Love will come

If in your heart you make a manger for his birth.
Then God will once again become a child on earth
.

 

We draw close and our hearts awaken.

A manger simple yet sturdy. Isn’t that what we seek in this season of Advent? We seek something that is strong enough to receive the promise of life and renewed love.

Isn’t that what these weeks before Christmas offer? They offer time set apart – time to focus on what gently holds our hope and calls us to watch and prepare a place for God.

We hope and listen. We prepare our hearts both outside and within, making room for new life and renewed love.


Reflection inspired by the song– If in your heart –
from the CD- An Unexpected Christmas – the Virginia Girls Choir and Ana Hernandez

Quote – Angelus Silesius
Art – He Qi

 

In a word, in a prayer

Is it true? In  a word… there is power and control. In a word…  one can conquer.

Is it promised? In a prayer… there is humility and acceptance. In a prayer… one can be free.


Pentatonix- Hallelujah from 2016 release- A Pentatonix Christmas

a time and place for miracles

(Moroccan door- Pinterest)

(Moroccan door Pinterest)

Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.
Edwin Louis Cole

A most important word – expect. During the last four weeks we have been tuning our abilities to stay alert and expect. In most homes this preparation involves creating a sense of familiar, a comfort in tradition. Trees are decorated and parties are hosted. Families gather to share meals and gifts.

All of this is expected. Yet there is a greater expectation in the air. The kind that fills the earth with a sense of awe and wonder. Against a backdrop of the impossible, behind doors strange and unfamiliar – everything is in place for God’s miracle to come into this world.

A required census, takes Joseph and Mary far from home to be counted in the town of Joseph’s roots.

To imagine for a moment – riding a donkey pregnant and full-term. So many miles — to a place where there are few friends or contacts. They knew no one and struggled to find a place to rest and prepare for a birth. The road was rough. They entered Bethlehem weary and cautious. The baby has begun to make his move and his mother had to find someplace, any place.

In the town considered home to Joseph – there was no place for him to stay with his family.

How can you prepare when so little is in your control? All this time to wait for the expected.

It seems, once again, God knows the way to get the world’s attention. In a barn, behind an inn – He is born. God has come among us in spite of these apparent limitations.

Behind an unfamiliar door, inside an unknown stable – the moment is here. A baby is born.

So it seems that being prepared is different from being in control. We are called to be prepared and to stay alert. The miracle comes in an unexpected place – at an unexpected time.

And all the heavens sing…

image

(Image information unknown)

Monday Morning!!!

Some weeks require more bracing than others. This is one of those weeks.

Live & Learn

elephant-sit-child-girl-cute

“Bracing ourselves for the week”


Photo: John Drysdale via Milk (Child and Elephant sitting)

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a child, again, at Christmas

Christmas tree for blog 2014
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

This has been my third Christmas in Asheville and my second in this apartment. Having moved to a new city three years ago, I am still very intentional as I build friendships and create memories/traditions. These are the things that make a place to live into a home to cherish. There are some new annual ‘happenings’ that have begun to feel like traditions and then there are the traditions that have followed me throughout life. They are somehow connected making a bridge of life’s story. During these last three years my bridge has been well-traveled.

As I look at my home decorated with new and old, this year I have enjoyed taking time to remember. While opening boxes marked ‘Christmas’, I uncovered my childhood stocking. Mother made that stocking. She sewed stockings for each of us when we were young and seeing its simple design reminded me of our family traditions. Painted cookies on the tree, Christmas eve services late into the night, waking on Christmas morn to find the crèche complete with ‘baby Jesus’ lying in the manger, these are memories that created the foundation of my life.  A foundation that has been tested throughout the years and remains trustworthy.

While laying this stocking under the tree, I am always taken back when I remember there are two. To my annual surprise my grandmother’s stocking is found lying underneath my own. These two stockings were tucked in a box of decorations given to me by Mom some years past. Another moment to stop – my grandmother, Grandmarney, as she was named – seeing her stocking always brings sweet memories. She was my ‘lap’ grandmother. Held close in her arms I can remember rocking and feeling happy. I always looked forward to getting out of my wheelchair and into her lap. Her home always smelled of apple fritters and fried chicken. These days there are not many houses that surround me with that smell. I am very grateful for that memory.

Hand made and filled with memories I placed both those stockings under my tree in my home. When the tree is lit and holding ornaments from then and now, I am once again that child. I am happy to taste the painted cookies, held close by my grandmother and bundle to go out in the cold air of Christmas Eve. Standing on the edge of a new year, these memories nudge me on, with gratitude for my past and curiosity for what lies ahead.

…maybe Christmas means a little bit more

 
ChristChildandMaryIcon
(shared from pen and palette)
 

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”…
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
(Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)

With all the distractions and details that precede this day, it is easy to wonder if the meaning of Christmas has been lost. Not one more sale nor sour-faced Grinch can change the gift brought to all on this daybreak. Hope is renewed in the birth of baby. Faith is rekindled in the bright morning star. Hearts soften as God’s love comes among us in the gentle care of a parent’s touch.

Yes, the meaning of Christmas is beyond all the chaos leading up to this moment. In the quiet of this early morning, may the spirit of Christmas be near and bring peace.

A cry for innocence…

Star of Bethlehem

Two weeks have passed since our country gasped at the tragic loss of lives, young and old, in Newtown Connecticut. As the days drew closer to Christmas, the challenge to prepare for the celebration of new birth was daunting. We approached Christmas Eve humbly – straining to give thanks for God-among-us as we sang, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’. Families everywhere held one another with greater intent ~ there has been a renewed understanding of how important it is to treasure our moments with one another. So – in many ways – Christmas came just in time this year. With its arrival time stopped long enough for us to truly see one another and slowed our pace to hold the families and community of Newtown in our thoughts and prayers with more focus.

Two weeks have passed since that horrific day. Christmas Day has past and while many trees are still shining bright we meet this morning to remember another time in history when the unthinkable occurred. On the church calendar for the Episcopal Church, today we pause in prayer and thought in memory of the hundreds of children killed by a King in Jerusalem angered by the news of a newborn child who had come to bring peace and serve justice.

Timely? Maybe – but only in its placement on the calendar. We are always in need of the seasons, warm and peace-filled, as they renew us and give us strength. For the majority of our faith journey is found in the harsh light shone on this world. Today we remember the loss of innocence hundreds of years ago while still grieving the loss so very recent.

Our song continues – ‘O Come, O Come…’

You can find more reflection and prayer below:

One of the more striking contrasts on the Christian calendar is the commemoration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28, three days after the celebration of Christmas. In remembering the young children slaughtered by King Herod in Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth, the Church jolts us from Christmas joy into a contemplation of the ways in which violence and human brokenness, in spite of Christmas, still enslave the human race.  Today, just as two thousand years ago, the most jolting violence of all is that committed against innocent children.

This year, that jolt came earlier, and much more tangibly, than it normally does.  The murder of 26 innocent victims, many of them children, in a schoolhouse in Connecticut in the waning days of Advent ripped through the joy of Christmas for millions.  As our hearts and minds struggle to comprehend the tragedy of young lives cut short, Holy Innocents Day this year offers an opportunity for grace, hope, and inspiration for the days ahead.   It offers an opportunity “to awaken us” as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her message immediate after the shootings, “to the unnoticed number of children and young people who die senselessly across this land every day” and challenge us “to work toward a different future.” (taken from Episcopal News Service)

Loving God, Jesus gathered your little ones in his arms and blessed them. Have pity on those who mourn for the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, innocents lost to the violence of our fallen world. As all things are possible with you, redeem this horror with the immensity of your love, and lead us to somehow love those who are responsible, filling our hearts with a spirit of forgiveness. Be with us as we struggle with the mysteries of life and death; in our pain, bring your comfort, and in our sorrow, bring your hope and your promise of new life, in the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen. ( EPISCOPAL GENERATIONS )