December 24, 2016

AventWord::Celebrate



Celebrate
Christmas is a feast of the senses! It is a celebration of our ability to see and know and taste and touch the power and glory and revelation of God. It is not just about a birth that happened long, long ago and far, far away. It is about the way in which God manifests himself to us in the person of Jesus as friend and food and hope and love. It is a celebration of our ability to grasp God and to sense him with all our being.
-Br. James Koester

However you celebrate The Glorious Holiday, may you be filled with joy and peace knowing the earth shook and history changed for ever on the day the Savior was born, Emmanuel. May love permeate each fiber of your being and may you have fun in the celebration.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.  Matthew 2:10


December 23, 2016

AdventWord::Live




Live
We are meant for life in all its fullness. Our getting together for the sheer pleasure of it anticipates the Kingdom and the heavenly banquet. Conviviality and celebration, especially in the face of difficult circumstances, bring light into the world.
-Br. Mark Brown

On this particular night, we'd seen the a play downtown with dinner before at a beautiful outside restaurant. We ate, al fresco, next to the Main Public Library. Beautiful. Scaffolded. Looming. 

The play was fine. A revival of a 1950's play done in a minimalist modern way. It left us, well, as the young crowd says, meh.

Mary suggested we stop for coffee on the way home. It was late. She and I are both really early birds, the husbands, not so much. So, we drove just a little bit and ended up at a favorite breakfast spot which transforms into a festive garden at night. There we were chatting, enjoying, savoring without the adult considerations of what the morning will bring. And simply living the evening out with each other. I do think these moments are exactly that. A taste of heaven and light in the world. 

We can live on these platters of time when the deeper darkness around us would have us stay in and starve. But then, Christ, the Giver said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." It will do me good to live out of this gift.

December 22, 2016

AdventWord::Animate


Animate

The Spirit of God animates us, but it all happens in the flesh: every deed of kindness, every act of generosity, every word of encouragement happens in the flesh. Every embodiment of Christ’s grace or truth or love happens in the flesh—or it doesn’t happen.
-Br. Mark Brown

Those beads and bells didn't get up on that door by themselves. It was flesh and blood. These words from Br. Brown are so very logical, but strike me as full of new concepta. So often the conversation is about killing the flesh, but wait.
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." - John 1:14.
I need to go easier on the flesh and remember the Spirit moves, the Spirit animates, but those dishes? Done in the flesh. That Christmas breakfast for my elderly neighbors will be made in the flesh. Giving and receiving? The flesh. The key, I suppose will be recalling that the glory is from Him and through the flesh.

December 21, 2016

AdventWord::Abide




Abide
God’s invitation for us to abide in God as God abides in us is not an invitation to settle down and get comfortable. It is a call to mission, a summons to fruitfulness. We are meant to share the fruits of the divine life with others.
-Br. David Vryhof

The last leaf on the tree is abiding. Holding fast, for now, to the branch. It has been created and nourished. It has flourished with the once-red, heart-shaped leaves of the Red Bud tree. And while I can add some nutrients to the soil, and water the tree, the truth is, life will happen in the coming dormancy. Designed by the Designer. Just like me. I sincerely want to be in this awareness. I abide. I can do what is necessary, the food, water, work, exercise, spiritual practice, love, friendship, all of it. But it's God the Designer of all, who is creating life within my being. Providing what will be found in my next steps. Or in my rest.
Abiding in Him.
Thoughtfully.

December 20, 2016

AdventWord::Prune





Prune
We prune to let go of growth, letting die what is alive but not growing in the best direction. We prune to let go of death, letting go what is dead but still taking up space. Pruning is a form of dying in order for the tree to more fully live and bear more fruit.
-Br. Luke Ditewig

I'm a big believer in pruning. God has taught me so very much about my life while at the tasks of the garden. I see the hard cut back of January as the first step toward the blooms of spring. 

The first time I cut roses back I did it by the book. I did the pruning. Gingerly. And then my beautiful rose-tender-of-a-neighbor, Bob, came over and told me to go harder. Angling my pruning sheers properly and removing all but about 14" of the plant, I cut, believing in his urging, kinda. A few months later, the roses were gorgeous and profuse.

Pruning then, applies well in my life. Cut back, even what's alive but not growing in the best direction. All of it becomes fodder for the sheers. Unnecessary complexities, clusters of "do," the things I take on, the stuff I collect, that thing that is dead and taking up space. Not as simple and pure as the garden work, certainly. 

Christ speaks these words in John 15:  “1 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." 

Reflecting and consuming these concepts, I have to place it all on the Gardener's altar. Allow His wisdom and love to show me where to make the cut and which angle to use so that new growth is not halted, but prepared in the right season. The waiting is not without anxiousness, but filled with joyful expectation.

December 19, 2016

AdventWord::Simplify


Simplify

A simpler lifestyle can be a way to share with those who have less and a way of returning to them what is usurped by unjust social and economic structures. Assuming a stance of under-consumption can be a provocative invitation to others into a conversation about affluence, poverty and social justice.

-Br. Robert L'Esperance


December 18, 2016

AdventWord::Open


Open

When we open our hearts enough to truly love, our enemies can open up the possibility for our healing. It’s not just about treating our enemies a certain way; it’s about the fruits of relating to each other, to everyone, in the fullness of Christ’s love. When we practice loving fully, our great reward is being free from holding onto feelings like anger and hatred.

-Br. Nicholas Bartoli

And when we open, we can be beautiful. We afford others the opportunity to grow and blossom too.

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