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 01: Making Room for Christmas …

The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: “you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. We can imagine the kind of interior preparation, the kind of love with which Mary approached that hour. The brief phrase: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes” allows us to glimpse something of the holy joy and the silent zeal of that preparation. The swaddling clothes were ready, so that the child could be given a fitting welcome. Yet there is no room at the inn. In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near. But when the moment comes, there is no room for him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others – for his neighbour, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others. Continue reading “Advent Day 01: Making Room for Christmas …”

For Those Who Have Far to Travel (A Blessing for Epiphany) …

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not. Continue reading “For Those Who Have Far to Travel (A Blessing for Epiphany) …”

The Work Of Christmas (New Years Meditation) …

“The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 5) I love the confident note of hope this verse sounds. On the one hand, it is the declaration of a state of fact: light is stronger than darkness. At the same time, it is also a promise: even when it seems otherwise – and even the briefest scan of the headlines can make it seem otherwise – yet the light continues to shine and the darkness has neither overcome nor understood it …  Continue reading “The Work Of Christmas (New Years Meditation) …”

God With Us (Christmas Meditation) …

Because when all is said and done,
the last word is Immanuel — God With Us.
— Isaiah 8:10, The Message

Continue reading “God With Us (Christmas Meditation) …”

Seeking the Light: Advent Prayers …

Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place.
— Edward Hays from A Pilgrim’s Almanac

Continue reading “Seeking the Light: Advent Prayers …”