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Archive for December, 2008

From Today’s Office

Isaiah 25: 1-9
Reading verses 8-9 summed up how glorious that day of fully realized Advent will be! That day when all of our waiting, our hope, and our longings are fulfilled.

He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The Word of the Lord
Thanks Be to God

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Joy to the World

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

– Charles Wesley

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Israel departs, not in order to be a people like all the others; it departs in order to serve God. The goal of the departure is the still unknown mountain of God.

The land is given to the people to be a place of worship of the true God. Mere possession of the land, mere national autonomy, would reduce Israel to the level of all the other nations. The pursuit of such a goal would be a misunderstanding of what is distinctive about Israel’s election (16-17).

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Reverence

Another good one from Dr. Houston:

“A result of democratization is we have no clue of how to reverence anyone else. We do not know how to revere others. If we have no reverence for others how can we have reverence for God.”

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The divine man who can alter the universe, abolish death, and injustice on the human plane, will reconstruct of all of Creation. Even the natural cycle of life in the animal kingdom, even survival of the fittest will have no place in this glorious renewed world. Predators will dwell with their prey. In fact there will no longer be terms like Predator or Prey. We won’t know what they mean because we will have no use for them.

Death and pain will be abolished across the board.

I long for that kind of world, a world that knows nothing of death. A world that has no need of hospitals or funeral homes or cemeteries. A world where children aren’t born sick. A world with no memories of this one and its brokenness and injustice.

These are Advent longings. It’s why we sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It’s why we cry, Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

These are the plans of God. And our hearts should be filled with hope. We should be enlivened that Jesus sits on the throne of Heaven with the desire in his heart to make all things new. We should take great comfort that this is our future.

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by Ronald Rolheiser

In a posture of unbridled restlessness, we stand before life too greedy, too full of expectations that cannot be realized, and unable to accept that, here, in this life, all symphonies are unfinished. We are unable to rest or be satisfied because we are convinced that all lack, all tension, and all unfulfilled yearning is tragic. Thus it is tragic to be alone, to be unmarried, to be married but not completely fulfilled romantically and sexually; not to be good looking or to be unhealthy, aged, or handicapped. It is tragic to be caught up in duties and commitments that limit our freedom, tragic to be poor, tragic to go through life without tasting every pleasure and fulfilling every potential inside us.

When we are obsessed in this way it is hard to be contemplative. We are too focused on our own heartaches to be open and receptive.

Questions for Reflection

  • Have you been restless (without rest) a lot lately? Is this indicative of a brief season in your life or has restlessness become a lifestyle? Are you a restless person?
  • What are the symphonies that can go unfinished for now in your life to make more room for Christ?

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Thoughts on Eliza

She never walked. She never talked. Every one of her needs had to be met by others. She was helpless. Eliza was born with catastrophic brain abnormalities which left her with only minimal brain function – minimal enough to preserve her essential bodily functions like breathing and opening her eyes, like digestion, and her cardio system. Though she could breathe, she could not talk or sing. Though her beautiful blue eyes opened, there was no vision, because she could not eat, her food was given to her through a G Tube. Eliza’s life was an advent  awaiting her coming death and her life was ceaseless helplessness and need. Complete dependence on others.

Week after week, I witnessed her father carry her forward for the Eucharist. An offering of eucharist (thanksgiving)itself, because without doubt, Eliza was a gift. She was us – all of us. Like her, we have no capacity to give ourselves what we really need. Oh, we may think we’re in control. But we’re not. Helpless, we too depend on our Father to carry us.

When she passed on to be with the Lord, last week, there was both grief and relief. The moment I missed Eliza the most and realized how important she’s been in my life was when empty-armed-Sam came forward to receive Communion. He looked lost, swaying side-to-side, embracing himself, then clinging to the usher, until wrapping his arms around me as he received, “the Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven, may it keep you in eternal life.”

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