on the sixth day of Christmas (December 30, 2017), my True Love gave to me the gift of hope

Note: These prayers, one for each day of the twelve-day Christmas season, in which my True Love is God, follow the pattern of that well-known 18th century English carol with a number of the days illumined by the observances of the Church calendar.

O gracious God, on this day, repeating an annual cycle – one day’s step from the end of a calendar year and one day’s step from the next – the world equally annually (alway?) seems enshrouded in winter’s gray of indifference and intolerance, inequality and iniquity.

Yet You, O gracious God, pour Your Self into the flesh of a baby of lowest earthly estate born to an unwed mother, laid in a feeding trough for animals,(1) and, hounded by authorities seeking his death, made to be a refugee.(2)

This, Your stupendous story pregnant with expectation, this Your stupefying mystery impregnable to all opposition, bears…is the light of hope that You and Your will, Your Word of Love incarnate(3) conquer all.

Amen.

 

Footnotes:
(1) See Luke 2.1-7
(2) See Matthew 2.13
(3) John 1.14

on the third day of Christmas (December 27, 2017, St. John, Apostle and Evangelist), my True Love gave to me the gift of steadfastness

Note: These prayers, one for each day of the twelve-day Christmas season, in which my True Love is God, follow the pattern of that well-known 18th century English carol with a number of the days illumined by the observances of the Church calendar.

O gracious God, Your Son Jesus spake that his most-loved disciple, John, would remain until he came again.(1) So, it hath been and is that through his work as an evangelist, his word standing the test of time o’er two millennia and spanning the world-round, John hath remained a stalwart witness of the good news of Jesus ‘til that hour of his return.

By Your Spirit, may I, in my day and time, as long as You grant me breath and strength, continue to be a steadfast witness of the gospel. Amen.

 

Footnote:
(1) See John 21.20-24

waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 20, Friday, December 22, 2017

Note: Advent, from the Latin, adventus, “coming”, is the Christian season of preparation for Jesus’ birth, the heart of the Christmas celebration, and, according to scripture and the Christian creeds, his second appearance on some future, unknown day and also according to scripture and Christian tradition, his daily coming through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the theme of waiting for Jesus is Advent’s clarion call.

O Lord Jesus, I wait this day for the wonder of Your Worship.

Thus, You spake to Photina,(1) the Samaritan woman at the well: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him.(2)

O Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit, let my worship of You ne’er be tied to time or bound to space or place. Rather let my prayers, verily, my being of adoration and praise and confession and thanksgiving and petition and intercession and oblation be every word of my mouth and every deed of my doing that I may be…that I will be wholly Yours. Amen.

 

Footnotes:
(1) As I noted previously (waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 8, the Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017), though Scripture gives no name to the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at the well (John 4.5-42), Eastern Orthodox tradition calls her Photina (or Photine), from the Greek, phos, “light”, meaning, “the enlightened one”; for she, in her testimony to her fellow Samaritans, led many to believe in Jesus as “the Savior of the world” (John 4.39).
(2) John 4.23

waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 19, Thursday, December 21, 2017

Note: Advent, from the Latin, adventus, “coming”, is the Christian season of preparation for Jesus’ birth, the heart of the Christmas celebration, and, according to scripture and the Christian creeds, his second appearance on some future, unknown day and also according to scripture and Christian tradition, his daily coming through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the theme of waiting for Jesus is Advent’s clarion call.

O Lord Jesus, I wait this day, the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, for the wonder, again, of Your Weal.(1)

Thomas dared to doubt the testimony of his brother and sister disciples, who, beholding Your resurrected glory, proclaimed, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas dared to profess, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”(2) Yet, when confronted by Your appearing, Thomas, needing neither to put his finger in the mark of the nails nor his hand in Your side, dared to confess, “My Lord and my God!”(3)

O Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit, make me bold in my doubt that I, trusting in Your appearing may…will deepen in faith. Amen.

 

Footnotes:
(1) See my previous posts regarding Weal: waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 11, Wednesday, December 13, 2017 and waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 16, Wednesday, December 18, 2017
(2) John 20.25
(3) John 20.28

waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 16, Monday, December 18, 2017

Note: Advent, from the Latin, adventus, “coming”, is the Christian season of preparation for Jesus’ birth, the heart of the Christmas celebration, and, according to scripture and the Christian creeds, his second appearance on some future, unknown day and also according to scripture and Christian tradition, his daily coming through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the theme of waiting for Jesus is Advent’s clarion call.

O Lord Jesus, I wait this day for the wonder of Your Weal again,(1) for I have another thought, verily, two other thoughts about Your Wounds.

The first another thought is of my wounds, my world-weary wounds – some, the festering sores of hurts I have endured from the hands of others and from the fates of life’s chance and circumstance and some, yes, self-inflicted by mine own false choices that flew in the face of all that I know and believe is good and right and true. My wearisome wounds that weigh me down. My wearisome wounds, when, unbidden and unwanted, occupying my attention, from which there is scant relief and release.

The second another thought, O Lord Jesus, is that Your Wounds, those marks in Your flesh of Your suffering and dying, rose from the grave with You, remaining on Your blessed resurrection Body, clear and visible.(2)

I wonder, I pray, O Lord Jesus, whether bearing alway my wounds is a mark of my life’s experience ne’er to be denied, even more, a mark of my learning meant to be remembered and retained, still more, a mark of my salvation in You, verily, Your Power made perfect in my weakness.

O Lord Jesus, if this, if any of this be true, then I rejoice in my wounds, ne’er to repeat them or deepen them, but rather…but only to claim the victory of vulnerability in You. Amen.

 

Footnotes:
(1) See my previous post regarding Weal: waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 11, Wednesday, December 13, 2017
(2) Although none of the canonical gospel accounts explicitly state that Jesus, after his resurrection, bore on his body the marks of his suffering and death, John implies it: Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord (John 20.19b-20).

sue God?

a sermon, based on Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-11 and John 1.6-8, 19-28reached with the people of Epiphany Episcopal Church, Laurens, SC, on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, December 17, 2017

Isaiah (1896-1902), James Tissot

Over 2500 years ago, the people Israel, after nearly fifty years of captivity in Babylon, were free. For a second time, they would journey to the Promised Land. The prophet Isaiah marked the auspicious occasion with this word of hope: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me…anoint(ing) me…to bring good news to the oppressed…the brokenhearted…the captives…(and) all who mourn.”

By contrast, stories of this past week from around the globe screamed the sorrowful news of the daily revivals of ancient animosities, civil unrest, escalating terrorist violence, and, perhaps most ominously, steps forward and backward and forward again toward the threshold of war with North Korea.

Reading Isaiah, then looking at the world, where is the good news to the oppressed, brokenhearted, captive, and mourning? It’s been 2500 years! Plenty of time for God to bring this glorious vision to light and life. Sometimes, when I think things never will get better, I feel like suing God for breach of promise!

But one thing gives me pause. My belief that we humans bear responsibility for the state of the world. Yes, we pray: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and…come among us…we (who) are sorely hindered by our sins…to help and deliver us.” Yet what seems an honest confession of our need can sound like our abdication of our accountability; our all-too-facile admission of our failings so to absolve ourselves of our guilt and grief over the mess we have made of this world. Perhaps we should sue ourselves, declare moral bankruptcy, and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Court of Cosmic Claims (or Crimes, as the circumstances may warrant)!

However, accepting our responsibility immediately raises the question: For what? And if the “what” are the big and abiding problems of our world – hunger, homelessness, economic disparities between rich and poor, the destruction of the environment, racism, sexism – then every one of us, whether one individual, one community, one congregation, one nation, with limited energy and resources, immediately is overwhelmed.

So, what do we do?

John can help us. To the question, “Who are you?” he confessed, declared, “I am not the Messiah!” that is, in common parlance, to say, “I’m not God!”

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Saint Jean-Baptiste et les pharisiens), 1886-1894, James Tissot (1836-1902)

John then described himself in terms of his life’s mission: “I am a voice crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’”, thereby, reminding all of their responsibility. If the vision of good news to the oppressed, brokenhearted, captive, and mourning had not then and has not yet dawned, perhaps it was they then and we now have not done all we could do to bring it to light and life.

Thus, in response to the question, What do we do?, which is another way of answering the question, Who are we?, following John, we are to be those who always are mindful of our responsibilities for and to the world. It isn’t about whether we always fulfill our responsibilities. We never always fulfill anything. Ultimately, that’s God’s job. Our job, individually and communally, is to be aware and alert to human need and to our resources (not worrying about what we don’t have and acknowledging what we do have!) and to our commitment to respond, and then in the name of the One for whom we Advent-wait, to make straight the way of the Lord, that is to say, to do something.

 

Illustrations:
Isaiah (1896-1902), James Tissot (1836-1902)
Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Saint Jean-Baptiste et les pharisiens), James Tissot

Footnote:
(1) Full text of the Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 13, Friday, December 15, 2017

 

Note: Advent, from the Latin, adventus, “coming”, is the Christian season of preparation for Jesus’ birth, the heart of the Christmas celebration, and, according to scripture and the Christian creeds, his second appearance on some future, unknown day and also according to scripture and Christian tradition, his daily coming through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the theme of waiting for Jesus is Advent’s clarion call.

O Lord Jesus, I wait this day for the wonder of Your World; for You are the divine logos, the all-creating, ever-animating Word. Yet so easily, without conscious thought, I, a sensate creature, claim and use all about me as mine own. How might my life, how might I be different (yea, though I pose a question, truly, I declare that I would be different!) if I daily thought and felt, intended and acted believing, knowing that this was, is Your world and all things therein? O Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit, breathe into me the words of Your evangelist John that they may be and become for me my daily meditative mantra, yea, my daily hymn of praise: All things came into being through (You), and without (You) not one thing came into being.(1) Amen.

 

Footnote:
(1) John 1.3