Posts Tagged ‘Advent’
Watching Like Simeon
A Christmastide and Year’s End Reflection [25DEC12---01JAN13]
Thus says the LORD: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD. There is hope for your future.” (Jeremiah 31:16-17)
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. (Luke 2:25)
As I reflect on the days of Advent and into the Days of Christmas, a couple of thoughts I have had seem more prominent than the rest.
First, are a few thoughts I’ve had about the person-prophet Simeon. Here is a man who appears to have lived most of his life in relative obscurity…at least it seems so from the biblical record. The narrative record teaches about Simeon that he was a righteous and devout man, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. He was looking for Jesus. Because he was devoutly and faithfully looking for Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God promised him he would not die before seeing him. He (Simeon) would see the consolation of Israel—the very consolation of the whole world.
For Christmas is not merely a day like every other day. It is a day made holy and special by a sacred mystery. It is not merely another day in a weary round of time. Today, eternity enters into time, and time, sanctified, is caught up into eternity… We are then, above all, obliged to reveal Christ in our lives… Every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation, His divine Epiphany, in the world which He has created and redeemed.” -Thomas Merton
And Simeon saw Jesus. Simeon was alert—paying attention—he had ears to hear and eyes to see. He was not caught up in the distractions of the day. His relationship with God was intimate; “The Holy Spirit rested on him.”
The second thing I’ve been considering is the absurdity of the time and place of Jesus’ birth. It makes me wonder if many of us in this modern and over-busy world would recognize his coming today. We people living in “first world” countries have a debilitating habit and hunger for the loud, proud, and shiny things. Many of us like busy and entertainment filled lives; we do not crave the quiet or silence, and many of us do not like being alone or in solitude.
Jesus was born in the shadows…and lived in relative poverty on the edges of his society hidden from the world’s stage for more than ninety percent of his life. Would we know him? Would we recognize him as Simeon did? In all likelihood, many who claim to know him today probably would not have recognized him then… Truthfully, many who say they know him today, probably would not recognize him if they saw him face-to-face today.
“How can we expect to find Jesus if we do not seek him in the states of this earthly life, in loneliness and silence in poverty and suffering, in persecution and contempt, in annihilation and the cross?”-Francois Fenelon
I want to be like Simeon. I want to be and be known as a righteous and devout man. I want to be a man always watching and looking for Jesus. I want to always have the Holy Spirit of God upon and within me. When Jesus appears, whenever and wherever and in whomever that may be…I want to recognize him. Every. Time. Like Simeon.
As I sit here, the beating of my heart, the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind are all signs of God’s ongoing creation of me. I pause for a moment…And become aware of this presence of God.
I ask for the grace to let go of my own concerns and be open to what God is asking me. I ask You, O God, to keep me humbled—always driving me to Your feet—beneath Your cross, which has saved me. Help me to remain as one who is poor in spirit, always guided and formed by Your hand, my Loving Creator.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto You. Let us bless the Lord.
Blessed are you, LORD the God of Israel, you have come to your people and set them free.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth. In him was life,, and the life was the light of all.
You have raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of your servant David.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth—Emmanuel! God is with us—In him is life, and that life is the light of all.
Through your holy prophets, you promised of old to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth. In him was life,, and the life was the light of all.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Book Review: God With Us
Edited: by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe
Publisher: Paraclete Press ISBN: 9781557255419
God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas
This is a fabulously beautiful book, both in content and in quality. Paraclete Press and editors, Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have done a masterful job of retelling the Christmas Story through the seasons of Advent and Christmastide in this work. They have combined the gifts of art in poetry, paintings, Holy Scripture, liturgy, and prayer to produce a wonderful devotional for the Christmas season.
First, I’ll share a few words on the technical aspects of the book itself. The book is heirloom quality being very sturdy. It is hardbound with glossy, heavy gauge paper. The title of the book is gold embossed on the spine over a very durable feeling red cloth cover. Paraclete Press has also thoughtfully included a single ribbon marker for place keeping. The volume is somewhat large and non-standard in size at nine and a half inches by seven inches and just slightly over a half inch thick.
Second, I will highlight some of the content details. The book is arranged as a daily reader, following the track of Advent through the weeks leading up to Christmas and then proceeding through the season of Christmastide (The Twelve Days of Christmas) and ending on the Feast of Epiphany. Multiple fonts and font colors are used to bring the reader’s attention to various sections, sidebars, and highlighted areas of each devotional piece.
An incredibly gifted group of authors and spiritual writers has been invited to share in this collection of Advent devotions. Among the group are the following names: Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson, and Luci Shaw.
The illustrations included in God With Us are classic masterpieces, beautiful and timeless—some of the pieces shared are from Gauguin, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Redon, and Leonardo di Vinci. I loved the illustrations as focal points for my meditations.
If I were to offer any critique, it would be for the prayers included at the end of each devotional writing. Two things I found were a little troubling for me; one, was the reduction in font size (perhaps down to a 9pt. font). Second, was the font color change to light gold. While the color change was aesthetically pleasing, the reduction in font size and the light coloration made reading the prayer difficult. I found myself on more than a few occasions lifting and tilting the book toward the light, so I could find a better reading angle with hopes of seeing the words more boldly. Aside from this one little nit, I find no fault with the book. Everything about it from binding to content to presentation is exquisite. I believe it is a heirloom quality piece and will be proud to hand it down to my own children.
Advent 4th Sunday: Year C [23DEC12] Theme for week 4—Expectancy & Incarnation
This week, with only two days remaining until Christmas, I will focus my reflections on what God “in the flesh” means to me. What does the little Hebrew baby born in a lowly manger two-thousand years ago really mean to my life? How does this reality translate to the life I live out daily? How does this translation of God in the flesh, living in me, create anticipation and expectancy for his coming again.
Canticle 3 — Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55)
46 ”Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
“Every situation in our lives has a ‘high cross’ somewhere within it. Day after day, over and over, we find ourselves sensing that unease inside which warns us we are not living true to the core of our being. But just as certainly, day by day we will find, if we keep our eyes open, the traces of ‘forever moments.’” -Margaret Silf
O Emmanuel (Is. 7:14) : “O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.”
Lord God and merciful father, you stand by your people on whom you have bestowed the gift of faith. Grant them your sure presence in this world, and their eternal heritage in the world to come.
The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock
Purify our conscience, Almighty God by your daily visitation, that your Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who live and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [22DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)
In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders. (Isaiah 10:27)
But you dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. (Jude 20-21)
Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. (Luke 3:9)
Contemplation of Christ does not mean an emotional sort of pious daydream; it means entering by a deliberate, self-oblivious and humble attention into the tremendous mysteries of His Life—mysteries which each give us some deep truth about the life and Will of God and the power and vocation of a soul that is given to God—mysteries which each one of us in particular is called to make part of our very lives. They will break up, into colors we can deal with, that white light of God’s Holiness at which we cannot look. -Evelyn Underhill
“God is specially present in the hearts of his people by his Holy Spirit. Indeed the hearts of holy men are truly his temples. In type and foreshadow, they are heaven itself. For God reigns in the hearts of his servants. There is his kingdom.” -Jeremy Taylor
O Rex Gentium (Is. 2:4; 9:5): “O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.”
Holy God, Infinite Mystery, source of all life and light and love, let me walk with you in my daily life, let me come toward you in my prayer, let me know you in your holy word, let me receive you at your altar, and let me live only in you both now and always.
O Lord, I long to be fruitful, to know myself growing in likeness to you. Often I feel sterile, not fertile. I need your living water, the sun of your blessing, the wind of your Spirit, the grace of your presence. I yearn to recognize your likeness in my mirror, a reflection that will come only from the daily awareness of “God with me.”
Almighty God our heavenly Father, whose grace here on earth brings us the gifts of heaven, guide us in this present life, and so lad us now, that we might dwell in the light of your eternal love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [21DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God… Oh the joys of those who trust the LORD… I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. Please, LORD, rescue me! Come quickly, LORD, and help me. May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. Let the LORD keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my god, do not delay. (Psalm 40: 1-4, 8, 13, 16-17)
Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else? (Matt. 11:3)
Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. (Matt. 11:15)
You are a slave to whatever controls you. (2 Peter 2:19)
As I consider the questions from yesterday’s reflections, I have continued to ponder what it means to “have the peace of Christ” and how one becomes a peacemaker. Interestingly enough, a practical opportunity to engage these ideas presented itself to me today and I was able to glean more insight about maintaining an attitude of peace and bearing peace as a peacemaker.
Today my peace was tested…not disturbed, but tested. I had a number of errands and appointments and was “on the go” much of the day. While there were many opportunities for me to lose my peace, there was a solid foundation and I sensed the presence of God at every meeting and every turn of my day. Peace won. I maintained a peaceful attitude of heart and I think I lived the part of a peace-bearer, if not a peacemaker.
“If we realized and were constantly conscious that whatever we do to each other, to any human person, we do to Jesus, to the Son of God, to our beloved Savior, how then would we act?” -M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.
Tonight presented a different scenario and my peace was disturbed. I realized at the moment that I was disturbed, I was being presented with a choice. I could allow the disruption to continue unraveling my peace or I could choose another path. At the same time I was realizing my choices, I had the consciousness to recognize that my inner joy and winsome attitude was slipping from me with almost equal proportion to my peace, which had been “disturbed.” I was aware that a swirl of unhealthy emotions was amassing at my mental gate waiting to be released into my spirit. I had the mental image of some type of infection being released into my bloodstream… At the same time these thoughts were being stirred in my mind, other memories and Scripture recollections were being called to my mind as well.
You are a slave to whatever controls you. (2 Peter 2:19)
I was on the cusp of being offended and angry; and for the most part, over something inconsequential. I had a choice to make; I could choose to be offended and allow my peace to be disturbed and have my joy dampened or I could choose to dip into the reservoir of Christian virtue and the teachings of Jesus who said; “You will know them by their love.” I remembered the greatest Christian virtue of all, love.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
Love, and its practice, was the key to maintaining my peace, keeping ownership of my joy, and remaining credible as a witness to bearing peace and potentially being a peacemaker. What I determined is that there are countless opportunities to let peace and joy slip from us each day. I reflected earlier, with pride, how I had managed to maintain my peace in the throes of a potentially disruptive day. That pride was almost my undoing (Love is not boastful or proud) later in my evening. Instead of choosing offense and “wanting my own way,” I chose to love. I chose and I choose; patience, kindness, selflessness. I choose peace. I choose joy. Love never gives up. Love never loses faith. Love endures through every circumstance. Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and Almighty God, Love wins.
I am grateful that Jesus has given us the words of life and a model to follow. I am thankful to Him for the Peace he has given to his disciples; the Peace Who is the Comforter and Holy Spirit. I boast in Christ my Savior that I am His servant and I can “joyfully” smile when I read Peter’s words, “You are a slave to whatever controls you…” And know that tonight, it was my surrender to the Holy Spirit and His control that maintained peace and joy in my soul.
Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. (Matt. 11:15)
O Oriens (Is. 9:1): “O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
O Mighty One, you have done great things and holy is your name; your mercy is for those who fear you from generation to generation. Here I am, O Lord, your servant; let it be with me according to your word.
Gracious and eternal Lord, in your bounty you have sent us your Holy Spirit. May he teach us to think and do what is right, so that we, who without you cannot exist, may live in loving obedience to your will. Come Holy Spirit and enlarge your presence in me this day, that I may bring into the world more of your life and more of your love.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come to you. Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [20DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
The LORD, the Mighty One is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where the sun sets. Our God approaches and he is not silent. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God. Repent, all of you who forget me… Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:1, 3, 14, 22-23)
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. He (Jesus) is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire. (Matt. 3:8, 12)
Today I am thinking about peace and what it really means to me. In a world full of conflict, injustice, oppression, greed, competitiveness, jealousy, hatred, war, and contempt…it seems peace might be something very important to us despite that the majority of this population appears to not hold peace with very high regard. Jesus said; “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” He also said to his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.“
I think the starting point for understanding peace is the definition Jesus probably was working with.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection. Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain‑-to the absence of war and enmity‑-or to the social-‑to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute. In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace. (From Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought, edited by Arthur A. Cohen and Paul Mendes-Flohr, Twayne Publishers)
I feel as though I live with an abiding and deep peace within me. I believe I have received the “Peace of Christ” that Jesus spoke of in John 14, but I wonder how this peace radiates from me and affects people and circumstances around me. This, I think, is the most crucial question and will ultimately determine if I am a peacemaker. It is something I want to continue to meditate on and examine in my life.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
O Clavis David (Is. 9:6; 22:22): “O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
O Loving heavenly Father, whose blessed Son did suffer for the whole world, grant that we may know you better, love you more, and serve you with a more perfect will.
Lord, I admit that I often feel inadequate, in spite of your promises. Often I hold back. Help me to take the risks of faith, to be aware of your affirming presence in my life. Now, in Advent, sharpen my spirit and my senses, and enable me to pay attention to the moments of God-radiance when you ask me to look, to listen, and to be a peacemaker.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [19DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
“Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge.” (Psalm 119:49-50, 65-66)
Today my joy and peace were overflowing. I enjoyed a simple day where many things could have gone awry…but they didn’t. What did happen was that I got to be surrounded by some of the people I love most in this world. I entered the day with no major plans, other than to enjoy the presence of these cherished people, when circumstances and situations presented themselves that could have unraveled the day…peace, and joy prevailed. As my day unfolded, I realized that my experience (a father and his family) was not unlike the relationship we share with our heavenly Family, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
God desires and enjoys our company—our love shared purely and wholly with him—Jesus says; “make his joy complete.” When we share intimacy and pure love with our Triune God, and the details of life present unexpected complications, they pale in comparison to the enjoyment of being in fellowship with God. My day with my family was like that today. I simply wanted to be with them, enjoying their presence, and making memories of being together, I can hold on to with joyful remembrance until we get to share intimate time once again. Nothing can complicate or take away the peace and joy of that union of pure love. Today, my joy is complete. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
“The essence of the Gospel… is a never ceasing Presence that intervenes and overrules events.” -Evelyn Underhill
O Radix Jesse (Is. 11:1, 10): “O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.”
Jesus, Lord God and Creator of all things, be yourself our joy, you who are the future prize. May our glory be in you always, through all the ages. Amen.
My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. Gracious father in heaven, you alone are the source of our peace and look mercifully upon your people in their moments of need. Bring us to the dignity, which distinguishes the poor in spirit, and show us how great is the call to serve. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [18DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. (Psalm 47:1-2)
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
The promises of God and the historical record of their unfolding are what produce joy in His followers. My thoughts, based on this premise, follow:
- Joy is not about what happens to us.
- Joy is the meaning we give to what we do that determines the nature—the quality—of the lives we live.
- Joy is not about self-centeredness (John 5:30)
- Happiness (true happiness) is not about self-satisfaction; it is about the joy that comes with a sense of purpose.
- Joy comes from living our lives immersed in the will of God; not self-aggrandizement.
- Joy is not in “things,” if we are found in Christ, joy is in us.
Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. A particularly fascinating feature of the O Antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation, when read backwards, forms an acrostic in Latin: the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel in reverse form the Latin words: ERO CRAS. These can be understood as the words of Christ, responding to his people’s plea, saying “Tomorrow I will be there.”
O Adonai (Is. 11:4-5; 33:22): “O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.”
Blessed by you, Lord God of Israel, for you have looked favorably on your people and redeemed them; you have raised up a might Savior for us, just as you spoke through your holy prophets of old.
O God of peace, sanctify me entirely; may you keep my spirit, soul and body sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because you have called me and you are faithful, I believe you will do this.
Pour into us now, O most loving One, the gift of eternal grace, so that, by the misfortunes of new deception, old error may not destroy us. O God, the Father of all humankind, you bid us listen to your Son, the well-beloved. Nourish our hearts on your word, purify he eyes of our mind, and fill us with joy at the vision of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God forever and ever. Amen.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [17DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
Advent Week 3 [Mon. 2012]
“I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
I will thank you forever, because of what you have done. In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good.” (Psalm 52:8-9)
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
“Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” (Luke 22:40)
There are many thoughts swirling through my head inspired by these Scripture readings. The words of Peter are especially inspiring. When I am tempted to forget who I have been recreated to be, this reminder from Peter sets my feet back on a solid foundation and path. God has given us/me everything needed to live a godly life…even to the glorious wonder of sharing his divine nature. Just incredible! This is a good word to remember when days are dark.
“The challenge of faith isn’t so much to trust God’s promises when we hear them as it is to continue trusting them when it does not appear to our best judgment that they are being fulfilled.” Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove; The Awakening of Hope.
Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” also serves as a reminder and a challenge for me as well. The constant discipline that keeps me closely knit to the guiding presence of God is prayer. An always constant awareness and running dialogue with the Godhead keeps us/me free from succumbing to temptations, whatever they may be. I am thankful for the disciplines God has guided me to that help me engage the divine partnership of transformation into his image. I am eternally grateful for the gift of God himself to me.
Advent invites us to inhabit a swirl of time that stretches forward and backward but by doing so anchors us in the present. It is by living in this collapsing, swirling time that God reminds us of what is important about our lives now… We are waiting for God’s kingdom, for the glimmers of light that mark Jesus’ presence in our midst, for the fragments of end-times peace breaking upon us. In our waiting we are called to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, to announce Jesus’ presence in our midst, and to seek to bring about more and more moment of end-times peace in our world now. We are waiting, but such a task of waiting cannot by any stretch of the imagination be classified as passive. -Paula Gooder; The Meaning is in the Waiting
Beginning of the “O” Antiphons
Since the seventh century, this set of seven prayer texts has been sung or recited over the final days of Advent during daily service of vespers, or evening prayer. They are voiced in response to the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55). Each antiphonal prayer addressed God with “O” and a biblical name and concludes with a call for him to come. The phrases of prayers derive from Scripture. For the following seven days, we will be using these prayer texts in conjunction with our normal Advent devotions and meditations.
O Sapientia (Is. 11:2-3; 28:29): “O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.”
Lord Jesus, Splendor of the Father’s glory, O true Sun, descend, sparkling with uninterrupted brightness; O radiance of the Holy Spirit, pour in upon our senses.
Almighty, eternal God, every good gift comes from you. Increase our faith, fill our hearts with love for you, and guide us through this life until we inherit life eternal.
Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Let your mercy, O LORD, be upon me.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Advent 3nd Sunday: Year C [16DEC12] Theme for week 3—Joy & Peace
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
Today the Church, historically, celebrates the third Sunday of Advent with the theme of Joy. It is the day and feast known as Gaudete Sunday or Gaudete in Domino meaning, “Rejoice in the Lord.” With great sadness, we are reminded of our grave need for a Savior, especially in light of recent events and the tragedy in Newport, Connecticut. How incredibly difficult, if not impossible, is it to consider the idea of joy at such a time as this… but the Advent of our Lord is the hope for all joy, both now and eternal. God is our salvation and we look to Him for the peace and deliverance from evil we so desperately need. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit exults in God my Savior. With joy we will draw water from wells of salvation. We give thanks to you, Lord; we call on your name. You are he Lord for whom we wait; We are glad and rejoice in your salvation.
Advent asks us to deal with the basics of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Do I really believe in Christ? Have I put my hope and trust in him? Do I see the future through the eyes of the one who came to redeem the world from the power of evil? Is there a longing within me for him to be formed within, to take up residence in my personal life, in my home, and in my vocation? These are not easy questions to answer. They require meditation, intention, and above all, a commitment that remains steadfast. But if we would break away from a spiritual life growing cold and a Christ who is becoming distant, we must be attentive to our spiritual discipline and long for God to break in on us with new life. When we do this, we experience the true meaning of Advent spirituality. -Robert Webber; Ancient-Future Time
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 12:2-6)
May our compassionate God drive all our anguish, bestow health, and give us by the loving-kindness of the Father, the kingdom of the heavens.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, by body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Eternal Lord our God, the beginning and end of our lives, give us grace to serve you with joy, that we might know that our full and lasting happiness is a life of constant service to you and our neighbor. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.