Christmas Eve – 2017

“For as the Virgin’s womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord, so we mortals are worthy to bear Christ in the world. Our waiting in our own periods of gestation bears the fruit of her womb then, now, and to come.” ((McSpadden, Christine. What Are You Waiting For? (Kindle Locations 858-860). Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.))

The long Advent wait is done. The feast of the birth of the Lord Jesus is now. As we begin the wondrous season of Christmas I am reminded that in a certain way a new process of waiting and discovery has begun.

During the next 12 days of Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Lord Emmanuel. Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. The Christ continues to be born in us today. From the moment the Word is planted in our hearts, the long process of gestation has begun. As each day and year go by, we pray the Lord be more fully manifest through us and our lives.

What marvelous things will God’s Word bring forth now?

Tonight and through out the Christmas season I will make my prayer:

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray;                                                                         cast out our sins and enter in, be born in us today.                                                                        We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;                                                               O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.     (O little town of Bethlehem)

Merry Christmas,

Fr. Dave

 

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Advent 4 – Sunday

“‘I think about what Winnie the Pooh says in A. A. Milne’s first classic volume: “‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”” ((McSpadden, Christine. What Are You Waiting For? (Kindle Locations 673-676). Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.))

The word Pooh was looking for was anticipation. That was what Winnie loved best even though he did not know its name.

We have come to the sweetest day of Advent. The final hours before the arrival of Christmas are to be savored and stretched as long as possible. Anticipation is often more enjoyable than that which we look forward to. This mornings worship will continue to be filled with Advent hymns which sing of longing and anticipation. Tonight’s worship will be filled with Christmas hymns and carols; music of joy and fulfillment.

Before the frenzied activity of Christmas is upon us, take this morning to be quiet and enjoy the full taste and feel of this moment. The Christ Child is ready to be born anew in you tonight.

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Advent 3 – Saturday

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city,
the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven….
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See the throne of God is among mortals. He will dwell with
them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself
will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will
be no more, for the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4

As we draw near to Christmas the scriptural images of Jesus’ second coming grow bolder. In the images of something new on the horizon, what stood out for you in today’s readings? What thought, word, or phrase caught your attention? Once you have gathered these together, what idea do they call to your attention? Pack this notion in your back pocket and reflect on it as opportunity arises today.

Because Christmas is on Monday, this years Advent season is the shortest possible. Our book of reflections is a little out of sync with where we find ourselves in relationship with Christmas Day. Our author, Christine McSpadden, has written assuming we have another entire week of anticipation to go. In fact, we only have until sundown tomorrow. That is because religious festivals are observed using the older concept of the new day beginning at sundown.

What has caught my attention this morning is our assumption that we have time to prepare, when often the event we know is coming is likely to arrive unexpectedly. The events of life and God’s Kairos time are not respecters of our schedules, time management practices (or lack there of), or preparation. I am reminded that Christmas, the coming of Jesus into our lives, can happen at anytime, and at all times.

There is so much we tend to place on the back burner because there is plenty of time. I’ll get to the dishes before I need them again. That report is not due until the end of the month, there is plenty of time. I’ll tell my special person that I love them tomorrow. There is plenty of time for me to get my spiritual life in order.

The season of Advent is the season of the year that honors active waiting, not procrastination. As we wait we are to do the work of waiting, allowing God’s Spirit to form us and prompt us to be prepared.

Today I feel called to ask myself, with just 36 hours left before the new arrival of Jesus the Christ in the festival of His birth, what is left to be taken care of?

Fr. Dave

 

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Advent 3 – Friday

Or do you not know that your bodies are temples of the
Holy Spirit, within you, which you have from God,
and that you are not your own? – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Although this is Friday in the third week of Advent, there are only two days till Christmas. This is because Christmas falls on Monday of next week. That makes Sunday, the fourth in Advent, also the morn of Christmas eve. There are only two more Advent mornings to reflect on the coming of Christ. There are also only two days left to prepare for Christmas morning. This mornings reading is very timely.

With less than 60 hours to go before sundown Christmas Eve, what thought, word, or phrase stood out for you from our reading? Take a moment to write a one or two word description of these on a pad. Once you have done that, take a moment to look at these and ask yourself what thoughts they may bring to your mind. Hang on to these today. Reflect on them. They may open new doors to Christmas for you.

I was captivated by the reminder that we are neither purely physical or spiritual beings. We are physical creatures of earth enlivened by the breath of God breathed into us. Our ancestors in the faith of Abraham believed it was the combination of flesh and the spirit of God that made us living, breathing souls.

As I turn my mind toward Christmas our author’s words remind me that we share something profound with the baby Jesus. That is the uniting of the elements of earth and the breath of God in our being. In Jesus, God comes to us through the same media we came into this world; flesh, blood and spirit.

I will spend today reflecting on the holiness of an existence we share with the baby Jesus.

Fr. Dave

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Advent 3 – Thursday

Keep on doing the things that you have learned
and received and heard and seen in me,
and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:9

Sit back, take a deep breath and ask yourself what thoughts, words, or ideas stood out for you in our reading. Take a moment to name these somethings and jot those names down. What thought are these fragments dragging behind them? Reflect on these as you begin your day.

I was captivated by these words, “As we mature, the pathways most used develop more and become stronger—like a grooved track.” (McSpadden, Christine. What Are You Waiting For? (Kindle Location 589). Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.)

They have reminded me of the old turntable we still have connected to our stereo amplifier. We cleaned house and gave our vinyl records away a long time ago. I am not sure why we still have the turntable, other than as a mnemonic device.

I still remember our favorite old records that had become scratched. Despite the scratches we were reluctant to let them go. Instead, when ever the needle came to a scratch we compensated by placing a little pressure on the arm. That pressure helped the needle ignore the scratch and stay in the groove.

This weeks chapter is entitled “Learning.” There is no shortage of things to learn in this life. Some of these things help us to grow into what God is calling us to become. Other things take us down blind alley’s something like a scratch on one of our old records. Choosing which of these to focus on is a life choice.

For me, Paul’s advice to keep doing the things that we have received in the faith are ways for us to keep a little pressure on the needle of life, thus helping to keep us in the Gospel grove.

Fr. Dave

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Advent 3 – Wednesday

Therefore since we are justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through
whom we have obtained access to this grace in which
we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the
glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast
in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope. – Romans 5:1-4

We are getting very close to the end of this season of waiting. These reflections on waiting may have begun to push our patience a little. If so, it is even more important for us to consciously pause and ask ourselves “what stood out in the reading for me?” And then take a few minutes to reflect a bit.

I was caught by the following words, “patience isn’t just about waiting; it’s about how one waits.” (McSpadden, Christine. What Are You Waiting For? (Kindle Locations 565-566). Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.)

I have to confess I have not always waited with grace. Many times my patience has run a little short. These were the times I became short with the people around me and especially the ones trying to be of help. Sometimes when the waiting became to costly in personal energy I was tempted to abandon the wait and take a short cut or give up all together. I imagine I am not the only one to have experienced this.

The notion that the Japanese principle of kaizen may be helpful in that place of waiting is fascinating. This is the process of gradual and continual good change used in many of their manufacturing enterprises. If we were able to step back from our need for large steps and visible progress toward our goals and accept a fluid process, the space between “then” and “now” could be a great deal more comfortable for us.

On this Wednesday of Advent we wait for at least two things. The first is the coming of the festival of Christmas season.  It is worth anticipating. We also wait for the next coming of Christ into our lives. That coming is often a fluid process in which Jesus becomes more fully incarnate in our hearts. It can be a gradual and continual process of good changes within us and our lives. This is absolutely worth anticipating. It is even worth savoring.

Fr. Dave

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Advent 3 – Monday

You received without payment;
give without payment. – Matthew 10:8b

What stood out for you in this mornings reading? What thought, word, or phrase caught your attention as it quickly passed by? Take a moment to simply dwell with that notion. These fleeting notions often have the possibility of opening windows of rich reflection.

I was captivated by our author’s words “give back in some way, focusing on needs outside myself.”

One of the dangers of waiting for any prolonged period of time is that our attention begins to turn inward. Soon we become preoccupied with what was promised but not yet delivered, anticipated but not yet arrived. This soon gives way to a sense of being wronged. One might even begin to feel victimized. Before this goes on too long our world closes in and the only theme left to contemplate is ourselves and what has or has not come our way.

I would guess that all of us have been to this place at least once in our lives. It might be that when we do, we have not been using the waiting for all it’s worth. The book we have been journeying through this Advent suggests that waiting can be a holy activity. An activity in which God is active and the doors of growth are being prepared to open for us.

Maybe using waiting as a time to focus outside of ourselves and giving back is a way to free up those windows.

Fr. Dave

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