Friday, December 4, 2020

Thoughts on hope

 

Hope
When we live with hope we do not get tangled up with concerns for how our wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, our prayers are not directed toward the gift but toward the One who gives it. Ultimately, it is not a question of having a wish come true but of expressing an unlimited faith in the giver of all good things. . . . Hope is based on the premise that the other gives only what is good. Hope includes an openness by which you wait for the promise to come through, even though you never know when, where, or how this might happen.

Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thoughts on waiting

 

Radical Waiting
I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope. I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God, something really new, something beyond my own expectations begins to happen in me.

To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is choosing to hope that something is happening for us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life. It is living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness, and moves us away from the sources of our fear.

Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.

Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 29, 2020

1st Sunday of Advent

 











Advent begins quietly, with the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath. As the days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere, we move to a place of increasing light both indoors and in our hearts. Instead of adding more things to do and and more challenges to meet in an already busy time, Advent calls us to rest, to step back, to learn to appreciate the small events and simple gifts that flow through our days.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent 
by Diane M. Houdek


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thoughts on waiting

 

The Attitude of Waiting
When Jesus speaks about the end of time, he speaks precisely about the importance of waiting. He says that nations will fight against nations and that there will be wars and earthquakes and misery. People will be in agony, and they will say, “The Christ is there! No, he is here!” Many will be confused and many will be deceived. But Jesus says, you must stand ready, stand awake, stay tuned to the word of God, so that you will survive all that is going to happen and be able to stand confidently (con-fide, with trust) in the presence of God together in community (see Matthew 24). That is the attitude of waiting that allows us to be people who can live in a very chaotic world and survive spiritually.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, November 26, 2020

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving: For and In

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Psalm 95:1-2 
 
In America, today is Thanksgiving Day. Its roots go back to 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the New World. But it was not until 1863 that it became an official U.S. observance at the instigation of President Abraham Lincoln. 

Recommended Reading:
Psalm 100: 1 – 5

In the most general terms, the way to give thanks was expanded from the Old Testament to the New. In the Old Testament, God was normally thanked “for” things—His works, attributes, and blessings (Psalm 106:1). While that focus is maintained in the New Testament, it is expanded to giving thanks “in” all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That is, in all circumstances. We can do that because we know God causes “all things” to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Why not do both today? Give thanks to God for His blessings and give thanks for whatever circumstances you are experiencing. Fill this day with thanksgiving to God.

Dr. David Jeremiah

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thy unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving kindness to us, and to all men. 
Book of Common Prayer


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

 

Fill Your Days with Thanksgiving

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is fully living into our givenness—it is the acceptance that our life is a miracle. To be thankful is to take pleasure in our existence and in the things that make that existence possible. “In this pleasure,” writes Wendell Berry, “we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.” Berry is here speaking particularly of the pleasure that comes in our eating and its attendant thanksgiving, but he is also necessarily speaking of the pleasure of membership. Our lives are indebted to other lives and dependent upon them. Through this gratitude and proper understanding of indebtedness, we are able to gain the freedom to become more generous ourselves. When we come to truly understand our givenness, which is also our indebtedness and embeddedness in the whole of the creation, then our response must be to give as we have been given. All pretenses that attend the accomplishments of our own work, all illusions of making value or owning something, is but a debt unaccounted, a gift accepted without thanks. Our first and most profound response should be to fill our days with thanksgiving. It is in that practice that we will finally begin to recover who we are and what we should be about in this world, this creation, this gift.

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Thoughts on the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Painting titled Presentation of Mary in the Temple, by Alfonso Boschi
Image: Presentation of Mary in the Temple | Alfonso Boschi | photo by sailko

Saint of the Day for November 21

Click here to listen

The Story of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.


Reflection

It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They—we—too are temples of God and sanctified in order that we might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.


Click here for more on Mary!