Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Matthew 1:18-25 

Handing out gifts at St. John's Rehab
Mary was called by God to provide hospitality for the Messiah at great risk to herself, for she could have been stoned to death for the sin of adultery. Joseph was called by God to provide room in his heart for Mary, to give her a home and the protection of his name. He was risking his own reputation for the sake of Mary. How are we being called to provide hospitality in our time and place when so many people are homeless or don’t feel they belong? -- over 20 million refugees seeking a place of safety; LBGT’s still seeking acceptance; aboriginal people seeking a sense of belonging to their own culture; young people seeking meaningful work related to their level of education; elderly people desiring to feel useful.

We too are being called to find room in our hearts for God — Emmanuel: To see Christ in those who are hungry and thirsty; to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and those in prison. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” As we reach out in love and compassion to those around us, we are providing hospitality to those in need; we are ministering to Christ and at the same time being Christ’s hands and feet to the lost and the lonely.

Sr. Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

 John 14:23-27 (NRSV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. John 14: 27

On this day 2000 years ago Joseph and Mary must have been traveling by donkey on their way to Bethlehem for the birth of their first child.

Traveling – hasn’t this been part of all our lives? For my husband and me leaving our family in the United States and traveling to Canada so that he might serve as a priest on both sides of the border has become as familiar to us as getting dressed each day. However, it is not an easy task when a granddaughter says, “Please stay just a little longer”. This is what the apostle said to Jesus when he told them that he was going on a journey - a journey back to his Father.

Just as we leave our children in the protective hands of a person to care for them, Jesus left the disciples in the care of the Holy Spirit. Just as we say “Don’t argue, and love one another,” Jesus said the same to the people he left behind.

I believe that during this season of Advent we should reflect on the tasks he asks of us – love one another and remember that he said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not be afraid.”

This is our journey, our hope, and our faith, knowing that God is with us forever in all of our travels.

 Lynne van der Hiel

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 Isaiah 53: 1-6

The controversy over the reading from Isaiah is one of perspective. Jewish scholars relate the speech of the “Suffering Servant” to the Nation of Israel, while Christian scholars hear the premonition of a suffering Christ. The beauty of scripture is that despite the factual context and timeline of the voices, they reveal and speak to core issues of humanity. The teaching moment comes when we identify the core issue and then ask ourselves can I relate to this from experience, is it relevant in our current culture or our global ethic? Undoubtedly, disenfranchisement, oppression, and suffering remain perennial human issues, timeless in their impact on many each day of their lives. One common thread of these issues is boundaries; walls of fear, hatred, and ignorance erected in one heart against another, in one culture against another, in one country against another. The boundaries once erected then need to be defended; the result is suffering on both sides.

Sufi mystic Rumi once wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” This vast field of possibility, a meeting place of peace, begins in your heart then expands ever wider with each relationship you are willing to participate in on equal ground. We can all meet on that vast field, with hearts committed to openness, until our world becomes a place of an ever-expanding consciousness of peace. It all starts with you.

Kathryn Tulip

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

 Isaiah 26:1-9 

Awaiting the Messiah, the Child to be born, we prepare for His coming and we anticipate that day with hope, joy and love. 

How do you prepare yourself, O my soul? It is not enough to know the truth; you must guard the truth and keep it. Many have been in conflict with others as they claim to be defending the truth: that is ungodly zeal. Beware of that. But the words of the Prophet Isaiah teach you to “guard the truth … lay hold of the truth and keep peace” (Is 26: 2,3). The Truth is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the flesh into our world to reconcile all things unto Himself granting us His eternal peace. O my soul, you know Him, so guard this knowledge, hold fast to Him and His words and keep peace with yourself and with others; peace with those far and near … peace with enemies and friends … peace with all.

Preparing my home for Christmas includes sweeping, washing, choir practice and decorating with special ornaments. Likewise, my soul, your preparation for His coming requires emptying and filling.   

Emptying the heart and the mind of falsehood, and filling them with the Truth of who He is: the King of Peace, the Way, and the True Light.

Emptying the senses of worldly pleasures, and filling the mouth with the ancient song of Isaiah: “Behold, we have a strong city; He will make our salvation its surrounding wall.” (Is 26:1)

Emptying my time of vain occupations and distractions, and filling it with acts of charity, reconciliation, forgiveness, and kindness: “O Lord our God, grant us peace, for You render everything to us.” (Isa 26:12)

Mervat Iskander

Saturday, December 19, 2015

PEACE Sunday, December 20, 2015

 Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a child is born......

The strings start, then the sopranos come in followed by the tenors and before I can even line my fingers up on the computer keyboard to work on my meditation, the rest of the choir has joined in and I have a full blown performance of Handel's Messiah playing in my head. (The theme for this week is peace so it's a good thing the Hallelujah chorus with it's tympani part is part of the Easter section of the Messiah!)

For many years as a youngster, I remember my dad conducting Handel's Messiah at our cathedral. It was no small affair, choir, soloists and full orchestra. I'm not sure if the orchestra was paid in those days, but I do remember that the musicians loved to take part year after year. The most memorable performance was the year the bass player had a paying job later on the night of the performance but he didn't want to miss playing for Dad. He played the first half and had a friend step in for him after the break. One of them was tall and dark and the other was stockier and had shocking red hair and a full red beard. They could not have been anymore different. I don't know if the audience noticed the change but certainly the members of the choir and orchestra did!
....Unto us a son is given”

A child born and a son given. Consider the difference?   

  Chris Hooker

Friday, December 18, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

 Psalm 126 

I believe that this psalm is written to help us discover the secret of joy! The Message translation of the first couple of lines of this psalm reads “It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” Laughter and God – Joy and God go together! Joy is the result of being restored by God, happy because of what God has done for us. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion” (NRSV) – when God brought back God’s people to where they should have been all along … we are brought back to who we were designed to be: God’s very own beloved. Restored to our very own self, we can only be filled with laughter and with shouts of joy! This psalm goes to the very heart of God’s relationship with us. God’s beloved. We are loved with an everlasting love; we are called by name and God speaks “You are mine, my beloved” over and over again. It is from this bedrock that joy springs – it is from this bedrock that you and I are invited to live.

Whatever our temperament, whatever our situation is it not true that we all desire to have a constant joy that is so amazing and so obvious that people around us begin to want to become part of the experience? And again to the psalm and the Message translation: “We were the talk of the nations – God was wonderful to them! God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people”.

The psalm develops a model of praying for this gift of being restored. From the Message translation, verse 4: “And now, God, do it again - bring rains to our drought stricken lives” – like streams in the desert. Josh Moody wrote about this model of prayer outlined for us in psalm 126 - “joy begins with humility, admitting that we need restoring; it is discovered in community; it celebrates gospel perspectives – good news; it is nurtured in prayer; it is acknowledging a God-centered you – a new creation …”
Joy – it is a choice: we choose whether to value God’s presence and promises and work in our lives. Choice invites us to open our eyes to God’s presence around us. Choice invites us to be filled with joy.

Sr. Doreen McGuff, SSJD

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

1 Peter 1:3-9 

The word that jumped out at me was "new". What is new this Christmas for me? My first thought was to think about a small child. Yes, Christmas for a child is coloured by the expectation of presents, Santa Claus and so on, but I remember my daughter telling me that as a small child she used to lie on the couch in the dark and look at the lights on the Christmas tree in joy and wonder. As she grew older she lost that.

Like her as we grow older do we lose that joy and wonder? As the passage continues, Peter talks about suffering various trials and our faith being perishable and "tested by fire". Christmas is no longer "new" for us. We bring to it all the hurts of Christmases long past, memories, good and bad. Each year we hear the familiar readings and sing our favourite carols.

So what will be new this Christmas? How can we "rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy"? Jesus was born in a stable in less than desirable circumstances, in fact in the midst of life. In all the hustle and bustle, the busy preparations, let us, with the shepherds take time to step aside for a few moments each day to look at the lights, to hear the angels, and give thanks for the joy and wonder as we celebrate anew the birth of Jesus.

Jean Gandon