Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Amos 5: 18 – 27  
Psalm 20, 21:1 – 8 
Jude 17 – 25 
Matthew 22.15 – 22

Light represents life. God is light and He gives life. The wise men followed a light that led to Jesus. Some people see light during meditation. There have been many reports of people being legally dead and brought back to life and after recovery, they talk about having seen and been drawn toward a bright light.

As a pilot, I have encountered many strange things in my career. On one flight, we were flying at night in cloud under the direction of a radar controller on the ground. In this environment, one sees nothing but a dark gray wall around the aircraft.

Suddenly, we had a large bright light directly in front of us. There was no way to tell how big it was, but it filled about a quarter of one side of the windshield. We turned in both directions, but it moved to stay in front of us. We asked the ground controller if he saw anything on radar in front us and he said there was nothing anywhere near us. Ten to fifteen minutes later, it suddenly got bigger and came straight at us. Finally, it moved and passed us close to our right wing tip, rocking our aircraft. Again, we asked the controller if he saw anything in our vicinity and he said ‘no’.  Celestial?  As a crew, we decided that we could not tell anyone about this because no one would believe us.

As Christians, we cannot be in the dark about events that happen in the world. We must be the light that shines in the darkness. When we pray, we seek light not darkness, because the light sees us.

Nora Bottomley

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday, December 6, 2019

Detail of a miniature of St Nicholas;
from the Melisende Psalter, Jerusalem, 1131-1143, 
Egerton MS 1139, f. 209r.

Amos 5: 1 – 17 
Psalm 16, 17
Jude 1 – 16 
Matthew 22: 1 – 14

December 6th is the Feast Day for St. Nicholas. Since my husband is from the Netherlands, we have always celebrated this holiday. St. Nicholas was one of the most popular saints in the early church. He dedicated his life to serving God.  He obeyed Jesus’ words to “Sell what you have and give the money to the poor,” and he used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.  In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas is known as “Sinterklaas,” and he rides through the streets on a white horse to determine if the children he meets have been well behaved. The children put carrots and apples in their wooden shoes for the horse. The next morning, they find chocolate letters, cookies and some gifts.
The Feast of St. Nicholas is about giving rather than receiving for “It is in giving that we receive.” Christmas then is a holy day reserved for the celebration of the birth of Christ and not a day centered on the opening of gifts.
The Season of Advent is the time when Christians prepare to greet Jesus who comes into our lives each day. It is a time of longing and quiet reflection, not celebration. 
St. Nicholas is a good Advent saint.  It is said that he did many amazing things; but it is how he did these things that matters. Nicholas became popular because he was such a faithful follower of Jesus. His life clearly reflects the way each of us is called to show God’s love to others, especially those in need.

M. Lynne van der Hiel

Detail of a miniature of St Nicholas; from the Melisende Psalter, Jerusalem, 1131-1143, Egerton MS 1139, f. 209r.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Amos 4: 6 – 13 
Psalm 18: 1-20
2 Peter 1: 1 – 18 
Matthew 21: 33 – 46

Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”  The word “broad” is variously translated as a large, wide-open, spacious place.

I have known that uncluttered, unfettered physical space in nature, walking through a large field of camas in the spring or across snow covered fields in winter, breathing in ocean air at the seaside, listening to the rustle of maple leaves on forest trails. These are moments when a beautiful space breathes holy, fresh life into both body and soul.  

I have known the “wideness of God’s mercy” (Faber 1862) through experiencing times when I’ve been led from difficult situations into a healthier, happier place, or when there is that sense of being borne up when facing what we dread.

Also, to know we can be open with others and feel a sincere welcome in each other is a much-needed gift of spaciousness.  However, while these relationships can be nourishing in seasons of gathering together, these times can also be jam-packed and complicated. While exhausted and closed up, we may lose sight of that something more that opens to us:  the Light and Delight of God wooing us to the spacious place within.  It refreshes our whole person as we experience in prayer and meditation the room to breathe God’s quiet presence in us. 

This Advent and Christmastide, may we celebrate joyfully in the broadness of our home in the heart of God.

Dorothy Dahli

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Amos 3: 12 – 4:5  
Psalm 119: 1 – 24 
2 Peter 3:1 – 10 
Matthew 21: 23 – 32

Deal bountifully with your servant,
so that I may live and observe your word,
open my eyes so that I may behold
wondrous things of your law.
I live in an alien land, do not
hide your commandments from me.

Following Jesus’ Bethlehem birth, the gospel tells us of the Holy Family’s journey to Egypt.  We are unsure of their length of stay, but they found themselves regarded as aliens in that land, subject to religious practices and cultural customs not their own.

Yet they survived, Jesus thrived in body and spirit, aided no doubt by other families along their way until their trek to Galilee.

The psalmist exhorts us here to recognize that we, as Canadians, must feel the urgent need to reach out to such aliens.  Churches and mosques have already welcomed Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.  We help by providing housing, health care, aid in finding employment, and their children’s schooling.

They are free to worship as they may.  Soon most will become accepted Canadian citizens – aliens no longer.

Janice Barnes

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Convent creche

Amos 3: 1 – 11 
Psalm 5, 6
2 Peter 1: 12 – 21 
Matthew 21: 12 – 22

As I write this reflection on a warm day in July, Advent seems very far away; I have just returned from a trip to the Gaspésie in Québec. One of the highlights was a trip to the Musée des Anciens Canadiens in Saint Jean-Port-Joli.

As I toured the museum, filled with stunning wood sculptures, my attention was captured by a bas-relief carving which covered an entire large wall. It was entitled, The Birth of Christ, and was so enormous that it was hard to take in. 

The focal point was the Virgin Mary, sprawled out across the scene, while Jesus hovered above her hips, overseen by an angel. They were surrounded by swirls of clouds, waves, roses, and what can only be described as glory, streaming from the angel. The entire background was a stunning burst of texture.

Still thinking of the carving, the very thought that the Creator of the Universe, Divine Light, took on human flesh and came into our world as a vulnerable newborn seems unimaginable. What an amazing God we have!

A few days later, as I said matins, the brief gospel reading was from John 8:12: “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life.”

As we travel through Advent together, let us walk in the Light of Christ.

Gail Holland

Monday, December 2, 2019

Monday, December 2, 2019

Amos 2: 6 – 16 
Psalm 1, 2, 3,
2 Peter 1: 1 – 11 
Matthew 21: 1 –11

It strikes me as odd that Matthew 21:1-11, which highlights the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, would be read during Advent.  It is a passage of scripture normally read on Palm Sunday.  So is it as out of place as it would seem to be?  Perhaps not.  The reading is in keeping with the meaning of Advent which, from the Latin, means “coming”, and preparation for the coming of Jesus is what this season of Advent is ultimately about.
It is important to note that this was the last time Jesus rode into Jerusalem before he was crucified.  And although Advent and Christmas point to the joy and promises of the incarnation, this reading is a reminder that there is much more to come after Christmas and Epiphany.  In short order, the solemnity of Lent and Holy Week will be upon us before we once again can experience joy in the Easter resurrection.  
The reading is also a subtle reminder that a second coming of Jesus is predicted in scripture.  Every time we recite the Apostle or Nicene Creeds, we acknowledge this coming again of Jesus in judgement.  So perhaps the inclusion of this Matthew reading was not without purpose.  It should beg the question of what we are doing to get ready to celebrate this first coming.  This season is not simply a lead up to the presentation of a cute baby and the giving of presents.  And, finally, how should we be preparing for the predicted second coming?  And what could it mean for us and the Church in our broken world?

Sandi Austin

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday, December 1 2019

Psalm 146, 147 
Amos 1:1-5, 13-2:8 
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 
Matthew 25.1–13 

The beginning of Advent is upon us; a time when we welcome Christ to come into our hearts again to show us the way of God’s Love and Hope, when Christ is born anew into our world. As Christians we celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus each passing year. We live, work and reflect on God’s world and what God is asking of us. 
Amos saw the wrath of God to come, the psalmist proclaims Praise for God, Paul in his message to the Thessalonians reminds us that God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Gospel of Luke we are reminded yet again not to put our trust in things that perish. 
For me, God is asking me to Love, to Give generously, and to See the Divine Light in all of life. Jesus came into the world to show me just that. Every season is a time of celebration, joy, love and hope, but Advent calls me each year to reflect on what has been, to wake up to what is, and to hope for Jesus to come into my heart in a new way so I can proclaim God’s love. 
What is God asking of you? Advent Blessings, 

Sr. Dorothy Handrigan, SSJD