf of sisters and brothers being marginalized by others, even governments.

“As you know, there is an “exodus” of people fleeing parts of Latin America andapproaching the southern border of our country. They are not coming into New York harbor, rather they are traveling to the southern border, to seek asylum from violence and economic, religious and social discrimination.

“They are coming, as many of our own families have, seeking safer and better lives for themselves and their children…

“Today, I am asking you to support and to join me, and other members of our international Episcopal Church as well as our ecumenical and multi-faith partners in going together to the border. Travel with me and stand, literally stand, between these vulnerable people and the people with guns — to keep the vulnerable safe, to shield them, to escort them as they seek asylum and provide for them the dignity and care ofbrothers and sisters in Christ.”

Details are being arranged in cooperation with the New Sanctuary Movement. For official Diocese of Long Island information about this response, contact Mother Marie Tatro at [email protected] or Denise Fillion at [email protected] Bishop Provenzano’s complete statement is up and available at www.dioceseli.org.

A REFLECTION ON ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY and ALL SOULS’ DAY

In the perennial seasonal epic, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the final exchange between Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present is both profoundly brooding, as it is chillingly expositive. In this scene, Scrooge is confronted by two figures of children who cling to the legs of the Ghost of Christmas Present. They are described as, “yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility.” The Ghost names and remarks upon them: “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all, beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom unless the writing is erased.” The echo of the Specter’s warning reverberates and lingers in all places where ignorance gives way to hatred and violence and want devolves into anguish and despair. Is there any means, one may wonder, to effectively and decisively confront these Dickensian realities?

For the Christian believer, this question is boldly answered, “Yes!” in the celebration of the first two days of November: the Solemnity of All Saints, and All Souls. These days, each, in turn, expresses the two foundational principles around which revolves the liturgical year and toward which develops the daily life perspective of the Christian. To the folly of ignorance, the Solemnity of All Saints responds with memory; to the scourge of want, All Souls offers hope. Memory and hope are the pillars of Christian liturgical and daily life and are the dynamic actions through which ignorance and want are defeated.

Blessings on ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY.

A Note on Today’s Readings Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus heals a blind man. It is the man’s faith which gives him his sight. The rules of religion understood blindness to be caused by sin, so this man was excluded from the life of the people. Jesus, however, welcomes him, heals him, and includes him among his followers.

Job hears God’s reply that God is unknowable. Realizing how small and weak he is and how presumptuous he was to question God, Jobnow repents. God’s response is to undo all the trouble Job had and to restore him and his family to their former good fortune. This little fictional story represents a deepening of the Jewish conception of God during the last few centuries before the time of Jesus.

Our second reading continues the letter to Jewish Christians. This was probably written after Jerusalem and its Temple was destroyed, thus there were no more sacrifices offered. The writer is reminding his readers that Jesus’ own self-offering makes continued sacrifices of animals by fallible human priests no longer necessary. Jesus’ one sacrifice of himself is eternally effective for all humanity.

In the Eucharist, our use of physical bread and wine as the elements of spiritual communion with God remind us of this truth. We become part of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus so that we can live in his life eternally. We cannot live apart from God or apart from moral responsibility to all people. In baptism, our spiritual blindness is healed, and we are called to grow into a Body of people committed to justice, reconciliation, and righteous living.

HAPPY SUNDAY

A Note on Today’s Readings | Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

The liturgy today centers on two themes of the Christian message about Jesus. Both are found in today’s Gospel: Jesus’ messiahship is revealed not in his power but in his life of serving others and his suffering and death, and he calls us to a like ministry of self-giving love.

The Old Testament reading is again from Job. Last week we heard this innocent sufferer complaining that he cannot face God and seek an answer to his suffering. Suddenly God speaks, but God is the questioner. Who are you to question the source of the entire universe? God will explain his actions and plan only if Job can explain God, clearly an impossible task.

Today’s passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses the redemptive suffering of Christ as his eternal priestly sacrifice, which replaces the sacrifices of the temple. We are assured that our own suffering and our own self-giving ministry receive redemptive value by virtue of our baptismal union with Jesus’ own sacrifice.

We, the people of God, gather to celebrate the Eucharist, which is one aspect of our work. In song, story, Word, and Sacrament, the dying and rising of Jesus and his ministry to us are revealed and made present. We become sharers in his life by our participation and are prepared and enabled to carry out the other aspect of our work in sacrificial, servant ministry to others.

HAPPY SUNDAY

A Note on Today’s Readings | Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost – Year B

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

In the themes of the Sundays in this part of the year, we face some of the strongest challenges presented by our faith. We have reached the portion of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus, nearing the final conflict, is preparing his followers for what lies ahead, not only for him but also for them in the remainder of their lives. So today’s Gospel is the account of the rich young man who discovers that there is more to salvation than following the Law. Jesus calls for a complete submission to God, even to the point of giving up everything. Only then can we gain what we really need.

The Old Testament reading from the prophet Amos presents a situation in which those who control Israel are so caught up in amassing personal wealth that they ignore the needs of the poor. That social injustice, God warns, will lead to the destruction of the society.

We are reading through the Epistle to the Hebrews during this period. This letter to early Christians presents Jesus as Savior, as high priest, and as the model for Christian living. In today’s passage the writer tells us that although God’s judgment lays all our failure open to God, we know that God’s response is that of the merciful high priest and therefore we may approach God with confidence.

Today’s liturgy is filled with challenge and with hope. We are faced with the demands of the Gospel and also with its promise of salvation to those who persevere. We are called to enter into the painful yet joyful project of God in bringing the kingdom into the lives of all people in our time.

HAPPY SUNDAY