Watching the Skies–First Sunday of Advent 2010

imageWhen these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Lk 21:28)

Without the calendar, and especially the Church calendar, we would be hard pressed to know the beginning of Advent. As the commercialization of Christmas has increased, the start of the season has become an artificial demarcation. The start of the ‘holiday season’ creeps further back on the pages of the calendar, with some outlets beginning to display the colors and icons of Christmas around the end of October. Thanksgiving becomes a speed-bump in the path of the gift-rush steamroller.

These false signs have an effect on us. Few are moved to shop anymore simply by the appearance of red and green replacing the oranges, auburns and browns of autumn. Fewer still see these signs as a welcome reminder of the joy of Christmas. Our senses are dulled by the barrage, hardened because of the attempted to deceit,  temporarily blinded by the fast-cut commercials and blinking LED reindeer noses.

Advent is the Church’s reminder of the Kingdom that came and makes it dwelling amongst us. Our reading for this year comes first from Saint Luke. The doctor records the Lord’s insistence that we be ever watchful for signs of the kingdom. He gave the analogy of the trees, say “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.” (vv 29b-30) Likewise, He explained, if we are watchful and knowledgeable about the signs of an impending change in the season of our relationship with Him, we will not be caught unaware.

The world threatens to dull our sensitivity to the signs of the Kingdom. Whether it be God speaking to us through another person, a book or the movement of the leaves in the trees, the noise and busyness of our lives can drown out that quiet voice. Other signs are hidden from us as our vision tires from the constant stream of images we take in, good and bad. Without seeing the signs, our ability to raise our hands in celebration is limited.

Let us quiet our celebration this year. Spend some time looking into the flickering Advent flame rather than the Christmas lights. Reread favorite Scriptures and listen for the voice of God. When we see and hear clearly, our chances of noticing the signs of the Kingdom around us increase tenfold. Seek out and praise the Lord for the intimacy of His presence in your life.


Grace and peace to you.

image Per Ola Wilberg

The High Discipline of Prayer


“God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” John Wesley

Prayer is the central core of all of the spiritual disciplines. Devotion and practice of the discipline moves us more and more into the state of perpetual communion with the Father that is to mark us as separate from the world. To pray is to change. It is the primary avenue by which the Father molds and transforms us.

A primary truth about the discipline of prayer is that it is both unnatural and natural simultaneously. Putting this discipline into practice requires a concerted effort on the part of the redeemed and a long period of apprenticeship. We must learn from the Master how to pray just as His first disciples did.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

The discussion of prayer could take off in so many directions so it will be necessary to limit our attention to a few core topics. This will be a longer series of posts and I hope that some readers will consider the possibility of contributing their own materials so that all of can develop our personal practice of this most important of disciplines.

Image Iulian Nistea

An Advent Benediction of Trust

May the Lord put test to your faith.image

May He challenge your trust, may you be troubled,

In the same way that His servant Mary was challenged.


Whether it be in the form of an angelic light

or the face of a stranger in need,

Pray for the Lord to challenge your faith.


May you rise to the purpose he has vested in you;

May your answer to his call be ‘May it be to me as you have said.’

May your heart know the trust of not being afraid,

and your confidence rooted in the knowledge that nothing is impossible with God.



from the Gospel of St. Luke 1:26 – 38

Thanksgiving Three

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me,

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.

Only the most calloused heart can hear these words sung to those familiar chords and not be thankful for the Hand that extends the grace necessary to pluck the sinking from the waves that threaten at any moment to permanently take them under. When Jesus announced his ministry to those enslaved by the burdens of the law, He gave meaning to the “good news”;

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:17-18)

As Arlo says here, “we can’t be afraid to turn around…and do the right thing.”