Monday, December 31, 2007

Daily Meditation 12/31/07


Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

"O God, all holy one, you are our Mother and our Father and we are your children. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may be able to discern your work in the universe. And be able to see Your features in every one of Your children. May we learn that there are many paths but all lead to You. Help us to know that you have created us for family, for togetherness, for peace, for gentleness, for compassion, for caring, for sharing.

May we know that You want us to care for one another as those who know that they are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, Your family, the human family. Help us to beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks, so that we may be able to live in peace and harmony, wiping away the tears from the eyes of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And may we know war no more, as we strive to be what You want us to be: Your children, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Desmond M. Tutu Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa


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.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 46, 48
1 Kings 3:5-14; James 4:13-17;5:7-11; John 5:1-15

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 46. The LORD of hosts is with us.

It's the end of another (secular) year, filled with triumphs, losses, pain, healing, great joys and great sorrows. Tomorrow we switch over to 2008, imagining that we can take on new virtues with the new year and hoping that the hardships of the old are really past.

I once made ambitious New Year's resolutions, sweeping in their scope and optimism. These days, I don't bother. I know what will happen: sooner rather than later, they'll slip away, unfulfilled.

Instead, I make small promises as I go along. Today I will pray the Daily Office; today I'll find time to do something special with my children. Today I will exercise; today I'll tidy up the clutter around my chair. Today I will call my parents; today I'll ask a colleague out for coffee.

Most of all, I'll look for God in all that I do and all whom I meet. I'll remember to thank God for all my blessings-and to look for the blessings that aren't as obvious as they might be. I'll remember that God is present in all things and all events, today and always. Amen.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Zululand (South Africa)

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

St Sylvester was a Pope. You may have noticed that all Bishops and Popes
have coats of arms with mottos (even if they are not in the least
aristocratic!) Pope Benedict's motto is Cooperatores Christi - Co-workers of

Archbishop Gardin, a Franciscan, has the lovely motto, Enthralled with the
beauty of God.

A bishop who is a Claresharer and who will be reading this has as his motto
Duc in altum - put out into the deep.

Chose your motto for the coming year - any language will do.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 7, December 31
Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

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

People of peace

Did the angels sound military trumpets when Christ was born? The Jews, who were permitted war, heard the sound of such trumpets; they were allowed to hate their enemies. The angels of peace sing a different song to the people of peace. They do not call men to war. They proclaim peace and the oracles of the prophets. They proclaim peace, not to murderers and warmongers, but to those who in good will are inclined to concord.

Let people pretend what they will about their own injuries. If they did not love war, they would not war continually among themselves. What did Christ teach besides peace? What did he express himself on besides peace? He saluted his disciples with, Peace be with you. He prescribed it as the only worthy form of greeting for Christians. The apostles, mindful of this, begin the epistles with wishes of peace to all and to those whom they particularly love. Whoever wishes for good health desires an excellent thing; but whoever wishes for peace desires the very totality of happiness.

Erasmus of Rotterdam, Erasmus (1466 - 1536), canon regular of Saint Augustine, was a prolific writer during his time and had a great influence in all fields of knowledge.

The Light Has Come

John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

It happened when I was only 12 years old. I was a paperboy who won a subscription sales contest-a trip to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Wow, three days and nights without mom, dad, brothers or sister to bother me. Fantastic!

Upon arrival the park ranger sat us all down for an orientation. The ranger warned us not to go out on the trails after dark. "It's too dangerous," he said.

We went on a trail to the cave. Then we took a boat ride through part of the cave having to carry the boat over certain spots. We ate supper around a campfire before heading to bed for the night.

I was awakened around 2:00am by a beautiful full moon that sent light into my cabin room. I disregarded the park ranger's warning and slipped quietly out onto one of the trails. It was a cool evening just right for hiking on a trail. The moonlight assured my safety, I reasoned, as I hiked deeper and deeper into the woods. I was having so much fun I didn't notice that the trees were forming a canopy that light couldn't penetrate. Nor did I see the clouds that would soon conceal the full moon.

Before I knew it I was surrounded by darkness. The trail that only moments earlier seemed so wide had vanished. I panicked! Wiping tears from my eyes I began running desperately in an attempt to find the trail and my way back to safety. The harder I ran the more lost I became. It was hopeless!

But then I noticed a glimmer of light in the distance. I also heard a faint voice calling out, "Mark! Mark! Where are you?" Running as hard as I could towards the light I called back, "Here! I'm over here!"

Realizing how adventurous 12 year old boys are, the park ranger had done a bed check at 2:30am. When I wasn't found in bed a search party was organized and sent out. Soon I was united with my savior, the park ranger. When I was returned to my cabin I never ventured back out onto the trail.

God did a bed check on His creation. He found people lost in the darkness of sin. The situation seemed hopeless. So God sent out a search party. Jesus came to rescue us from the darkness! The light of the world came. The first of the coming light was called the Star of Bethlehem. It came on that first Christmas so long ago. It's light signaled the coming of a greater light, Jesus. The light has come. He has saved us from the darkness. Now He calls upon all Christians to shine the light of their faith into the darkness of the world so the lost can find their way back to God.

Thank you Lord for rescuing us. Thank you for being our Savior. Thank you for allowing us to light the way for others.

~ Mark S. Armstrong
Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA

Lord Jesus,

Your beloved disciple calls you the Light of the World. Even with all the storms of doubt and fear You are still the one who gives us the ability to find our way. And, not only back to You, but You show us the paths that our efforts should follow each day. We need You. We've tried living without You and we confess that it did not work. Help us to remember that, and to always ask for Your guidance. A new year is about to begin. Remind us to carry our Light!


Speaking to the Soul:

Not much time left

Daily Reading for December 31 • The Eve of the Holy Name

Something about this time of year makes us resolve to do all manner of things better. Almost all our good intentions will be history in a week or two. But there is also that other aspect of this time of year, the part that taps us on the shoulder and whispers that our lives are speeding away, faster and faster, evaporating as we speak. That there is not much time left. That soon we will be gone.

At the end of the year we remember the other years. Look at photos of people who are gone. See our young selves—they, too, are gone. We marvel at them. Was that party really sixty years ago? Was I ever that young?

Yes, comes the answer from the pictures. You were. You still are. I’m still here, inside you, your eighteen-year-old self. But remember, we are leaving soon. Good-bye, good-bye.

The only remedy for that sorrow is a life well lived now. “Love well that which thou must leave ere long,” Shakespeare wrote, and he was right.

Don’t let a day of the new year pass without marking it, because it will be gone when it is over. Put into your days the things you want there—no one else will fill them for you. Anything we have can be taken from us at a moment’s notice. Some of the people in our old photographs are dead already, and one day we will be, as well, and no one knows when.

But today is ours.

From Let Us Bless the Lord, Year One: Meditations on the Daily Office, Advent through Holy Week by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. Copyright © 2004. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every telephone and halt all activity for an hour some day to give people a chance to ponder for a few moments on what it is all about, why they are living, and what they really want.
— James Truslow Adams in the nineteenth century quoted in The Time Is Now by Daniel S. Wolk

To Practice This Thought: Unplug your telephone, or leave your cell phone behind, for one hour. Ask yourself one of the really big questions.
++++++++++ Reflections

In my Little Way there are only very ordinary things.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


Strive as well as you can to enter deeply with the heart into the
church reading and singing and to imprint these on the tablets of
the heart.

Abbot Nazarius

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

God's Imagination

So much of our energy, time, and money goes into maintaining distance from one another. Many if not most of the resources of the world are used to defend ourselves against each other, to maintain or increase our power, and to safeguard our own privileged position.

Imagine all that effort being put in the service of peace and reconciliation! Would there be any poverty? Would there be crimes and wars? Just imagine that there was no longer fear among people, no longer any rivalry, hostility, bitterness, or revenge. Just imagine all the people on this planet holding hands and forming one large circle of love. We say, "I can't imagine." But God says, "That's what I imagine, a whole world not only created but also living in my image."

Upper Room Daily Reflection

I Am Yours
December 31st, 2007
Monday’s Reflection

GOD, IN THIS NEW YEAR, may I no longer be my own but yours. Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing; put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full; let me be empty. Let me have all things; let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God — Creator, Redeemer, and Inspirer — you are mine, and I am yours. May this promise that I hereby make on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.

- W. Paul Jones
An Adaptation of Wesley’s Watchnight Vows
An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful

From p. 438 of An Eclectic Almanac for the Faithful by W. Paul Jones. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Seduced Into Solidarity

Pope John Paul II says many good things in his encyclical Laborem Exercens. He says the best name today for agape love, for perfect Christian love, is solidarity. We thought solidarity was being nice and affirming, but ultimately it's to stay in there with brokenness and let it lead you where it will, and to be willing to pay the price. It led Jesus to the cross.

I think solidarity with pain, with weakness, even with the signs of death in society might be the best name for love in the world today, especially for masculine love, a side of love expressed by both men and women. None of us would choose to be nailed to the cross, or freely take the side of the victims in society. Circumstances will unwittingly trap us there, and finally there will be no noble way out.

We're not converted willingly; we're converted in spite of ourselves. Step by step, God seduces and draws us into solidarity.

from from A Man's Approach to God

The Merton Reflection for the Week of December 31, 2007

For the "new man" everything is new. Even the old is transfigured in the Holy Spirit and is always new. There is nothing to cling to, there is nothing to be hoped for in what is already past-it is nothing. The new man is he who can find reality where it cannot be seen by the eyes of the flesh-where it is not yet- where it comes into being the moment he sees it. And would not be (at least for him) if he did not see it. The new man lives in a world that is always being created and renewed. He lives in this realm of renewal and creation. He lives in Life.

Thomas Merton. "A Search for Solitude." Journals, Volume 3. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997: 269

Thought to Remember:

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans.

Thomas Merton. "Hagia Sophia" in The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions Publishing Co., 1978: 363.

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

People of peace

Did the angels sound military trumpets when Christ was born? The Jews, who were permitted war, heard the sound of such trumpets; they were allowed to hate their enemies. The angels of peace sing a different song to the people of peace. They do not call men to war. They proclaim peace and the oracles of the prophets. They proclaim peace, not to murderers and warmongers, but to those who in good will are inclined to concord.

Let people pretend what they will about their own injuries. If they did not love war, they would not war continually among themselves. What did Christ teach besides peace? What did he express himself on besides peace? He saluted his disciples with, Peace be with you. He prescribed it as the only worthy form of greeting for Christians. The apostles, mindful of this, begin the epistles with wishes of peace to all and to those whom they particularly love. Whoever wishes for good health desires an excellent thing; but whoever wishes for peace desires the very totality of happiness.

Erasmus of Rotterdam

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


"The God of Israel will be your rereward." Isaiah 52:12

Security from Yesterday. "God requireth that which is past." At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for To-morrow. "For the Lord will go before you." This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rereward. God's hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for To-day. "For ye shall not go out with haste." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not Established in This Rule

Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.

But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.

Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

This last chapter of the rule leaves us with a reading list for future spiritual development: the Bible, the Mothers and Fathers of the Church and their commentaries on scripture, and the classic contributions of other writers on the monastic life. But Benedict does not believe that the simple reading or study of spiritual literature is sufficient. He tells us to keep this rule, its values, its concepts, its insights. It is not what we read, he implies, it is what we become that counts. Every major religious tradition, in fact, has called for a change of heart, a change of life rather than for simply an analysis of its literature. The Hasidim, for instance, tell the story of the disciple who said to the teacher, "Teacher, I have gone completely through the Torah? What must I do now?"

And the teacher said, "Oh, my friend, the question is not, have you gone through the Torah. The question is, has the Torah gone through you?"

Even at the end of his rule, Benedict does not promise that we will be perfect for having lived it. What Benedict does promise is that we will be disposed to the will of God, attuned to the presence of God, committed to the search for God and just beginning to understand the power of God in our lives. Why? Because Benedictine simplicity gentles us into the arms of God. Benedictine community supports us on the way to God. Benedictine balance makes a wholesome journey possible. Monastic prayer, rooted in scripture lights the way. It is a way of life, a spirituality that makes the humdrum holy and the daily the stuff of high happiness. It is a way of life that lives life to the fullest offering, as this final chapter promises, that even more of the meaning of life is there for our taking if we will only follow this simple but profoundly life-altering way.

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

Monday, December 31, 2007 The
Venerable Theophylact of Ochrid
6th Vigil Nativity: Daniel 2:31-36, 44-45 Epistle: James 2:14-26
Gospel: St. Mark 12:13-17

The Kingdom of God: Daniel 2:31-36, 44-45 LXX, especially vs. 44: "And
in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which
shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another
people." St. Mark reports that, in the aftermath of the arrest of St.
John the Forerunner, "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of
the Kingdom of God" (Mk. 1:14), which caught the attention of God's
ancient People who were looking for a kingdom which [would] never be
destroyed" (Dan. 2:44). They hoped, therefore, that Jesus would end the
People's long domination by great empires - their condition ever since
Daniel's time.

Briefly, under the Maccabees, there had been self-rule for the People,
but then the pagan Romans came - yet another empire to dominate them.
Jesus' message of God's Kingdom was electrifying. Was the promised
Kingdom at hand? The People knew the prophecy: a Kingdom that God would
introduce would "break in pieces all these kingdoms" under which they
had lived and would "bring them to an end" in a Divine Kingdom that
would "stand for ever" (vs. 44). The Baptizer even foretold the coming
of the Messiah, God's ruler, Who would take "His winnowing His
hand, and...thoroughly clean out His threshing floor and gather His
wheat into the barn" (Mt. 3:12). The Messiah would usher in the great
Kingdom of God. Did He not?!

Beloved of the Lord, as the People united to Christ both as King and
God, you should understand that we are living in the age of the Kingdom
of God. Hopefully you understand what the Lord Jesus meant when He said
that the Kingdom is "at hand" (Mk. 1:15), for we experience the working
of the Kingdom in our lives at present, even as we look for it to be
fully realized in the future. We are blessed with both retrospect and
prospect. We know in retrospect what the Lord stated clearly: "My
kingdom is not of this world" (Jn. 18:36), yet in prospect we also pray
as He taught us, "Thy Kingdom come...on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt.

This present reading is the prophecy of the Kingdom of God which the
Lord Jesus actually initiated. The Prophet Daniel received the first
hint of the coming Kingdom from God in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king
of Babylon (605-562 BC). It happened this way: the Babylonian monarch
had a troubling, strange dream that none could interpret until God
disclosed its meaning to Daniel, after which the Prophet was able to
explain its interpretation to the king (Dan. 2:31-36,44-45). Daniel
drew from the imagery of the dream to illumine its historical
implications. God would bring an end to the succession of human
kingdoms with His own Kingdom. His Kingdom would be introduced without
human agency, like a stone "cut from a mountain by no human hand" (vs.
45), and thereafter it would stand forever.

Here is the marvel of the Kingdom of God. Already it has a two thousand
year history. We can see that it continues effectively in this world
because its dominion is not subject to the limitations of space and
time. It has broken many earthly kingdoms in pieces, letting the wind
of history carry them away, "so that not a trace of them [can] be found"
(vs. 35). But the reign of Christ remains, defying human control. His
Church, "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own
special People" (1 Pet. 2:9), continues to hold dual citizenship in the
Kingdom of God while living in a succession of many nations down through

The great Feast of the Lord's Nativity is also a celebration for each of
us that we have "a visa" from the "holy nation" of the King of kings and
Lord of lords. "The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure"
(Dan. 2:45), for Christ is "born on earth in Bethlehem for our

Today, the Beginningless doth begin, and the Word becometh Incarnate.
Let us shout ceaselessly, crying, Glory to God in the highest and on
earth peace, good-will towards men.


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