Harmony, not uniformity

Second Sunday of Advent

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another. Romans 15:5a

Each of our unique human voices blends one with the next to make a holy harmony that resounds with forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, nonviolence, and joy in praise and thanksgiving to the One who created us in and for love.

Stay awake

First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. Isaiah 2:4

Today I pray that I may turn my swords and spears of impatience, indifference, envy, rudeness, self-seeking, acrimony, and resentment into life-giving love: patience, kindness, acceptance, courtesy, generosity, peace-making, and forgiveness.

Jesus, remember me

Rembrandt (1606-1669)
The Three Crosses
drypoint and burin on paper (III/IV), 1653
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

The other [criminal hanging there said], “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:41-42

Today I will follow the example of the criminal hanging on a cross near Jesus: I will take responsibility for my words and actions. I will be accountable for how I treat others. I will keep my focus on the Lord and ask Jesus to remember me.

Quiet amid the frenzy

[Jesus said,] “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified.” Luke 21:9a

I believe there is a force in the world that is set on insinuating terror into our hearts and minds. The media with its constant assaultive images of war, destruction, and human cruelty is an instrument of this force.

People who are afraid find it difficult to think clearly and are more easily controlled.

Today I refuse to be manipulated. I choose to avoid the frenzy of the media and instead opt to spend quiet time with the Lord. I trust that God will show me how to be of service to my neighbors in this time of injustice, violence, and grief.

Alive

God Is Love
SashaLee19 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

[Jesus said,] “He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:38

My small understanding of what it means to be alive is usually limited to mental, physical, and emotional sensations. My thoughts race, flow, go in circles, stagnate. In this body, I experience pain, energy, fatigue, hunger, thirst, cold, heat. As I go through a day, I feel joy, love, peace, sorrow, resentment, fear, confusion.

I must also be aware of the vast, silent, still, unending presence of God, the Mystery who transcends my best definition of “alive.”

 

 

 

Perspective

James Tissot (1836-1902)
Zachée sur le sycomore attendant le passage de Jésus
opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894
Brooklyn Museum

Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. Luke 19:2-3

I seek to know Jesus, but cannot see clearly because I am crowded by chores, tasks, commitments, fatigue, pain, and discouragement.

Today I will take time to climb out of the swirl of demands on my frail energy to get a glimpse of the peace, love, and welcome of the Lord.

 

 

 

Who am I

John Everett Millais (1829-1896)
The Pharisee and the Publican, 1864
The Tate

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

What a hook! I want to find out if I am one of those to whom Jesus is addressing this parable.

And yes: often I am the self-righteous one who compares myself favorably to others and wonders why others don’t act, think, and speak as I do.

But now and again I become aware of my arrogance and face my failures, weaknesses, and woundedness. In these moments of truth, I dare to ask God’s mercy so that I may instead act, think, and speak with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.