Soon my 4 year old grandchild and I will add the last figure to our Advent Calendar that is also a nativity. This is my favorite of all our manger scenes, one I found years ago at an estate sale. It is a hinged wooden box with tiny wooden pegs for the members of the scene. Every year I enter the story more. With each Advent, I am more awed by the mystery of Divine love, this gift. Each year at this time I am learning a little better the work of Christmas.
The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and the princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among brothers, To make music in the heart
“Christ eastering within us means we have a new center and core from which we live. We now live Christ’s life. Easter is more than a day, an event, a remembrance. It is a way of life”. ~Michael Marsh, in his blog Interrupting the Silence..
My life gathered new meaning when I began to understand the word Easter as a verb, not just a noun.
So what would it mean for you if you knew Easter as a verb rather than a noun? How would your life be different?
“Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.” Gerard Manley Hopkins
Even in our most cherished moments, it’s there—this “something more,” a feeling that all life can offer is not enough. C. S. Lewis says of our best experiences, “They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
Easter may be a noun defined by a day of family gathering, celebrations like egghunts and pastel dresses, and a special church service. But Easter is more – an action word. Like wonder and worship, it is also a verb.
“It is like a display of spiritual fireworks dazzling us with each burst: LIfe! Power! Love! Triumph! Transformation! Hope! Joy!” ~ Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year
A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see far, far, away – the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. ~ Alexander Schmemann
On Christmas day, Nora and I rode in the back seat of our car to church, watching for trees. She said the leaves were all gone away and I agreed. I said they would come back in the Spring and be here for her birthday. This is an often repeated story recently as she widens her 2-year-old world to pay attention to things that go away. I thought of this the last few days in our early morning fog. Most mornings, I can see beyond our fence and across the lake to a house that is being built there. I see duck families and herons on the water. But the fog here obscures all but the most pronounced and closest objects. So it is with these days approaching year’s end. I know what recent days have looked like, but the new year coming holds no clear vision for me. I am called to trust, to practice discernment, to watch for markers that remind me I have been and will be guided.
“Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention…on many levels: to sensus fidelium ( the collective ene of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience, to watch, to wait, to listen.”
~from “Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment” by Wendy M. Wright in Weavings, November 1995
“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
If the saying “April showers bring May flowers” were born out next month, we would be covered in blooms. On Monday this week, rains came and camped out over many parts of Texas, creating historic event flooding in Houston and several surrounding counties. There have been tragic deaths, and thousands of people are displaced. Although the rain has stopped, flooding continues as rivers and bayous rage out of their banks flooding homes and pastureland.
Our garden welcomes us once more with cool breeze, shade, birdsong, and flowers blooming. Joe brought in a gardenia that I could smell when he opened the door. I am grateful for this peace and beauty but sad for loss for so many.
Prayer for Those Affected by the Floods
God of compassion, You created a world for us To know your love and peace Yet amidst the beauty of creation We encounter pain and hurt And forces beyond our control. At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods. Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods And for all those working To bring relief and fresh hope.
from the Toowoomba Diocese in Queenslnd following a devastating flood in 2011
Anyone who has been around small children knows how often we hear the question “Why?” I have been asking that question about my fig harvest this year. We have a fine fig tree in the garden that typically has so many green figs it is hard to keep up with the harvest as they ripen. This year we had an unusually wet June and although there were hundreds of green figs and they began to ripen early, harvest slowed and stopped completely in the second week. Our brutal Texas heat came on suddenly. My research tells me the tree went into conservation mode and began aborting its fruit. Even though we watered heavily, nothing brought back the production so the hard little green figs began to drop to the ground, wasted and of no use to anyone. Not even the birds would eat them.
The problem is that figs are shallow rooted and easily stressed. That reminded me of my own need for being rooted deeply to be able to take the heat and avoid reacting in damaging ways to the stress of our uncertain times!
” May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love;” Ephesians 3: 17, The Living Bible