Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
John 14: 27

Perhaps fear is the opposite of hope.  Fear shows us what we are afraid of losing.  But fear also invites us to touch our vulnerability, our fear itself, and put these in God’s hands.

My daughter Ellen was a tiny person with disabilities.  She lived her last twelve years joyously in a L’Arche community, and L’Arche held us both throughout her dying.  It was about four weeks into her final stay at Toronto Western Hospital that we met again with her caring medical team, this time to discuss palliative care. It felt unreal.

After the meeting I took a walk through Kensington market.  It was an early fall morning, and shop
keepers were just beginning to open up.  

I came across a young man sitting on the concrete in front of a little food shop, leaning against the wall, holding a baby bird cupped in his hands.  I walked over to see and sat down.  He said he’d found the bird on the ground where he’d slept last night.  It must have fallen from a tree.  It was quiet and still, and the boy tenderly stroked its feathers with a finger.  We talked.  He asked if I’d like to hold the little bird.

I held her as with a kiss. She was beautiful and she was dying. I was surprised by a welling of tenderness and hope.

Hope is about trust.  We risk reaching out to others, letting ourselves touch and be touched.  Hope is about turning from our small troubled selves toward Love and Mystery, knowing our need of God and each other.  But most of all, hope is God’s gift.

– Barbara Sheppard

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Psalm 130

I have a favourite a book of quotes from the philosopher Cornell West. He wields dancing, jazz-built words, a fierce sense of history, and a huge range of ideas to exhort Americans, especially black Americans, to live lives – and to demand lives -- of justice, love and hope. Like a shot of energy each time I crack it open, this book I keep close is called Hope on a Tightrope.

There is no chapter titled Hope in this book.  There are chapters on Courage, Faith, Wisdom, Family, Love and Service, Philosophy, Identity and Race.  Yet the book is about finding Hope in troubled times. And those chapter headings gather Professor West’s thoughts on Courage, Faith, Wisdom, and all the rest as sources of Hope. These, he says, are places of renewal, stillness and centering before moving on up the frayed rope of western democracy, into the swaying future. These are antidotes to the rush and selfishness and chaos of contemporary life.

Psalm 130 begins in that place of chaos.  The psalmist’s tightrope sways wildly as she considers her disobedience. It stills for a moment when she considers God’s forgiveness, and shivers again as she considers the connection between forgiveness and humility, giftedness and self-giving, reverence and action. What to do? How to walk the tightrope? How to keep confident and open and surefooted?
The answer is to wait. Wait. Stand still and wait for the dawn of redemption. Wait and fully receive the unfailing love of the Lord. Wait for that. Be filled with that. Put your hope there. Then walk on, walk on.

- Julie Poskitt

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016
Luke 18: 35 - 43

As we begin our Advent journey towards Christmas I think it is appropriate that we begin with the theme of Hope. Without Hope the other themes of Peace, Joy and Love would be much more difficult to maintain. Perhaps you might wonder why I chose this passage of Scripture for a meditation on Hope at Christmas.  Hearing it at a service recently it struck me that it had a lot to tell us about the quality of Hope. Without hope the blind man would never have approached Jesus for help. Unlike just wishing for something, perhaps unrealistic, or magical it is based on something more tangible. The blind beggar must have heard stories of Jesus' healing people. He must have believed this was no ordinary man passing by. He must have heard that Jesus cared for people like him and despite the resistance of the people around him he had hope that his persistence would be heard.

As we travel on this Advent journey let us be open to see and hear those signs of Hope that are all around us. Let us be persistent in looking for the good news events that happen every day.  Where is God working in the world?  There is so much that seems disheartening in today's news and yet if we are open to them there are "slivers of gold" among the "patches of gray". (John Bell)

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15: 13)

- Jean Gandon

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent 1 – HOPE
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Matthew 24: 36 - 44

The Collect: Almighty God, give (me) grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light.

The lazy days of Summer are over, and Autumn is now here.  We read the signs, feel the change, and
see that the days are getting shorter.  There seems to be an urgency.  Advent is here, and the beginning of a new Christian New Year. This is a season of Hope, of Love, of Joy, and of Peace.

In Matthew 24:43 we are asked to “Keep awake for you do not know on what day your Lord in coming” or in the Letter to the Romans “Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep for salvation is near, the day is near.” (Romans 13:11-14) or in Isaiah, “teach us his ways that we may walk in his paths...come let us walk in the light of the Lord.”(Isaiah 2: 1-5)

Year after year we are given this invitation.  Isn’t it wonderful that we are gifted with more than one chance to see, feel, hear, smell, and yes, taste Christ in our lives anew.  This gives me Hope.  Ask yourself “How is Christ being born anew in my life in each and every moment?”  For me this is not a one time event that happened over 2000 years ago or at my Baptism or Confirmation. It is happening at every moment if only I am awake, slow down, become aware and live each moment with intention.  I am asked to savour the moment! But I am also asked to respond in Love, with Joy and in Peace, that I may learn from Christ’s ways, that I may walk in Christ’s paths and to walk in the light of the Lord.

From the dust we were created and from dust we will return, but we also have the promise of eternal life through the birth of Christ anew in my Life...Alleluia - what HOPE.  Dear Lord, help me keep ever watchful, ready.

- Sr. Dorothy Handrigan, SSJD

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dedication and Forward

Reflections will  be posted daily starting on 
Sunday, November 27th. 

With grateful hearts 
these Advent Reflections 
are offered to
the Glory of God,
and to the extended 
SSJD family of 
Associates, Oblates & 
and many friends,
in thanksgiving for
for our companionship
in Christ.

“Grace to you and peace –
 I always thank God because I hear of your love 
for all the saints and your faith in the Lord Jesus.”
Philemon 1: 3-4

This year’s cover art is the work of one of our Oblates, and reminds us of the intricate patterns found in the artwork of The Book of Kells or the Lindisfarne Gospels. The knot is a vivid, visual example of the Celtic peoples love for creation, and of their profound understanding of the inter-connectedness of the created order. These illuminations, as they are known, are made up of individual yet interwoven strands, forming a compelling image that speaks of both wholeness and interdependence.  In the same way that a strong cord is made up of many strands so too is the fabric of our lives. Woven out of the many strands including faith, family, vocation, community, and gifts, they intersect in multiple ways, giving shape to who we are, beloved creations of God.  These ancient designs are metaphors for our Christian journey. As the individual strands meander back and forth, they may follow paths we might not have expected. Some parts of the path may seem predictable, dull even, but we may also encounter some surprises. The blessing for us is that there are no dead-ends, for if we follow the path, it will always lead us back to the Source. During Advent, we’re invited to make an interior journey.

This year, the Advent season lasts a full four weeks, ample time to set about preparing the way for the coming of the Christ Child - into the world and into our hearts.  These daily reflections are an invitation to experience more fully the true Advent gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love as we seek to embrace the One who knows and loves us best. 

It is our prayer that these little embers, the lectio of our lives, will provide food for the journey. Written by 22 Oblates and 6 Sisters, these daily offerings include a suggested reading. We welcome your company as the stories of our lives intersect with the larger story - born for - and in us, once more.