Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016
John 14: 25 – 30

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.
John14: 27

Like so many other aspects of our lives, peace comes in a variety of ways, shapes and even colours. It has a number of interpretations depending on the situation in which it is sought or given. From the Hebrew, we get “shalom”, a familiar greeting; from the Greek, a sense of “concord”. One commentary suggests that when one experiences peace there is a feeling of completeness, soundness, even neighbourliness, well-being and security; the reward of a sound mind stayed on God. Peace is also linked with honest dealing and true justice.

In today’s world many of us struggle to find even elements of peace in any of it may interpretations; war, strife, violence, disease, racism, injustice, poverty, corporate greed, negative politics often overwhelm me. It is hard to hold on to the words of the psalmist “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.” Psalm 4:8 We exist on so many levels; and the presence or absence of peace often has a different impact on each of those levels. We may have some peace within ourselves, but it is often ravaged by the lack of peace we sense in those whose situations are so different from ours.

And then we come to Advent . . . . to be reminded yet again of the unending source from which we can draw:
“. . . a child has been born for us,
a son given to us,
authority rests upon his shoulders
and he is named . . .
Prince of Peace.”
 Isaiah 9: 6

– Mary L. (Bunny) Stewart

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 2 – PEACE
Sunday, December 4, 2016
John 20: 19 - 22

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” John 20: 19

Did Jesus greet the disciples with the word "Shalom"?  The Hebrew translation is "peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used as both hello and goodbye" As a radical young activist in the 1970s, I "lived" the word "peace".   My necklace bore a peace symbol; my bedroom was decorated with peace themed posters; I sang peace songs with Pete Seeger and attended every peace rally in town.  My father quietly referred to me as his "peacenik". Peace to me meant an end to the civil rights strife in the United States; what I wanted for Vietnam and the world.  It meant living in harmony with other people and the environment.  I was ready, willing and able to devote my life to achieve this.  I still hold these ideals close to my heart, although, in my golden age, "peace" has taken on a rather different meaning for me.  Religion-based terrorism and global warfare for territorial domination have escalated the critical focus for "peace".  We, like the disciples, live in fear of what is outside our "doors". We worry about what environmental disasters our children will inherit from us and the effect of technology and social media on their world.  The "peace" we now seek is an inner peace -- the "peace of mind".  In this scriptural passage, Jesus says "Peace be with you" --not only the wish for an end to the strife between the Jews, Romans and Christians, but the assurance that his death and resurrection will bring about inner peace for those who follow Him.  May God grant you the inner peace to enable you to spread Shalom throughout the world.
– Sue Ann Elite

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016
Psalm 42

I find that when I am despairing or fearful, it is because I have let my gaze slip from God's promises. I have put my hope in people or circumstances or worse yet, myself, and of course, have been disappointed – again. People don't often realize that they are letting us down in some way and certainly circumstances don't orient themselves just to help or hinder one person – namely me; yet somehow I still get disillusioned, losing hope, feeling like David. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:11a)  Then I am reminded to “Hope in God...” (Psalm 42:11b) and to focus on God's promises that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28) and that God “has plans to prosper give you a future filled with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) There is so much reassurance in scripture that hoping in God is the right thing to do. It is not only good for our souls - it is, I believe, God's will.

“Happy are those ...whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them;” (Psalm 146:5-6) And if  reading hope-filled scripture about God's promises and about God's amazing creative power is not enough to restore my hope, going out into God's glorious creation and gazing at the stars or listening to the wind in the trees or feeling the rain on my face, makes the hope rise once more and restores my strength to wait in hopeful expectation, as Mary did, for God's promises to be fulfilled. I pray that this Advent season is a hope-filled one for you and leave you with this final scripture blessing:

“May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
– Nancy Scott

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016
1 Peter 1: 1 - 3

Winter has always been the quiet season of the year for me.  I compare it to a caterpillar wrapped in
its cocoon waiting for spring.  I love the snow falling outside putting a white blanket on the pine trees or sitting by the fireplace watching the flames dance and doing whatever the quiet project happens to be at that particular time. Sometimes this project has been studying or reading.  Maybe it has taken on the form of quilting, painting or writing.

When I was a little girl, I would sit on our couch in Pennsylvania looking at the Sears Christmas Wish Book which was delivered to our home around November 24th.  I hoped that Santa Claus would hear my wish and put the doll I loved under our Christmas tree. As I got older, I would sit bent over my desk hoping that I would pass my Algebra or Chemistry exams.  A little older yet, I hoped that my grades would be good enough to get me into the university that I wanted to attend.  Later, with all these wishes behind me, I hoped that God would give me the strength, knowledge and courage to raise our children to be caring, compassionate and strong willed adults.  And then came being a priest’s wife in Canada.  This was probably the most difficult part of my life’s journey thus far (not the Canada part, but the priest’s wife part).  I hoped I would do my part of the ministry right, whatever right might be.  Now that this part of my journey is coming to an end, I realize that there is no right way, just God’s way, which is to love one another.

When I think of all the periods of hopefulness in my life, I realize that each hopeful passage was God’s way of making me a better person.  I hope that finally now I am moving toward the Light; that that cozy cocoon of long ago will open, and as the poet Rumi said, “I will soar with angels” knowing that God has given me hope through the birth of his son, Jesus Christ.

– Lynne van der Hiel

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016 
Romans 15: 7 - 13

Oh!  May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing
lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”  Romans 15:13 (The Message)

This life-giving energy brimming over with hope must have sustained Mary as she pondered her wondrous angelic message.  

Hope, the second of the Theological Virtues, provides a bridge between Faith and Love.  Faith speaks of belief.  Hope brings wings to our faith, as we discover more of God’s love and revelation.  Love speaks of God, God’s very essence    

A wise friend once said while speaking of the infinity of God and the hope within us, “THERE IS ALWAYS MORE”  

St Gregory of Nyssa wrote:  “The person looking at the divine, invisible beauty will always discover it anew since he(she) will see it as something newer and more wondrous in comparison to what he had already comprehended.  He continues to wonder at God’s continuous revelation; he never exhausts (the) desire to see more because what awaits is always more magnificent and more divine than anything he has seen.”     

Hope drives us in our desire to enter fully the Kingdom of God, where our world gets turned upside down and God’s place is given back to God.  Let us join with Mary, with all our loved ones and all the precious things of this earth in honour and worship.

– Sr. Wilma Glazier, SSJD

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
John 14: 27

Perhaps fear is the opposite of hope.  Fear shows us what we are afraid of losing.  But fear also invites us to touch our vulnerability, our fear itself, and put these in God’s hands.

My daughter Ellen was a tiny person with disabilities.  She lived her last twelve years joyously in a L’Arche community, and L’Arche held us both throughout her dying.  It was about four weeks into her final stay at Toronto Western Hospital that we met again with her caring medical team, this time to discuss palliative care. It felt unreal.

After the meeting I took a walk through Kensington market.  It was an early fall morning, and shop
keepers were just beginning to open up.  

I came across a young man sitting on the concrete in front of a little food shop, leaning against the wall, holding a baby bird cupped in his hands.  I walked over to see and sat down.  He said he’d found the bird on the ground where he’d slept last night.  It must have fallen from a tree.  It was quiet and still, and the boy tenderly stroked its feathers with a finger.  We talked.  He asked if I’d like to hold the little bird.

I held her as with a kiss. She was beautiful and she was dying. I was surprised by a welling of tenderness and hope.

Hope is about trust.  We risk reaching out to others, letting ourselves touch and be touched.  Hope is about turning from our small troubled selves toward Love and Mystery, knowing our need of God and each other.  But most of all, hope is God’s gift.

– Barbara Sheppard

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Psalm 130

I have a favourite a book of quotes from the philosopher Cornell West. He wields dancing, jazz-built words, a fierce sense of history, and a huge range of ideas to exhort Americans, especially black Americans, to live lives – and to demand lives -- of justice, love and hope. Like a shot of energy each time I crack it open, this book I keep close is called Hope on a Tightrope.

There is no chapter titled Hope in this book.  There are chapters on Courage, Faith, Wisdom, Family, Love and Service, Philosophy, Identity and Race.  Yet the book is about finding Hope in troubled times. And those chapter headings gather Professor West’s thoughts on Courage, Faith, Wisdom, and all the rest as sources of Hope. These, he says, are places of renewal, stillness and centering before moving on up the frayed rope of western democracy, into the swaying future. These are antidotes to the rush and selfishness and chaos of contemporary life.

Psalm 130 begins in that place of chaos.  The psalmist’s tightrope sways wildly as she considers her disobedience. It stills for a moment when she considers God’s forgiveness, and shivers again as she considers the connection between forgiveness and humility, giftedness and self-giving, reverence and action. What to do? How to walk the tightrope? How to keep confident and open and surefooted?
The answer is to wait. Wait. Stand still and wait for the dawn of redemption. Wait and fully receive the unfailing love of the Lord. Wait for that. Be filled with that. Put your hope there. Then walk on, walk on.

- Julie Poskitt