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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Thomas Merton - on his feast day - writing on Advent

The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen.

It is important to remember the deep, in some ways anguished seriousness of Advent, when the mendacious celebrations of our marketing culture so easily harmonize with our tendency to regard Christmas, consciously or otherwise, as a return to our own innocence and our own infancy. Advent should remind us that the "King Who is to Come" is more than a charming infant smiling (or if you prefer a dolorous spirituality, weeping) in the straw. There is certainly nothing wrong with the traditional family joys of Christmas, nor need we be ashamed to find ourselves still able to anticipate them without too much ambivalence. After all, that in itself is no mean feat.

But the Church in preparing us for the birth of a "great prophet," a Savior and a King of Peace, has more in mind than seasonal cheer. The Advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man, of the world and of our own being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. We witness to His presence even in the midst of all its inscrutable problems and tragedies. Our Advent faith is not an escape from the world to a misty realm of slogans and comforts which declare our problems to be unreal, our tragedies inexistent. . . . Our task is to seek and find Christ in our world as it is, and not as it might be. The fact that the world is other than it might be does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it and that His plan has been neither frustrated nor changed: indeed, all will be done according to His will. Our Advent is the celebration of this hope.

[From Seasons of Celebration: Meditations on the Cycle of Liturgical Feasts by Thomas Merton (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965)]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying through Advent by Titus Presler

When we watch, we're watching for signs. Signs are things we watch for because they are the leading edge of a larger reality we await. We may await recovery, rescue, or reconciliation. We may await fulfillment, recognition, or love. We long for so many things. We need signs that they are on the way, or even already present. . . .
God was up to something in Jesus. What Jesus said God was up to was the kingdom of God. In his living and teaching, Jesus pointed to the reign of God in justice, compassion, reconciliation. Jesus' coming and his preaching of God's reign signified, or signed, that God cherishes human history. Our story is a prime location for God's presence and action-not the only location, but a prime location.

God's up to something now. What's God up to? That's where signs come in. "Keep awake!" "Watch!" For what? Signs of the kingdom, signs of what God is up to! Where? Right here in the world where God has set up shop!

Expecting, not waiting, is the keynote of this season. We wait in ticket lines and doctors' offices as we idly thumb the magazines. But when the pitcher winds up or the interviewer asks the jaw-dropping question-then we're watching, eager for signs of what will happen next. What if we were to take the quality of our watching at a sporting event, or at a movie, or in a delicate conversation, and turn that attention on our life direction, or the life of our family, or the life of our community? And ask: What's God up to? . . . That's the key question, because being on mission means joining what God is up to in the world. Discerning what God is up to means watching for signs of God's presence and action. Where in our particular place do we see signs of the reign of God pushing up through the debris of people's confusion and wrangling? Where do we see signs of God reconciling? God healing? God renewing?

From Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying through Advent by Titus Presler (Cincinnati: Forward Movement, 2007).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hard Times, Lord, Hard Times

Prayer for the current financial situation
Lord God, we live in disturbing days: across the world, prices rise, debts increase,
banks collapse, jobs are taken away, and fragile security is under threat.  Loving God, meet us in our fear and hear our prayer: be a tower of strength amidst the shifting sands, and a light in the darkness; help us receive your gift of peace, and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer was written by and extracted from a blog post by the Rev.Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton:

Monday, December 06, 2010

Barbara Crafton on Slowing Down for Advent.

Here's a video clip of Barbara from last week, speaking with Jim Melchiorre of Trinity Church, Wall Street on keeping Advent:

Sunday, December 05, 2010

An Advent Prayer by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness,
 send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your oresebce,
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say,
"Come Lord Jesus!"  Amen.

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