Advent is now upon us. It is a time of waiting and a time of preparation for the anniversary of the coming of the Son of God. Instead of making spiritual preparations during Advent, many of us get caught up in the demands of the holiday season. Any extra time we have is spent on the material preparations that have become an annual tradition, such as buying gifts, decorating our homes and work areas, planning parties, and baking treats.
It happened on a Wednesday evening in October 1975. That was the day I went to my first concert that featured a nationally recognized band. I was a freshman in college and the concert was in an arena that was located near the college campus. The band that played was the Beach Boys. They toured the country that year and performed in 100 concerts throughout the United States.
During my seventh and eighth grade years at St. Mark’s Grade School, one of the games that the boys played during recess was “Kill the man with the ball.” The object of the game was to steal the ball from the person who had it, and then hold on to it as long as possible. The boy who had the ball was chased around the playground until someone was able to wrestle the ball from him. Sometimes there was a pileup of boys that occurred while they tried to push their way through to the ball. Whoever got the ball was then chased until someone else pried it out of his hands.
My wife and I took a few days off last week and drove to Branson, Missouri, for a short vacation. It was our third trip to Branson. Our last trip there was more than 15 years ago. One of the reasons we wanted to go to Branson was because we had heard about a Broadway-quality musical show about the life of Jesus that was playing at one of the theaters. The title of the show was Jesus.
Did you know that there’s an old plantation hymn that Catholics traditionally sing in church on Good Friday? The hymn was composed in the 19th century by African American slaves and was first published in 1899 by William Eleazar Barton in his hymnal, Old Plantation Hymns. Here’s the first verse of the hymn:
Last month, while my 10-year-old granddaughter, Grace Hercik, was playing outside, she fell and broke her arm. Two days before she broke her arm, when my family was together for a birthday party, I told Grace and my other grandchildren about how I broke my leg in 1967. I was the same age as Grace when I broke my leg.