Archive for the ‘December 1’ Category

A Prayer for Those Suffering from Holiday Grief   Leave a comment

Christmas Tree

Image Source = DRO4

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Loving God,

the annual celebration of your incarnation in the form of Jesus approaches.

This should be a happy and blessed occasion.

Yet many people grieve the absence of one or more friends or family members

whom distance,

estrangement,

incarceration,

or death separate from them.

Bestow upon those who grieve

the consolation of your Holy Spirit,

that they may rejoice in your love and mercy.

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

fully human and fully divine.  Amen.

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

December 7, 2009

O Blessed Mother   4 comments

Madonna and Child, St. John’s Anglican Church, Ashfield, New Wouth Wales, Australia

O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You learned you were pregnant

Outside of wedlock?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

The anonymous, thronging crowds

Ignored you in your hour of need in Bethlehem?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You experienced birth pangs,

As well as the stresses of parenthood?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

Your eldest son confused you,

Then seemed to reject you?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You watched your eldest son die?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You buried your eldest son?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You discovered your resurrected son?

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O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You ascended and became

Queen of Heaven?

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O Blessed Mother,

Strong and humble,

Faithful and human,

Intercede for us.

Amen.

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May 30, 1997

Fourth Day of Advent   12 comments

Above:  Loaves and Fishes Floor Mosaic, Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha, Israel

Divine Abundance

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021

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Isaiah 25:6-9 (Revised English Bible):

On this mountain the LORD of Hosts will prepare

a banquet of rich fare for all the peoples,

a banquet of wines well matured,

richest fare and well-matured wines strained clear.

On this mountain the LORD will destroy

that veil shrouding all the peoples,

the pall thrown over all the nations.

He will destroy death for ever.

Then the LORD God will wipe away the tears

from every face,

and throughout the world

remove the indignities from his people.

The LORD has spoken.

On that day the people will say:

See, this is our God;

we have waited for him and he will deliver us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

let us rejoice and exult in his deliverance.

Psalm 23 (Revised English Bible):

The LORD is my shepherd; I lack for nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me to water where I may rest;

he revives my spirit;

for his name’s sake he guides me to the right paths.

Even were I to walk through a valley of deepest darkness

I should fear no harm, for you are with me;

your shepherd’s staff and crook afford me comfort.

You spread a table for me in the presence of my enemies;

you have richly anointed me head with oil,

and my cup brims over.

Goodness and love unfailing will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

throughout the years to come.

Matthew 15:29-39 (Revised English Bible):

After leaving that region Jesus took the road by the sea of Galilee, where he climbed a hill and sat down.  Crowds flocked to him, bringing with them the lame, blind, dumb, and crippled, and many other sufferers; they put them down at his feet, and he healed them.  Great was the amazement of the people when they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made strong, the lame walking, and the blind with their sight restored; and they gave praise to the God of Israel.

Jesus called out his disciples and said to them,

My heart goes out to these people; they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry; they might faint on the way.

The disciples replied,

Where in this remote place can we find bread enough to feed such a crowd?

Jesus asked,

How many loaves have you?

They replied,

Seven, and a few small fish.

So he ordered the people to sit down on the ground; then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks to God he broke them and gave them to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They ate it and were satisfied; and seven baskets were filled with what was left over.  Those who were fed numbered four thousand men, not counting women and children.  After dismissing the crowd, he got into a boat and went to the neighbourhood of Magadan.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Most of us have experienced periods of anxiety.  We have had certain needs–not mere desires, but necessities–and have been uncertain about how we will obtain them.  Such has been my reality.  Yet, as I reflect on the past and present, I know that I have never gone to bed hungry, never been homeless, and have always had everything I have needed.  I recall once, when in junior high school, my parents went through a phase during which they tried a diet with a great amount of chicken meat in it.  For as long as they were on that diet I was on that diet.  I came to despise chicken, and shunned it for a while after the diet ceased, but at least I ate until I was full.  So I had what I needed, even if I did not like my limited options.

Sometimes we need to play a part in helping to fulfill our needs.  Depending on our circumstances, we might need to apply for employment, tell others our problems, and lay aside false and culturally conditioned pride.  Our friends and neighbors, as capable as they might be, are probably not telepathic.  We might not have because we have not asked, or maybe we asked for the wrong thing or in the wrong way or for the wrong reason.

I reject Prosperity Theology, which the examples of Jesus and his surviving Apostles refute.  Yet I believe in the abundance of God, who transform little into more than enough.  In God we have more than we need, but not necessarily all that we want.  This is fine, for often what we want is destructive at worst or merely unnecessary at best.  It is better to have what we need, to recognize this reality, and to thank God for it.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/divine-abundance/

First Day of Advent: First Sunday of Advent, Year A   35 comments

Above:  The Swords into Plowshares Statue at the United Nations

Image Source = Melesse

God With Us

DECEMBER 1, 2019

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Isaiah 2:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come

the mountain of the LORD’s house

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be raised above the hills;

all the nations shall stream to it.

Many people shall come and say,

Come let us go up tot he mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

that he may teach us his paths.

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob,

come, let us walk

in the light of the LORD!

AND

Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

AND

Romans 13:11-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

AND

Matthew 24:36-44 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said to the disciples,

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Happy New Year!  The First Sunday of Advent opens the Western Christian Year.  (The Eastern Orthodox churches keep a different schedule.)  About four weeks from the First Sunday of Advent falls Christmas day.  So, in Western Christian sacred time, this is a time to begin preparing for Christmas, much as Lent is a time of preparation for Easter.  I encourage you, O reader, to give Advent its full due attention, not rushing to Christmas Day.  In fact, I prefer to hold off on “Merry Christmas” greetings until about December 24.  The rest of the time I wish people a “Holy Advent.”

The name “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”  This summarizes the readings for this day.  They speak of the God who is present with us, what this deity will do at some unspecified time, and the responsibilities the faithful must execute in this context.  These lessons tell us that God loves us, expects us to behave ourselves, and will establish justice on the earth in the future.

No mere mortal can predict the future with perfect accuracy.  Science fiction scenarios look dated with the passage of time.  Think about the computer technology in 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968), for example.  The computers are SO BIG compared to what they were in 2001, much less 2010.  And since shortly after the time Jesus walked the earth people have predicted his return many times, often with specific dates.  One of my favorite thrift store finds is a small paperback book, Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why, by Colin Hoyle Deal.  I feel safe in claiming that 1988 came and went without Jesus returning.

Let us not become so preoccupied with reading the news in hopes of identifying the Antichrist or other apocalyptic indicators that we give short shrift to or ignore signs of God’s actual  activity around us.  Alleged Antichrists have come and gone; they are ranged from Adolf Hitler to Joseph Stalin to Ronald Wilson Reagan–the latter for having three names, each with six letters–666.  All politics aside, I propose that to become caught up prophesy is a fool’s errand, and that we Christians need to focus on the present constructively.  God is active all around us; do we not see it.  If we look with spiritual eyes we will see Jesus in friends, strangers, and even in those we dislike.  We will witness divine activity in places we expect the least or do anticipate at all.  So we will know more deeply that God is with us and will remain with us, and that this fact makes certain demands upon us.

As for the rest, the details will be what they will be.  And any of us could be wrong about our predictions.  Sometimes a belief that Jesus’ Second Coming is near has become a reason not to seek social justice or not to conserve part of the natural world.  Yet we humans have a mandate to care for creation and to seek social justice.  So let us live faithfully in the present tense, leaving the future to God.

KRT

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P.S.: The Episcopal Church has adopted an Advent lectionary.  My practice regarding Advent is as follows:  I use the designated Year A readings, according to the Revised Common Lectionary and the lessons which are part of the Episcopal lectionary for Advent.  This lectionary designates Monday-Saturday lessons for the first two weeks of Advent, Monday-Friday readings for the Third Week of Advent, and dated lessons for December 24.  I will provide devotions for all of these, including Friday in the Third Week, which will fall on December 17 in 2010 and December 19, which will double as the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year.  My intention is that these devotions will roll over from year to year, adding Year B Sundays next year and Year C Sundays the year after that, and changing dates on blog posts as necessary each year.

So I invite you to accompany me on this faith journey.

Pax vobiscum,

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/god-with-us/

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The previous post in this sequence:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-saturday-before-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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