Sunday, December 30, 2007

Daily Meditation 12/30/07


Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 93, 96; PM Psalm 34
1 Sam. 1:1-2,7b-28; Col. 1:9-20; Luke 2:22-40

From Forward Day by Day:

John 1:1-18. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The first phrases of the Gospel of John offer some of the most beautiful and meaningful writing in the Bible. Poetic, inspired, and evocative, it's very different from the relatively dry openings of the other three gospels. Hearing those words read aloud sends chills down my spine.

In just a few short months each year, we go through all the known highlights of Jesus' life: from the Nativity to the Epiphany to his baptism to the beginning of his public ministry, from his suffering and crucifixion to the glories of his resurrection and ascension.

But these words from John give us the essential fact of Jesus Christ. He is God incarnate. He is the one through whom all creation came to be, from blazing stars to atoms, from microbes to human beings. God is infinite, as far above us in complexity as we are above an amoeba. Yet Jesus took on our form and lived as one of us, for our salvation. What more evidence of God's love could we possibly require?

Today we remember:

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Zonkwa (Abuja, Nigeria)

From: Christmas CLARESHARE December 2006
Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine Community

30th December
Today's gospel, Luke 2:36-40, tells the story of a wonderful old lady called
Visit a grandparent or other elderly person today and give them a surprise.
If this isn't possible write their names down and stick them on your fridge
door after asking God for a special blessing for them.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 6, December 30
Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

30 December

The first thought to cross my mind when assigned this day was, "Oh, no! Of all days . . .", not being too sure of my ability to handle this, the first anniversary of being without my husband, Danny. But then, I decided the Lord allowed this day out of five weeks to be assigned to none but me for His own reasons, and accepted it as from Him realizing I'm not alone in experiencing a "first Christmas without" a spouse or some loved one.

Upon reading some of the Scriptures for this day [from Year 1 Readings], I noted in them that the Lord, whose birthday we celebrated just a few days ago, not only brought to us salvation [Isaiah 25:9], but He will also "swallow up death forever (and) the Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces . . ." [Isaiah 25:8].

We may not understand now why many of us did not receive our miracle in the form of a loved one being healed while on this earth, yet "in perfect faithfulness (He has) done marvelous things, things planned long ago" [Isaiah 25:1]. Yes, what we cannot see as His "marvelous things" or as being done "well" [Mark 7:37], when trusting Him "who is, and who was, and who is to come," will be accepted by Him as "sacrifice . . . burnt offering" [Psalm 20:3].

Life's canvas colors we may not choose, and
Sometimes God paints with the darker hues.
Tho' we don't understand the reasons why,
And may never till the 'bye and bye' . . .

Yet, we will believe what his Word doth tell . . .
In His LOVE, "He doeth all things well." -- gjs, 1/98, [Mark 7:37]

So, in spite of what kind of year this may have been for some of us, let us all anticipate the New Year that is nearly upon us "trust[ing] in the name of the LORD our God" [Psalm 20:7b], with this prayer for each other:

"May he give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed." Psalm 20:4

~ Gina Stevenson
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Oh, Dear Father,

You never promised that there would be no pain, but You give us grace in spite of the pain we endure. Our loss is close, so very close, to Your heart. You understand our hearts. You have become as vulnerable as we are through the life of Your Son. "Your heart is touched with our grief." Thank You for Your boundless love and care. We don't like the pain but we are thrilled each time Your presence is made known.


Speaking to the Soul:

God of good news

Daily Reading for December 30 • The First Sunday after Christmas Day

God of good news,
today you begin again to reshape our lives and communities.
You do not start from the outside, but from within.
You begin in the hidden place.
Behind the inn. Before the marriage. At the wrong time.
You invite a handful of guests into your company.
Shepherds. Local children perhaps. Maybe some animals.
You join the community of the invisible ones.
The homeless and hopeless. Refugees, fleeing a tyrant king.
Later, you find fisherfolk. And a tax collector. More children.
The small. The unimportant. The forgotten. The frightened.
These are the people you choose,
as little by little you start sharing
the secrets of a kingdom that will change the whole world.
From within. From the hidden place.

God of good news:
as we celebrate worldwide the tidings of your birth,
as we set the heavens echoing with angel songs,
as we contemplate a new year and pray for peace on earth. . .
remind us of the hidden places, of the forgotten people,
of the starting-points and the time it takes,
of the pace of the slowest and the dreams of the children
and the human scale and the soul of our towns
and the freedom to create secret dens.
Remind us that the great joy promised to the whole people
starts with those who need it most, in places where they hide.
Remind us, with all our seasonal cheer and tinsel,
that some people are left out in the cold;
that it is there, with them, that you are being born into the world again;
that it is there, through them, that you will change the world.

God of good news,
help us to find you again
in the hidden place.

From Advent Readings from Iona by Brian Woodcock and Jan Sutch Pickard (Wild Goose Publications, 2000).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

The Prophet said, "Let him groan, for groaning is one of the Names of God in which the sick man may find relief."
— Muhammad quoted in Merton and Sufism edited by Rob Baker and Gray Henry

To Practice This Thought: Don't hesitate to express all your feelings to God.
++++++++++ Reflections

In giving us His Son, His only Word (for He possesses no other), God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and He has no more to say ... because what He spoke before to the prophets in parts, He has now spoken all at once by giving us the All who is His Son.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians


The man who follows Christ in solitary mourning is greater than he
who praises Christ amid the congregation of men.

St. Isaac the Syrian

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Letting Go of Old Hurts

One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: "What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it." Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.

Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. But listen to Paul: "For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God's work" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. Paul says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone's fault against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is God's work, but we are God's ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.

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

Day Thirty - The Three Notes

The humility, love and joy which mark the lives of Tertiaries are all God given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him. We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.
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Upper Room Daily Reflection

In the Mystery
December 30th, 2007
Sunday’s Reflection

IN THE FACE of this central Christian mystery, we may be inclined only to stop and adore. But nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus urge us to adore him.

Rather, he calls us to follow him and thereby to partake of his life, his energy, his spirit — living the divine life here and now by participating in the mystery of the Incarnation.

- Michael Downey
Weavings Journal

From p. 29 of Weavings Journal, November/December 1999. Copyright © 1999 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

The Feast of the Word Becoming Flesh

In Jesus, God achieved the perfect synthesis of divine and human. God gave humanity the vision of the whole and assured us that we could be at home within that vision. The incarnation of Jesus demonstrates that God meets us where we are. It assures us that we do not have to leave the world or relinquish our humanity in order to know God, but simply that we must turn from evil. In the birth of the God-man, we have been "consecrated in truth," so we are sent into the world to continue the saving pattern of embodiment.

We tend to fear incarnation precisely because it makes religion so real, so particular, so worldly. We prefer to keep religion on the level of word, yet the Jesus-pattern is word- becoming-flesh. The great lie is that redemption can happen apart from incarnation. Annie Dillard called it "the scandal of particularity." For the Christian, power is always hidden in powerlessness, just as God was hidden in a poor baby.

We may want the spiritual without the fleshly; we may want the cosmic without the concrete. But if the Word is ever to be loved and shared, we must risk embodiment, which is always concrete and ordinary. There God is both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed.

from New Covenant, "The Incarnation"


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

The Lord of all stooped down to our level

To prevent the wickedness of men and women causing the entire race to be destroyed a second time, one man was singled out. He was to be called the father of believers; from him would issue both the promise of a kingdom and the seed of its eternal king. Subsequently multiplied by the faith of the Gentiles, that seed came to its term in Christ, who had appeared to the patriarchs and was foreshadowed by the law. After speaking through the prophets, he came in person to fulfill both law and prophecy, bringing the remedy by his grace that the prescriptions of the law had been powerless to confer, since by that time sin had so infected the whole body, that is to say the entire human race, that the disease was now too firmly entrenched for cure; it was beyond all human remedy.

And so, conforming himself to our humble bodily condition in order to form us afresh on the model of his own glorified body, there came the one who is to come again. He came in person, because only the craftsman is master of his work, only the potter has the right to decide what to make of his clay.

Paulinus of Nola

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


"All my fresh springs shall be in Thee." Psalm 87:7 (P.B.V.)

Our Lord never patches up our natural virtues, He re-makes the whole man on the inside. "Put on the new man," i.e., see that your natural human life puts on the garb that is in keeping with the new life. The life God plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power you have, until you learn to draw your life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus. Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience!

The sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts confidence in the natural virtues, because they are not promises of what we are going to be, but remnants of what God created man to be. We will cling to the natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us into contact with the life of Jesus Christ which can never be described in terms of the natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity. God does not build up our natural virtues and transfigure them, because our natural virtues can never come anywhere near what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus

Chesterton Day by Day

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 30, August 30, December 30
Chapter 72: On the Good Zeal Which They Ought to Have

Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness
which separates from God and leads to hell,
so there is a good zeal
which separates from vices and leads to God
and to life everlasting.
This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice
with the most fervent love.
Thus they should anticipate one another in honor (Rom. 12:10);
most patiently endure one another's infirmities,
whether of body or of character;
vie in paying obedience one to another --
no one following what she considers useful for herself,
but rather what benefits another;
tender the charity of sisterhood chastely;
fear God in love;
love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity;
prefer nothing whatever to Christ.
And may He bring us all together to life everlasting!

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Here is the crux of the Rule of Benedict. Benedictine spirituality is not about religiosity. Benedictine spirituality is much more demanding than that. Benedictine spirituality is about caring for the people you live with and loving the people you don't and loving God more than yourself. Benedictine spirituality depends on listening for the voice of God everywhere in life, especially in one another and here. An ancient tale from another tradition tells that a disciple asked the Holy One:
"Where shall I look for Enlightenment?"
"Here," the Holy One said.
"When will it happen?"
"It is happening right now," the Holy said.
"Then why don't I experience it?"
"Because you do not look," the Holy said.
"What should I look for?"
"Nothing," the Holy One said. "Just look."
"At what?"
"Anything your eyes alight upon," the Holy One said.
"Must I look in a special kind of way?"
"No," the Holy One said. "The ordinary way will do."
"But don't I always look the ordinary way?"
"No," the Holy One said. "You don't."
"Why ever not?" the disciple demanded.
"Because to look you must be here," the Holy One said. "You're mostly somewhere else."

Just as Benedict insisted in the Prologue to the rule, he requires at its end: We must learn to listen to what God is saying in our simple, sometimes insane and always uncertain daily lives. Bitter zeal is that kind of religious fanaticism that makes a god out of religious devotion itself. Bitter zeal walks over the poor on the way to the altar. Bitter zeal renders the useless invisible and makes devotion more sacred than community. Bitter zeal wraps us up in ourselves and makes us feel holy about it. Bitter zeal renders us blind to others, deaf to those around us, struck dumb in the face of the demands of dailiness. Good zeal, monastic zeal, commits us to the happiness of human community and immerses us in Christ and surrenders us to God, minute by minute, person by person, day after day after day. Good zeal provides the foundation for the spirituality of the long haul. It keeps us going when days are dull and holiness seems to be the stuff of more glamorous lives, of martyrdom and dramatic differences. But it is then, just then, when Benedict of Nursia reminds us from the dark of the sixth century that sanctity is the stuff of community in Christ and that any other zeal, no matter how dazzling it looks, is false. Completely false.

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

Sun., Dec. 30, 2007 Joseph the Betrothed; David, Prophet and King; &
James, Brother of the Lord
(Tone 6)
4th Vigil Nativity: Isaiah 11:1-10 Epistle: Galatians
1:11-19 Gospel: St. Matthew 2:13-23

A New Beginning: Isaiah 11:1-10 LXX, especially vs. 10: "And in that day
there shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall arise to rule over the
Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust, and His rest shall be
glorious." St. Cyril of Alexandria directs attention to the newsworthy
significance of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ: "since, through
the mercy of God it was necessary for us to be made worthy of the Spirit
again by being restored to our earlier condition, then the Only-Begotten
Word of God was made man. He was free from sin so that in His unique
triumph of sinlessness the nature of mankind, now crowned once more,
might be enriched with the Holy Spirit, and thus by sanctification it
was refashioned for God....For He was constituted the first
new-beginning of the race since, as God, He anointed all those who
believe in Him."

A new beginning has been released into the pool of the human race, that
we might be enriched with the Holy Spirit and refashioned for God.
There's a news bulletin! Mankind has real access to God! It is now
possible to be restored to our earlier condition before sin and death
wreaked universal havoc in creation, corrupted our hearts and souls, and
made human life wretched. To shepherds tending their flocks near
Bethlehem, Angels announced the birth of God as man, a Divine bulletin
of unimaginable, but worldwide importance. Further statements
concerning the significance of this great reversal in the human
condition were released in Galilee and other regions of Palestine.
Evidence of the operation of this refashioning continue to be reported
on a worldwide basis, via communiques from all continents and nations.

God released advance information through the Prophet Isaiah about this
great upheaval or new beginning and three of its major effects: 1) the
Virgin-born, Only-Begotten Word of God would not function on the basis
of limited knowledge, but with Divine perception and precision; 2) He
would advance the cause of the lowly on a worldwide basis, punishing the
earthly-minded, and destroying "the ungodly one" by righteousness and
truth, and 3) the impact of His rule internationally would have a
transforming effect on the predatory, poisonous, and violent elements of
society, turning people into gentle, caring, innocent persons.

The Holy Spirit rested upon the Lord Jesus as a man. He was filled with
"the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and
strength, the Spirit of knowledge and godliness," and "the Spirit of the
fear of God" (vss. 2,3). And while the Spirit accompanied the Lord
Jesus as His Equal, Christ our God has made it possible for the same
Spirit to come into men, that "after Christ...a Comforter should not be
lacking unto us," as St. Gregory the Theologian states it. Thus as
Christ did not "judge according to appearance, nor reprove according to
report," but with Divine acuity, so also His holy ones, through the
Spirit, are being enabled to see and speak with insight and accuracy
that defies mere human perception.

As you know from the Gospels, the Lord Jesus advanced the "cause of the
lowly" (vs. 4) by healing, teaching truth, and loving sinners. At the
same time, He punished the earthly-minded and began the destruction of
"the ungodly one" (vs. 4). And He continues that work through His
Church, so that we may share in this transformation until He completes
it supremely at the end.

Using the imagery of wild and domestic animals, the Prophet revealed
what the Lord does in restoring human personality: builds up meekness,
tenderness, simplicity, and humility (vss. 6-9). Theodoret of Cyrus
notes: "we see the accomplishment of the prophecy in the churches:
emperors...soldiers, artisans, servants, and beggars partake together at
the Holy Table."

Listen, O mountains and hills and the regions about Judah: for Christ
cometh to save man whom He did create; for He is the Lover of mankind.


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