Sunday, December 16, 2007

Daily Meditation Dec 16, 2007


We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord,
and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds:
Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste!
Come, come to earth.
Dispel the night and show Thy face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

O Thou whom nations sighed for,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Wilt break the captive fetters,
Redeem the long lost fold.

Dear Savior haste!
Come, come to earth.
Dispel the night and show Thy face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.


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 63:1-8(9-11), 98; PM Psalm 103
Amos 9:11-15; 2 Thess. 2:1-3,13-17; John 5:30-47


From Forward Day by Day:
Matthew 11:2-11. Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?

Two millennia ago, the Jews sought the promised Messiah; things were grim under Roman rule.

Most people expected the Messiah to be a warlord who would lead them to military glory. John the Baptist, himself widely considered a candidate for Messiahship, wasn't so sure. Never diplomatic, John sent followers to ask Jesus: Are you the one? Jesus simply invited him to examine the evidence: the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, the poor hear the good news.

In our day, people are again looking for someone to set things right. They want some new messiah, or Jesus' return. Once again, they seem to be yearning for someone who will enforce their idea of what needs to be done, whether it's yanking all the good people to heaven and leaving the bad behind to suffer, or imposing some sort of dictatorship here on earth.

I suspect that, now as then, God's kingdom will be established not by fighters, but by those who work quietly among the poor, the sick, the despairing. Jesus is here, in every heart that will admit him and that tries to do God's work.


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Worcester (Canterbury, England)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

O Sapientia

Daily Reading for December 16 • The Third Sunday of Advent

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and reach from one end of the earth to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

In his book, The Far-Spent Night, Edward West pointed out that the first thing needed in preparing to meet the Lord is prudence or “good sense.” “It is good sense,” he said, “which makes the disobedient listen to the wisdom of the just. It is good sense which makes [us] cope with the whole of life as a unit. It is good sense applied to every area of living which is the outward and visible sign of an inner integrity. In short, it means to have understanding, but it is an understanding of wisdom.”

In the context of the Old Testament, wisdom is always a gift from God, rather than some skill or knowledge that we can gain for ourselves. In the context of the New Testament, wisdom is a person. Wisdom is who Christ is and what Christ does. Wisdom is often thought of as feminine—as the Greek “Sophia”—through which we access a deeper knowledge and understanding of God not only as creator, but also as nurturer and sustainer.

It is when wisdom truly comes to us that we will have the prudence—the good sense—to listen and to follow where Christ leads. In asking Christ to come as Wisdom, we are praying for a unity in our life that will draw us into purpose and vision, and away from fragmentation and unproductivity. The Wisdom that is Christ may well lead us in the ways of the just: into compassion, concern, peace, justice, and love.

O Wisdom,
gift on the breath of creation,
measurer of the earth and seas,
singer of paths for stars and planets in the heavens,
holder of all things together
since before time and forever.

My sister, my friend,
as the Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world,
and as you know every word that is said,
come as mentor and guide:
so I’ll delight in knowledge,
claim intuition and understanding for my own,
discern, learn
what his advent holds for me.

O Wisdom, my sister,
let us lean close, laugh and weep together,
be one with each other as we shout our whispered greeting
to the Lord of life.

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

Spiritual Practice of the Day

The link between "natural" disasters and our behavior is growing stronger — from the effects of global warming on weather crises and the way that global starvation is a matter of unjust distribution to the loss of species due to the expansion of the human population — we can see the finger of blame pointing at ourselves.
— Sallie McFague in Life Abundant

To Practice This Thought: Don't blame the Divine for the next "act of God." Look instead at your consumer choices and style of living.
++++++++++ Reflections

Come, then, O beautiful soul. Since you know now that your desired Beloved lives hidden within your heart, strive to be really hidden with Him, and you will embrace Him within you and experience Him with loving affection.
St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians


O monk, take thou the greatest possible care that thou sin not,
lest thou disgrace God Who dwelleth in thee, and thou drive Him
out of thy soul.

Abba Epiphanius

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Freedom to Refuse Love

Often hell is portrayed as a place of punishment and heaven as a place of reward. But this concept easily leads us to think about God as either a policeman, who tries to catch us when we make a mistake and send us to prison when our mistakes become too big, or a Santa Claus, who counts up all our good deeds and puts a reward in our stocking at the end of the year.

God, however, is neither a policeman nor a Santa Claus. God does not send us to heaven or hell depending on how often we obey or disobey. God is love and only love. In God there is no hatred, desire for revenge, or pleasure in seeing us punished. God wants to forgive, heal, restore, show us endless mercy, and see us come home. But just as the father of the prodigal son let his son make his own decision God gives us the freedom to move away from God's love even at the risk of destroying ourselves. Hell is not God's choice. It is ours.

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

Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening communion with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at their disposal give prayer a large part in their daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

All Are Embraced
December 16th, 2007
Sunday’s Reflection

GOD’S ASTOUNDING and radical intervention in our human history cannot be contained in the tame and timid displays of Christmas lights, catchy slogans, or the exchange of gifts.

Advent confronts us once again with God’s unparalleled effort to communicate the message that all humankind is embraced and held close by a God of love. Jesus Christ has come, is present with us, and will come again in final victory when all darkness, pain, and evil will be no more.

In Advent we begin again to try to make plain the wonderful truth of the most extraordinary good news the world has ever heard. Soon we will join the angelic chorus in singing, “Christ the Savior is born.”

- Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

From pp. 20-21 of A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job. Copyright © 2003 by the authors. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Advent Prayer

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come. O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, you showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush and you gave the holy law on Mount Sinai: Come. O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all people; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you: Come. O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel, you [not the systems of this world] control at your will the gate of heaven: Come break down the prison walls of death. O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; o Keystone of the mighty arch of humankind: Come and save these creatures you fashioned from the dust. O Emmanuel, God-With-Us, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people: Come and set us free.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Amen. Lord Jesus, come soon! Lord Jesus, come and free us from the prisons of death. We ask for it together as his people. And we ask for it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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.

God comes to us

The Lord of all, who had made each one of us, stooped down to our level and took us up into his own body, so that, using the same skill and mastery with which he had originally created us, he could fashion us anew.

Not in the grandeur that was his as Lord did he come to us, but in the form of a slave, though slave he never was. He who is the power of God, the Lord of hosts, the helper and protector of all, became like a man deprived of all help; and he who restores sinners to righteousness through faith was himself numbered among criminals. The lamb who takes away the sins of the world was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and he who gives us eternal life endured the pain of death.

To appreciate so sublime a plan, so great a gift, we need his own light to dawn on us from the everlasting hills. It is to those hills that we must lift up our eyes to see how we were saved from hurtling down the path we now climb, and how for the second time in sacred history a tree and a virgin played a prominent part. There is only one path, leading either to condemnation or salvation. No longer must pride direct our course downhill; rather let humility guide our steps upward and so bring us back to the Lord.

Paulinus of Nola

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


"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God . . . praying always . . . " Ephesians 6:13, 18

You have to wrestle against the things that prevent you from getting to God, and you wrestle in prayer for other souls; but never say that you wrestle with God in prayer, it is scripturally untrue. If you do wrestle with God, you will be crippled all the rest of your life. If, when God comes in some way you do not want, you take hold of Him as Jacob did and wrestle with Him, you compel Him to put you out of joint. Don't be a hirpler in God's ways, but be one who wrestles before God with things, becoming more than conqueror through Him. Wrestling before God tells in His Kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you and I am not complete in Christ, I may pray but it avails nothing; but if I am complete in Christ my prayer prevails all the time. Prayer is only effective when there is completeness - "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God."

Always distinguish between God's order and His permissive will, i.e., His providential purpose towards us. God's order is unchangeable; His permissive will is that with which we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to the permissive will of God that enables us to get at His order. "All things work together for good to them that love God" - to those who remain true to God's order, to His calling in Christ Jesus. God's permissive will is the means whereby His sons and daughters are to be manifested. We are not to be like jelly-fish saying, "It's the Lord's will." We have not to put up a fight before God, not to wrestle with God, but to wrestle before God with things. Beware of squatting lazily before God instead of putting up a glorious fight so that you may lay hold of His strength.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 16, August 16, December 16
Chapter 61: How Pilgrim Monks Are To Be Received

But if as a guest she was found exacting or prone to vice,
not only should she be denied membership in the community,
but she should even be politely requested to leave,
lest others be corrupted by her evil life.

If, however, she has not proved to be the kind
who deserves to be put out,
she should not only on her own application be received
as a member of the community,
but she should even be persuaded to stay,
that the others may be instructed by her example,
and because in every place it is the same Lord who is served,
the same King for whom the battle is fought.

Moreover, if the Abbess perceives that she is worthy,
she may put her in a somewhat higher rank.
[And not only with regard to a nun
but also with regard to those in priestly or clerical orders
previously mentioned,]*
the Abbess may establish them in a higher rank
than would be theirs by date of entrance
if she perceives that their life is deserving.

Let the Abbess take care, however,
never to receive a nun from another known monastery
as a member of her community
without the consent of her Abbess or a letter of recommendation;
for it is written,
"Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself" (Tob. 4:16).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Elie Weisel writes that: "What God gave Adam was not forgiveness from sin; what God gave Adam was the chance to begin again." Life is made up of a series of opportunities to begin again. Benedictine spirituality builds that possibility and that obligation right into the rule. Even monastics may move from monastery to monastery in their search for God. No one, in other words, has a call simply to a particular place, as good as it may be. The call of God is to the Will of God. Consequently, though every institution mediates the call of God for us, every vocation transcends any particular institution. The question is always: is this group, this place calling out the best in me? Is this where I fit? Is this the place where I can most become what God created me to be? Is this the path on which I see the footsteps of God most clearly in front of me?

It is not a matter of one place being better than another. It is a matter of finding our way through life with an eye for turns in the road. It is a matter of always taking the right turn when settling for less would be so much easier. It is a matter of seeing change as a creative possibility in life.

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

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ Fish, Wine, & Oil
Tone 4 Dec. 16, 2007
Kellia: Daniel 3:24-30 Epistle: Colossians
3:4-11 Gospel: St. Luke 14:16-24

Life in Exile: Daniel 3:24-30 LXX, especially vs. 28: "Nebuchadnezzar
said, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Who has
sent His angel and delivered His servants, who trusted in Him, and set
at naught the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than
serve and worship any god except their own God.'" After the armies of
Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the city of Jerusalem and captured it (587
BC), much of the city's population was deported from Palestine to the
lower Mesopotamian Valley, near Nebuchadnezzar's capital, the great city
of Babylon. A struggle ensued for the exiles to maintain their
religious practices, especially the truths of God, against constant
pressure to conform to the dominant pagan culture.

The writings of the Prophet Daniel are helpful to Christians living in a
society in which there is continuous pressure to conform to a dominant
world-view whose assumptions oppose the given truths of the Faith.
Three youths of the exile community of God's People refused the command
to join in pagan worship, for it was plain to them that the idol was not
the true God. They were willing, as Daniel reports, to die rather than
pretend to worship the image. They told the king frankly that they
would "not serve [his] gods or worship the golden image which [he had]
set up"(Dan. 3:18). So, "full of fury," the king had them thrown into a
fiery furnace.

First, observe that God is present with His faithful People in the worst
of trials. In this instance, the Lord did intervene miraculously and
personally, taking the form of a fourth Person in the furnace, walking
with the three in the fire (Dan 3:25). Thereby He kept them safe from
any effects of the flames (vs. 27). However, one should not conclude
that this deliverance of the three youths is in any way an assurance
that God will in most instances overcome the course of nature and
miraculously deliver the faithful from duress. Rather, it is an
assurance that He will be present with us whenever we stand firm for the
Faith, even to death. The faithful witness of a host of martyrs for
Christ also reveals this truth.

Second, notice that their faithfulness effected a real change in
Nebuchadnezzar. He blessed "the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
Who...sent His angel and delivered His servants, who trusted in Him"
(vs. 28). This was not conversion to the true Faith, but the king's
acceptance of the validity of the Faith. He was moved to tolerate and
admire their Faith. His shift in policy allowed the People of God to
practice the Faith freely. Let us note that out of the Babylonian
exile, the Jewish community developed the institution of the synagogue
with its reading and exposition of the written word of God, practices
which formed and underlie the present structure and practice of
centering the first portion of the Divine Liturgy upon Holy Scripture.

Finally, Daniel makes clear that only a small change was achieved in the
heart and mind of the Babylonian king by this extraordinary miracle.
Was he moved to general tolerance? Not at all. Instead, he ordered
that anyone who should speak "against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego [should] be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in
ruins" (vs. 29).

What a vivid reminder of the complications of winning others to the true
Faith, especially those who have been raised to believe in false
religions! While on the one hand, we can rejoice that Nebuchadnezzar
"promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego" (vs. 30), let us also heed
what St. Nikolai of Zica tells us: "Daniel and the Three Children lived
to a great old age in Babylon, and were beheaded with the sword for the
true Faith." The mission of the Church to disciple the nations (Mt.
28:19) must continue until the Lord returns and brings history to a close.
Great are the achievements of faith! In the fountain of flame as by the
water of rest, the Three Holy Children rejoiced.

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