Advent Day 29: Christmas Day – Where the Light Begins …

Song: Emmanuel
Album: God He Reigns (Hillsong Worship)

A Prayer for Christmas

God, give us eyes this Christmas
to see the Christmas star,
And give us ears to hear the song
of angels from afar …
And with our eyes and ears attuned
for a message from above,
Let Christmas angels speak to us
of hope and faith and love —
Hope to light our pathway
when the way ahead is dark,
Hope to sing through stormy days
with the sweetness of a lark,
Faith to trust in things unseen
and know beyond all seeing
That it is in our Father’s love
we live and have our being,
And love to break down barriers
of color, race, and creed,
Love to see and understand
and help all those in need.
— Helen Steiner Rice from The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice

A Blessing for Christmas

Perhaps it does not begin.
Perhaps it is always.

Perhaps it takes
a lifetime
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us— Continue reading “Advent Day 29: Christmas Day – Where the Light Begins …”

Advent Day 28: Silent Night, Holy Night (Christmas Eve) …

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
— Isaiah 9.2

All grace comes precisely from nowhere—from silence and emptiness, if you prefer—which is what makes it grace. It is both you and yet so much greater than you at the same time, which is probably why believers chose both uprushing fountains (John 7:38) and downrushing doves (Matthew 3:16) as metaphors for this universal and grounding experience of spiritual encounter. Sometimes it is an uprush and sometimes it is a downrush, but it is always from a silence that is larger than you, surrounds you, and finally names the deeper truth of the full moment that is you. I call such a way of knowing the contemplative way of knowing, as did much of the older tradition. (The word “prayer” has been so consistently trivialized to refer to something you do, instead of something that is done to you, with you, in you, and as you.) Then, like Mary, you are ready to give birth. You are ready for Christmas … Continue reading “Advent Day 28: Silent Night, Holy Night (Christmas Eve) …”

Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …

The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness.  God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17.  The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued.  The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27)  always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics.  You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it.  You sit still and it alights on your shoulder.  Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas

Giving and Receiving

This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others … Continue reading “Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …”

Advent Day 26: Journey from Darkness into Light …

The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars …
— Lawrence M. Krauss from A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing

We are always on a journey from darkness into light. At first, we are children of the darkness. Your body and your face were formed first in the kind darkness of your mother’s womb. Your birth was a first journey from darkness into light. All your life, your mind lives within the darkness of your body. Every thought that you have is a flint moment, a spark of light from your inner darkness. The miracle of thought is its presence in the night side of your soul; the brilliance of thought is born in darkness. Each day is a journey. We come out of the night into the day. All creativity awakens at this primal threshold where light and darkness test and bless each other. You only discover balance in your life when you learn to trust the flow of this ancient rhythm. The year also is a journey with the same rhythm. The Celtic people had a deep sense of the circular nature of our journey. We come out of the darkness of winter into the possibility and effervescence of springtime.

Continue reading “Advent Day 26: Journey from Darkness into Light …”

Advent Day 25: The Longest Night …

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!
— Apollon Maykov

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

Continue reading “Advent Day 25: The Longest Night …”

Advent Day 24: Alpha and Omega …

I am making the whole of creation new. . . . It will come true. . . . It is already done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
— Revelation 21:5-6

Is this Jesus of Nazareth speaking here or Someone Else? Whoever it is, is offering an optimistic arc to all of history, and it is not just the humble Galilean carpenter. This is much more than a mere “religious message”; it is also a historical and cosmic one. It declares a definite trajectory where there is coherence between the beginning and the ending of all things. It offers humanity hope and vision. History now appears to have a direction and a purpose; it is not just a series of isolated events!
— Richard Rohr adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Original Post: Daily MeditationsContinue reading “Advent Day 24: Alpha and Omega …”

Advent Day 23: Embracing The Mystery …

The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty. A human life is worth as much as the respect it holds for the mystery. We retain the child in us to the extent that we honor the mystery. Therefore, children have open, wide-awake eyes, because they know that they are surrounded by the mystery. They are not yet finished with this world; they still don’t know how to struggle along and avoid the mystery, as we do. We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery…. Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them. Continue reading “Advent Day 23: Embracing The Mystery …”

Advent Day 22: Not A Competition …

Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.
― Mother Teresa from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
— Maya Angelou from Amazing Peace

Continue reading “Advent Day 22: Not A Competition …”

Advent Day 21: Transcending Violence …

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
— Isaiah 9:6.

The goal of transcending violence is advanced by the capacity to generate, mobilize, and build the moral imagination. This faculty rests on four capacities:

  • Moral imagination requires the capacity to imagine ourselves in a web of relationships, one that includes even our enemies.
  • It requires the ability to embrace complexity without getting caught up in social schism.
  • It requires a commitment to the creative act.
  • It requires an acceptance of the risk that necessarily goes along with attempts to transcend violence.

Continue reading “Advent Day 21: Transcending Violence …”