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Preparing to Prepare

December 19, 2013



I, Michael Lanham, would like to reveal something personal from my life which relates to today’s readings. Both the first reading and the Gospel talk about refraining from strong drink as commanded by God in preparation for His plan. I had been a drinker for about eight years but finally quit — through the grace of God — I had been sober for a year prior to meeting my wife, Teri. I have been sober now for 31 years and have been with Teri for 30 years. I believe God has been watching over me all my life — and preparing me to meet Teri and to be saved. Just as in the stories of Samson and especially John the Baptist, God was preparing them for a great purpose — preparing the way for His Son. Once I started to refrain from strong drink, I was getting prepared to meet the love of my life, a woman who was a “Cradle Catholic,” having gone 12 years to Catholic school and raised in a strong Italian Catholic family. It was through Teri that I found the road to my salvation, and also through St. Agatha’s, where I was baptized, confirmed and received my first communion in 1997. I finally felt I was in the right place and with the right person. Teri and I were married December 19, 1987 and then on December 19, 2001 we renewed our vows in a Catholic ceremony at St Agatha’s, married by Fr. Ken Deasy. The renewal of our wedding vows had been originally planned for December 1999 but I was suddenly stricken with a life threatening illness. Through the mighty prayers of our St. Agatha family, friends and relatives, I was granted a miraculous healing. God heard our prayers and we will be forever grateful. This is when Teri and I began the long lasting ministry called the Prayer Warriors, and many people pray for one another through this online vehicle, continuing to prepare for God’s healing touch, gifts of peace and understanding, and truly loving one another as He commanded.

These readings being on the anniversary of our wedding are very special because they represent the idea of “preparing the way for the Lord” for the salvation of the world, just as I was being prepared to become catholic and have a new life with Teri. Our love is eternal and we are truly together forever.


Advent is a time for preparation. A time to ready ourselves to celebrate the event of our Savior coming into the world; and for Teri and I, December 19th is a time for us to celebrate our sacrament of marriage once again as we remember our wedding anniversary.


Thought Questions


1. When have you felt that God was preparing you for an important part of your life, or for some great event that you could only accomplish through His guidance and inspiration?

2. Is there something you need to do to prepare for God’s plan for you, or maybe a message God is trying to deliver to your heart so that He can fulfill His plan for you?

3. Is there something you always hope to do during advent that you haven’t done yet? Maybe this year is the year.


Prayer: Lord Prepare Me


Heavenly Father, please guide us to where you want us to go; guide our steps along the path which follows Your plan for us and keep us aware of those around us. Give us the open, loving hearts to eagerly receive those we love and live with everyday, giving them our attention and helping them to get through their trials and struggles as we get through ours — only with Your help. Most of all, Lord, help us to prepare for Your greatest gift of all to us — Your Son, Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist — during this Christmas time and whenever He is present with us and allow Him to work through us.

Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


By Teri and Michael Lanham





Reading 1 JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A


There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah. 
His wife was barren and had borne no children. 
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son. 
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. 
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed. 
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son. 
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. 
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson. 
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.


Responsorial Psalm PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17


R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. 

For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength. 

I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.


Gospel LK 1:5-25


In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth. 
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years. 

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. 
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense. 
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. 

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard. 
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John. 
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. 
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. 
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God. 
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” 

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this? 
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. 
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. 
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. 

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”

Tags: marriage, sacraments, true love, love, wedding, teri lanham, michel lanham, online advent retreat, advent retreat, advent, way of the Lord, to prepare, prepare, confession, annivesary


Ronald Smith  |  La  |  December 20, 2013  |  12:46 AM

Congrats. Happy anniversary  ! Thanks for sharing your story and your love. 

Teresa & Ron Gunther  |  Whittier  |  December 19, 2013  |  8:35 PM

Dear Michael and Teri,   Thank you for the beautiful testimonial of God's presence in your lives.    I pray that it will serve as a message of Hope in God to all who see and  read your thoughts.   Our God is so powerful.   

This time of Advent is a beautiful season to simply sit quietly and be at peace with our world as we await the coming of Jesus again and again and again.    

Happy Anniversary to you!!!!    We at St. Agatha are blessed to be part of such a loving community.   You two make it even more special with your wonderful  prayer ministry.  God bless you.

Fr. Bill  |  LA  |  December 19, 2013  |  7:16 PM

Michael & Teri,

Thanks so much for your personal reflection on the readings. It is truly a mystery how we "see" in readings from a Text that is ancient, written in a different time. for people we don't know and whose circumstances we cannot begin to comprehend what it is that we, ourselves, need at a given time in our life--as if the Text were leaning over and "whispering in our ear." Congratulations of your sobriety and on your wedding anniversary. And all our parishioners cannot begin to thank you enough for the Prayer Warriors ministry. We all need it, and many of us are glad to participate in it.

Don & Shirley Hays  |  Porter Ranch, CA  |  December 19, 2013  |  2:48 PM

Dearest Michael & Teri - Don and I wish you the very happiest of anniversaries. Your love for each other shines on your faces when we see you at church.  Congratulations on this one and the many more to come.

Love &Hugs

Don & Shirley Hays


Enrique Reyes  |  Los Angeles  |  December 19, 2013  |  12:29 PM

Hi Michael and Teri! Thank you so much for sharing your truly uplifting and inspiring testimony! I can truly see the hand of God in your lives! Your testimony is also a love story that gives hope to the heart. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! May God bless you both always!

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