Saturday, December 22, 2007

Daily Meditation 12/22/07



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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23)
Zech. 8:9-17; Rev. 6:1-17; Matt. 25:31-46

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 25:31-46. "Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

For months, we've been barraged with advertisements that play on our desire to please: Buy her this expensive piece of jewelry to show her how much you love her; buy him these expensive golf clubs; shower the children with toys and games; don't leave anyone out. You're judged by the money you spend.

This weekend brings the final push. The roads leading toward our local shopping mall, that Mecca of Mammon, will be impassable; drivers will crawl through the parking lots searching for a space, lines will be long, and frayed tempers will snap.

Think about pulling back just a bit. Try buying fewer presents that mean more. Try showing your love with time and attention, sincere words and helpful deeds. And think about doing something to help someone in need, whether nearby or far away.

Most presents will be forgotten before the credit card bills come due. But helping the widow, the orphan, the lonely, the sick, the prisoner-these are the gifts that will last.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Yewa (Lagos, Nigeria)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

O Emmanuel

Daily Reading for December 22

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and the Savior of them all: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

When we pray, O come, O come Emmanuel, we are asking that God will indeed come to us in human flesh, that Christ’s incarnation will be made real for us. This is a petition of hope and for deliverance. It is a prayer that, had God not made the first move toward us, we would not be able to utter. God does not remain distant from us, but actually enters into our joys and sufferings. In the words of a popular Christmas carol, “And he feeleth for our sadness, And he shareth in our gladness. . . .”

Rather than ask why the innocent suffer or where God is when there is suffering, we need to ask ourselves how it is that we cause the innocent to suffer and what we can do to alleviate suffering. How much can we share of our own brokenness so that someone else can endure the otherwise unendurable? The way people know God is through us—we are here to make God’s kingdom known to other people.

And it is only because Christ is Emmanuel—God with us—that Israel, and in fact all of us, are able to rejoice! It is when Christ comes as Emmanuel that the importance, vocation and dignity of every person will be restored.

O God with us,
whose law and life and rule are love;
You are, in fact, our only hope.
Greed and injustice
in the justice of the nations
discover us deep into poverty,
starvation, corruption and war.
And into our homes sneak silent abuse
and assault,
incest and injury—
a polite and private life of poverty,
starvation, corruption and war.
Make no mistake—we
don’t know the slightest
what we’re asking you: to be saved
will be a costly bargain—
and one we hadn’t rully reasoned on or planned.
you are our only hope,
O God with us,

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


Spiritual Practice of the Day

The sun is new again, all day.
— Heraclitus quoted in Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus translated by Brooks Haxton

To Practice This Thought: Rejoice and give thanks for this stunning miracle.
++++++++++ Reflections

He is within me at each moment; He is guiding and inspiring me with what I must say and do.
St Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


At the Last Judgment the righteous will be recognized only by
their humility and their considering themselves worthless, and not
by good deeds, even if they have done them. This is the true

Holy New Hieromartyr Barlaam


Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Light in the Darkness

We walk in a "ravine as dark as death" (Psalm 23:4), and still we have nothing to fear because God is at our side: God's staff and crook are there to soothe us (see Psalm 23:4). This is not just a consoling idea. It is an experience of the heart that we can trust.

Our lives are full of suffering, pain, disillusions, losses and grief, but they are also marked by visions of the coming of the Son of Man "like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into west" (Matthew 24:27). These moments in which we see clearly, hear loudly, and feel deeply that God is with us on the journey make us shine as a light into the darkness. Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. Your light must shine in people's sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).

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

Day Twenty Two - The First Note -


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples' feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.


Upper Room Daily Reflection

Wreath of Love
December 22nd, 2007
Saturday’s Reflection

WE ARE LOVED before we can even utter the desire to be worthy. We do not earn the cloak of beauty that is wrapped around our souls or the wreath of love that God gives each of us.

- Stephanie Ford
Kindred Souls

From p. 30 of Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship by Stephanie Ford. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Crossing a Line

The Scriptures very clearly have a "bias toward action." Simply put, the word of God tells us that if you don't do it, you in fact have not heard it and do not believe it (see Matthew 21:28–32; James 1:22–25).

The only way that we become convinced of our own sense of empowerment and the power of the Spirit and the truth of the Gospel is by crossing a line—a line of decision, testing, risking, doing and owning the consequences.

It has a certain degree of "non-sensical-ness," of "unprovability" to it: That's why we call it faith. When we cross that line, we act in a new way based on what we believe the Kingdom values are. Walking is probably a lot more important than talking, even if we walk the wrong way for a while.

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.


You magnify him because amid this world's darkness, being more luminous than the sun, more beautiful than the moon, more fragrant than the rose, and whiter than snow, you reveal more fully the splendor of God.

You magnify him, not by giving him an increase of his boundless magnitude, but by bringing, amid the world's darkness, the light of the true divinity. You magnify him when you are raised to so high a dignity that you receive the fullness of grace; when you merit to receive the visit of the Holy Spirit; and when, becoming the Mother of God, while remaining an inviolate Virgin, you give birth to a Savior for a world that is being lost.

But whence do you get the power to do this? From the fact that the Lord is with you, the Lord who makes his gifts become your merits. That is why it is said that you "magnify" him so much more to the extent that you are more magnified in and by him.

Your soul, then, magnifies the Lord only in the sense that you yourself are magnified by him, even to receiving magnificently the fullness of grace and reaching the magnificence of a unique glory. For you are the receptacle of the Word, the cellar of the new wine which inebriates the sobriety of believers. You are the Mother of God!

Adam of Perseigne

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


"No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." John 6:44

When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once - will I react on the revelation which God gives - will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is an impertinence. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God's throne.

In preaching the gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to persuasive power, a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly. I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to disassociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.

Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God who draws me, and my relationship to Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 22, August 22, December 22
Chapter 65: On the Prior of the Monastery

It happens all too often that the constituting of a Prior
gives rise to grave scandals in monasteries.
For there are some who become inflated with the evil spirit of pride
and consider themselves second Abbots.
By usurping power
they foster scandals and cause dissensions in the community.
Especially does this happen
in those places where the Prior is constituted
by the same Bishop or the same Abbots
who constitute the Abbot himself.
What an absurd procedure this is
can easily be seen;
for it gives the Prior an occasion for becoming proud
from the very time of his constitution,
by putting the thought into his mind
that he is freed from the authority of his Abbot:
"For," he will say to himself, "you were constituted
by the same persons who constitute the Abbot."
From this source are stirred up envy, quarrels, detraction,
rivalry, dissensions and disorders.
For while the Abbot and the Prior are at variance,
their souls cannot but be endangered by this dissension;
and those who are under them,
currying favor with one side or the other,
go to ruin.
The guilt for this dangerous state of affairs
rests on the heads of those
whose action brought about such disorder.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007 Nativity Fast Great-Martyr
Anastasia & Chrysogonos
Kellia: Numbers 20:22-29 Epistle: Galatians
3:8-12 Gospel: St. Luke 13:18-29

Foreshadows ~ VI * The Extraordinary One: Numbers 20:22-29 LXX,
especially vs. 24: "Let Aaron be added to his people; for ye shall
certainly not go into the land which I have given the children of
Israel, because ye provoked Me at the water of strife." When the angel
of the Lord appeared to Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Theotokos,
he directed Joseph to take Mary to himself as his wife, for he explained
to Joseph that she would bear an extraordinary son Whom Joseph was to
name Jesus, "for He will save His people from their sins" (Mt. 1:21).
By a conception "of the Holy Spirit" beyond nature, this promised child
was born (Mt. 1:20) and grew into the incomparable man, Jesus of
Nazareth. This same Jesus was "attested by miracles, wonders
and signs which God did through Him," Whom God also "raised up...being
exalted to the right hand of God" and made "both Lord and Christ" (Acts

Beloved, through this unique man, our Lord and Christ, God has provided
something extraordinary for us (Heb. 11:40): "a kingdom which cannot be
shaken...[and] grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence
and godly fear" (Heb. 12:28). Let us understand further: this man,
Jesus Christ, because He also is fully God as well as fully a man, is
"the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13:8). Christ, therefore,
enabled the fallible man, Aaron, to receive this same "kingdom which
cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28), even though Aaron lived centuries before
Jesus, even though he "provoked God at the water of strife" (Nu. 20:24),
and even though in his lifetime Aaron was denied entrance into the Holy

The glorious Nativity we are preparing to celebrate soars with power and
meaning not only above those who live in this century, but above all men
in all history, exactly because of the extraordinary One Who was born,
Jesus Christ. Recall the Apostolic message concerning this unique Child
and Man Whom we call our Savior and Lord. They declare that "God was in
Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses
to them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

Hence, exclusion from the land, which God imposed on Aaron, as it turns
out, was trifling in comparison with that which Aaron receives now
together with us. Still, Aaron's failure is a warning not to approach
the great Feast of the Nativity frivolously, looking only for brightly
wrapped joys in this life, for we, like Aaron, also shall have to appear
before "the dread Judgment Seat" of this same Jesus Christ and answer
for our rebellion against His commands.

Let us humbly confess how easily disobedience overtakes us, remembering
what occurred when the wandering People of God came to Kadesh in the
wilderness of Zin. "There was no water there" and "they assembled
themselves against Moses and against Aaron" (Nu. 20:2). Humbly, Moses
and Aaron "fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to
them" (Nu. 20:6). Then the Lord told Moses to take his rod, "call ye
the assembly, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye to the rock
before them, and it shall give forth its waters" (Nu. 20:8). And the
two brothers gathered the assembly together and they said to the People,
"Hear me ye disobedient ones; must we bring you water out of this rock?"
(Nu. 20:10). And Moses "lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his
rod twice; and much water came forth" (Nu. 20.11).

Moses and Aaron rebelled in three ways: 1) Moses spoke alone - not with
Aaron, 2) he spoke to the People and not the rock, and 3) he struck the
rock instead of speaking to it. They did not follow God's orders.
Finding them disobedient, God said to them, "Because ye have not
believed Me...therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the
land" (Nu. 20:12).

What shall we render to Thee, O Christ, for that Thou didst appear on
earth as a man for our sake? Wherefore, O God before the ages, help us
to be obedient and have mercy on us.


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