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“I have found it very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. It was only when I am willing to let go of my wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations, can happen to me. This is what Mary did…”

“To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is trusting that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life. It is living with the conviction that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction.”

– Henri Nouwen in The Path of Waiting

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Poet Ann Weems admits “to a certain guilt about stuffing the Holy Family into a box in the aftermath of Christmas.” For her it is “a time of personal triumph when, each Advent’s eve, (she frees) them… from a year’s imprisonment boxed in the dark of our basement. Out they come, one by one, struggling through the straw, last year’s tinsel still clinging to their robes…The Child is first…His mother dressed eternally in blue…Joseph…holding valiantly what is left of his staff, broken twenty Christmases ago, by a child who hugged a little too tightly…The Wise Ones still travel, though not quite so eloquently, the standing camel having lost its back leg, and the sitting camel having lost one ear. However, gifts intact, they are ready to move…” The poet concludes for a day like today, “And this year, when it’s time to pack the figures away, we’ll be more careful that the Peace and Goodwill are not also boxed for another year!”

~ “Boxed” from Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems

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Sleepwalking Advent

Shifting gears into Advent may take some time…but, please, don’t lallygag too long!

Advent begins
In a fog of unreadiness.
As if by dull surprise
Or in a twilight zone,
We groggily hang the greens.

Hardly with awareness
Much less anticipation
God’s people sleepwalk
Through the prophecies
And Annunciation.

We may finally stir
By the time children sing
“Away in a Manger”
The Sunday before Christmas,
Their raised voices spark
A light in our slumbering souls.

Is it only children and prophets
Who grasp the urgency,
Sense the passion;
Whose hearts are rended
And readied by the
Promise of Light shining
In the darkness?

Is it only to them that Advent
Becomes no mere repetition
Of myth-laden past events,
But days of embracing
The living Mystery,
The basis of all hope?

By God’s mercy and grace
Children and prophets are
Only the first to hear,
The first to recognize,
To proclaim that
It is indeed Mystery.

The Light ever dawns,
Beaming its rays into the
Eyes of even the groggiest saints,
The hardest sleeper
Among us.

Only those who refuse to rise
Amid many urgent shakings
And light flooding their beds
Sleep through the
Incarnation.

“Wake up, O sleeper,
Rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

– John Franklin Hay, Indianapolis, Indiana,
Assoc. Professor Indiana U. School for Public and Environmental Affairs

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Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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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!”

– Henri Nouwen

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Unclutter our lives, Lord,
we have too much,
consume too much,
expect too much.

Grant us perspective;
to see this world
through others’ eyes
than just our own.

Grant us compassion;
where there is need
to play our part
not turn aside.

Grant us gratitude
for what we have,
our daily bread,
the gift of life.

Unclutter our lives, Lord,
give us space,
simplicity
thankful hearts.

~ John Birch at faithandworship

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Join in the dance of God
Live out the love of Christ
Carry the Spirit wherever you go

~ Christine Sine, Light for the Journey

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Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.

— Victor Hugo