Monthly Archives: November 2017

Advent–Coming

This Sunday is the first Sunday of the Advent season of the church. Advent is a special time for the church. The time is a mixture of anticipation and spiritual preparation for the coming of the Christ child. Such preparation involves repentance and joy.Those two are a rare combination. I share with you some words that my wife wrote a few year ago about Advent that emphasize the joy of the season.


Advent-Coming

Advent comes from the Latin meaning “a coming” or “arrival”. The season begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent begins our new church year as Christ comes to us again with the peace and joy needed to take us through another year.

During the season of Advent, the church celebrates two comings of Christ. First, we remember his incarnation, the coming of the Messiah, the world’s Savior. Second, we look forward to the second and final coming as reigning Lord and Judge. We thank him for His first Advent, prepare for his Second Advent, and celebrate His Presence through the Holy Spirit. It is a unique time when the past, the present, and the future realities of God are combined.

Advent gives voice to the joy and hope that the Christ Child brought to the earth and the expectation of the total restoration of God’s Kingdom when He comes again. The church looks forward to the completion of our salvation and the end of the world’s suffering when Christ comes again. The season forces spirituality into an increasingly secular Christmas and enriches our relationship to God, to each other, and those who have come before us.

The earliest recorded observances of Advent are from the fourth century. Monks set aside approximately six weeks before Christ’s Mass as a time of penitence and devotion and fasting. Advent became a time when new Christians prepared for baptism. For more than a thousand years, the church has set aside a four week period to recover Christmas as a holy time of expectation and preparation.

Today in the midst of so much despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of the church, the hope of the restoration of creation to completeness upon Christ’s return, the hope of the salvation Christ brings. In the midst of so much war and death, Advent offers PEACE – the peace beyond our understanding, the peace that is more than the absence of conflict, the peace of Christ. In the midst of so much prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God, a way to love one another, the yearning to love His church. In the midst of so much sadness and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of heaven

Monica Boudreaux

Advent-Scripture

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Outer Turmoil/Inner Peace

Teresa of Ávila was born Teresa Ali Fatim Corella Sanchez de Capeda y Ahumada in Ávila, Spain. Less than twenty years before Teresa was born in Teresa31515, Columbus opened up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa pointing the way from outer turmoil to inner peace.

As we suffer through mass murders, church shootings and threats of nuclear conflict we shout very loudly for inner peace. Teresa has some ideas about peace that I share with you today.


      • Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”
      • May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.
      • The closer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.
        Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise Him for them all.
      • Truth suffers but never dies.
      • In this distress, — for then I had never had a single vision, — these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give meTeresa-Quote perfect peace: ‘Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I, and I will not abandon thee. Fear not.
      • To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.
      • The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.
      • We need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to look upon Him present within us.
      • The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.
      • Pain is never permanent.
      • Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

 

I hope that these words of Teresa can help bring peace to your life today.


Prayer

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.

Teresa of Avila

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Labor and Humility

Abba Carion said, ‘I have labored much harder than my son Zacharias and yet I have not attained to his measure of humility and silence.’

 —-Sayings of the Desert

Very few of us would think of humility as a laborious task, yet the Abba speaks this word about himself. There are two distinct lines of thought in this very brief saying. First, humility is not only a sought-after state for the contemplative but Related imageis a lifelong labor. The second is the apparent unfairness of some people being rewarded even if they labor less than we do.

Humility is a hard task, and we must wake every day to the familiar words of the Jesus Prayer, “… have mercy on me, a SINNER.” Until we see ourselves as worthy of nothing but graciously gifted with His saving grace, we will never attain any sort of true humility.

Feeling cheated or let down by God is an age-old problem. So many times in our lives we have felt as though we have done all we can do, and we are still lacking. Exasperatingly, we are confronted with others who did less and received abundant blessings. The lesson here is that we do what we do out of love and worship of God, and not for reward from Him.


Prayer

Lord, give me that grace to be able to labor for you without question. Drive away the tendency to think that I work harder than other and am somehow cheated. Let me take each task as a blessing that only I can achieve.

Amen


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The Loves of God

 

Lord, you love discretion, you love light, you love love; these three you love above the other operations of the soul. Hence these will be sayings of discretion for the wayfarer, of light for the way, and of love in the wayfaring.

—-John of the Cross

 

John of Cross presents to us an approach to soul spirituality. He asserts that there are three operations of the soul that are primary. These operations guide us on our journey as we travel towards God. We are wayfarers searching for ourJohn-of-the-Cross-11-8-17 ultimate home. For me, this is a familiar journey. During nearly all of our 40 years of marriage, my wife and I have either lived in Parsonages or knew that the home we were purchasing would have to be given up when a move was designated. The life of an itinerant preacher is not one that encourages, or allows, the stability of place. Much to our joy, an opportunity presented itself for us to purchase and move into our “forever home” two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, we lived in some very fine homes that we could never have afforded on our own, but it is such a peace to know that we are now stable.

The Christian wayfarer is on a very similar journey. He or she is happy and contented to be where God has placed them at the moment but always keeps an eye out for what is to come. We are all on a soul journey towards God and searching for the true meaning being a citizen of the God’s Kingdom.

Discretion

Discretion is knowing the right thing to do and doing it with a sense of humility. Jesus said, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” As wayfarers, there are many experiences that will transpire in this world before we become complete kingdom people. None of us can achieve completeness of our souls when are busy with self-promotion. God’s love is not present in showy Christians. God wants us to be discrete.

Light

Our paths are being illuminated by the light that God supplies. There are far too many people who desire to supply their own light. In doing so, they completely miss the light of God. Our soul journey becomes a confusing mess of competing “lights” and none of them are the true light. The true light brings both freedom and responsibility. There is a sense that when we walk with the light we accept some of the burdens of others as Jesus accepted the burdens of all. As we accept the burden of others, we are given true light that will illuminate our path. Additionally, we are given the strength and wisdom that comes with God’s light. His light allows us to never be alone.

Love

Love is the most over used and distorted word in our vocabulary. We love in all kinds of ways and still miss the love of God. His love is unconditional and unfettered. It is limitless and available to all. Our love is always so conditional and it is limited by our ability to grasp the love of God. All God wants us to do is to accept His love and He will do the rest. When we accept His love we get a view of His heart and cannot be restrained from being and acting like Him. No rules are necessary – only live in the bliss of knowing the love of God.

If you are thinking that this is too good to be true, you are probably right. There is no such thing as perfection on this journey but there is the path that seeks it. God tells us through John of the Cross that there are at least three ways that we can try to find harmony with God. My suggestion is to just try. What have you got to lose?


Prayer
Lord, help me to examine the way I observe discretion, light, and love along my path. Keep these concepts in my mind as I walk the wayfarer’s path of life. Might I accept the wisdom of the wise man of the past and seek these concepts every day.

Amen


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