December 23: O Emmanuel (God With Us)

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Courtesy of the Naked Pastor

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

The word Emmanuel, like the second Antiphon Adonai is not of Latin origin, but Hebrew. Emmanu-el…..literally “God with us” points to the central mystery of Christmas….the Incarnation

What I like about the illustration above is the fact that the cartoonist has an arrow pointing towards manure. The mystery of how and why God comes to us in the Flesh–to me–is found in the symbolism of that dung pile.

Our God is a messy God. Who literally arrives knee-deep in shit and mud, and a smelly stable….all so that he can be with us…..to be with his Beloved.

The crap that he encounters in life does not go away. Like all of us, he gets tired, he gets hungry, he feels pain, and yes….even tastes the isolation and pain of death.

The arrival of the baby in Bethlehem is not something that is serene and calm…..Instead, it is loud, in your face, real world encounter.

As we prepare for the celebration of Christmas tomorrow….may we be reminded that our faith requires us to get dirty…..to encounter people where they are…..and that we take to heart the implications of a God who is not far off….but close at hand…..close enough to touch.

Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and be born in our hearts! +

December 21st: O Oriens (Morning Star)

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O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

As I lit the Advent candles tonight……I realized that the brightest one…..the one that dispels the darkness completely, is not yet lit.

During the Advent season, we place so much emphasis on preparing, repenting, rejoicing, and expecting that we tend to forget about the big white candle in the middle.

When God burst through the barrier to become human like us, it was to give Light to those who are lost….not to those who already had lamps. Jesus himself said that he came to heal the sick in body, mind or soul….not to attend to those who already were healed.

Just because we are in the last week of this holy season, it doesn’t mean the wreath gets put away at Christmas….rather the four lights that mark our expectation help to point towards our centre…Jesus Christ….who makes us as white as snow and brings us out of darkness into the bright dawn of Day.

Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and be born in our hearts! +

Before Gaudete Sunday finishes…….

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I can’t help myself…..I gotta post this picture again……I can only break it out once a year.

Yep. that’s the Pope. In pink. #winning!

If you haven’t already done so my friends and blog visitors….please cast your vote in the charity poll in the sidebar. πŸ™‚

Morning Prayer: Sunday of Advent 3

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Psalm: 63, 98
Old Testament: Amos 9:1-15
New Testament: 2 Thes. 2:1-3, 13-17

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. (2 Thes 2:16-17)

Gaudete! Gaudete! Rejoice my friends….we are halfway towards Christmas πŸ˜€

It’s good to be back on the blog…..and to be honest, I have missed it…..Amazing how prayer and interacting with people about Scripture can become such a routine that it seems there’s something wrong when it can’t be done on a regular basis.

In his correspondence with the church in Thessolonica (and indeed through all the readings appointed for this third Sunday of Advent), Paul takes great to bless those whom he ministers to….and encourages them to go about their lives not only with a sense of direction and grace….but with a sense of gladness…..so that leads me to a question for you to contemplate today.

Where do you find your spiritual joy??? Is it through your work? Family? Friends? Pet? What makes your soul sing? I would love to hear your responses if you care to leave a comment….Be blessed as we wait for the coming of the Lord my dear readers! πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: First Sunday of Advent (New Year’s Day)

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Psalm(s): 146, 147 111, 112, 113
Old Testament: Amos 1:1-5, 13-2:8
New Testament: 1 Thes 5:1-11
Gospel: Luke 21:15-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness (1 Thes 5:4)

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! πŸ™‚

Here we are again…..a new beginning…….the advent wreath is alight once more to ward off the darkness and to remind us that the doom and gloom of night is not everlasting.

The Advent wreath–like many other customs of the Christian church–finds its origin in pagan ritual. As the winter solstice drew near, and people approached the darkest night of the year, a ritual began of lighting candles to mark the occasion and to prepare for the return of the dawn.

The Church who had long understood Jesus as the Light that never fades, found it appropriate to adopt the pagan custom and to put its own spin on the tradition. Each of the four candles represents something: hope, expectation, joy and peace….concentrating on the coming of God’s kingdom and of readiness.

O Lord Jesus….in this new year….be our hope…come and be born in our hearts. +

Morning Prayer: Christmas Eve

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Psalm(s): 45 , 46
Old Testament: Isaiah 35:1-10
New Testsament: Revelation 22: 12-17, 21
Gospel: Luke 1:67-80

It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, β€˜Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, β€˜Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.* (Rev 22: 17, 21)

Well here we are on the home-stretch of our Advent journey. I find it fascinating that the end of the Bible takes the form of an invitation. An invitation to know and believe in Jesus Christ.

Even the book of Revelation–which is arguably the harshest text in all of Scripture when it comes to sin and punishment, urges its readers to drink from the waters of life.

Over the last four weeks, we have been joining our voices with those who cry: “Come, Lord Jesus”. As we approach the feast of Christmas, let us remember with love and joy the Christ-child who came to save us. May we remember to always look forward to his coming…not out of fear of judgement and apocalypse, but out of sheer excitment to see our God face-to-face once more. +

Morning Prayer: Thurs. of Advent 4 (Dec. 23rd)

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Psalm(s): 93, 96
Old Testament: Isaiah 33:17-22
New Testament: Revelation 22: 6-11, 18-20

I’m sick with a cold right now so no new posts will be going up until I feel better :(….Pax Christi everyone+

Evening Prayer: Wednesday of Advent 4 (Dec. 21st)

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Psalm: 146 147
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a Commentary on Luke by St. Bede

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin (Psalm 146:6-9)

Tonight we read the Scripture which frames one of the staples for the Daily Office; the Magnificat.

This canticle is recited every night during Evening Prayer and has always had liturgical significance.

Just like Psalm 146, Mary’s song looks forward to what God is doing in the here and now.

He has shown the strength of his arm
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, while the rich he has sent away empty.

When God reveals to Mary that she is about to give birth to the Son of God, everything about the world changed. With the miracle of the Incarnation, God is turning the world upside down. Those who are lost in darkness are given light; those who are considered poor and destitute are proclaimed to be first in the kingdom of God; the untouchables of society are the ones who receive healing…while those who are considered righteous by the rest of society are left in the dust.

Mary’s song of rejoicing is one that we are called to echo night, after night, after night. To remind ourselves that a) there is more to this world than meets the eye, and b) that when God shows up, everything that we thought to be true of the world is cast into a totally different light. Alleluia! + πŸ˜€

Evening Prayer: Tues. of Advent 4 (Dec. 21st)

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Psalm(s): 111 , 113
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a commentary on Luke’s Gospel by St. Ambrose

You too, my people, are blessed, you who have heard and who believe. Every soul that believes β€” that soul both conceives and gives birth to the Word of God and recognises his works

The reflection offered by St. Ambrose tonight is particularly beautiful. I don’t want to mess it up too much by analyzing it ;)….

Tonight, I invite you to simply meditate on the words above…..How are we–as believers–conceiving & giving birth to the Word of God? +

Morning Prayer: Tues. of Advent 4 (Dec. 21st)

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Psalm:72
Old Testament: Isaiah 28:9-22
New Testament:Revelation 21:9-22

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor. (Psalm 72:4)

Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And in the spirit* he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal (Rev. 21:9-11)

In Advent and Christmas we hear a lot about Jesus being from the line of David. What is so important about this royal figure??? Aside from Israel’s greatest military leader, he is also portrayed as a fair ruler who was incredibly devoted to YHWH.

The story of David and the righteousness attributed to his person are more than just character traits. They point to something much more important in terms of the Biblical narrative.

The king was not only supposed to be a ruler…but was supposed to lead the nation in the worship and praise of God. That’s why we have David and Solomon presiding at major festivals and sacrifices in the two books of Kings.

The monarchy was meant to represent the strong bond of the eternal covenant between YHWH amd his chosen people. A look ahead to the time when God’s purposes and humanity’s purposes will coincide.

The earthly Temple and the earthly Jerusalem are only reflections of what God has in store for us. He wants us to be his bride. He wants us to enter not only into a contractual agreement with him…but into a loving marriage.

We don’t play up that image very often in the Church….but perhaps it’s one we ought to think about a little more. God doesn’t just want our intellectual assent and belief. He ants us to be in relationship with Him….and for us to form a bond together that shall never be broken. +

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