Tag Archive for: Advent

For Jude (Advent Poem #1)

I’m starting a little poetry series for these waning days of Advent. I’ll be posting a few here. For the entire series, join my Patreon community for as little as $2.00 a month.

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For Jude (Advent Poem #1)

A year will come when December looks less like Christmas and more like Advent, a hidden promise waiting in dark waters, a buried body sojourning in the womb of an immigrant woman, pregnant.

In that year of our Lord, childhood music will hollow out, and you will be left with the muted shells of drums, a memory frosted to fantasy, the want for the peace of staying.

When that day comes, know this: In the darkness, a great light shines, even if it is shrouded by the womb of a holy mother or held in two cupped hands, bread crumbs sprinkled on the chapel rug like stars scattered in the night,

either way, body of Christ in the world without end, Amen.

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Advent: Day 19 (Laws and Lineages)

Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. It’s Advent, day nineteen.

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Readings: Isaiah 9:18-10:4; 2 Peter 2:10b-16; Matthew 3:1-12

In yesterday’s Gospel reading, we found John the Baptist in the wilderness, preaching repentance to the people. And today, here we are again in that same wilderness with the same prophet speaking to the same people. He preaches the same message of repentance, makes the same reference to the sandals of the Christ. He talks of fire and water again. So much is the same, here, so why the juxtapositions of the Mark and Matthew passages? Why are we repeating the lesson?

Take a closer look. Notice the difference. See the crowd? Matthew notes the many Pharisees and Sadducees who’ve joined the crowd, writes that they were “coming for baptism.” Perform, perform, perform–they were performing for the people, acting as if they, too, were seeking the repentance preached by John. But John saw through the ruse, and he exposed them.

“You brood of vipers! … Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.  Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree that therefore does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

The religious leaders were skilled in the art of performance and political pageantry. “Words, words, words–” John said, “all you do is speak words. Instead of relying on your law and lineage, show the fruit of a reformed life.”

The words of John are a reminder to us today. We have our own laws and lineages, don’t we? We have the faith of our fathers, the rules and regulations that have been passed down from generation to generation. Baptists? You have your rules, your favorite fathers (whether of antiquity or present day). Catholics? You have yours, too. Non-denominational Bible-Churchers? Don’t pretend you’re free of your own laws and lineages. (I’ve seen the Christian living section at the local bookstore.) And make no mistake about it, John’s call isn’t to ignore those laws and lineages, at least not altogether; instead, it’s to live a life that bears the fruit of repentance, that embodies the spirit of those laws and lineages.

Bear fruit.

Bear fruit.

Bear fruit.

This is today’s Advent reminder. Live into the spirit of the laws and lineages of the faith. Repent. Bear fruit.

It’s the nineteenth day of Advent. Are you preparing?

***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***

It’s a noisy world, a world in which it can be difficult to find rhythms of quiet, restful, prayer. In this five-day email experience, I’ll provide you with prompts designed to lead you into prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that push out the noise, worries, and anxieties that can so often haunt. Sign up below receive this daily email plan, and you’ll also receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

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Advent: Day 18 (Power is Coming)

Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. It’s Advent, day eighteen.

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Readings: Isaiah 9:8-17; 2 Peter 2:1-10a; Mark 1:1-8

Today, we move from Luke’s passion account and push into the Gospel of Mark. Mark opens with this salutation: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” It is the genesis according to Mark, the first inkling that the words of Isaiah have been enfleshed.

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'”

This is the good news of the Scriptures. Power has stooped low; it has come. This Advent, it’s coming again. Can you see it?

***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***

It’s a noisy world, a world in which it can be difficult to find rhythms of quiet, restful, prayer. In this five-day email experience, I’ll provide you with prompts designed to lead you into prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that push out the noise, worries, and anxieties that can so often haunt. Sign up below receive this daily email plan, and you’ll also receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Advent: Day 17

Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. It’s Advent, day seventeen.

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Readings: Isaiah 9:1-7; 2 Peter 1:12-21; Luke 22:54-69

Over the last few days, we’ve been following Jesus as he makes his way to the cross. In that, we’ve examined the disciples–Judas, Peter and the sleeping ones. Are we so much different? Aren’t we the betrayers? Aren’t we the deniers? Aren’t we Peter? See him follow Jesus into the courtyard of persecution. See him following, though, at a distance.

This is the story from the courtyard of Christ’s persecution:

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.”

Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. (Luke 59-62, The Message)

Deny, deny, deny–this was the way of Peter at the trial of Jesus. I suppose I’ve been a denier, too. I suppose I’ll be one again. I’ve been drunk before; I’ll be drunk again. I’ve been asleep before; I’ll be asleep again. This is the human condition. We fall, and fall, and fall. Don’t we?

But there’s a beauty in the pairing of today’s readings. When they scheduled the lectionary readings for Advent, the church fathers didn’t let Peter twist in the wind of his denial. Instead, they juxtaposed Peter’s traitorous moment with the proof of his redemption. (Ain’t that a breath of fresh air?) The one-time denier was recreated by the affection of the resurrected Christ, and it was in this recreation Peter that stood as a living reminder. Read his words, written to the believers of his day and of all the days to come:

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. (2 Peter 1:12-15)

Remember.

Remember.

Remember.

This is Peter’s clarion call–remember the truth; live as a reminder.

Remember.

Remember.

Remember.

It’s the seventeenth day of Advent. Are you preparing your heart for the return of the King? Are you living in remembrance of his eventual coming? Are you preparing to stand firm until his coming?

Remember.

Remember.

Remember.

 

***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***

It’s a noisy world, a world in which it can be difficult to find rhythms of quiet, restful, prayer. In this five-day email experience, I’ll provide you with prompts designed to lead you into prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that push out the noise, worries, and anxieties that can so often haunt. Sign up below receive this daily email plan, and you’ll also receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

And, if you enjoy this website or my Tiny Letter, consider signing up as a monthly content supporter.
Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Advent: Day 16

Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. It’s Advent, day sixteen.

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Imagine the upper room, the table, the bread, the wine. See Christ divide the bread. See him hold the cup. Hear him say, “This is my body, broken for you; this is my blood, poured out for you. Do this in remembrance.” Feel the weight of the words spoken by candlelight, even while Judas made preparations for the great betrayal.

See the disciples following Jesus out of that room, follow their sandal prints to the Mount of Olives. It is the darkest hour—we know this now—but hear their hushed whispers of confusion. They are on the cusp of the greatest story ever told. Even with all the prophets, all the teaching of Jesus, even with the lingering taste of cracked wheat and sticky wine on their palates, they meander, clueless.

On the Mount, he gives one last command to the disciples. “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial,” he says, and withdraws only a stone’s throw away. There, before his own last trial, he offers an honest, earnest prayer. Enter that mountainside garden in your imagination; hear him pray.

“Father, if you are willing, remove the cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”

In prayer, he discerns God’s will. In prayer, he sees his coming agony. But in prayer, he is given strength from an angel. Even so, the agony.

His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Smell the sweet salt, the acridity of sweat and blood mixing. Imagine the tears. Imagine his prayers.

Go there. Imagine. Imagine. Imagine.

Then see the disciples, who’ve long since given up all notions of mystery, who’ve slept away Christ’s command to pray. See their peace juxtaposed against the anguished prayer of their best friend. They made prayer and friendship into fickle sport. Jesus made prayer and friendship into a bloodsport.

Now, see yourself in that same garden. Imagine yourself a disciple. Are you keeping watch with your friend, or are you dreaming of the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom that’s surely about to come? Do you imagine him with a scepter, you with a sword, victorious over your enemies? Do you dismiss the pain of your friend, exchange it for visions of victory?

Advent is a time of preparation of the heart, and not just for the coming of the sweet baby Jesus swaddled in the manger (although there is that). Advent is a time of heart reflection, of praying so that we might stand in our own trials, so that we might be ready for the coming of the King. Advent is the time to mimic our Jesus, to stay awake, even in the darkest night.

Are you awake?

***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***

It’s a noisy world, a world in which it can be difficult to find rhythms of quiet, restful, prayer. In this five-day email experience, I’ll provide you with prompts designed to lead you into prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that push out the noise, worries, and anxieties that can so often haunt. Sign up below receive this daily email plan, and you’ll also receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

And, if you enjoy this website or my Tiny Letter, consider signing up as a monthly content supporter.
Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.