Advent Reflections Week 2

     “The Nativity message is the message not only of joy but of the joy: the GREAT JOY which all people of the world have always expected without fully realizing what it was.  It is the joy of our fulfillment which we seek, in the depths of our hearts, from the moment that we are beings endowed with conscious life.”
–Thomas Merton from Love and Living

 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.   –Isaiah 43:16

“Mary’s ‘How can this be?’ was a simple response…and profound.  She does not lose her voice but finds it.  Like many of the prophets, she asserts herself before God saying, ‘Here am I.’  There is no arrogance, however, but only holy fear and wonder.  Mary proceeds–as we must do in life–making her commitments without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead.  I treasure the story because it forces me to ask: When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it?…Or am I virgin enough to respond from my deepest, truest self, and say something new, a ‘yes’ that will change me forever?”  –Kathleen Norris from Amazing Grace


Advent Reflections Week 1

 These are from Theological Horizons – enjoy their blog, more reflections, recipes, and more at their site.

lonely tree vertical Come, O come Emmanuel
you are the way, the truth and the life;
you are the true vine and the bread of life.
Come, living Savior,
come to your world which waits for you.
 –A New Zealand Prayer Book

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do, seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over so many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking light.   To you we say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Amen.
                          —Henri Nouwen

“By far the most important and significant event in the whole course of human history will be celebrated, with or without understanding, at the end of this season, Advent.  The towering miracle of God’s visit to this planet on which we live will be glossed over, brushed aside or rendered by over-familiarity.  What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God, and no trappings of Christmas should ever blind us to its quiet but explosive significance.  For Christians believe that so great is God’s love and concern for humanity that he himself became a man. 

God’s insertion of himself into human history was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility.  There was no advertisement, no publicity, no special privilege; in fact the entry of God into his own world was almost heartbreakingly humble.  In sober fact there is little romance or beauty in the thought of a young woman looking desperately for a place where she could give birth to her first baby.  I do not think for a moment Mary complained, but it is a bitter commentary upon the world that no one would give up a bed for the pregnant woman–and that the Son of God must be born in a stable.

Behind all our fun and games at Christmastime, we should not try to escape a sense of awe, almost a sense of fright, at what God has done.  We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago.  Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet

We shall be celebrating no beautiful myth, no lovely piece of traditional folklore, but a solemn fact.  God has been here once historically, but…he will come again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any human heart ready to receive him.”

—J.B. Phillips (1906-1982) from Good News: Thoughts on God and Man