Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dec 6, Thur in wk of Advent 1 2007, Feast of St. Nicholas


O Wisdom,
Holy Word of God
You rule all creation with power and true concern.
- Come teach us the way of salvation.

O Sacred Lord
and leader of ancient Israel
You communicated with Moses at the burning bush
and gave him the law on Mount Sinai
- Come to set us free by Your mighty arm

O Root of Jesse
raised up as a sign of all peoples
in Your presence kings become mute
and the nations worship before You
- Come to deliver us and do not delay

O Key of David
and Royal Power of Israel,
You open what no man can shut,
and You shut what no man can open.
- Come and deliver Your people
imprisoned by darkness and the shadow of death

O Radiant Dawn
You are the brightness of eternal light
and the Sun of justice.
- Come to enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death

O King of the Gentiles
and the long-for Ruler of the nations,
You are the cornerstone Who make all one.
- Come and save those whom You have created

O Emmanuel
our King and our Lawgiver
You are the Desired of the nations
and the Savior of all men.
- Come to save us, O Lord, our God!


Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50
Amos 4:6-13; 2 Pet. 3:11-18; Matt. 21:33-46

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 18:1-20. I love you, O LORD my strength.

Before there was Santa Claus, there was Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, in what is now Turkey. Born into a well-to-do family in the late third century, Nicholas became famed for his generosity, his defense of the falsely accused, his orthodoxy, and his feistiness: when tempers flared during theological arguments at the Council of Nicaea in 325, Bishop Nicholas is said to have popped the heretical Arius of Alexandria in the snoot.

Stories accumulated around him: that he threw bags of gold for dowries to impoverished young women, that he saved fishermen from drowning and innocent men from execution, and, most spectacularly, that he brought back to life three boys hacked up and pickled by an evil butcher. He died peacefully of old age on December 6, 343, but his legend continued to grow.

St. Nicholas's penchant for gift-giving made him a popular saint. To the Dutch, he became "Sinterklaas," and from that grew Santa. On this his feast day, we remember not only his generosity, but his great faith.

Today we remember:

Nicholas of Myra:
Psalm 78:3-7 or 145:8-13
1 John 4:7-14; Mark 10:13-16


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts (United States)

Advent Calendars online:

Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:

Alternatives Calendar:

St. Mary Margaret, Napierville, IL:

Westminsiter, UK City Council:

Speaking to the Soul:

Act like children

Daily Reading for December 6 • Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c. 342

We can choose the light. Choosing the good and the light is not always an easy process. Many give up on growth in the Christian life because they find it difficult to shake their destructive patterns of behavior. We have learned we should choose the good, but we do not always understand the role of desire. If we do not understand desire, we will never understand choice. Desire is what saves us in the Christian life.

Desire is an innate gift of the Holy Spirit that needs to be intentionally cultivated. Desiring to do good, even when we do not choose to, is a step in the right direction. Let us be patient with ourselves when we fail to pray, fail to be courageous, or fail to practice what we preach. Let us tap into our gift of desire and cultivate it though prayer.

Advent invites us to stand up as children of God. Being children, of course, requires having birth parents, and this is the rub. Some of us do not treasure the time spent with our parents or do not have parents at all. Because of this, we find it hard to understand what it means to have God as our parent and to be children of God. On the other hand, some of us have had wonderful relationships with our parents, and it is easy for us to understand God as loving parent. In Christian community, we can share our experiences of childhood and explore our understandings of God as parent. When was the last time we shared our experiences as parents and children in a faith setting? When was the last time we shared the joys and pains of our childhood in the context of a prayer gathering or Eucharist? Doing this could be a tremendous source of healing and life this Advent.

Being children of God requires that we act like children. Cry when you need milk. Act silly to make God laugh. Listen to what God says. Throw things off the table and experience God’s patience. Curl up in the arms of God. Ask God to read you a story. Allow God to throw you up in the air. Play hide and seek with God. Allow God to play hide and seek with you. Cry when God goes away. Squeal with delight when God comes back. Listen to God say how much you are loved. Tell God of your love. This, without a doubt, is what Advent is all about.

From The Womb of Advent by Mark Bozutti-Jones. Copyright © 2007. Seabury Books, an imprint of Church Publishing. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Life is not a trap set for us by God, so that He can condemn us for failing. Life is not a spelling bee, where no matter how many words you have gotten right, if you make one mistake you are disqualified. Life is more like a baseball season, where even the best team loses one-third of its games and even the worst team has its days of brilliance. Our goal is not to go all year without ever losing a game. Our goal is to win more than we lose, and if we can do that consistently enough, then when the end comes, we will have won it all.
— Harold S. Kushner in How Good Do We Have To Be?

To Practice This Thought: Imagine the scoreboard of your life. Count everything as a win.
++++++++++ Reflections

Take God for your friend and walk with him - and you will learn to love.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians


"Fortunate is the man who has come to have God as his helper and
to have his hopes in Him alone. Let the Devil bear malice towards
him, let all men persecute him and plot against him, let all his
adversaries fight against him - he never fears anyone, because his
has God as his helper. He remains always a victor, always
glorified, always happy, always rich, always cheerful and joyful,
even if he happens to fall into extreme poverty and into a great
many adverse and grievous circumstances of this present life. For
inasmuch as he hopes in Almighty God, he does not despair, he is
not sorry, is not anxious, but expects help from Above. Fortunate,
then, is such a man and worthy to be deemed happy, just as the
Prophet-king David regards such a man as happy, saying: "Blessed
is he whose helper is the God of Jacob, whose hoe is in the Lord
his God." Such were all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs,
the Holy Ascetics and all the Saints from the beginning of time."

St. Nikephoros of Chios

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

God's Timeless Time

There is no "after" after death. Words like after and before belong to our mortal life, our life in time and space. Death frees us from the boundaries of chronology and brings us into God's "time," which is timeless. Speculations about the afterlife, therefore, are little more than just that: speculations. Beyond death there is no "first" and "later," no "here" and "there," no "past," "present," or "future." God is all in all. The end of time, the resurrection of the body, and the glorious coming again of Jesus are no longer separated by time for those who are no longer in time.

For us who still live in time, it is important not to act as if the new life in Christ is something we can comprehend or explain. God's heart and mind are greater than ours. All that is asked of us is trust.

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

Day Six - The First Aim, cont'd

The primary aim for us as tertiaries is therefore to make Christ known. This shapes our lives and attitudes to reflect the obedience of those whom our Lord chose to be with him and sent out as his witnesses. Like them, by word and example, we bear witness to Christ in our own immediate environment and pray and work for the fulfillment of his command to make disciples of all nations.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Wonder and Awe
December 6th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

GOD OF DECEMBER DARKNESS and Christmas light, … deepen my longing, heighten my expectation, and make pregnant my hope. I know that within my heart is a Bethlehem: a place where light shines with tender memories. A place where angelic voices sing loud and clear. A place of wonder and awe, delight and calm. … God of December darkness and Christmas light, journey with me during these days so that I may know and prize my Bethlehem moments. Amen.

- Larry James Peacock

From p. 368 of Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer by Larry James Peacock. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Submitting to the Lordship of Christ

The Church is like John the Baptist; it's like the body of Jesus. The body of Jesus had to die for the coming of the Kingdom; John the Baptist had to point beyond himself to the Kingdom. The Church is not an end in itself; the Church is a means. The Kingdom is the end. And whenever we make the means into the end, we have created an idol. It is the major sin in the Bible—maybe the only one.

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.

The grace of the first coming and the glory of the last

In the interval of time between the Lord's first coming and his last, the Lord often visits each one of us in accordance with our merits and desires, conforming us to the likeness of his first advent, and preparing us for his advent at the end of time. He comes to us now to make sure that his first coming shall not have been wasted, and that his last coming may not have to be in anger. His purpose now is to convert the pride of our hearts into the humility of heart he showed when he first came, so that hereafter he may refashion our lowly bodies too into the likeness of that glorious body which he will manifest when he comes again. Eagerly then we long for this intimate coming in our present life, and seek it with all our might, for it brings us the grace of his first coming and promises us the glory of his last.

Indeed it is a wonderful and lovely thing that God who is love comes softly to the consciousness of his lover. How blessed are they whose ardent charity has already won them this privilege! But blessed too are they whose holy simplicity permits them to hope that they too may win it one day. As for us, who are not yet consolded by so sublime an experience, let us as we patiently wait for the Lord's coming find our consolation in faith and a pure conscience.

Guerric of Igny

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


"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth." Genesis 9:13

It is the Will of God that human beings should get into moral relationship with Him, and His covenants are for this purpose. Why does not God save me? He has saved me, but I have not entered into relationship with Him. Why does not God do this and that? He has done it, the point is - Will I step into covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.

Waiting for God is incarnate unbelief, it means that I have no faith in Him; I wait for Him to do something in me that I may trust in that. God will not do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man has to go out of himself in his covenant with God as God goes out of Himself in His covenant with man. It is a question of faith in God - the rarest thing; we have faith only in our feelings. I do not believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say - "Now I believe." There is no faith there. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved."

When I have really transacted business with God on His covenant and have let go entirely, there is no sense of merit, no human ingredient in it at all, but a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and the whole thing is transfigured with peace and joy.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

April 6, August 6, December 6
Chapter 54: Whether a Monastic Should Receive Letters or Anything Else

On no account shall a monastic be allowed
to receive letters, blessed tokens or any little gift whatsoever
from parents or anyone else,
or from her sisters,
or to give the same,
without the Abbess's permission.
But if anything is sent her even by her parents,
let her not presume to take it
before it has been shown to the Abbess.
And it shall be in the Abbess's power to decide
to whom it shall be given,
if she allows it to be received;
and the sister to whom it was sent should not be grieved,
lest occasion be given to the devil.

Should anyone presume to act otherwise,
let her undergo the discipline of the Rule.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Rabbi Mordecai said: "If a single coin is left over in my house at bedtime, I cannot fall asleep. But if totally penniless, I sleep soundly, knowing that when the moment comes to awaken, I must immediately look to the Lord for aid." And the rabbi of Porissover taught: "If a person is poor and meek, it is easy for that one to be joyful, inasmuch as there is nothing to guard against losing." In a community based on equality in the midst of a highly stratified society, Benedict had no desire to create a subset of the independently wealthy whose parents or friends could provide for them beyond the means of the monastery. The purpose of monastic life was to discover that the possession of God was far more satisfying than anything we could receive from family or friends, that it was freeing, that it was enriching far beyond what we could collect for ourselves.

We live in a culture that sees having things as the measure of our success. We strive for a life that sees eliminating things as the measure of internal wealth. Enoughness is a value long dead in Western society. Dependence on God is a value long lost. Yet, enoughness and dependence on God may be what is lacking in a society where consumerism and accumulation have become the root diseases of a world in which everything is not enough and nothing satisfies.

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

Thurs., Dec. 6, 2007 Nativity Fast Nicholas the
Wonder-worker, Archbishop of Myra
Vespers All Saints: Wisdom 5:15-6:3 Epistle: Hebrews 13:17-21
Gospel: St. Luke 6:17-23

Grace for the Saints: Wisdom 5:15-6:3 LXX, especially vss. 15, 16:"But
the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and
the care of them is with the most High. Therefore shall they receive a
glorious Kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand." Leonid
Ouspensky asserts "that an icon is an external expression of the
transfigured state of man, of his sanctification by the uncreated Divine
light," to which he adds, "Therefore, all the visible world represented
in the icon changes, becomes the image of the future unity of the whole
creation - the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit. In accordance with this, all
that is depicted in the icon reflects not the disorder of our sinful
world, but Divine order, peace, a realm governed not by earthly
logic...but by Divine Grace." This present reading from the Book of
Wisdom, in a similar fashion, centers attention on "the righteous" (vs.
15) - that is to say, it reveals the Saints as fully known and manifest
in the Kingdom of God. Its message reminds us of God's "care of them"
(vs. 15), as well as His outpouring of grace and favor upon His Church
and all mankind, including each of us.

What does the writer of Wisdom convey when he calls the Saints "the
righteous" (vs. 15)? Clearly he draws attention to Peter's love for the
Lord (Jn. 21:17), to the joy of the Myrrh-bearing women (Lk. 24:1-12),
and to the peace in the heart of Thomas when he cried, "My Lord and my
God!" (Jn. 20:28). Yes, every one of the fruits of the Spirit manifests
in the Saints: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22). Thus, all the
visible work of God the Holy Spirit leads beyond the witness of the
Saints, beautifully manifest in them, to the grace of God working within
and for all men. This is the message flowing from Solomon's wisdom -
God cares for everyone; acts with zeal on behalf of everyone; and
reminds everyone that the powers that we enjoy derive from Him.

God cares for you and me, Beloved, with the same outpouring of grace
that He showered upon the Saints. Hence, let us have no hesitation to
pray for a "glorious Kingdom" (Wis. 5:16) whenever we say, "Thy Kingdom
come!" Let us not forget that when we fell away from the Lord our God,
He raised us up again by taking our flesh upon Himself, by embracing
death along with us that He might destroy death. In short, He did not
"cease to do all things until [He had] brought us back to heaven,
and...endowed us with [His] Kingdom which is to come." Therefore, the
same Lord extends a beautiful crown to all - a wreath, a covering, and a
protection (vs. 16).

The central portion of this passage, concerning the grace of God for His
Saints, describes the zeal with which God pursues His work of showering
favor upon His People. The Revised Standard Version translation of
verse 17 captures the original meaning in the word, "zalos" or "zeal,"
rather than does Sir Brenton's "jealousy" - "The Lord will take His zeal
as His whole armor, and will arm all creation to repel His enemies."
God the Warrior fully arms Himself and employs all creatures as weapons
"for the revenge of His enemies" (vs. 17). He brings all His own
righteousness, true judgment, and holiness to unleash "His severe
wrath...against the unwise" (vs. 20).

The entire world of human endeavor - all nations, leagues, and
enterprises - are put on notice to cease trusting in their powers, rule,
glory, and sovereignty, as if they existed through their own efforts
(vss. 6:1-3). God loves the entire world and all men, and gives grace
to all. Earthly abilities, capacities to control and manage skills come
from God - "power is given...of the Lord, and sovereignty from the
Highest" (vs. 3). The grace given the Saints is available for you and
for me, and for all. Admit that God tries, tests, examines the works
and counsels of every man (vs. 3). This includes you and your talents,
capacities, and abilities. Offer them to God in thanksgiving!

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: Praise becometh the upright. Alleluia!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home