Saturday, December 29, 2018

A New Year's Prayer . . .

FOR CLOCKS AND CALENDARS                                                                                                        and any digital keepers of time!

Generous God, Holy One, you who live outside of time, and reside in the imperishable moment, for you have poured out an abundance of gifts and blessings of every sort and kind upon this world from the beginning of time. Now we ask your blessing this New Year's Day (Eve) upon your gift to us of time into the new year. Bless our clocks, watches, tablets, Smartphones, and all digital keepers of time . . . You who kindly direct us to observe the passing of minutes and hours. . . May they make us aware of the miracle of each second of life we experience.

May these our ticking servants help us not to miss that which is important, while you keep us from machine-like routine. May we ever be free from being clock watchers and instead become time lovers. Bless our calendars, these ordered lists of days, weeks and months, of holidays, holy days, fasts and feasts and all our special days of remembering.

May these servants, our calendars, once reserved for the royal few, for magi and pyramid priests, now grace our homes and our lives. May they remind us of birthdays and other gift-days, as they teach us the secret that all life is meant for celebration and contemplation.

Bless, O God, this New Year, each of its 365 days and nights. Bless us with new moons and full moons. Bless us with happy seasons and a long life. Grant to us, O Holy One, the new year's gift of a year of love. Amen.
 (Author Unknown)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Let us welcome the New Year !


Standing at the Gates of the New Year

Sacred Mystery,
Waiting on the threshold
Of this new year,
You open the gates
And beckon to me:

“Come! Come!
Be not wary of what awaits you
As you enter the unknown terrain,
Be not doubtful of your ability
To grow from its joys and sorrows.

For I am with you.
I will be your Guide.
I will be your Protector.
You will never be alone.”

Guardian of this new year,
I set aside my fear, worries, concerns,
I open my life to mystery, to beauty,
To hospitality, to questions,
To the endless opportunity
Of discovering you in my relationships,
And to all the silent wisps of wonder
That draw me to your heart.

I welcome your unfailing Presence
And walk with hope into this new year.

From: Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp

Monday, December 17, 2018

Our God stepped into humanity!

Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said light.
Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said peace.
Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said love.
So God,
The God of Light,
The Prince of Peace,
The King of Love,
came down and crept in beside us.

(Rev. John Bell)
from Cloth for the Cradle by the Iona Community Wild Goose Worship Group

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent-ing and Reflecting . . .

Ignatian Examen for Advent

The Grace of Gratitude
I speak from my heart telling God why I am grateful,
being very particular and naming specific things:
gifts, people, events, blessings
How do I wait with gratitude?

The Grace to See
I walk with God through the experiences of my day
(or past year) giving thanks where I have grown,
and noticing where I have stumbled.
Where do I need the gift of light?
How do I wait with a discerning heart?

The Grace of Freedom
I ask for the grace to awaken my memory to anything from
my day (or past year) where God is inviting me to greater
freedom and peace.
I spend some time listening to my heart.
How do I wait in peace… in silence… listening?

The Grace of Mercy
I ask to feel hope, knowing that God will always give me
forgiveness. I ask God’s mercy in personal words that come
from my heart.
How do I wait in hope and with trust this
Advent Season?

The Grace of Transformation
I listen to my heart for invitations to change the way I pray,
live, work, love, play, relate, serve, or define success.
What deep desire within me is waiting to be
uncovered, discovered, or recovered this
Advent Season?

I pray the Our Father that God’s Kingdom reign in my life.

Examen adapted by William Watson, S.J.
Advent Reflections

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

An Advent story to ponder . . . What is old, is new! What goes around, comes around!

Once upon a time there was a thief. He wasn’t really good at it. Not a professional at all. He was just a poor man, with hungry children and a wife who labored hard. He worked sometimes, but more often than not there was no job to be had and so no food either for hungry mouths. It pained him to see his wife and children suffer so and angered him that there was no pity in the kingdom, no kindness or generosity in his neighbors. He took a chance, a big chance, and stole some food. The king’s law was death by hanging if a thief was caught. He got away with it often. He took bread, apples, and flour when he could and sometimes a ribbon or two for the one he loved so.

But he wasn’t good at it. He was just poor and hungry and desperate, and finally he got caught, with the bread in hand. He was jailed and sentenced to be hanged until dead, in public for all to see, as a warning to others. He was desperate, for life, for his family, and for their future. In jail the night before the execution he told one of the guards in confidence that it was a shame that he would die tomorrow, for a secret, a great secret, and a skill would die with him. Too bad he couldn’t tell the secret so someone who could use it wisely or get it to the king, who certainly would be interested in it.

The jailer said that he’d be happy to take the secret of the dying man. And so the man told him: “I can take a pomegranate seed, plant it in the ground, water it, and make it grow so that it will bear fruit overnight. My father taught it to me, as his father taught him, for generations. But tomorrow it dies with me.”

The jailer could hardly believe his ears and immediately brought word to the king. The next day, before the execution, the king arrived and had the poor man brought forward. “Let me see you do this marvelous thing,” the king commanded. And so the man asked for a spade, dug a hole, asked for a pomegranate seed, and then turned to the king and spoke: “This seed can only be planted by someone who has never stolen anything in his life or someone who has never taken anything that did not belong to him by right. Of course, I am a thief, caught stealing bread for my children and wife, so I can’t plant it. You’ll have to have someone else do it.”

The king turned to his counselor and commanded him to plant it. The man froze and stuttered: “Your majesty, I can’t.”   “What do you mean you can’t?” the king uttered.

The counselor explained. “Once, when I was young, before I was in your employ, I took something from a house where I was staying. I returned it, of course, but I can’t plant it.”

The king was annoyed and turned to his treasurer and commanded him to plant it. The man went chalk white and shook. “I can’t, your majesty,” he confessed.

“What, you, too?  What have you done? Have you stolen from me?”

“No, no, my king,” he protested, “but I work with figures, calculating all the time, and it’s easy to make mistakes, and I am forever trying to balance accounts, taking from here to put there. With huge sums of money, land deeds, contracts, and so on it’s easy to overlook something. Besides I often have to make deals with people so that better deals can be made later. Its business, sire.”

The king turned to another, and instinctively the next man shrunk away from him. It was the poor man who spoke next. “Your majesty, perhaps you could plant it yourself.” This time it was the king who hesitated. So many things went through his mind. He remembered stealing from his father in anger, impatient to be king himself and wanting that power and freedom, that access to wealth. The poor man spoke boldly, “Your majesty, even  you cannot plant the seed, you who are mighty, with power over life and death; you who have wealth and much more than you need to live on; you who make laws that destroy even the poor who are desperately hungry and caught in the web of others’ greed and insensitivity. You can’t plant the seed. You are a thief. Why are you so hard on me, a poor man who stole bread to feed his family? You are going to hang me, leaving others in need with no recourse.”

The king stopped. He heard, thank heaven, and repented of his harshness and injustice, his callousness and disdain for others. He pardoned the man who reminded him to first change the laws and then to work at making life worth living for so many in his kingdom. The king was impressed with the poor man’s wisdom, cleverness, and understanding and took him into his employ. Things began to change, or so the story goes. Would that it were true for all those who hear this tale told today.

Original source unknown.
Found in Advent Christmas and Epiphany . . . Stories and Reflections on the Sunday Readings by Megan McKenna. Orbis Books, 1998. "The Pomegranate Seed” is a story found in many folktale traditions.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Advent~Waiting Time!

"We are not restful people who occasionally become restless. But we are restless people who occasionally become restful.” (Henri Nouwen)
Advent is the liturgical season when we pay special attention to the mystery of waiting. In our American culture, we have a real problem because most of us Americans don’t like waiting, and we certainly don’t see waiting as something to celebrate. We live in a culture that cooks its food in microwaves, or we can choose the “drive thru,” ; we measure time in microseconds or even nano-seconds. It’s not that we do not wait.  We may spend hours waiting in lines at airports, at doctor’s offices, on the highway in traffic, at the grocery store checks-outs – we even have to wait in the Self-Serve check-out lane or Express Lane!  Recently, I saw a clip that even bank tellers may be eliminated with some type of digital technology so no waiting would be needed. “Everyone knows that Americans hate to stand in line. It’s contrary to the basic American values of independence and self-determination. While standing in line may   not threaten life, it certainly threatens liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (T. Stawar ~ source unknown)

I invite you to just lean back in your memory of your everyday experiences and recall where you wait: for your medicine, or for it to take effect, for your meals, for a phone call, a visit, or a letter. Or you wait for the result of your tests, or for healing. (Pause) Think of a time you waited and how you felt. Turn and tell someone where you have waited – share how you felt. How did it change you?

We wait because we have to – sometimes we have no choice but to wait. And we may wait impatiently, looking at our clocks, calendars, watches  – or maybe we even find ourselves complaining – if not verbally, then we may hold it in and do some “internal global whining.” Our culture tends to view waiting as an inconvenient necessity or as an outright injustice that stems from a variety of factors, for example:
• We see time as a resource to be controlled and allocated for our own personal gain and convenience.
• We allow time to run our lives, hurrying to and from scheduled appointments and on to the next appointment.
• We see waiting as a certain sign that something is wrong that should have been fixed but was not.
• Our entertainment, from television, to radio talk shows, to movies has created an illusion that all problems are resolvable in something less than two hours or even less than that.
• Our culture tends to prize action more than meditation, speed rather than slow progress and arriving rather than the journey.

So in our culture, waiting sometimes bores and often irritates us however we may find that at every stage of our lives some new forms of waiting are involved. However the Scriptures teach us that if  we approach waiting in the right spirit, waiting is a creative moment when we grow spiritually.  When we wait, we are in touch with an essential aspect of our humanity which is that we are dependent on God and on one another.  It is also an act of love since, by waiting for others; we pay them the respect of letting them be free. Waiting is a mystery – God waits and nature waits – so that when we as individuals wait we go beyond ourselves and enter into sacred life-giving process, experiencing that we are made in the image and likeness of God. This is why Advent is a time of celebration.

Advent is the season when we remember with gratitude creative experiences of waiting in our lives or the lives of people we have known, the people who have waited for us at one time or another.  We also remember the great waiting experiences in human history, in the Scriptures, and especially in the life Jesus. Today, we have come to reflect on faithful waiting.  Henri Nouwen writes that, “Faithful waiting is the antidote to fear and self-doubt.  It is believing God can accomplish in us something greater than our imaginings.”

Waiting teaches us to live life in increments, in small pieces rather than large chunks. Waiting teaches us to measure our progress slowly. It is hard to trust in God’s time - Kyros time – God’s  slow unfolding time.  God’s time is different from our time - Chronos time - time of clocks and calendars.  On God’s time, we are often waiting for the bigger picture but must be content with each small piece.  When we are waiting, we put one foot in front of the other every morning and evening.   Henri Nouwen says that sometimes we have enough light only for the next step.  Faithful waiting teaches us patience. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the fullest in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.  Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere.  The moment is empty.  But patient people dare to stay where they are.  Faithful waiting means nurturing the moment.

So this week, let us ask for the grace to be open to Advent opportunities to practice holy waiting, and to grow in being restful in our restlessness!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

God of the Seasons . . .

O God of all seasons and senses,
grant us the sense
of your timing                                                                  
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.
O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

From Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

For Your Presence, We Give Thanks . . .

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.

prayer - maya angelou

Original source unknown