4 Advent, Saturday 12/24

There is a passage in *Psalm 46 that I hold in my heart, “Be still then and know that I am God . . .“.  The power of this passage is all in the “then.”  The writer of the psalm points out that though the earth be moved, mountains tremble and topple, and the waters rage, even “then” God is with us, God is our stronghold–“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

In the quiet of Christmas Eve, in the midst of whatever turmoil, anxiety, or even fear I am feeling, as the light of God’s Incarnation shines new and brightly in our midst, as we sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” and are reminded of the beauty  and vulnerability of this sacred moment,  I believe the words of the psalmist, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

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As we conclude this season of Advent meditations, the Rector wishes to express his appreciation to all those in our local Education for Ministry (EfM) group for contributing to this series of meditations.  Each day of Advent, I began my day reading the lessons for the day and the reflective thoughts offered by these meditations.  I found them all very helpful in my personal Advent journey.  My thanks to all who participated.  The Rector

Daily lectionary: AM Psalm 45, *46;

Isa. 35:1-10; Rev. 22:12-17,21; Luke 1:67-80

Advent 4, Friday 12/23

Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; they will behold a land that stretches far away, says Isaiah.  No longer will you see the insolent people, the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend, stammering in a language that you cannot understand. (Isaiah 33.17-18)

Not understanding what someone is saying isn’t limited to the barrier of different languages.  We may understand their words perfectly but still be left puzzling over what they are saying; in that sense, struggling to comprehend.

Jesus was critical of the scribes and Pharisees.  They may have spoken the same language as Jesus, but they were not on the same page.  Not all people of faith, not even all Christians, are on the same page.  While we may struggle to understand those who think differently than we do, we should engage in that struggle to comprehend, while adhering to God’s wish:  that we love God, love our neighbors, do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.

Daily Lectionary: AM Psalm 93, 96; PM 148, 150Isa. 33:17-22; Rev. 22:6-11,18-20; Luke 1:57-66

4 Advent, Thursday 12/22

One of the psalms for today, *Psalm 147, shows the many different things the Lord does for his people. Reading the psalm and thinking about ‘Our Father’ doing all these things for us, gives me comfort. We are told to praise the Lord and fear the Lord all at the same time. Fearing the Lord in this case means that we wait for him and wait for the amazing things to come. We fear those that are stronger and mightier than us. The Lord is definitely mightier than we are and provides for us by protecting us and giving his word to us. When we praise the Lord we need to be humble, knowing that the Lord gives all that we have.

The Lord has given us this wonderful world to live in, but at times it is hard to remember that. The world is a hard place with its ups and downs. We are shown in the other psalm for today, **Psalm 146, that the Lord loves and cares for all people. If we are to live through the teachings of the Lord, then we must also love and care for all people. We all go through hard times, but if we lift each other up and love one another than we can overcome anything and everything.

We need to remind each other daily that the Lord is there and gives us all the wonderful things in life. Praise him in private and praise him in the company of others. Sing to the Lord in this wonderful Christmas season!

Daily lectionary: AM Psalm 80; PM **146, * 147
Isa. 29:13-24; Rev. 21:22-22:5; Luke 1:39-48a(48b-56)

4 Advent, Wednesday 12/21, St. Thomas the Apostle

Trust.  Believe.  Do not Fear. Today’s readings remind us to trust in the Lord.  The *Psalms tell us “the Lord is my shepherd”, “My help comes from the Lord”, and “the Lord is my light and my salvation.”  **Job confesses that he knows God can do all things. ****Peter reminds us through God we have new hope in the resurrection of Jesus. In ***Isaiah God declares that there is no savior besides God.  It all sounds great – sign me up!

But today, Thomas in the Gospel of *****John asks the question I find myself wondering – “How can we know the way?”  Jesus has been telling the disciples that he goes before them to prepare a place for them, and will go before them – they will know the way.

Where is it Jesus is leading us?  Where is it we are called to follow?  Where is that place that Jesus has prepared for us among the many dwelling-places of God’s house?  As we finish preparing this year for Christmas, let’s take a moment to reflect on the hope of the resurrection in Jesus.  Take a moment to consider what it looks like to truly follow God wherever we are led – trust and believe in God, and have no fear.

Daily lectionary: AM *Psalm 23, *121  PM *Psalm 27, **Job 42:1-6, ***Isaiah 43: 8-13 ****1 Peter 1:3-9,  *****John 14:1-7

4 Advent, Tuesday 12/20

Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”  In the Gospel reading today, we discover Zechariah blinking.  The angel Gabriel told Zeke some pretty unbelievable stuff.  After all, Zeke was just doing his regular priestly duties alone in the Sanctuary of God, burning incense, saying prayers . . . just another day at the office.  Then this angel shows up and tells old Zeke that barren Elizabeth is going to have a boy, their boy, and that this boy is going to do great things for God and that this boy is going to turn many to God and that this boy is going to usher in a new time for God.  Really, what was Zeke to do, stand there and nod his head.  Nooooo!  Instead he asks a perfectly reasonable, albeit apparently irritating, question Gabriel really didn’t like, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”  Really?  Seems innocuous enough to me.  How was Zeke to know Gabriel stayed up late tweeting when his angelic credentials are challenged–“ICYMI, I am Gabriel; I know God! God sent me F2F to speak good news 2U.  But b/c U ask ?s (SMH) U’re mute. YOYO, later”**

So, as we continue this mysterious journey of Advent, be warned, if someone named Gabriel comes up to you and tells you some really crazy stuff, don’t ask questions!  Just go with the flow!

Daily lectionary: AM Psalm 66, 67 PM Psalm 116, 117
Isa. 11:10-16; Rev. 20:11-21:8; * Luke 1:5-25

** New Revised Standard version: “The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.

4 Advent: Monday 12/19

*Isaiah 11: 3b-4a  “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth….”

The prophet Isaiah tells the world what to expect in a Messiah. With gratitude we know that this foretelling was fulfilled in Jesus, our Savior, who during his earthly life modeled for us God’s expectation of how we should perceive the world and taught us how to act toward those who suffer. God asks us to think deeply beyond the bombardment of instant news and fake news to see truly the needs of those who suffer because of injustices and superficial judgments that hold them responsible for their plight. As our Savior said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5: 7).

Daily lectionary: AM Psalm 61, 62; PM Psalm 112, 115
Isa. 11:1-9; Rev. 20:1-10; John 5:30-47

Advent 3: Saturday 12/17

In the short book of Jude, the writer challenges its readers to remember the words of the apostles and to be committed to their faith,

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21

When we feel that what we are wanting is not coming to pass in this world, this passage encourages us to look inward and to keep our focus on God and his promises. Being a follower of Jesus does not guarantee that our lives will be easy. By the same token, sometimes what we see occurring in the world may tempt us to lose the hope that we feel Jesus has promised. In these circumstances, we are urged to stay strong in our faith despite outer appearances. It provides for us a way to survive in difficult circumstances.

Daily office lectionary: AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23)
Isa. 10:20-27; Jude 17-25; Luke 3:1-9