keep awake 2011
DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR THE ADVENT SEASON BY THE YOUNG ADULTS OF CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this collection. To view this and other Advent resources, please visit our website: christchurchlouky.org ~ Canon Amy+
Prepare the Way of the Lord: The Expectant Season of Advent The word “advent,” from the Latin adventus, means “coming” or “arrival.” The season of Advent is focused on the “coming” of Jesus as Messiah. Our worship, scripture readings, and prayers not only prepare us spiritually for Christmas (his first coming), but also for his eventual second coming. This is why the Scripture readings during Advent include both Old Testament passages related to the expected Messiah, and New Testament passages concerning Jesus’ second coming as judge of all people. Also, passages about John the Baptist, the precursor who prepared the way for the Messiah, are read. All of these themes are present in Episcopal worship during Advent. In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Peace, Dean Mark Bourlakas+
l mighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visitus in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Collect for the First Sunday of Advent
Mark 13:33-37 +
First Sunday of Advent
“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” Mark 13:33
I am not a patient person. When I’m told to wait and watch, immediately I start pacing in the room, trying to speed up the time for the arrival of someone or something. Reading the passage in Mark made me reflect on my daily life of waiting for the return of our Master. Jesus left us in charge and gave us his authority of continuing his work on Earth. Whether it be volunteering or smiling at a stranger, I attempt to be a good servant of spreading the Lord’s love. When he arrives from his travels, I do not want to be sleeping on the job. Not only that, but the challenge of living up my Master’s expectations of taking care of his house busies me, which can help my lack of patience! During this Advent season, we are preparing not only to commemorate Jesus’ birth, but for the celebration of his homecoming. Hopefully I’ll be able to hold out for the ultimate Christmas present!
by Meredith Jones, UL student
Kamehameha and Emma
+ Matthew 21:1-11
A famous musicologist and philosopher of the 20th century said that God willalways exist as long as there is that inexplicable silence at the end of a piece ofmusic. He said that we are closest to God in that silence after that last ringing chord because God is most present there. My bookmark in my hymnal is a constant reminder to Keep Watch (literally). In this busy season, my little bookmark is my own way to remind myself to KeepWatch for the Lord. To Keep Watch for Christ in all His forms and to remember that Christ Jesus speaks not like the speakers in the mall blaring Christmas music and not like the mothers at walmart, but with a quiet whisper. He speaks in a quiet whisper in our silence at the end of the day, He speaks in a whisper as go about ourlives, He speaks in a whisper in the ringing silence after the last chord of the anthem.He speaks in a quite whisper to those who are listening and to those who are Keeping Watch for his coming. Remember with me to Keep Watch. Constantly remind yourself with me that we must all Keep Watch and remain vigilant for that quiet whisper of inspiration during this Season of Advent and as we continue togrow in the Life of the Church. The Saints for November 28th are King Kamehameha and Queen Emma, sovereign rulers of the Nation of Hawai’i. Having visited King Kamehameha royal palace in my days singing with the Chattanooga Boys Choir, I am uniquely qualified to tell you that King Kamehameha was living in the lap of luxury. Kamehameha, along with his wife, Emma, is credited with spreading Christianity throughout his kingdom of Hawai’i. How easy it must have been to see Christ in all his forms in such a beautiful places as Hawai’i. And though we may not have the luxurious beauty of the islands, Kentucky is a beautiful home and we can still Keep Watch and help spread the good news of the gospel like Kamehameha. And if all else fails, we can lay back and think of Hawai’i in the cold weather of Advent.
by Zach Cavan, Choir member & UL graduate student
“My house shall be called a house of prayer”; but you are making it a den of robbers.’ Matthew 21:13 Anger is a hard emotion to deal with. Some people over-express it. Some people under-express it. In today’s scripture, we see Jesus’ table-overturning, moneychanger trashing, indignant side. Wow. And today, there are just as many reasons for Christians to get so angry. How does the saying go? If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention? A lot of good career counselors will begin by asking, “What makes you happy? What do you like to do?” Well done. But there is a flip and equally important side to those questions: “What makes you angry? What injustice in our world boils your blood? What could I do about it?” Discerning our passions involves both approaches. See where your anger leads you. I sometimes end up at the batting cages. Hopefully your own anger will never lead you to furniture throwing, but if it does, trust me, God completely understands.
by Cortney Dale, Diocesan intern @ Calvary Church
Andrew the Apostle
+ Matthew 21:23-32
So very often we are faced with horrible circumstances that entail great difficulty and struggle. Sometimes they are not only tragedies, as most of our suffering stems from day to day living. Sometimes these horrible circumstances build up, clustering our minds and hearts with a heavy weight. We tend to get lost in things left undone from yesterday and worry perpetually about preparing for tomorrow’s tasks, and in doing so we forget to simply be. We become caught in this cycle of surviving, allowing ourselves to easily slip into habitual drones and it is in this occurrence that the devil wins. Advent is the true season of yearning hope. This is the season where we take our minds from the cluster of preparing for tomorrow and direct it towards the anticipation ofGod coming into the world. This yearning for some form of salvation from the cycle of hardship such as Monday’s, meetings with people you just don’t like, and whatever else that just seems to pop up as things always do time and time again, is met with an irrevocable serenity when we learn that our God...our Creator, whom we pray to daily a tour desks or nightly in our beds, will so very soon be in our physical presence. Alleluia.
by Dustin Hall, Spaliding University student & Cathedral Member
Matt 21:33-46 +
Nicholas Ferrar, Charles de Foucauld
â€œBut the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.â€? Matthew 21:35 Now, more than ever in my life, things like email and cell phones (technology in general) have almost eliminated the concept of waiting and preparing. When I want to speak with someone, I call their cell. If I have a question, I email it and expect a response asap. It is a world centered around the "now." The phrase "I can't wait" is no loner hyperbole. It is 100% serious. The tenants in this story are cruel to the servants and the son because, presumably, they do not want to give up what they have. They aren't willing to give anything and want more than they have, putting the landowner in a very compromising position. The landlord makes decisions and sends many people in order to stimulate a positive response from the tenants. But they shut down all of his attempts to initiate a constructive relationship. They want what they want, and they will have it no other way. I am reminded of Lord of the Rings films. At one point, Frodo expresses his frustration to Gandalf regarding the current situation: "I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened!" Gandalf's replies: â€œAll you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." I think that is the message at the heart of the parable. We may want more than we have: NOW rather than later. But we cannot sacrifice the time we are given as we wait for the future. Perhaps if the tenants gave their fruit as they were told, they would receive twice as much back a month later. For impatient people like me, this story demonstrates a lesson in humility. Waiting is not necessarily a waste of time. For if it is utilized, the future may meet us in ways we would never expect and even exceed our wildest dreams.
by Chris Ceccolini, New Seeds Intern & Choir Member
ADVENT A silence in the air
Feast of Channing Moore Williams
Standing there, a shadow An image of wonder and grace Beauty and style Fog, like a cool spring morning Arises Gentle sounds from below Movement, like waves in water Bursts of light resembling lightning Thrilling and excitement Mysterious and wonder A single voice MAGNIFICAT
by Bethaney Adams, Cathedral Member
dec 3 |
Matthew 22:15-22 +
“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21
How much of our lives are lived for God and how much is for the “Emperor”? Are we living our lives waiting, preparing and hoping for when we can meet him in heaven? Or are we working for fulfillment here on earth alone? For most of us, it’s probably a mix of the two. While we’re trying to do things to improve our spiritual lives most likely the majority of our day is working for our lives here on earth at our jobs or school and in our homes. For guidance, we can look to many of the great saints who have gone before us, including Francis Xavier one of the founders of the Jesuit order who sailed away from everything he had on earth to become a missionary in India (which in the 1500’s was a very far away place indeed). While we don’t need to go to this extreme, we can use this season of waiting for Christ our King to examine our lives and prepare our hearts and souls for life beyond this earth.
by Caitlin Grothaus, UL graduate student
erciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake oursins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent
Second Sunday of Advent
+ Mark 1:1-8
We Wait We We We We
wait. wait for the waters to come. wait for the waters to bring forth life. wait.
We wait for the rains to come. The rains have yet to come. We wait for the rains to come. Life will be renewed again with the water from above. The rains will come. Life will come. We wait. We wait for the water to come. Water cleansing our world Like we are cleansed. Water to take away our sins. Life with the water. We wait.
We wait for the waters to make known to the world That we share one faith. He will come with the waters. We wait for him to come. We wait for the waters to come. We wait for him to come. We wait.
by Sidnie Lynne Smith, UL student intern & Cathedral Member
Matthew 22:23-33 +
Clement of Alexandria
“Have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:31-32 In this passage Jesus is confronted by the Sadducees about his belief in the final resurrection. First it is important to establish some background on who exactly the Sadducees were. The Sadducees were a 1st Century Jewish sect composed mostly of upper class, aristocratic Jews. One of their central tenets was the denial of an immortal soul and therefore, they denied any afterlife including a resurrection. Thus one of their biggest disputes with Jesus, if not the main dispute, was over the resurrection of the dead as this was one of Jesus' teachings. The Sadducees attempt, in this passage, to disprove the resurrection by using the law of their world, that is, the Torah or the Law of Moses. They confront Jesus with a complicated question about marriage-namely, who will a woman be married to at the resurrection if she was widowed and then re-married in this world? Jesus responds, essentially, by showing them that the Law of this world will no longer matter at the resurrection, as mankind will be "like angels". As Christians, this passage re-affirms the resurrection and gives us all something to hope and prepare for. Advent, of course, is a season of hope and preparation. As the Jews of the 1st Century were hoping and preparing for the Messiah, so should we as Christians continually hope and prepare for the final resurrection.
by Ben Bushong, New Seeds Intern
Nicholas of Myra
December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra. Nicholas was the archbishopof Myra in southern Asia Minor during the fourth century. While many Christians,particularly those in the Eastern Orthodox Church, honored Nicholas and his legends,there are few historical facts about his life. As archbishop, he was a zealous protector ofthe Gospel and may have participated in the Council of Nicea in 325. He had a reputation for stealthy gift-giving, such as tossing a bag of gold through thewindow of a poor man in his village for his daughter’s dowry so that she would not besold into prostitution. He also put coins in the shoes of poor children who left their wornshoes out for him. Nicholas’s acts of generosity became the model for Santa Claus,whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. The Orthodox Church honorshim as the patron saint of virgins, sailors and pawnbrokers. For his faith in Christ Jesus,Nicholas suffered torture and imprisonment during the persecution under the EmperorDiocletian. As a teenager, I made the connection, through an icon of Saint Nicolas, that the jolly oldcookie-eating Santa Claus of Christmas Day fame and Archbishop Nicholas of Myrawere essentially one and the same. Saint Nicholas is real after all! Of course, there hasbeen a good deal of distortion since Nicholas’s episcopal ministry in the fourth century.
Through no design of my own, my bishop ordained me to the priesthood on the Feast ofNicholas of Myra. Every year on the anniversary of my ordination, I try to spend sometime reflecting on Nicholas of Myra. I usually think about how different he must havebeen from the commercialized Santa that crowds this holy season of Advent. I then tryto pray about the ways that my life and ministry can easily slip into being more aboutgetting than giving. You might do the same on this day as you prepare yourself for thebirth of our Messiah. Consider beginning this meditation by contrasting Google imagesof the icons of Nicholas of Myra with those of Santa Claus. I pray that the image ofNicholas of Myra will carry you through the season in holiness and love.
by The Very Rev. Mark Bourlakas, Dean of the Cathedral
dec 7 |
Matthew 23:1-12 +
“The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12
In this time of Advent, we are told to prepare ourselves for Jesus. This preparation is best shown through your actions to others, be it your family, friends, community, etc. So as you are contemplating your actions during Advent remember to demonstrate your love of others through self-sacrifice. Do not act like the Pharisees and sit idly by while others do your work. Turn your words into actions and show Jesus’ love for all through yourself. “For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice - no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.” - John Burroughs
by Zach Smith, UL student
+ Matthew 23:13-26
â€œWoe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practised without neglecting the others.â€? Matthew 23:23
I am currently taking a break from studying for the GRE for two purposes: dto complete my Advent reflection and to read the book of Matthew. As I look at the passage, I think of the motto of the University of Pennsylvania, currently in my top 3 institutions, "Leges sine moribus vanae" or in English, "laws without morals are in vain." The passage in Matthew mentions this with equal profundity, as Jesus goes on a justified tirade explaining to those around him that there is an inherent danger in following the letter of the law rather than the spirit too closely. Perhaps this signifies that my efforts studying for a school with a parallel motto to the reading makes increasingly more sense. St. Richard Baxter, "the chief of English Protestant schoolmen" is the monumental bridge in my metaphor, perhaps connecting the passage in Matthew and my pursuit of graduate school education. The legal troubles of Richard Baxter tie him to the conflict of the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. While Jesus opposed the established class of Pharisees, Richard Baxter was facing legal problems in Great Britain. These two iconoclasts defy the standard aging process, as they are still remembered to this day.
by Corin Hooper, New Seeds Intern
From W.H. Audenâ€™s On the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind, Dreading to find its Father lest it find The Goodness it has dreaded is not good: Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood.
The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss. Was it to meet such grinning evidence We left our richly odoured ignorance? Was the triumphant answer to be this? The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.
Where is that Law for which we broke our own, Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned Her hereditary right to passion, Mind His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone. Where is that Law for which we broke our own?
We who must die demand a miracle. How could the Eternal do a temporal act, The Infinite become a finite fact? Nothing can save us that is possible: We who must die demand a miracle.
This is the Advent portion of W.H. Audenâ€™s famous 1944 Christmas poem. Auden became an Episcopalian in 1940.
Thomas Merton, Karl Barth
+ Matthew 24:1-14
It is important to remember the deep, in some ways anguished seri-
ousness of Advent,when the mendacious celebrations of our marketing culture so easily harmonize with our tendency to regard Christmas, consciously or otherwise, as a reuren to our own innocence and our own infancy... But the Church, in preparing us for the birth of a “great prophet,” a Savior and a King of Peace, has more in mind than seasonal cheer. The Advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man, of th eowrld and of our own being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. “ ~ Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration
Thomas Merton is the patron saint of the New Seeds Intern Program at the Cathedral
tir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. - Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent
John 1:6-8, 19-28 +
Third Sunday of Advent
“Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John 1:22
Being a Christian is an opportunity for coming alive, for waking up to our true nature as a beloved Child of God, a being with jaw-droppingly awesome capacities for love and forgiveness beyond the intellect’s comprehension. The best part is having this opportunity for greater opening of the heart and ears in EVERY moment, to listen for and respond to whatever role God is calling us to fulfill. For John the Baptist, that was preparing the way for Jesus by speaking the truth surrounding his role. The situation called for him to strengthen his character muscles of honesty, integrity, courage and even his interpersonal communication skills (which I imagine might really be able to use it after so many moons with locusts and cacti!). I wonder which parts felt most scary or straining to him, and how he was able to reframe it in order to act? One way to turn a daunting or burdensome task around is to a give it a greater purpose by asking: What qualities are the challenges of this preparatory season calling for me to find or cultivate in myself? How can I seize this moment to dive deeper into my birthright as beloved?
by Ellie Nolan, UL student, Member @ St. Andrew’s
“If they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:27-28
Our lives are busy. Work and school deadlines approach too quickly, one phone call from a friend or family member requesting a favor snowballs into a series of tasks that becomes a modern version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, and keeping up with parties, plays, concerts and even extra church services allows less time for relaxation. Especially at this time of year, daily life can turn into chaos. Jesus’ warning in the middle of Matthew 24 is clear. Distraction, deception, and distress all threaten to pull our focus away from Christ’s coming. We are distracted by running around town, trying to meet social expectations and purchase gifts for every one on our listpeople we like as well as those we don’t. We are deceived into believing that we must have the prettiest decorations, attend every event we’re invited to, and of course, reciprocate those invitations. We are distressed by illness,grief, financial hardship, loneliness, and unmet expectations. The challenge of the season is to be aware of the issues that jeopardize our preparation for Him. We have three options moving forward with that awareness: 1) We can keep doing the same thing (and expect a different outcome?) 2) We can withdraw from the various commitments of the season (but at what expense?) or 3) We can utilize the chaos to shift our focus away from the daily concerns and toward the excitement and anticipation of the true meaning of Advent- Jesus’ entry into the world and into our hearts.
by Grace Flint, IU Southeast student & Cathedral Member
Matthew 24:32-44 +
I love St. Lucy. I love that her name comes from the word Lux (meaning “light”). I love that her story has survived in the church for 17 centuries. I especially love that her story includes eyeballs plucked out for Jesus. See. (no pun intended!) Lucy rebuffed the advances of an unwanted suitor and when he would not desist, but instead commented on the beauty of her eyes, she plucked them out herself and begged in exasperation “now let me live to God.” I want that level of focused discipleship. I want that depth of understanding of our total dependence on God. I want to trust God that deeply with my whole life, with all that I am, ready to do whatever God demands of me. I want to be able to look the distractions of this world square in the eye and pluck them out. Advent causes me to stop and consider, for real, what it means for God to be present, here and now, in my life and in the life of the world. Lucy clearly expected God to make an appearance and she went about getting herself ready for His arrival. What about me? Am I really ready for God to show up?
by the Rev. Cn. Amy Real Coultas, Canon Missioner of the Cathedral
Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross)
+ Matthew 24:45-51
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road pregnant with the holy, and say, "I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart, my time is so close." Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime intimacy, the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever, as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us. Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation come into existence eternally, through your womb, dear pilgrim - the sacred womb of your soul, as God grasps our arms for help: for each of us is his beloved servant, never far. If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street pregnant with Light and sing. St. John of the Cross translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Matthew 25:1-13 +
John Horden, Robert McDonald
â€œKeep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.â€? Matthew 25: 13
It usually goes that the more prepared we are for events in life, the better the outcome of the results. The story told in Matt 25:1-13 tells us the parable of the virgins. It is the perfect example of what Advent truly is. As the virgins in the parable await the bridegroom, we too await the coming of Jesus not only in what is told in the Christmas story, but also the second coming. As the virgins await the arrival of the bridegroom, they must prepare themselves as they go to meet the bridegroom. There are five that adequately prepared for this occasion and fully reaped the benefits from it. And there are five that did not, and in the end were shut out from the bridegroom. We can use Advent as a constant reminder that the more we prepare ourselves spiritually for both comings of Jesus, the more we will truly benefit from it.
by Will Ousley, Cathedral Member
Ralph Adams Cram, Richard Upjohn, John LaFarge
+ Matthew 25:14-30
“The one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done.” Matthew 25:20-21
When I combine all the themes of advent, there is one resonating theme: motivation. When I prepare,wait, expect, hope, and anticipate it is normally for something important to me and motivation is what inspires those feelings. In the story of Matthew 25:14-30, the two servants that used their motivation to get a return on their talent were recognized and rewarded for their hard effort. The third servant, who decided to do nothing with what he was given, received nothing back from the landowner. As I await the coming of Jesus, I could choose to sit on what talent God has given me or I could choose to use my talent todo some good. I have chosen to donate my time to an animal shelter as the talent God gave me is a passion for caring for animals that no one else does. When Jesus arrives on December 25, he will recognize the return on the talent I was given and welcome me into the kingdom of heaven and eternal joy. God gave us all talents and these talents should not be wasted. Use your talent to provide God a return on his investment and provide good to our world.
by Ashley Jackson, Cathedral Member
Matthew 25:31-46 +
Willian Lloyd Garrison, Maria Stewart
Today the Church’s focus shifts from Jesus’ second advent at the end of time, to his first advent as the babe of Bethlehem. Beginning tonight at Evening Prayer an antiphon is recited at the Magnificat, the Song of Mary. Many people know these antiphons, for they are verses of the Advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Take a quick look in the Hymnal 1982, Hymn 56. Each verse is assigned a date. These verses for centuries have been known as the Great O Antiphons, which proclaim a title for the Messiah. The first antiphon comes from the prophet Isaiah (11:2-3; 28:29). O Sapientia: Wisdom.
O come, thou Wisdom from on high, who orderest all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.´(Hymn 56, vs. 2) Divine Wisdom, described as feminine, holds together the vision of God’s divine realm where all people are restored to a right relationship with God. The promised One, the Anointed, saves God’s people. And all creation longs, groans in anticipation of the long promised Redeemer. Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel. To thee, O Louisville. To you, dear child of God.
by the Rt. Rev. Terry White, Bishop of Kentucky
urify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Fourth Sunday of Advent
+ Luke 1:26-38
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” Luke 1:35
hink about the last pregnancy you witnessed. If you were at all close to the parents or grandparents, you know that every small change or development or unusual occurrence suddenly gained great significance. The long months of waiting honed everyone's powers of observation, particularly the mother's! Well, the world is waiting for the birth of the long-expected One, who will bring healing and peace to all who labor and suffer in darkness. We still wait in eager expectation for the one who will lead soldiers to turn their weapons into tractors and hay balers and redirect warriors to schools of peace. The prince of peace came among us as herald of that healed world, and instigator of it. He wasn’t born in a high-end hospital or hotel; he turned up pretty quietly and unobtrusively, in spite of the lofty language of Luke’s Christmas story. He came to poor people, on what passed for a farm, in a nation filled with as much anxiety as Sudan is today. He is still turning up in places like that. Do we have the time to wait and watch? Where will we discover him anew?
From the 2010 Advent message by The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Luke 1:1-25 +
“I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” Luke 1:3-4
In my first-year Greek class in high school, we had advanced far enough to read the second chapter of Luke in its original form. I was struck by the message of hope that the angel, the messenger, brought to the shepherds in the fields. In the first chapter, we see the first good news of Luke’s story that is sent to Theophilus, the lover of God. I love the good news of the gospel and of the Christmas story in particular. The good news of hope and forgiveness is one that resonates, and I love the anticipation of the Advent season. It is different than the anticipation that we experience during Lent. I feel a sort of continuous joy during Advent, a joyful anticipation. We look to the west for the star that heralds the coming of our Savior and Redeemer; the one in whom we will have eternal life. That is the joyful anticipation that Advent holds for me.
by Daniel Mallot, Member @ St. Mark’s
“The angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:28-29
I have a friend who absolutely hates Christmas. Being the good Lutheran I am, I had to ask him why. He said that he hates the fact that Christmas isn’t about the baby Jesus anymore; rather, it’s about commercialized items and a contest of how much crap you can buy on Black Friday. I couldn’t argue with that. He seemed to have lost his faith in humanity that there are decent people who care more about an awesome Christmas present rather than eternal life. Recently, his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. He took it pretty hard. He was at work when he texted me this story: “An old lady noticed that I was a bit down and asked me what was wrong. I said that my grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer. Without missing a beat, she said, ‘I will keep her in my prayers.’ I almost broke down in tears. This old lady restored my hope in humanity”. Advent is all about the hope that Jesus will come again. It’s realizing that he has already come once and will be back again. Use this Advent season to restore your hope in Christ.
by Sarah Billadeau, UL student
Luke 1:39-56 +
Thomas the Apostle
At first, after reading the Gospel for the Feast of St. Thomas and the Magnificat, I struggled to find how either of them could be connected with Advent and its themes: preparation, waiting,stillness, expecting. Both Mary and Thomas seem to believe- really, truly believe beyond a shadow of a doubt- only after they have experienced an encounter with Christ; Thomas believes after he sees and touches Jesus and it is only after Mary goes to Elizabeth, who immediately understands what is happening with her cousin, that she realizes the full weight of her responsibility. Can we honestly blame them? Can we truthfully say that we would have reacted differently? Even though we are told that those who have not seen Christ and believe are blessed,itâ€™s a hard pill to swallow that the child you are carrying is the Messiah, or that the beloved leader who was dead has resurrected. So how is this related to Advent? How can experience be related to expectation? They were prepared. They were prepared to recognize when they experienced Christ in the world. Mary could see that Elizabeth spoke the truth when she said the mother of her Lord had come to see her. For Thomas, it was the mark of the nails. Will we recognize the signs? Are we prepared to see Christ in our world? How about in ourselves and others?
This is Bethâ€™s icon of St. Thomas, created with our youth group
by Beth Strickland, New Seed Intern & Choir Member
Charlotte Digges (Lottie) Moon, Henry Budd
+ Luke 1:57-66
Both of the people who are saints (little s!) of this day did work in social justice, thousands of miles apart in environments that could not have been more opposite. Lottie Moon was a missionary in China with her sister and Henry Budd was the first ordained native American, eventually converting many in the Cree nation in Canada. I feel bad passing Henry by, but I want to address this woman who was headstrong and passionate in a time when women were docile and submissive. I had not heard of Lottie before this either. As soon as I read that she was Baptist in Virginia, I asked my mom, who grew up Baptist in Virginia, if she had heard of Lottie Moon. She proceeded to rattle off many of the facts from the webpage Canon Amy linked in her email. So much for one-upping my mother. What struck me most was the strength of her convictions and burning need for action immediately apparent in the short biography. Lottie wrote “Can we wonder at the mortal weariness and disgust, the sense of wasted powers and the conviction that her life is a failure, that comes over a woman when, instead of the ever broadening activities that she had planned, she finds herself tied down to the petty work of teaching a few girls?” Lottie had plans. Just teaching girls was petty work, not enough for her.
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Book of Common Prayer,
The webpage also mentions her initial repulsion at the Chinese and her refusal to assimilate, if you will, to the culture and customs she lived under. She saw the people she served as heathens. I find the juxtaposition of her desire to serve the Lord and her disdain of the Chinese fascinating. This is why I included the above prayer in this reflection: it includes grace for both the people being served and the one who is called by God to serve. The themes of Advent are preparing, waiting, expecting, hoping, and anticipation. It seems like Lottie did not suffer Advent gladly. She preferred action to waiting, doing to hoping, immediacy to anticipation. She may have been better suited to 2011, with the advent of instant information and lightening fast results, before she eventually opened space in her heart to the timing and direction of God that made her such an effective missionary. Try this: instead of having the radio always on if you’re in the car by yourself or your headphones stuffed in wherever you go, use this “alone time” to create space in your heart in anticipation and expectation of the coming of Jesus by reflecting on the plans He may by Karen D’Angelo, New Seeds Intern have for you outside of your own plans for yourself.
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
I happened to read Zechariah’s song before going through and reading the whole chapter, and Zechariah’s response struck me as quite odd given the unfolding events that led to his exclamation of praise. Zechariah was chosen to burn incense in the temple, when an angel appears and proclaims that his wife will bear a son. Zechariah asks if this can be true as they are old and have been barren – to which the angel rebukes him, and causes him to be mute for 9 months. I look at this story and think, “Zechariah asked a pretty legitimate question; why is he given this rebuke?” Supposing that we come up with plausible answers to this question, I think we can all agree that making Zechariah mute for 9 months is much harsher than what seems fair. Yet, he did not let these thoughts enter his mind; he fought bitterness with thoughts of hope and praise. Like Zechariah, we can look at the births of John and Jesus, and know that our God is for us. Life may be unfair, but God has demonstrated is love for us by sending his son for our salvation. (Eph. 4:31-32).
by Jacob McGill
Eve of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord
+ Matthew 1:18-25
“Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Matthew 1:19-20
“I never struggled with injury problems because of my preparation - in particular my stretching.” ~ Edwin Moses This advent has been a season of spiritual stretching. We each reflect differently on our lives and our futures, developing our own plans for preparing to accept Christ. Joseph needed stretching before running his spiritual marathon. This season has been our stretch for our marathon, a marathon of keeping Christ in our hearts and minds throughout the year.
by Catherine Lee, UL student & Cathedral Member
the word became flesh and dwelt among us
God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. - Collect for the Nativity of Our Lord
From St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Oakwood, GA: Did you know Christmas is not just one day of the year? Following the 4 weeks of preparation in Advent, the Christmas season begins with the Christ Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord (Dec. 25th). Traditionally, Christians have understood the day to begin at Sunset, and since Jesus’ birthday has been understood to have been at night (O Holy Night, Silent Night), it became customary to observe the feast on the evening of the 24th. Then follows 12 days of the Christmas season during which we proclaim the unique nature of our God - that God does not stand aloof from us, but fully enters into our lives. During Christmas, we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, a name that means "God with us". The Christmas season lasts until Jan. 5th or “Twelfth Night” and is followed by the Feast and season of Epiphany. The color used for Christmas liturgies is white, symbolizing purity, joy, and hope.
According to Book of Feasts and Seasons by Joanna Bogle "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was used as a form of catechism from the 1550s to the 1820s. Children were taught Christian doctrine in this way: First Day - Partridge - God or Christ Second Day - Turtle Doves - Old and New Testaments Third Day - French Hens - Faith, Hope, and Charity Fourth Day - Calling Birds - Four Gospels Fifth Day - Golden Rings - First five books of Old Testament, the Torah Sixth Day - Geese a laying - Six days of Creation Seventh Day - Swans a swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (from Isaiah 4:2 - wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety and fear of God) Eighth Day - Maids a milking - Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) Ninth Day - Ladies dancing - Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (from Galatians 5:22 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) Tenth Day - Lords a leaping - Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) Eleventh Day - Pipers piping - Eleven faithful disciples (Acts 1:13) Twelfth Day - Drummers drumming - Twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed
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