Advent Blooms

paperwhitesMy first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!

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Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!

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She loves her baby brother even more!  Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.

oliver3weeksOliver and his Papa Joe.

 

Light for My Path

Clear shining light,

Mary

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Clear shining light,

Mary’s child

Your face lights up our way

Light of the world,

Mary’s child,

Dawn on our darkened day

 Geoffrey Ainger

Advent is neither just a period on the church calendar nor my personal one. Advent has become an important preparation time, a time to reflect on my path, entering into the darkness of unknowing, opening to new possibility and radical availability.   Light coming into darkness.

Advent

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A cold dark day in winter, when spring’s arrival seems to be an eternity in coming, is a good time to force bulbs indoors. Paperwhite bulbs, green and growing, hearken toward the light and warmth of spring to come. A week ago, our 2 year old granddaughter and I placed marbles in this dish and added water, then nestled dry, brown bulbs on top. I watched her little hands as she worked on our project.  Today, we can see how the roots have grown and how much they have grown.

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A few minutes ago, I helped the same little hands add a tiny cardboard shepherd girl to our vintage Advent calendar -the most powerful story of  light and hope and promise.

Stirrings

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sit in dark stillness

light one candle

quickening as flame swells

Veni, veni, Emanuel

 

hold a little one high to see

starlights and manger scenes

join her awe and wonder

take joy in her ohs and ahs

sing Silent NIght for a lullaby

 

greet the leapings of your weary heart

welcome stinging tears

images of all Christmases past

while wrapping yourself in present gifts

attend to the stirrings of God.

 

 

 

This is True

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Advent Credo

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 2004.

After the Star, Following the Light

Hope

 

 

 

 

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This week I wanted to spend time listening to Christmas music, wrapping Christmas gifts and baking Cranberry bread. I did these things, but along with so many others , I struggled, shattered by news of more violence against  innocent people , heartbreaking photos of grief-stricken families, terrified refugees, and the darkness of human hearts without hope and faith and love.

I have this pottery jar on my kitchen window sill.  It has been shaped and fired and given as a gift of love. In deeper, mysterious ways, Advent is expressed hope, shaped and fired and given. In the darkest of times, this hope remains.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Let Advent Begin

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Photo by Pert Garraway                                    Night Blooming Cereus

My friend sent me cuttings of her night blooming Cereus plants.  She is a good gardener, and as her photo displays, she is an excellent photographer. But she would not be able to share this picture if  she were not also willing to sacrifice some sleep (they only bloom at night) as well as patiently wait for the swelling buds to open. I removed my cuttings from their mailing envelope and  put them into damp earth.  But I, too, must wait as they begin to root and grow and bloom.

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As I sit this morning, the first day of Advent, I think of this cycle and  am reminded of another gift, the wonder of  beginning again, of rooting and growing and waiting to experience the greatest mystery of all. .

Adult Advent Announcement

O Lord,
Let Advent begin again
In us,
Not merely in commercials;
For that first Christmas was not
Simply for children,
But for the
Wise and the strong.
It was
Crowded around that cradle,
With kings kneeling.
Speak to us
Who seek an adult seat this year.
Help us to realize,
As we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
For the old folks —
Bent backs
And tired eyes
Need relief and light
A little more.
No wonder
It was grown-ups
Who were the first
To notice
Such a star.

From If I Could Pray Again, by David Redding

Welcome

100_1877Selamat Datang

This bamboo nativity is one we got when we lived in Indonesia , along with the chest beneath it. If I titled today’s post Selamat Datang, many of you would not recognize the greeting, but if I smiled, spoke the words, and held out my arms, you would receive the message. Whether the creche is made of bamboo, or wood, or carved in stone, or simply made of sticks, we recognize its meaning because of the posture of the figures and their arrangement.  Christ’s coming broke down the walls that separate us, the barriers of difference and indifference, the stones in our path to God and to each other.  As we welcome Him, we learn a language that goes beyond speech.  We are offered a language of love.

Rekindling the Light

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Solstice has reminded us of the shortest day and the longest night. It is also a turning point. As dawn gilded the sky this morning days begin to grow again., Advent, with its 4 candles, is also seen as an observance of this rekindling

When I  light these candles, I reflect on the coming of the Light of Christ.  Can I do so with the intention of sharing this  light? .

What are the ways in which I can help make the world lighter? How do I bring light into the lives of those around me?