Monday, December 23, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Baruch 4: 36 – 5:9 
Psalm 45, 46
Galatians 3:23 – 4:7  
Matthew 1: 18 – 25 

Differences are what make us unique and give all of creation its beauty but differences can make us afraid, judgemental and can distract us from seeing the common spark of the Divine in each of us. It is very easy for me to watch the daily news and give in to fear as I see who our world leaders are and what they are doing. However, that is exactly what they want, for us to be fearful, to be so afraid of each other and out differences, that we become willing pawns, even participants, in building walls and fighting wars.

The only way to cast out this fear is with love. The love that sees beyond the differences that make us afraid cannot come from our fearful human hearts but is a love that “passes all our understanding”. Like forgiveness, it is a gift that we can only give as we open ourselves to receive it from God through Christ.

“In Christ, there is no male or female...”, young or old, gay or straight, Canada or USA...In Christ, there is no “us versus them”. As The Common Cup sings, we need to “draw the circle wide, draw it wider still” and include all differences including the ones that we don't understand and that make us afraid.

Though I can absolutely see and love the beauty in every snowflake that is different, I cannot, without God's help, see and love every different facet of humanity especially what I see and judge as immoral, even evil. However, with God all things are possible so I pray that this Christmas, Christ's love can be born in and through me in a way that overcomes and transmutes this fear so that I can somehow serve as an instrument of peace and love even when facing what makes me afraid.

Nancy Scott

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

Baruch 4: 21 – 29  
Psalm 93, 96
Galatians 3:15 – 22  
Luke 1: 67 – 80 

In Jan Richardson’s, In Wisdom’s Path (2000), she likens Advent to a cave season – a time of hibernation during which “we turn inward, … we open ourselves to God [and] we are met by One who will be a companion in the mystery and the darkness.”  As we recall the larger context of Luke 1:67-80, Zechariah was banished to the cave of his heart when the Angel Gabriel struck Zechariah deaf and mute (Luke 1:20) in response to his astonishment and disbelief at the Angel’s announcement that Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth would bear a son to be named John (Luke 1:11-13).  Poor Zachariah, all he could do was watch Elizabeth go through her nine months of pregnancy, and how did this couple communicate?  In writing, through visuals, via hand signs??  As Zachariah silently watched the growth of their child, he was likely also pondering the signs of God emerging quietly from the cave of his heart.  Luke 1:67-80 is called the Canticle of Zachariah or the Benedictus because it proclaims the spirit-filled song of gratitude and praise to God that poured out from Zachariah’s lips when the child was finally born and named John.  As we prepare to move out of our own Advent hibernation and into the Birth of Divine Light that Christmas represents, what signs of God are emerging from the cave of our hearts?  And what words of gratitude and praise will pour from our lips?

Cate McBurney

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2 Samuel 7: 18 – 29  
Psalm 80
Galatians 3: 1 – 14  
Luke1: 57 – 66

The prophecy foretold by the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah about the birth of a son by his wife Elizabeth was deeply profound.  Zechariah was filled with doubt as his wife was past the age of conceiving.  Due to his clear misgivings and apprehension at the Angel's words, Gabriel pronounced that Zechariah would be unable to speak until the day of his child's birth.

The prophecy claimed that the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth would bring them great joy and gladness---and this joy would be shared by many and that John will be great in the sight of the Lord.  In contrast, Elizabeth firmly believed the Angel's words and prepared herself for the birth of the child.  Elizabeth went into seclusion for five months saying ---this is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.   

As John was the name chosen and spoken of by the Angel Gabriel, Elizabeth and Zechariah agreed and respected this choice of name.  To further cement the importance of the name given to his son, Zechariah had a tablet created in which John's name was written and immediately his mouth was opened.

Although Zechariah expressed doubt at the possibility of the birth of a son I believe that it was the message of the Divine Light that allowed them to overcome their fear and apprehension and accept the prophecy.  

Beulah Walcott

Friday, December 20, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

2 Samuel 7: 1 – 17 
Psalm 72
Titus 2:11 – 3:8a  
Luke 1: 39 – 48

“Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field.” Ps. 72:16

This verse from Psalm 72 kindled childhood memories of growing up in Brandon, Mb in the “Wheat City”. I was blessed to live in a time when I was free to spend hours outside; roaming through the fields and pastures. I remember the delight of the bright and open blue sky; brilliant sunlight, swaying prairie grasses and the seas of golden wheat.

Farmers sow seed, plough, plant and harvest. They endure through endless seasons of barren ground, seeded soil and new growth. The crops need not only the right balance of nature’s elements; sunlight, rain, well prepared soil etc. but also depend on the commitment and labour of the farmers and fieldworkers. So much effort but imagine the harvest! The hungry are fed through the farmers’ labors and by God’s providence. Some good years of bounty and some pretty hard and dry with little yield. But the farmer perseveres and just keeps on working. This is their calling.

We too are called to be in and to keep working in the vineyard; the Kingdom of God here on earth. We are called to find and keep a balance by scripture study, praying, and to listen in silence for the voice of God; to listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. And out of this silence we too grow and will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit as we live through and work through all the seasons of our own lives.

May the Divine Light shine in and through you this Advent season and always.

Rhonda Cross

Friday, December 20, 2019

1 Samuel 2:1b – 10  
Psalm 66, 67
Titus 2: 1 – 10  
Luke 1: 26 – 38 

When the angel visits Mary with a powerful invitation to her from God I like to imagine that this young woman of deep faith, sitting quietly in her room, becomes aware of a radiant divine light of joy encompassing her.  A deep feeling of God’s unconditional love enfolds her, offering hope and reassurance that “all will be well” despite her “earthly” concerns.   Light and love fills her soul, giving her courage to say “yes” to the mystery of the unknown; “yes” to the birth of God’s Son within her; “yes” to sharing in the joy of God’s plan of salvation.   

How can we, too, say “yes” to God so that we can be more alive and aware of that same divine light and limitless love growing within us as we journey deeper in relationship with God?

When I take time to practice patience and “wait” in silence and stillness I realize God is born anew in me each day:

I listen for and hear God’s “music” within me and others; 
I let go of being in control and open myself completely to God, warts and all, knowing that I am always precious in God’s sight;
I learn to trust without asking “why” knowing that God is always with me despite my fears;

May we each find time daily to be still, to wait, to delight with God and, like Mary, to say “yes” to God’s birth in us!

Margaret Macmillan   

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Zephaniah 3: 14 – 20  
Psalm 61, 62
Titus 1: 1 – 16  
Luke 1: 1 – 25 

The Bible reports and interprets significant happenings.  Whereas all of them are significant, the most important to our faith are those that relate to Jesus Christ, God-incarnate.  They are not abstractions or theories or pantheistic generalities, but concrete, actual events localized in time and space.  Long before Christmas, even with creation itself, God revealed God-self in omnipotent action.  At Christmas, through the Christ of Christmas, God became visible before humankind and began to relate to people in redeeming love.
It means that Christians don’t have to go about telling tales about some doctrine of ‘salvation’, but in proclaiming Christ may present a living, personal salvation for individual mean and women about them.  This is the central miracle of
Christianity---the Incarnation.  It was towards this, the Incarnation, that everything moved until its accomplishment, finding fulfillment and explanation.  It is from this, the Incarnation,  that all subsequent movements have proceeded, depending upon it for direction and dynamics.  ‘Blessed is she who believed,’ said Elizabeth concerning Mary, who was to be the mother of God-incarnate.  ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,’ is our Lord’s word to us who live a couple of thousand years on this side of the great Christmas, Easter and Pentecost happenings.  As Christians we believe, by the grace of God, that these happenings are more significant than anything else in life.

Sue House

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Genesis 3: 8 – 15  
Psalm 24, 29
Revelation 12:1–10 
John 3: 16 – 21 

Today’s texts for Morning Prayer offer larger-than-life archetypal images depicting the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness.  These texts are not to be taken literally, of course.  But they remind us that Christmas is our celebration of God’s light born into the world.  

God is the light inside of everything.  We, too, in all of our littleness and ordinariness, are God’s light in the world.  We, too, are called to shine our light into broken places.
My daughter Ellen, for instance, was a tiny woman who had a severe developmental disability.  She was a silent person who was aware of everything going on around her.  Though quite little, Ellen took up a lot of space.  She was small but shone a strong light.

I remember going with Ellen and her L’Arche assistants to an appointment with her neurologist.  First, we were interviewed by a resident physician who hadn’t met Ellen before.  He was tense and stiff, asking us questions about her as though she wasn’t in the room and nervously avoiding eye contact with her.  Meanwhile, Ellen stood directly across the room from him, silently watching, taking in his anxiety.  Then she began to walk towards him, and the resident blurted out anxiously, “What does she want? What is she going to do?”  I said, “She wants to kiss your hand.”  And, with a chuckle, she did just that.  The resident relaxed.

Usually, it is the doctor who is called to ease the fears of the patient.  But we can all, in our ordinariness and in our littleness, shine a light that casts out fear.

Barbara Sheppard