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Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category


Ephesians 1:3-6: Entering In

Tuesday, December 6, 2022good-news

From THE MESSAGE version of today’s reading: Long, long ago God decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

I am wondering if we really believe this. At first glance the world seems to teem with evil plots and conniving deceit; with a second look we see differently. Family and friends tell me they cannot stay connected with world news because it is so frightening that it makes them anxious. So we go in search of good news. It is not difficult to find and, in fact, it surrounds us.

Average citizens refuse to back down from the extremism of terrorists, two men save a trapped American bald eagle, countless communities gather food and clothing for the poor, a professional American footballer and his daughter show incredible strength in the face of disease, activists work in cities and towns around the globe to create housing and support networks for those who have no homes, thousands work for new ways to bring water and electricity to the millions on the planet who live without it. Sites like, Upworthy, ABC and Huffington Post Good News remind us that humans are capable of conversion. Balance against evil and darkness can always be tipped in favor of goodness and light.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing God is! He is the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 

good-news (1)To be made whole and holy by God’s love. Long before the foundation of the world was laid down. This is special indeed. To receive the gift of life and belonging. Long before our suffering began. This is miraculous and promising. To be sisters and brothers of Christ. Long before we ever conceived of the possibilities God has in mind for us. This is life worth entering into. This is news most worthy of announcing!

How blessed is God! How blessed are we! How promising is this season of holy coming! Let us fully and finally and completely enter in. For the price of turning away is far to great to imagine.


For more links to Good News sites, visit THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW at: http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/good_news_is_good_business_but.php

Images from: https://mvc.life/sharing-good-news/ and https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/entertainment-letterpress.html?pg=2

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Isaiah 35:1-10: The Holy Road

Monday, December 5, 2022freephoto_feetwalking_pixabay

Daily headlines may lead us into thinking that we have no reason for hope in the future. Isaiah tells us that we would be mistaken. Isaiah gives us reason to enter into Advent hope, promise and joy.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower . . .

All peoples and places where terror and pain rule will celebrate Christ’s healing rescue.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!

All injury and harm that is meant to destroy will transform sorrow into joy with the Spirit’s comforting presence.

God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs.

All evil and darkness that whips up angry and anxiety will become tools for transformation with God’s renewing power.

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.

Jesus healed hundreds and fed thousands when he walked among us; Christ continues to restore and sustain.

desert-flowerSprings of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.

The Spirit brings about the impossible; the Creator fulfills all promise.

There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.

Jesus has shown us The Way in which we are to walk – with the marginalized rather than the powerful, with the abandoned rather than the famous and beautiful, with the abandoned rather than the familiar.

It’s impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals – nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.

temple_hera_roadThe Way is the Narrow Gate that stands before us. When we trust in God the door to this way opens to us. When we follow Christ the narrow gate opens wide. When we have faith in God the Holy Road opens at our feet . . . inviting us to move forward into a future full of hope, promise and joy.

The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home . . . welcomed with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.


Reflect on the idea of repairing what we have rather than buying new. For an interesting perspective, read about why Patagonia ™ wanted its customers to stay away from its stores on Black Friday in the USA, a day dedicated to in-store and online shopping. Visit: http://www.patagonia.com/us/home OR http://www.techinsider.io/patagonias-well-worn-campaign-2015-11 OR http://fortune.com/2015/09/14/rose-marcario-patagonia/

For information on ancient Roman roads, visit: http://www.biblewalks.com/info/RomanRoads.html#Introduction

To visit an interesting blog, click on the desert flower image or go to: http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html  

Images from: http://www.shalominthewilderness.com/2014_07_01_archive.html and http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html

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Hebrews 1:1-4: Sisters and Brothers of Christ

Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2022c3bcnity

This is really so simple; yet so difficult to see. God’s plan of revelation to us has and is an on-going process. We must always be open to the words and ideas that come to us from God. The prophets foretold of the coming of the saving shepherd who will leave the ninety nine to find the one lost sheep. In Christ, we have this shepherd. From the time of creation described in Genesis we have known that we are created because of and out of God’s love. Through the Old Testament we see how God acts to bring us home to him, always allowing us to choose between the spirits of good and evil. The sapiential books give us practical advice, animate us when we grieve, accompany us when we rejoice. The prophets remind us of our covenant promise with God. The New Testament tells the story of the incarnation and in-dwelling of God’s word to us. Christ is here. Christ is present. God walks among us . . . God’s chosen beings.

Advent is a time when we anticipate this coming. We light candles, decorate our homes and hearts, make ready banquets and gifts. We are the bride preparing for the coming of the groom.

In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe . . .

We are the adopted sisters and brothers of this son. We are co-heirs, co-redeemers, co-actors in this universe. What an awesome gift. What a sacred blessing. The immensity of this truth is almost impossible to take in.


A Favorite from Friday, December 12, 2008.

Image from: https://resurrectedinhim.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/rest-like-the-dove/

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Mark 6:45-52: Stepping Into Surprise

Po_vodam

Ivan Aivazovsky: Jesus Walks on Water

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Yesterday we reflected with Matthew on our willingness to step out of the little boat of our lives when Jesus approaches us across the water. Today we visit Mark, who tells his story in clipped, precise sentences, but curiously includes this verse: He meant to pass them by. What might Mark be asking us to consider with these simple words?

When we find ourselves in turmoil we may feel as though Jesus has us passed by. When we cannot find our way out of darkness, we might believe that God has chosen to ignore us. When we look for healing that never comes, we may wonder where the Spirit has chosen to settle. In all of these feelings of abandonment we will be mistaken for God is always with us.

Seeing the apostles’ distress, Jesus climbs into the boat with them and says: Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! Then Mark reminds us that even though they had witnessed his division of the loaves and fish for thousands of people: They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. Jesus does not condemn his closest friends and apostles when he sees they do not understand; but rather he steps into the boat to calm their fears.

Matthew (14:22-33) begins his recollection of this event by borrowing from Mark and then adds one of his special stories about Peter, the man who becomes the cornerstone of the church. Matthew affords us the opportunity to – like Peter – step out of the boat to walk toward the shimmering vision. He offers us the chance to step out of safety into the turbulent sea of life. He reminds us that when the waters begin to swamp the vessel, we may want to do the surprising . . . step into the uproar rather than hide quaking in the gunwales of the ship.

Advent is a time of praying, reflecting, preparing to step out into the turmoil. It is a time to put aside fears to tend to the truly eternal: time spent in pondering The Word in the form of scripture, thanksgiving shown for miracles already received and yet to be received; fidelity and constancy as the foundation of our lives, courage and fidelity leading us to serenity and trust in God. When we feel our boat rocking, rather than allowing our fear to take us over, we are heartened when we truly hear today’s story.

So let us pray: Advent is a time of wonder. Advent is a time of surprises. Advent is a time of being open to newness and outrageous possibilities. Advent is a time to step out of the boat in faith to walk – unbelievably and impossibly – on a surface which ought not support us.  Let us walk away from fear . . . toward the one who does not let us fall. 

During the storms, Jesus is really quite near, moved with compassion when he sees our suffering. Rather than cry out anxiously from our hiding place, let us step out of our little craft and out of our old habits. Let us step into something new, a freedom of complete trust in the hand of our maker, the hand that is always extended to meet us. Let us step into the surprise.


Adapted from a Favorite written on December 6, 2008.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_walking_on_water

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Matthew 14:22-33Stepping out of the Boat

Wednesday, November 30, 2022jesus_walks_on_water3

Yesterday we spent time with John 6:16-21 in which the Beloved Apostle describes the appearance of Jesus on the water; we focused on how our lives pull us into so much activity that we easily forget to ponder the mystery through and by which we live. At that time we spent some moments meditating on a painting by Henry Tanner and with the words: It is I, do not be afraid. We thought again about how time is not truly linear, about how we miss so much by not being open to possibility, by thinking that all the work that lies before must be done quickly and well. And we also thought about the fear through which we operate rather than love: fear that work may not be accomplished, children may not be fed, laundry and lunches will go undone, papers will not be tended to. God not tended to. Today we reflect on the surprise Jesus invites us to enjoy, just when we least expect it. And we reflect on how we spend our time: time in kindness offering hospitality, time in joy believing in hope, time with self and others pondering the goodness of God, time in thanksgiving for gifts already given and yet to give.

Advent is a time of waiting, hoping, renewing. Let us gather in Advent hope.

Advent is a time to put aside our cares in order to tend to the truly important. Let us gather in Advent love.

Advent is a time to have the courage to step out of the predictable order of our lives. Let us gather in Advent fidelity and prepare for Christ’s Advent of surprise.

Tomorrow, stepping into surprise . . . 


Adapted from a reflection written on December 6, 2008.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/meaning-and-significance-of-jesus-walking-on-water.html

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Galatians: Watchful Fidelity

Monday, November 28, 2022galatians-mclellan

A Favorite from November 30, 2008.

This epistle, along with Romans and 2 Corinthians, was written to re-state the Gospel story which had been perverted by Pharisaic emissaries to their communities.  The Galatians were most likely descendents of Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor in the third century B.C.E. near modern Ankara, Turkey today.  (Senior 293)

After reading these verses, we understand the importance of fidelity, for it is faithfulness that gives birth to true Christian charity, love that is so enduring it is extended to our enemies. It is this love that brings us true spiritual liberation, a freedom that makes it possible for us to be truly and totally open to Christ. This is the invitation we all receive at our baptism, and it is this invitation that continues to be open to us.

Paul is exasperated with his friends. Oh stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you have heard? Are you so stupid?  (3:1-2)  He may well be exasperated with us today.

steadfastness-vs-instability-5-728Paul asks these converts to remain steadfast in their belief and to turn aside from those ideas which subvert the truth. Realize then that it is those who have faith who are the children of Abraham.  (3:7) Paul knows how easy it is for us to be turned by old customs and long-held beliefs. He asks that we take these beliefs and magnify them in the way we have been taught by Christ.

You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth? (5:7) We might ask ourselves this question when family, friends or associates try to convince us with logic and “group think” of something we know to be counter to Christ. We might also ask ourselves this question when formal structures refuse to listen to an idea which blooms from the heart. We will want to read this letter when our faith in the risen Christ is challenged. This is when we will need to hear again . . .

Fruits of the SpiritThe fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit let us allow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

Spiritual freedom comes when we are faithful and watchful. As we begin the Advent season this week, let us resolve to put aside behaviors that inhibit a free and open union with Christ. Let us decide to watch for his coming. And let us allow ourselves to be transformed by the living Christ. The reward for all of this patience and endurance is beyond imagining. For when we empty self to allow Christ in, when we give up all to obey, we do not lose ourselves, we gain something far greater. True Life. Eternal Life. Life with and in Christ.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293. Print. http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Galatians&ch=

For another post on the Book of Galatians, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/galatians-magnanimity/

Images from: http://www.slideshare.net/toprank414/steadfastness-vs-instability and http://sincerelysarad.com/july-memory-verse-fruits-spirit/

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Wisdom 11:2-5: Special Providence in Exodus

First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2022exodus-gods-and-kings-review-biblical-epic-plagued-with-flaws-jpeg-198729

The Book of Wisdom prepares us for Advent, our time of Exodus from darkness into the light of truth, hope and love. God is always with us, guiding and protecting; yet in a special way God accompanies us closely when we move out of a place of comfort where our unhealthy behaviors are enabled into a place of health, where we work on our rough edges. When we make this kind of transition from being prisoners of a habit to being free to hear the surprising new behavior God has in mind for us, we place ourselves at risk. We take a leap of faith, believing that as we shed our old safety net, God will place an even better one beneath us. When we journey from a state of slavery to a state of freedom, we are accompanied by the pillar of smoke by day, the column of fire by night. God provides for his faithful in a very special way as they make themselves vulnerable for his sake.

And so we pray . . .

They journeyed through the uninhabited desert, and in solitude they pitched their tents . . .

When we feel most alone we are most attended. When we suffer we walk in the company of God’s angels . . . for we are especially loved and kept by God.

They withstood enemies and took vengeance on their foes . . .

The faithful do not need to fight; rather we need only witness to the story of God’s coming among us. The rest we leave in the hands of God who turns all harm to good.

When they thirsted, they called upon you . . .

When we are in misery, anxiety, fear of any kind there is only one place to turn. To God.

And water was given them from sheer rock . . .

Then we are to expect the unexpected, the inverse, the surprising, the paradox.

Assuagement for their thirst from the hard stone . . .

gods providenceWe are precious in God’s eyes, made in God’s image.  We are stones of a living temple to be rejected by those who build upon the sand, but placed upon a strong foundation by the one who endures.

For by the things through which their foes were punished they in their need were benefited. 

We will know how to interact with our foes when we look to their suffering rather than our own. We can expect God’s guidance and protection as we work to become God’s disciples. And so we pray.

Good and watchful God, 

We enter into our exodus journey to you. We know that you will not allow a foot to be dashed upon a stone. We believe that you will not desert us. We trust that you sustain us from your goodness. We believe that you teach us through our many trials. We ask your continued patience with us when we doubt, your continued love for us when we err, your continued hope for us when we falter. We who are made in your image strike out from a foreign land of enslavement to move homeward in freedom. Call us constantly back to you when we stray. Keep us close by you. Always. Amen.


Images from: https://www.perfectbrilliantstillness.org/what-is-page-3/hand-holding-planet-earth-crop-and-darken/ and https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/exodus-understanding-one-of-the-bibles-major-themes

A favorite from December 2, 2008.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Numbers 9:15-23

The Bidding of the Lord

In Numbers 9 we see the Hebrews put all of their trust in God. May we learn to be faithful to the Lord in our daily wandering rather than be lured by little gods.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews stumbled in their journey of fidelity. May we turn back to God in all of our drifting and forgive others as God forgives us.

In Numbers 9 we see the Hebrews do the Lord’s bidding when the Fiery Cloud settles into the desert sand to rest; we see them rise to follow the pillar of smoke and flame when it is time to journey. May we place all trust in the Lord rather than resort to our own schemes and small plans.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews grumbled about God’s care of them in their journey of transformation. May we always seek counsel in the Lord and share the Word we hear with fellow pilgrims.

In Numbers 9 the Cloud tarries for days or rises after only one evening’s rest so the Hebrews are unable to predict God’s movement in their lives; yet they know that the Lord is with them in the Fiery Cloud. May we learn patience in the Lord and give thanks for the many surprises that await us.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews grew impatient with God’s timeline and grumbled about God’s provisions. May we keep in mind how great is God’s generosity and share God’s love with others.

As a child, I loved to hear my Mother read out the chronicle of the people who wandered in darkness for generations, doing God’s bidding despite their frustration. Somehow I knew that there were great lessons to be learned in this long story of turnings. Mother’s calm and steady voice would rise up to give emphasis to the peril the Hebrews endured; it would fall to a low and gentle register to underscore God’s constant presence and encouragement to the people. Closing my eyes, I stored those reassuring sounds and images for unknown times in my future. As I grew I began to encounter my first overwhelming obstacles and remembering the comfort and safety of those drowsy evenings with Mother reading about the Fiery Cloud that served as guide and guard, I drew on those stored images.  When fear threatened to paralyze me or lead me in the wrong direction, I allowed that pillar of fire and smoke to draw me toward God. Even today when I meet with an obstacle that threatens my physical, mental or spiritual life, I move toward the Fiery Cloud to step inside. And there I find a sanctuary that none can penetrate.  I find a peace that none can rattle.  I find a floating solidness that both sustains and carries me toward God.  And in God all problems both great and petty melt away.

In a few short weeks we celebrate the season of Lent, a time of God’s sacrifice for us as Jesus walks among us. It is a celebration of Sacrificial Love, of Hope against Desperation, of surety in a world that offers only turmoil. Let us turn to the story of the people who once walked in darkness (Isaiah 9), let us follow the Fiery Cloud as we wander through the dangers of the desert, and let us step into the pillar of smoke and light when the chaos of life menaces.  For there is no better sanctuary than God.  There is no better hope than Christ.  And there is no better peace than the serenity we find in the Spirit.

And so, we pray . . .

Let us rise as the Hebrews rise to do the bidding of the Lord.  Let us rest as the Hebrews rest to await the wisdom of the Lord.  Let us follow as the Hebrews follow . . . to do the bidding of the Lord.  Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection first written in December of 2011.

mage from: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/41559827

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jeremiah brown copyTuesday, December 21, 2021

Joy and Jeremiah

Passion

“The office of prophet was due to a direct call from God. It was not the result of heredity, just as it was not a permanent gift but a transient one, subject entirely to the divine will”. (Senior 877) Today joy surprises us from the depths of despair as a people lifts hope high . . . waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

The prophet Jeremiah responds to God’s call as a young man in the 13th year of King Josiah, approximately 612 B.C.E. He persists faithfully in conveying God’s word to a recalcitrant people “with enthusiasm and hope”. (Senior 949) He remains in the rubble of Jerusalem’s ruins but is forced into exile in Egypt by conspirators. Tradition tells us that he was murdered by these countrymen and that his prophecy was recorded shortly after his death. (Senior 949)

Jeremiah 15:16: When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear your name, Lord, God of hosts.

God’s word sustains and upholds us; it nurtures the joy within. Jeremiah’s enthusiasm for his God and God’s word sustain us today.

Jeremiah 31:13: Then young women shall make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will show them compassion and have them rejoice after their sorrows.

God’s love redeems and rescues us; it calls forth the joy within. Jeremiah’s fidelity to his God and God’s mercy liberates us today.

joyJeremiah 33:9: Judah will be to me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.

God’s goodness heals and transforms us; it celebrates the joy within. Jeremiah’s passion for his God and God’s power renews us today.

As we await the birth of the Christ who rescues, transforms, heals and makes new, let us reflect on God’s power to bring life out of ruin, healing out of destruction and hope out of death for a renewal of life.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urge you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 877 & 949. Print. 

Image from: http://tharderdesign.blogspot.com/2011/03/jeremiah-2911_30.html

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