Friday, December 21, 2007

Daily Meditation 12/21/07


Creator of the stars of night,
Your people's everlasting light,
O Christ redeemer of us all,
We pray You hear us when we call.

In sorrow that the ancient curse,
Should doom to death a universe,
You came, O savior, to set free,
Your own in glorious liberty.

When this old world drew on toward night,
You came; but not in splendor bright,
Not as a monarch, but the child of Mary,
blameless Mother mild.

At Your great name, O Jesus, now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call You Lord.

Come in Your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.

To God creator, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Praise honor, might, and glory be,
From age to age eternally.

9th century Latin hymn


Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 40, 54; PM Psalm 51
Zech. 7:8-8:8; Rev. 5:6-14; Matt. 25:14-30

Today we remember:

St. Thomas
AM: Psalm 23, 121; Job 42:1-6; 1 Peter 1:3-9
PM: Psalm 27; Isaiah 43: 8-13; John 14:1-7

From Forward Day by Day:

John 20:24-29. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

There's a lot of Thomas in me, I'm afraid. I'm prone to questioning, to probing; I go back and forth and think things through before accepting them. I want to be shown.

This does not endear me to authority, which generally prefers to be obeyed instantly and without discussion, even when it abruptly changes its mind. Wanting to know the reason why has cost me dearly at times.

I admire those who have a simple, childlike faith; I wish I could be like them, and embrace whatever comes to me. I pray about it, I consult about it, but I just seem to be built this way. (Lord, I obey; help thou my tendency to say, "Yes, but...")

Fortunately, God has patience with us; Jesus made Thomas an apostle, after all. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Blessed be God, who still makes room in the Kingdom for people like Thomas, and like me.

Doubt is not the enemy of faith but its colleague.
-Kenneth Leech (b. 1939)

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Yei (Sudan)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

O Rex Gentium

Daily Reading for December 21 • St. Thomas the Apostle

O King of the nations and the Desire of them all, you are the Cornerstone who makes both one: Come and save the creatures whom you fashioned out of clay.

The figure of ‘the cornerstone’ is particularly apt to describe Christ’s role of reconciliation. The cornerstone is the place where two walls of a building at right angles to each other meet, and as such as a key function in holding the building together. Both St. Paul and St. Peter describe Christians as forming a building of living stones held together by Christ and growing up to maturity in him so that they may be a fit dwelling place for God through his Spirit. A world torn apart by conflicts based on colour, race, religion, inequality of wealth, and many other causes desperately needs the unifying power of Christ. In Christ differences need not be abolished, though injustice must be removed, but they can be combined into a rich and living unity. In that spirit, we pray to Christ, the cornerstone who binds us together, to come and deliver us form sin which separates us from God and each other.

The final words of the antiphon, ‘whom you fashioned out of clay’, have profound and subtle links with those which go before and beautifully round off this prayer to God. The ‘clay’ of our common humanity takes up and reinforces the thought of the universal reconciliation achieved by Christ the King. We are fully part of the material universe and Christ’s redeeming work does not cut us off from our earthly roots but is part of his gathering up of all things into one. Today, when human mastery over nature has advanced so far that we are in danger of destroying our planet, we can see more clearly the connection between human sin and the pollution of the environment.

The antiphon is the cry of humanity, in its earthly state yet longing for union with the divine, to be remade in God’s image and reunited through Christ, the king of the universe, with its source in God.

From O Come Emmanuel: Scripture Verses for Advent Worship by William Marshall. Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

O King—
King and Desire of the Nations,
made one by the cornerstone
of your coming,
of your being.
How can it be?
The cornerstone rejected,
misused as rubble for rocks and stones
to hurl and smash.
They didn’t understand then
(and often we don’t now)
that cornerstones are
for fastening onto,
for building up,
for foundations and transformation.
Come, O King,
Desire of the nations,
Save for us, formed of clay,
the opportunity of being transformed by your peace.

From Hasten the Kingdom: Praying the O Antiphons of Advent by Mary Winifred, C.A. (Liturgical Press, 1996).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

I recall the story about a man whose path was the act of greeting people. Whenever there was a knock on the door he would say, "The Lord is at the door."
— Donald Altman in Art of the Inner Meal

To Practice This Thought: Use every knock on your door as a cue to greet the Lord in other people.
++++++++++ Reflections

For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up ones' eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Death's awful mystery comes upon us suddenly, and soul and body
are violently severed, divorced from their natural union by the
will of God. What shall we do at that hour if we have not thought
of it beforehand, if we have not been instructed concerning this
eventuality and find ourselves unprepared?

St. Nil Sorsky

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

An Experience Offered to All

Some people say: "I never had an experience of the fullness of time. ... I am just an ordinary person, not a mystic." Although some people have unique experiences of God's presence and, therefore have unique missions to announce God's presence to the world, all of us - whether learned or uneducated, rich or poor, visible or hidden - can receive the grace of seeing God in the fullness of time. This mystical experience, is not reserved for a few exceptional people. God wants to offer that gift in one way or another to all God's children.

But we must desire it. We must be attentive and interiorly alert. For some people the experience of the fullness of time comes in a spectacular way, as it did to St. Paul when he fell to the ground on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-4). But for some of us it comes like a murmuring sound or a gentle breeze touching our backs (1 Kings 19:13). God loves us all and wants us all to know this in a most personal way.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Twenty One - The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes which mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them, all that it attempts will be in vain.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

God’s Comforting Presence
December 21st, 2007
Friday’s Reflection

many are lonely and grieving
during this Advent season.
Send your healing Spirit
to all who mourn,
that they may know
your comforting presence with them.

- Beth A. Richardson
Child of the Light

From p. 59 of Child of the Light: Walking through Advent and Christmas by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

God Is the Only One We Can Surrender To

God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. It's a paradox. I can't prove it to you, and it sure doesn't feel like that, but I promise you it's true.

When Jesus says those who lose their life will find their life and those who let go of their life will discover their life, obviously he's talking about life in a different way than you and I experience it. We think life is the thing that we've got to protect. He's saying, No, the true self needs no protection; it just is. What we are usually protecting is the repetitive illusions and addictive feelings of the false self.

God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. The Christian people—the brothers and sisters of God's Son, Jesus—are those who are called to that life of surrender.

from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

Mary's visitation

As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting the child leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the choice of words and the meaning of each one. Elizabeth was the first to hear Mary's voice, but John was the first to be aware of grace. She heard with the ears of the body; he leapt for joy because of the mystery. She was aware of Mary's presence; he of the Lord's. The woman perceived the presence of a woman; the child that of a child. The women spoke of God's grace while the children gave effect to it within them, revealing to their mothers the mystery of love, and by a double miracle the mothers prophesied under the inspiration of their sons.

The child leapt in the womb; the mother was filled with the Holy Spirit. The mother was not filled before her son, but once he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, he filled his mother too. John leapt for joy and so did the spirit of Mary. When John leapt Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, but we do not learn that Mary was then filled with the Holy Spirit, but only that her spirit rejoiced. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, was active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving a son; Mary was filled before. You are blessed, said Elizabeth, because you have believed.

Ambrose of Milan

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"We have received . . . the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." 1 Corinthians 2:12

Reality is Redemption, not my experience of Redemption; but Redemption has no meaning for me until it speaks the language of my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left with my experiences, my experiences have not been produced by Redemption. The proof that they are produced by Redemption is that I am led out of myself all the time, I no longer pay any attention to my experiences as the ground of Reality, but only to the Reality which produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source, Jesus Christ.

If you try to dam up the Holy Spirit in you to produce subjective experiences, you will find that He will burst all bounds and take you back again to the historic Christ. Never nourish an experience which has not God as its Source and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions you may have had. Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you try to lord it over Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? He must be Lord over you, and you must not pay attention to any experience over which He is not Lord. There comes a time when God will make you impatient with your own experience - I do not care what I experience; I am sure of Him.

Be ruthless with yourself if you are given to talking about the experiences you have had. Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 21, August 21, December 21
Chapter 64: On Constituting an Abbess

Once she has been constituted,
let the Abbess always bear in mind
what a burden she has undertaken
and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
than to preside over them.
She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
that she may have a treasure of knowledge
from which to bring forth new things and old.
She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
that she herself may obtain mercy.
She should hate vices;
she should love the sisterhood.

In administering correction
she should act prudently and not go to excess,
lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
she break the vessel.
Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
on the contrary, as we have already said,
she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
in the way which may seem best in each case.
Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.

Let her not be excitable and worried,
nor exacting and headstrong,
nor jealous and over-suspicious;
for then she is never at rest.

In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
and whether the work which she enjoins
concerns God or the world,
let her be discreet and moderate,
bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
"If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
they will all die in one day."
Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
the mother of virtues,
let her so temper all things
that the strong may have something to strive after,
and the weak may not fall back in dismay.

And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
so that after a good ministry
she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
"Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt. 24:27).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

At the end of an entire series of injunctions and prescriptions, Benedict suddenly reintroduces a description of the kind of abbot or prioress whom he believes should guide a Benedictine community. He is, in other words, giving us a theology of authority or parenting or leadership. The Talmud reads "Happy is the time where the great listen to the small, for in such a generation the small will listen to the great." In the Rule of Benedict the prioress and abbot are told to display the good like a blazing fire but always to "let mercy triumph over judgment" and to "strive to be loved rather than feared." Authority in Benedictine spirituality is not an end in itself nor is it an excuse to oppress the people for whom all law is made. Law is simply a candle on the path of life to lead us to the good we seek. Any authority that makes the law the end rather than the path are themselves worshipping at a lesser shrine.

In the midrash Genesis Rabbah it reads: "A farmer puts a yoke on his strong ox, not on his weak one." The function of Benedictine leadership is not to make life difficult; it is to make life possible for both the strong and the weak. If a leader gives way to moodiness or institutional paranoia, if a leader is not emotionally balanced and spiritually grounded, a whole climate is poisoned. This chapter on the abbot or prioress is an important signal for parents and teachers and superiors everywhere: what we cannot model, we cannot expect, not of children, not of the professionals who work for us, not even of the people who love us enough to marry us. The people around us can only take our emotional battering so long. Then they leave or rebel or batter back. Benedictine leadership models a guidance that is firm but loving; clear but understanding; just but merciful; itself authentically committed to its own principles for, indeed, the rabbis also teach, "A little sin is big when a big person commits it."

In ancient civilizations, the law was the lawgiver's law. Subjects had no rights, only responsibilities. The lawgiver could change the law on a whim or a fancy. In the Roman empire, the pater familia, the Roman father, could do no wrong in his own home. No court of law would try him, no one would convict him. He himself according to the principles of Roman jurisprudence was judge and jury, king and lawgiver. In a climate and culture such as this, the chapter on the abbot or prioress, and this paragraph in particular, are extremely revolutionary. This section issues a clear warning: authority has limits; authority is not a law unto itself; authority is responsible to the persons under it for their welfare and their growth; authority itself is under the law. It is a theology such as this that makes people free and keeps people free because the knee we bow to government must really be bowed only to God.

Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Friday, December 21, 2007 Nativity Fast Peter, Metropolitan of
Moscow and All Russia
Kellia: Leviticus 8:1-13 Epistle: Hebrews 11:8,
11-16 Gospel: St. Mark 10:23-32

Foreshadows ~ V * A Great High Priest: Leviticus 8:1-13 LXX, especially
vs. 12: "And Moses poured the anointing oil on the head of Aaron; and he
anointed him and sanctified him." God, through Moses' action, provided
a high priest - a Forerunner of Christ under the Old Covenant - to
preside over the rites and ceremonies of Israel's worship in the desert
tabernacle. The present passage describes the consecration of Moses'
brother, Aaron, who was the first in the long line of Aaronic high
priests. This lineage of men presided for centuries over Israel's
worship, both in the desert tabernacles and later in the temples at
Jerusalem. The line of Aaronic high priests continued to serve until
the third and last temple was destroyed by the Roman legions in AD 70.

In two significant ways, Aaron was a type or foreshadowing of our "great
High Priest Who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God"
(Heb. 4:14). 1) The Lord Jesus was a flesh-and-blood human being like
Aaron. 2) God chose Christ from among men to act as High Priest, for He
did not take the role upon Himself, but was designated by God, just as
Aaron was. In addition, since no type perfectly represents the
fulfillment, there are also three differences between Christ our great
High Priest and the Aaronic high priests. 1) The Lord Jesus had no
earthly father. 2) He was not in the lineage of Aaron. And 3) He never
offered sacrifices for sins in an earthly tabernacle or temple. Rather,
He ushered in the age of the New Covenant, fulfilling the sacrifice for
sins by uniting history and eternity in one final act of Divine

>From among all the sons of the tribe of Levi, God chose Aaron to be
the first high priest in the long line that continued until shortly
after the Lord's Passion and Resurrection, for as the text says: "the
Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons" (Lev. 8:1,2).
Similarly, as the Apostle teaches, Christ "was appointed by Him Who said
to Him, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee" (Heb. 5 :5).
Nevertheless, Jesus was of the same humanity as the high priests of the
Old Covenant, so that we have "a great High Priest Who has passed
through the heavens," yet is a fellow human being Who is able "to
sympathize with our weaknesses... Who in every respect has been tempted
as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:14,15).

The Lord Jesus, as our great High Priest, was chosen by God to share the
same role before God as did the high priests of the Old Covenant: "to
act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices
for sins" (Heb. 5:1). Notice that when Aaron was led before the
assembly of Israel to be consecrated as high priest, "the calf for the
sin-offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread" also
were brought to the ceremony (Lev. 8:2). Why? So that Aaron would have
gifts to offer and a sacrifice for the people's accumulated sins.
Christ, on the other hand, knowing full well that God takes no eternal
pleasure in men's imperfect burnt offerings for sins, came, instead,
truly to accomplish God's eternal perfect will - to offer the one,
unique and ultimate sin offering of Himself, once and for all in His Own
body (Heb. 10:6,10).

Just as Aaron did not present himself to serve as high priest but was
chosen of God (Lev. 8:1,2), so also the Lord Jesus was chosen to do
God's will (Heb. 10:7). Here, however, ends the likenesses between
Aaronic high priests and Christ. Christ is an eternal High Priest,
holding "His priesthood permanently, because He continues for ever"
(Heb. 7:24). Furthermore, our great High Priest's offering for sin was
offered not just on earth (on the Cross), and "not into a sanctuary made
with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to
appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Heb. 9:24).

Glory in the highest to God, the One in Trinity, through Whom goodwill
appeared among men to deliver Adam from the ancient curse; for He is the
Lover of mankind!


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