Wednesday, January 02, 2008

daily Meditation 01/02/08


now what

now what will you do
with those gifts?

now what will you do
with that love
God has given to you -
to share with those
you don't like?

now what will you do
with that hope
God put under the tree -
can you pass it on
to a despairing neighbor?

now what will you do
with that joy
you didn't expect -
hoard it all for yourself
or hand it to a grieving widow?

now what will you
do with that grace
God stuck in your stocking -
leave it there
or find the stranger who needs it?

now what will you do
with all that forgiveness
God has given to you
in the Babe -
throw it out
with the wrapping paper
or offer it to the one
who has hurt you so much?

that Christmas is over,
what will you do?

(c) 2006 Thom M. Shuman


Your nativity, O Christ our God,
has shed the light of knowledge upon the world.
Through it,
those who had been star-worshipers
learned through a star to worship you,
O Sun of Justice,
and to recognize in you the one who rises
and who comes from on high.
O Lord, glory to you!
Feast of the Nativity Liturgy

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 34; PM Psalm 33
1 Kings 19:1-8; Eph. 4:1-16; John 6:1-14

From Forward Day by Day:

John 6:1-14. There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But, what are they among so many people?

The 1980s song "We are the World" was that era's effort to raise consciousness about world hunger, particularly in Africa. It was Millennium Development Goals before the 2000s. The refrain from this song went, "We are the world, we are the children..."

Jesus and the disciples are traveling among the children of the world. The children are hungry. Jesus sees a need and a teaching opportunity. After Philip names the obstacles, Andrew shows his resourcefulness. Andrew identifies a boy with seven pieces of food. These rations are all that is needed for the many to eat and have some left over. Holiness, unity, and communion are revealed.

Yes, we are the world. Yes, we are the children. Yes, we are the past, present, and future. Yes, Jesus is prophet, priest, and peacemaker among us. With God's help, may we discover that there is enough for everyone. May we identify resources, and resolve to use them to feed and care for one another.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Aba (The Niger Delta, Nigeria)

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

2nd January
St Basil and St Gregory
Both these saints had brothers and sisters who were also canonised, yet they
are remembered for their friendship. Think of your friends today, send an
e-mail to a friend you have not seen recently.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 9, January 2
Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

2 Corinthians 7:1 "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

To follow up on yesterday's devotional, to make changes in our lives that will last a lifetime, each of us needs to do a few things every day. Paul first reminds us that God has filled the Bible with promises for the changed person. He has given us promises that will never change and will always be there for the person who has changed through the power of Jesus Christ. And with those promises we are to cleanse ourselves from all things of the past. We are to cleanse ourselves of all the fleshly attitudes, habits, and living. Then, each day we are to allow God to make us holy as we serve Him in respect and love.

To allow real change to take effect and to become a lifestyle there are three things (according to one writer) that we must understand. And they are all found in Scripture. First, we must understand that our lives are not futile. We have reason for living, we have purpose for our life, and we have a part in God's plan in history.

Second, we need to believe that our failures are not fatal. We will fail from time to time. We will bomb out in our decisions. We will make a fool of ourselves at one time or another - but it is not the end of the world. Our failures are NOT fatal.

Then third, we need to remember that our death is not final. There is life after death, there is a reward for good, clean living. There is a real reason for our being. And there is true happiness for eternity. With these truths in mind - we will have a great year. We will enjoy true peace every single day of our lives.

Have a great year.

~ Joe Talhelm
Crowley, Louisiana, USA


I don't like to fail. I don't think I'm alone in that. But, I also know that it is only as I make myself vulnerable in response to Your leadership that I accomplish anything for You. Thank You for Your grace which makes provision for those times when my vulnerability does not achieve what I hoped it would. Remind me that even when I fail, there is still acceptance to be found in You. Lord, help me to be courageous enough to follow You, no matter what I am to do, or where I am to go.

Speaking to the Soul:

Reciprocal joy

Daily Reading for January 2

No one can say that the classic pattern of the liturgy of Christmas is light on the tragic side of human existence. It has its themes of the census, the exclusion from the inn, the martyrdom of Stephen, the massacre of the innocents, the flight into Egypt, and now this serious evocation of the wound of historical existence, of submission to the narrow way of becoming a unique person through utter dependence on others. But there is throughout the Christmas season an ambience of hope, a yes radiating from the face of Mary that prevails over the shadow. Mother and child smile in mutual recognition, in reciprocal joy. Many of us are captivated and allured by the mystery of Jesus’ emerging self, summoned out of latency by his mother’s gaze and care.

As we contemplate in liturgy, icon, and prayer the face of Mary, we know we are in a mystery. This face launched the movement of the Savior into both personhood and faith. This is the face in which Jesus felt the presence of a loving other, a presence and a sign of wholeness which orders the universe as safe enough for life.

We could do worse than begin the new year by paying loving attention to this crucible of personality, the face-to-face interaction of mother and child, Mary and Jesus, and the arms and face of Mary as primal originating sacrament of the faith and trust of Jesus.

From “Seek My Face” in Nativities and Passions: Words for Transformation by Martin L. Smith (Cowley Publications, 1995).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

In our monastery, we sleep with the lights on in every room. The reason is to imprint brightness in our minds instead of darkness, helping us in our efforts to enlighten our minds. It is preferable, also, not to take naps during the day, for then you are practicing the dark mind on a bright day.
— Jae Woong Kim in Polishing the Diamond, Enlightening the Mind

To Practice This Thought: Try sleeping with the lights on, or find another way of imprinting brightness in your mind.
++++++++++ Reflections

In this temple of God, in this Mansion of His, He and the soul alone have fruition of each other in the deepest silence.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, III.3

Reading from the Desert Christians


The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest
miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary.
How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple
bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very
Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed
for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are
but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has
continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who
communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.

St. Ambrose of Optina

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Our Spiritual Parents

Joy and sorrow are never separated. When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about. Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.

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

Day Two - The Object, cont'd

In the example of his own sacrifice, Jesus reveals the secret of bearing fruit. In surrendering himself to death, he becomes the source of new life. Lifted from the earth on the cross, he draws all people to himself. Clinging to life causes life to decay; the life that is freely given is eternal.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Light and Promise
January 2nd, 2008
Wednesday’s Reflection

THE PROMISE IS CLEAR. The promise is great. Light will replace deep darkness. Vision will replace blindness. Radiant hearts will rejoice — hearts that had been weighed down by darkness and exile. This [Isiaiah lectionary] passage is about coming home — coming home to God, coming home to salvation, coming home to joy. Isaiah wrote these words to the people of Israel during a very dark time, the time of their exile in Babylon. These words from God carried the promise and hope to Israel in its time of desperate need.

Where in your life do you need to hear God’s words of light and promise? What dark places in the world need the witness of God’s light? How are you called to be a bearer of light and promise to others?

- Helen Neinast
“The Promise”
The Upper Room Disciplines 2003

From p. 397 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2003 by Larry James Peacock. Copyright © 2002 by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Beginning To Live
Love alone of all things is sufficient unto itself. It is its own end, its own merit, its own satisfaction. It seeks no cause beyond itself and needs no fruit outside of itself. Its fruit is its use. I love simply because I am love. That is my deepest identity, what I am created in and for.

For me, to love others "in God" is to love them for their own sake and not for what they do for me or because I am psychologically healed and capable. Our transformed consciousness sees another person as another self, as one who also is loved by Christ with me and not an object separate from myself, on which I generously bestow my Christian favors.

If I have not yet loved or if love wears me out, is it partly because other people are seen as tasks or threats instead of extensions of my own suffering and loneliness? Yet, are they not in truth extensions of the suffering and loneliness of God?

When I live out of this truth, of the love-that-I-am, I will at last begin to live.

from "Image and Likeness: The Restoration of the Divine Image"

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

How great is God's goodness

Let us strive to comprehend the mystery. The reason God is in the flesh is to kill the death that lurks there. As diseases are cured by medicines and assimilated by the body, and as darkness in a house is dispelled by the coming of light, so death, which held sway over human nature, is done away with by the coming of God. And as ice formed on water covers its surface as long as night and darkness last but melts under the warmth of the sun, so death reigned until the coming of Christ; but when the grace of God our Savior appeared and the Sun of Justice rose, death was swallowed up in victory, unable to bear the presence of true life. How great is God’s goodness, how deep his love for us!

Let us join the shepherds in giving glory to God, let us dance with the angels and sing: Today a Savior has been born to us. He is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us, not as God, which would have been terrifying for our weakness, but as a slave so as to free those who live in slavery. Who could be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join all here present in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy? This feast belongs to the whole of creation. Let everyone contribute and be grateful. Let our voices too ring out in songs of jubilation.

Basil the Great

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


"He went out, not knowing whither he went." Hebrews 11:8

Have you been "out" in this way? If so, there is no logical statement possible when anyone asks you what you are doing. One of the difficulties in Christian work is this question - "What do you expect to do?" You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. Continually revise your attitude towards God and see if it is a going out of everything, trusting in God entirely. It is this attitude that keeps you in perpetual wonder - you do not know what God is going to do next. Each morning you wake it is to be a "going out," building in confidence on God. "Take no thought for your life, . . . nor yet for your body" - take no thought for the things for which you did take thought before you "went out."

Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you go out in surrender to Him until you are not surprised an atom at anything He does?

Suppose God is the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him - what an impertinence worry is! Let the attitude of the life be a continual "going out" in dependence upon God, and your life will have an ineffable charm about it which is a satisfaction to Jesus. You have to learn to go out of convictions, out of creeds, out of experiences, until so far as your faith is concerned, there is nothing between yourself and God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 2, May 3, September 2

Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom. 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Ps. 94:8).
And again,
"Whoever has ears to hear,
hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matt. 11-15; Apoc. 2:7).
And what does He say?
"Come, My children, listen to Me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps. 33:12).
"Run while you have the light of life,
lest the darkness of death overtake you" (John 12:35).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The paragraph is an insistent one, full of intensity, full of urgency. We put off so much in life--visiting relatives, writing letters, going back to school, finding a new job. But one thing stays with us always, present whether pursued or not, and that is the call to the center of ourselves where the God we are seeking is seeking us. Benedict says, Listen today. Start now. Begin immediately to direct your life to that small, clear voice within.

In this paragraph Benedict makes his first of the multiple allusions to scripture which emerge in the Rule time and time again to the point that a reader gets the idea that the Rule is simply a chain of scriptural quotations. The particular passages cited are important, of course, and give emphasis to the point of the excerpt. In these first references, for instance, Benedict reminds us that life is short, that we don't have time to waste time, that some things are significant in life and some things are not. We all have to ask ourselves what time it is in our own lives. We each have to begin to consider the eternal weight of what we are spending life doing. We have to start someday to wonder if we have spent our lives on gold or dross.

But as important as the content of the scriptural quotations themselves is the very message of their presence: The life laid out in this Rule is a life based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the prescriptions of a private guru. It is an immersion in the Gospel life so intense that we never forget for a moment what we are really about. We don't just stumble through life from one pious exercise to another, hoping that in the end everything will be all right. We don't surfeit on this life, even the spiritual systems of it, and forget the life to come. No, we run toward the light, not with our hair shirts in hand but with the scriptures in hand, responsible to the presence of God in every moment and sure that life is only beginning when it ends.

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

St. Mark 12:28-37 (1/2) For Wednesday of the 31st Week after
Pentecost (Wed. P & P)

First of All Commandments: St. Mark 12:28-37, especially vss. 29, 30:
"...Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all
your mind, and with all your strength." The Lord Jesus once answered a
scribe (Mk. 12:28) by reciting the "Shema," the six words of Deuteronomy
6:4, following it with Deut. 6:5, and adding the Divine Commandment from
Leviticus 19:18, as being "like it" (Mk. 12:31). The scribe appreciated
the Lord's answer: "Well said, Teacher, You have spoken the truth, for
there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with
all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with
all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than
all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (vss. 32,33).

The Rabbis point out that the six words of the "Shema" are "the
best-known words in Judaism's liturgy, the 'watchword' of Israel's
faith." "Shema" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word, "Hear," from
the six words. Devout Jews see the principles in this command "as rays
shining forth from the 'Shema,' as from a diamond set into a crown of
faith and proven true and enduring in human history." Christ calls it
"the first of all the commandments"(vs. 29), so let us turn our
attention to it as to sacred truth to be embraced and lived.

Seeing that this "first of all the commandments" enjoins upon us the
task "to go forward to the perfection of love and to learn to know Him
Who is truly beloved," St. Basil the Great warns, "it is not the
privilege of any chance person" to attain this goal, but belongs only to
"him who has already 'put off the old man, which is being corrupted
through its deceptive lusts, and has put on the new man' (Eph. 4:22,24),
which is being renewed that it may be recognized as an image of the
Creator." The "Shema" is not theory, but a way to live.

Let us understand that we committed ourselves to this work of "learning
to know Him Who is truly beloved" when we chose to be "buried with [the
Lord Jesus] through Baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). God is very frank with us: He is ready to
transform all who are Baptized into the Mystery of Christ and offers to
each the opportunity to "be a partaker of [His] Resurrection" so long as
each one preserves "the gift of Thy Holy Spirit," and increases "the
measure of grace committed unto him." Such is not the privilege of any
chance person, but of those who take the Lord's yoke upon themselves to
labor (Mt. 11:29).

St. Basil emphasizes this very truth but with a caution: "as much love
as you shall have squandered on lower objects, that much will
necessarily be lacking to you from the whole." In other words, "he who
loves money and is aroused by the corruptible beauty of the body and
esteems exceedingly this little glory here, since he has expended the
power of loving on what is not proper, he is quite blind in regard to
the contemplation of Him Who is truly beloved." The Lord insists that
we "shall love [Him] with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all
[our] mind, and with all [our] strength" (Mk. 12:30; Deut. 6:5).

Fickle as we are, how can we possibly do this? We cannot love when
ordered to do so. Understanding this, St. Basil encourages us: "we did
not learn to love God as a result of outside instruction. In the very
nature of every human being has been sown the seed of the ability to
love. Welcome this seed, cultivate it carefully, nourish it
attentively, and foster its growth by going to the school of God's
commandments with the help of His grace."

May my prayer draw near to Thee, O Lord. Grant me Thy holy seed, that I
might bring Thee a harvest of sheaves abundant in good fruits and say,
"Glory to Thee Who givest me life."


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