A visit, a sanctuary 

 

img_0368

A painting by Enedina Vasquez

We have spent three Sundays listening to the strong and powerful voices of wise men and prophets. Men sharing news of what is to come – proclaiming good news and warning of the importance to prepare.

This Sunday the themes of sharing good news and preparation are ever-present yet we now shift to the gentle, honest exchange between two women. Filled with excitement and awe they share their insights. Together they can  acknowledge the holy children they each have been called to birth and mother. They can openly share their excitement and concern. They can support one another as they experience the wisdom they have gained, the sacred they now carry.

Elizabeth and Mary greet one another with a sacred kiss and in her elder-wisdom, Elizabeth shelters Mary as she gathers her strength to proclaim God’s good news to the world. The good news that justice will rain down and mercy will be ever known.  The scene has changed.

The time is near. As we have heard in the past weeks and here on this fourth Sunday of Advent, all of creation is preparing. May we continue to do the same. 

A Blessing Called Sanctuary

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
entirely—
nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
that you were asked
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
taking your place
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found—
to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold, *
and you are welcome
and more than welcome
here.

—Jan Richardson 
from Circle of Grace

reflections on this Christmas Eve

What an unlikely place to be on the eve of bearing God’s child!

As if they had not already gone through enough. I wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary to prepare for this moment. It seems that trying to make any plans was futile. Mary and Joseph began with certain images of what their life would be like. After all they were raised in a close community–they were trained in the tradition of their ancestors–their life would be a mirror of their parents and grandparents. Of course we know the story. Nothing about the life that Mary and Joseph  shared would be like their close relatives.

Nestled in the midst of a town named in the prophets, they would constantly be challenged to comprehend where they belonged. Visited by angels and encouraged by dreams this family would begin with little security and carry with them a different understanding of belonging.

Belonging to a greater community and charged to raise the child who would grow to lead a new “Way”. These parents would always have to step back in the quiet and trust.

What an unlikely place to be on the eve of bearing God’s child! In a stable, far from home – alert and aware. Isn’t it true – in the most uncomfortable moment we can find the greatest strength?! When all of the familiar is torn away, the night sky is brighter and strangers become friends.

The story is told that a child was born tonight. Vulnerable and yet determined – determined to sit in the center of this fragile earth and make it home.

Come Lord Jesus, our guest to be…

(Pre)Occupied

Few have been this preoccupied with tents

since you recklessly pitched one among us.

I would have chosen something more stable,

not quite so porous and vulnerable,

safe, secure, readily significant,

and missed the whisper of evening breezes,

the restless susurration of canvas,

and that one appearing in the shadows,

light flinting off flesh in a fading sun,

fireflies dancing in the night,

rousing my longing

to step into your own

luminous darkness.

The Rev. Jay Johnson – Peculiar Faith

Do we remember what we are preparing for?

Tomorrow we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent. The third Sunday — how has time moved so quickly? The weeks have moved at an unusually fast pace.

Advent 3 focuses on preparation. Oh boy – I sense a moment of uncomfortable redirection. What’s new about preparation? After all, Christmas is only two weeks away — there is so much to do! Family is coming, trees are being  decorated as gifts are purchased and wrapped to reflect in glitter the lights around them. It is all about preparation now!

Yet John the Baptist in his rough and blunt manner meets us tomorrow — this was and is his cry to all who can hear: “Prepare the way.” This preparation is of a different sort. We are to roll up our sleeves and secure all that might blow away at the arrival of God-among-us. This preparation has to do making ready a place for people to meet this God and know the wonder of God’s kingdom here and now.

We should not be surprised — this redirection comes at just the right time. Lest we forget our own steps on this sacred journey, John welcomes us tomorrow with a clear reminder. Take a minute to read this short yet helpful article about Advent 3. It comes from a great resource — THE PRAYER BOOK GUIDE TO CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

Prepare the Way (click here)

  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Psalm 126
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
  • John 1:6-8, 19-28

John the Baptist’s ministry was vital for developing the climax of God’s revelation. The thread of Hebrew religious history had to be brought together to prepare a public that God’s Anointed could reach.

John was not the light of God’s world. His task was to enable others to see the light. To be such a witness, John had to possess forcefulness, and at the same time to have a humility that rendered him unaware of how forceful he was.

“…a time to be quiet” (a re-posting)

To begin the season of Advent, I share this brief reflection from the Presiding Bishop. May nature’s example, quiet in the ‘waiting time’ of re-creation, be your guide as these four weeks unfold.

Advent Reflection from The Episcopal Church on Vimeo.