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Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. This is true.

― Thomas Merton

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O Come O Come Emmanuel
I pray with upraised eyes.
Drop down, O Dew of Heaven,
that God might walk and talk on earth
might heal and feed our sin-soaked world.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
my prayers like searchlights
comb the starry winter skies.
Descend from the black hole of some neighboring galaxy
to green with your grace
our barren earth.

Such an Advent waiting prayer
can be a lifelong profession of patient longing
unless I know, with all my heart
that Emmanuel not only comes down
but also comes forth and emerges.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
come forth from deep within me
with Christmas luminous beauty.
For my heart has become the sacred crib,
the birthing place of God-among us.

Peace on earth and justice for all
will only become manifest in our lives
when enough of your sons and daughters
awaken to your divine design
that has made each of us
an emerging Emmanuel.

— Edward Hays from “Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim”.

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May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

— John O’Donahue

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In each heart lies a Bethlehem,
an inn where we must ultimately answer
whether there is room or not.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we experience our own advent in his.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we can no longer look the other way
conveniently not seeing stars,
not hearing angel voices.
We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily
tending our sheep or our kingdoms.
This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that the Lord has
made known to us.
In the midst of shopping sprees
let’s ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts.
Through the tinsel
let’s look for the gold of the Christmas Star.
In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos
let’s listen for the brush of angels’ wings.
This Advent, let’s go to Bethlehem
and find our kneeling places.

~ Ann Weems, In Search Of Our Kneeling Places

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The poet David Whyte says that we move at a great velocity in this society, and that one of the laws of physics is that we can only see what is traveling at the same speed as we are. If we stop, stand, raise our heads, we will behold people we have not seen. We will notice the night sky laced with stars. We will see the faces of those we hold dear. We will be confronted by that Christ in his many different disguises. We will find ourselves noticing, awakening, stirring. And without a doubt, we will find ourselves feeling uncomfortable. When we stop, we might discover our own meanness, our own latent cruelty, our own stinginess, our own hard hearts, our own rigid insistence that we have to be right. Advent gives us space and time to know anew that there is time to prepare, time to allow our flinty hearts to soften, time to slow enough that we might see the living Christ in our midst, bringing redemption near, near as our breath, near as a heartbeat.

~ Mary C. Earle

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In the beginning, Lord
I was alone
Like the earth
before your Spirit moved over the waters.
I was formless and empty
and darkness filled the depths of my heart.
Then, it was as if you declared
‘Let there be Light’
and out of the darkness
I began to see hope
like a shimmering ray of love
breaking through the parting clouds
at the conclusion of the night.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
but when I saw you in the light I was no longer afraid.
You held out your hand
and though I had a choice
I had no choice
because to refuse
was to embrace again the darkness.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
now I am again a part
of your creation
loved, wanted, needed, family.
In the light of your presence
I hold out my heart that others
might glimpse through it your reflection
and be drawn from the darkness that I once embraced
into the light of your sunrise
the brightness of your face

~ FaithandWorship.com

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In the beginning, Lord
I was alone
Like the earth
before your Spirit moved over the waters.
I was formless and empty
and darkness filled the depths of my heart.
Then, it was as if you declared
‘Let there be Light’
and out of the darkness
I began to see hope
like a shimmering ray of love
breaking through the parting clouds
at the conclusion of the night.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
but when I saw you in the light I was no longer afraid.
You held out your hand
and though I had a choice
I had no choice
because to refuse
was to embrace again the darkness.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
now I am again a part
of your creation
loved, wanted, needed, family.
In the light of your presence
I hold out my heart that others
might glimpse through it your reflection
and be drawn from the darkness that I once embraced
into the light of your sunrise
the brightness of your face

~ FaithandWorship.com

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In the beginning, Lord
I was alone
Like the earth
before your Spirit moved over the waters.
I was formless and empty
and darkness filled the depths of my heart.
Then, it was as if you declared
‘Let there be Light’
and out of the darkness
I began to see hope
like a shimmering ray of love
breaking through the parting clouds
at the conclusion of the night.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
but when I saw you in the light I was no longer afraid.
You held out your hand
and though I had a choice
I had no choice
because to refuse
was to embrace again the darkness.
In the beginning, Lord I was alone
now I am again a part
of your creation
loved, wanted, needed, family.
In the light of your presence
I hold out my heart that others
might glimpse through it your reflection
and be drawn from the darkness that I once embraced
into the light of your sunrise
the brightness of your face

~ FaithandWorship.com

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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 presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” Amen.

~ Henri Nouwen

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We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake.

— C.S. Lewis